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.
A few years ago, I had the extreme privilege to speak on the phone with Winnipeg-based Psychedelic Folk singer/songwriter, Smoky Tiger. He spoke of energy centres on Earth where spiritual energy was its most acute (he was, in fact, in the process of packing for a trip to visit the Mayan ruins: one such spiritual hotbed). We spoke of souls, we spoke of inner vision, and we spoke of the then oncoming apocalypse of 2012. Up until that point, I had written off the idea of the impending apocalypse as a bogus media blitz attempting to incite the masses into a consumerist frenzy as they readied themselves for the end of life as we know it.
But it was Smokey Tiger’s take on the apocalypse that I was most interested in. Ever since I had first heard the surprisingly upbeat track, conveniently enough called ‘Apocalypse‘, I needed to know what anyone could find so cheerful about the mythical End of Days, even if it all was a sham. Smoky Tiger informed me that the notion that the world would literally end was misguided. I had to confess that I was ignorant of the origin of the word to Smokey so he enlightened me towards its Greek origin meaning “to uncover forever” or “to reveal what was once concealed never to be concealed again”. The apocalypse meant a great awareness would take place and the ways in which we, the people walking around on this world, would witness a shift in how we see and interpret ourselves and each other.
Importantly, he also shared that the apocalypse would happen on a global scale (which I feel we did see some spiritually apocalyptic events this year) but also on an individual. People would see the world changed if only to their eyes alone. Continue reading
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.