I’m White, Heterosexual, Middle Class and Everything Else Repugnant About this World
July 17, 2013
Honky, straight-boy, middle class bitch. That’s me in a nut-shell. And pretty much everything you ever need to know should you wish to attend my sad (yet no doubt opulent) funeral many years from now.
I’ve never had a choice of course. Never got to experiment. Never tried out black nor discovered what it might be like to strut down the street with a vagina. Never known abject poverty or had to walk twenty miles for water. Never been beaten to a pulp due to the small matter of sodomy. None of any of that.
In fact it’s all been rather civil, this middle-class, white, male, heterosexual, first-world stuff. All rather simple and ineffectual. Like I’ve won the ultimate lottery of the universe or something. And been awarded a pass to never get dumped on by life.
Yet, amid all that, all the “superiority” wrought from the festoons of history and delivered to me through the small matter of my father’s spermatozoa meeting my mother’s egg, I can’t help but feel a little odd. Like I’m missing something. Like being white, hetero and everything else repugnant about this world isn’t the epic 90′s acid rave party it might suggest.
And I’m curious as to what that is.
Yes, I’m Going to Talk About George Zimmerman
Let’s start with last weekend’s news about gun-toting security guard George Zimmerman. How could I not with the dozens of emotional outpourings on Facebook and Twitter all staring at me through the pupils of my very own shimmering Aryan eyes?
It’s all so confusing. Here’s an Hispanic guy who murdered a black teenager and effectively got away with it, and then here’s me doing my very white, very privileged weekend thing. A weekend thing with wine no doubt. And one spent pissing away the contents of one’s ever diminishing PayPal account.
It’s sad. I feel like I’m supposed to care about what happened with Zimmerman. I really do. Yet, after everyone has poured out their (no doubt) well-informed and totally impartial comments, and what with the day starting to dawn and the night beginning to fall as it does, I only find myself apathetic and resigned. Unable to give the faintest trace of a fuck.
It’s enough (given my birthright) to think myself a racist. That I’m a pig because I don’t care. A klan member in retirement. The ghost of Rudolph Hess.
But then I remember. It’s not that I care less about issues relating to race or identity in my life. It’s not that at all. It’s just that I hate spending time on uncontrollable things. Things like current affairs. Things that I have zero influence over and no ability to ever change.
It’s not because I’m white, heterosexual, middle-class and never had to fight my own corner at any time in my life.
At least I don’t think it’s all because of that.
The whole zero influence and having no control thing is really beginning to bother me though. And to suggest that it’s somewhat a symptom of my race, sexuality and upbringing is, I think, only the start of it.
The fact is I didn’t always used to feel this apathetic. Not back when I was a student of American Civil Rights or while I grew up watching my mother displaced by societies own domestic paradigms (meaning she was the one that did all the cleaning, cooking and messing about with the kids in my cosy suburban upbringing).
Back then I actually used to care about injustice and suffering. About matters of feminism, poverty, race and sexuality. And I wouldn’t dare turn my back on them.
It’s only in recent years, since adopting the principles of “lifestyle design” (and those specifically laid out in books like Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week), that I’ve grown increasingly more confused with my identity and my place in the world.
And despite some of the benefits that adopting that lifestyle has brought me (things I’ve openly discussed right here on the site), I still can’t help but notice something of a negative shift. A cause from the effect of all the messages imploring me to “live life on my own terms” and “create the life of my dreams”.
As a result of attempting to mesh my life to those principles – in quitting my job, starting a business of my own and travelling the world, I feel I’ve grown increasingly inward. That in the last couple of years I’ve looked only to myself and my own needs for gratification. And forgot about the many others out there in more desperate need of help.
But then I guess that’s the concern of someone in my position though. Someone that has the “luck” of being white, male, heterosexual, middle-class and everything else that means I have little else to worry about.
It means that I don’t have to expend my energy fighting my own battles to be accepted. That there’s no club to join nor greater cause in which to lay down my life.
And with none of that present in my life what else am I supposed to turn to?
In a sense the whole lifestyle design thing is simple tribalism. And I’m just giving into it through my own human need to belong.
I liken it to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Here at the top we don’t have to worry about causes or conditions greater than ourselves. We’re not blighted by them nor do they stand in our way.
All we need concern ourselves with are very self-interested, very intrinsic ways in which to gain satisfaction in our lives. Stuff that most people on earth don’t have to bother with when there life is an eternal grind.
So instead of fighting for acceptance then we’re left to battle with other questions. More superficial ones. Like what businesses to start. Or what countries to live in.
Answering those are what unify and keep us together. Keep us ticking along. Stop us from feeling alone.
But the same questions also prove the main source of guilt. What privilege do we really have being free and blessed with the ability to live life on our own terms? Is it nothing more than the luck of the draw? Of being born into bodies whose place is already accepted?
I think about it the other way. If I weren’t white, middle class, male or heterosexual. If I had to struggle for things other than my immediate needs.
What then would I do?
The answer is that I don’t rightly know. Because I’ve never had the ability to look outside of myself. Not in the way of inhabiting another body anyway.
But then I guess that doesn’t matter much either. Because everyone eventually identifies with some kind of tribe. Centralises their focus one way or another.
That’s just the nature of life. Of being us. We eventually lose sight of everything else because we’re waging war on things close to us and far away from others.
That’s the case whether you’re white or black. Straight or gay. Male or female.
We’re all repugnant in that way. All ignorant of each others battles because we’re too busy fighting our own.
And is any one really more important than any other?