Privilege Isn’t Created Equally

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Apparently I’m Missing Out

Sometimes people write or say things that cause me to wonder just how easy they’ve had it. Usually this involves accusing a large, faceless swath of a population of having some sort of magic privilege (“easy mode” or whatever that dress-wearing blowhard thinks it is). Today, Wil Wheaton said the following:

I’m going to acknowledge my privilege right now, before I get into this. Because I’m a middle-aged white dude, I don’t have the same experience in life tha… well, pretty much everyone else who isn’t has. I know that the world is set up to make life for people like me as easy as possible (Scalzi’s “lowest difficulty” setting), and even though I try to see from outside of my own limited perspective, I don’t always succeed.

Lowest difficulty. See, the problem here is these goobers are applying their specific circumstance to all of us. Wheaton is about ten years older than me (a bit over, to be fair), but we’re both white dudes. We don’t have close to the same sort of life experiences: As noted, he was a child actor. Because of the popularity of the show he has a natural cult following. The man could pee on a canvas and sell it to people, and his character was the second worst thing on the show (the first season takes the cake).

I grew up without a whole lot, and some might even use the term “poor white trash” for people like me. My wife and I both needed student loans to afford college, to get the jobs we have today — and we’re still paying for them. We don’t drive new cars, we have a sensibly modest home, and we don’t buy outrageous toys. Because of my accent a lot of people will assume I’m a moron, and because of various things about me I am constantly called sexist, racist, various phobics. Most of this is based on things I was born with. It is acceptable for people to deride and attack me, and my interests, because of the color of my skin, and my accent, and my genitals (which also get derided by any detractors of course).

A few years back I had a random, no-fault-of-my-own infection in my knee joint. May never get to 100% and having a bum knee/quadriceps makes any sort of physical activity hard. Wheaton appears in good physical health. This has nothing to do with my birth: there is no magic white boy privilege protecting us from random acts that alter our lives forever.

Wheaton was born to an actress and a medical specialist in Burbank, California. It doesn’t matter what his sexuality, his sex, his race, any of his traits are: He was born with a different sort of privilege. He’s also an atheist — while I belong to one of the few religions it’s considered politically correct to completely shred. Basically everything about his life has been the lowest difficulty setting and yet Wikipedia says he suffers from chronic depression — likely due to low testosterone and never having faced any real challenges (these two are probably related). Everything has been handed to this guy and he gets to be rich and famous for being a dweeb.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about my own life: I wouldn’t trade with Wheaton, not even for a moment. But I am pointing out how ridiculous it is to assume that because someone is a straight white male he has privilege. Not even close.

tldr; Shut up, Wesley.