Now, it’s true that just because a certain group has in the past been excluded from the mainstream doesn’t mean that it can’t or shouldn’t become part of the mainstream.  There are legitimate arguments both for and against things like black history month, women’s studies departments, and LGBTQ spaces.  But “Oh noes, what about the poor neglected straight white men?!” is not one of them.


6 thoughts on “Shelves

  1. Thank goodness! I was worried that it was a resurgence of the Progressive Conservative Party (oxymoron, anyone?), often referred to in the past as “the PCs,” “Tories,” or my own personal favourite, “the PCPs.”

  2. While true, I find it rather interesting that we focus so much on where (culturally) the history comes from, rather than in what ways it is significant. I really don’t care if the people involved were white, black, gay, straight, man, woman, or purple with orange hair! What matters is the actual subject, not what color, sex, religion, marital status, or creed the person who discovered it was!

    As much as I agree that there are no ‘poor neglected straight white men’ as a general group, I also think that we are in an era where there are some very poignant problems with the lack of empathy toward certain groups (one being said straight white men.) Having paid some attention to the matter, it seems the problems of ‘racism’ (what a misnomer!) and in general discrimination have shifted from the historic norm. We have a problem with minorities that think they ‘can’t be racist.’ We have groups that use terms for themselves, but get angry if anyone else uses the same term. I think that it is a combination of the factors of less and less white males being discriminatory, and more and more the opposite being thrown in our faces, as well as the lack of a need to segregate the subjects to focus on the who rather than the what, that makes this such a frustrating topic for many of us.

    In the end, it feels like another measure of bias… something we may never overcome, and certainly will not unless we strive to treat every person as equitably as possible. We are, after all, the same race; human. *And now I feel like I have been ‘preaching to the choir. As such, off the soap box and on to enjoying the rest of today!*

  3. Just because I feel the need to say something a little more serious:
    Being straight, white, and male is not a golden ticket to success nor a perfect shield against hardship. It doesn’t guarantee you anything in life. What it does mean is that you come from a class of people who have historically gotten to define what “normal” means. The power of being “normal” is surprisingly potent, but those who have it rarely notice that they have it. It’s one of those things you only really appreciate when you don’t have it, just like you only notice how good your water is when you drink the water somewhere else and it’s terrible.
    So it can catch us straight white guys off guard a little when we see other people getting in on the conversation of what “normal” means, because we didn’t know there was a conversation going on in the first place. “Black history month” and “women’s studies” and “queer spaces” are ways of starting that conversation, but they’re not the only ways. The important thing for us straight white guys to remember is that, however the conversation starts, we’re not being left out. We’ve been here all along, we’re just noticing that someone else is joining in.

  4. Plucked from Robert’s comment: “We have groups that use terms for themselves, but get angry if anyone else uses the same term.”

    Yes, we do. Language is a significant factor in identity formation, both for individuals and groups. What is less often understood is that *all* groups use language to some extent to give themselves an identity separate from other groups. Just like other external markers of group membership, flaunting or misusing linguistic in-group markers comes with social consequences. I doubt very much that biker gangs look favorably on random people who don their vests but otherwise don’t belong. Language can and does invoke similar feelings of hurt and anger when misused. Identity can be a delicate, fickle thing.

    While I don’t think anger is a very mature response to language that is perceived offensive, I can understand why someone might get angry, especially if they’re a member of a group that has been discriminated against in the past or still is being discriminated against. There is nothing like experiencing discrimination firsthand (or see someone you care about being discriminated against) to open your eyes.

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