“Dear Madam, I find thee exceptionally captivating and would be honoured is thou didst accompany me to a most excellent dance rave this night.”
“Thank you, dear sir, for the emphatic offer but I disirest not to be wooed at this time.”
“Very well, milady. As disappointed as the answer finds me, I must accede to thine own self-wisdom. Shouldst your position alter, I pray, considereth me!”
“O, I shall, good sir! I shall!”
I’m getting a little tired of hearing how the feminists have ruined chivalry for us straight men.
A recent article/essay from Psychology of Women Quarterly defined acts of chivalry as “benevolent sexism” and since then there has been no shortage of responses to this redefinition. Why are the mean feminists making it so hard to be respectful? Why do they hate gentlemanliness so much?
And aside from the article from the quarterly publication and its reactions, the internet is a great place to find inane articles where feminism is pitted against chivalry. As if to suggest that, only one of these two incompatible forces can survive and, right now, it looks like feminism has taken the lead.
There has been a great deal of conversation online these days about what is known as the “friend zone”. For those of you who are unaware of what or where this place is, it is that strange, hypothetical place where a guy (and it is always a straight, cissexual guy) sometimes feels he goes when the girl of their dreams refuses (or is ignorant of) their romantic advances. The romancer is then left to dangle, hoping that the potential “romancee” will one day realize how great he is, come to her senses, and take him up as their boyfriend or lover. In the meantime, the romancer’s heart is ripped asunder afresh each and every day that the two cannot be together since he generally seems to spend his time helping his crush deal with her life problems while taking the romantic back-seat: i.e. being a friend.
When put that way, it sounds almost poetic, doesn’t it? I’m sure the users of the term would like to think there is some elements of classic tragedy in the suffering they endure. But the truth is it is just male entitlement, plain and simple. It’s just a bit more of a passive-aggressive flavour than we normally see.
My friend Christina posted a link to a blog entry a few days ago that introduced a somewhat flippant but easily interpreted approach to understanding heterosexual, male, and white privilege:
Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?
Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.
This got me to thinking about how I understand my own privilege as I, as many regular readers might know, identify as Scalzi’s target audience, a straight white male.
Firstly though, I think I’d like to touch on why so many straight white men resent or get their back up when that dreaded word “privilege” comes up. It is easy to interpret the discussion of privilege as blame thrown at straight white men, crediting them for all the social injustices that take place in the Western world. These men become defensive because they didn’t create the rules to the game or select their role any more than Scalzi’s Hardcore mode players, gay minority females, did.