Why Straight White Dudes Don't Get Offended As Often As Normal People Do

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“You know, I get insulted, too,” the straight white cis dude says.  “I read articles that mischaracterize my experience as a straight white cis guy.  And when that happens, do I bitch about it on the Internet?  No!  I just suck it up and move on.
“So I guess,” the straight white cis dude concludes, “I’m not easily offended.”
Hold on there, hoss.  Lemme suggest another potential conclusion:
It may be that you’re not insulted nearly as much.
I’d guess that as a straight white cis dude, I’d guess that your experience in things means that your very existence is not routinely forgotten. Nobody in the majority cultures goes, “Another movie consisting exclusively of male leads has hit #1 at the box office?  How could this happen?  Is there really a market for male movies?” And then, weeks later, forget that this trend of “male movies” has been ongoing since, oh, the 1960s.
Nobody in the mainstream cultures goes, “Oh, yeah, fuck, I guess you might be attracted to women, sure.  People do that.  But are you sure you don’t want this dick?”
Nobody in mainstream cultures just assumes you’d like to have transition surgery and that your dressing in men’s clothing is some form of weird attempt to fit in.
What I generally find people saying when they say “I guess I’m not easily offended” is actually closer to “I don’t actually have that many people who offend me.” In general, what these dudes are actually saying is “Ninety-time times out of a hundred, people acknowledge and support me, and I quietly assume that as my birthright. And that hundredth time someone doesn’t acknowledge me, well, that means I’m not easily offended!”
Which is a lot like a five-foot-ten guy saying, “Well, I’m not picky about my furniture.  I can sit anywhere.”  Which may be true, but it’s overlooking the fact that as a guy of average height, most furniture is made to fit you.  If society had quietly decided that the average person was four-foot-ten, or six-foot-ten, then you might spend a little more time in the furniture shop finding something comfortable.
Or not.  There are genuinely some dudes who can fall asleep on rocks.  Just like there are some gay trans black women who can sleep through bonfires of Internet hatred. Some folks are, in fact, genuinely not easily offended, and maybe that’s you.
But my point is, it’s kind of difficult to say whether you’re easily offended when you have an entire society dedicated to reaffirming your existence.  You don’t get erased in 99% of the circumstances.  You don’t get stereotyped.  You don’t have people pigeonholing you.
Yet when I talk to not-easily-offended straight white cis dudes like this, you know what really pisses them off?
Essay titles like “Why Straight White Dudes Don’t Get Offended As Often As Normal People Do.”
A lot of these very same dudes who are all “It’s not important to put gay/minority/trans representations into things!” and “That was just a joke!” when it comes to pointing at other people get veeeery angry when you stereotype them.  “I really fucking hate the way you make ‘straight white cis dude’ sound like an insult, Ferrett,” they’ll say, frothing at the mouth.  “We’re not all that way.  I’m not this parody you’re writing about!”
Well, shit, bro, are you not easily offended?  Or are you simply not easily offended when things are generally not aimed in your direction?
Hell, you’ll see a lot of straight white cis dudes getting angry by the mere fact of being called straight white cis dudes, because they hate the label, don’t you realize we’re people, you’re racist for labelling me.  And that’s a funny thing, because you are straight, you are white, you are cis, you are a dude, and I’m gonna suggest the reason you hate having your whiteness and your cisness and your straightness called out is because up until now, everyone quietly assumed all those things were normal.
Having your central identities marked as different makes you feel freakish and othered, and you fucking hate it.
So again, are you not easily offended?  I’d argue that maybe you are easily offended.  Maybe you’ve just not had to experience what a lot of marginalized communities endure on a regular basis.
Maybe you should take this offense at the way “straight white cis dude” does, in fact, strip off layers of who you are to replace them with a stereotype – and instead of using that anger to defend your domain, maybe you could look at how other stripes of people are more routinely erased, replaced, and debased, and start asking, “Shit, how can I not do that to them?”
And even if you are not easily offended, that doesn’t necessarily mean that “everyone should not be offended” is a great way to be.  I myself have such a tremendous pain tolerance that I walked around for four days with a burst appendix and thought it was a tetchy stomach virus.  But I would be a stupendous dick if I went, “Well, I don’t experience that much pain, so why do we need all of these painkillers?  Just suck it up and deal, like I do.”
And even if that was something we wanted to do, would it be wise?  Sometimes being stoic doesn’t fix the problem.  Like me.  I was very stoic to an illness that was actually fucking killing me – I am lucky to be alive – and maybe complaining is the proper method to fix problems like, I dunno, people forgetting that entire alternative existences exist.
If you’re really not easily offended, then maybe you should demonstrate that  invulnerability by going, “Huh. I wonder if they have a point” when someone unloads on you instead of frowning and saying, “Complaining is bad!”  Maybe you could use that amazing superpower to better other people’s lives instead of shrugging off potentially valid complaints as some form of weak whining.
You’re in a position to do some real good, if you’re not that easily offended.  You can make a positive difference.
I’d like to ask you to think about how to do that.
 

1 Comment

  1. Sharkisha
    Oct 12, 2015

    And then there’s people offended at things not even aimed at them. Who perceive bias and martyr themselves in front of a world that 95/100 people don’t really even care that they belong to some demographic. And they’re the same people assuming everyone of one demographic marginalizes and shoes boxes every person of another demographic.

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