The straight white man (SWM) appears as the next to feel the burn of an oppressive agenda. Predominantly free from homophobic, racist and patriarchal discrimination, there is no other group more privileged. But is this is exactly why we need them?
The World Economic Forum released its Global Gender Gap Report for 2016, and revealed that progress towards economic equality has actually slowed. Current behaviour will mean that the overall global economic gender gap will not close until 2186. Not even your children will be alive for that.
In Australia, we have 226 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, yet only a handful of those come from non-European backgrounds. Statistics like these not so subtly reveal that the voices of SWM are the loudest and most favoured in our society.
With SWM in more positions of greater power than any other cross-section of sexuality, race and gender, it is tempting to enjoy your cup of coffee from a mug that reads ‘White Men’s Tears’. Perhaps though, it is these very voices that need to be encouraged and welcomed to join movements that platform the voices of the marginalised.
In 2016 The Guardian published a piece headlined ‘”I didn’t choose to be straight, white and male”: are modern men the suffering sex?’ Journalist, Rose Hackman, wrote on how perhaps, in the current state of our progressiveness, the ‘toning down’ of SWM voices has gone too far. It argues SWM have been silenced and their opinions deemed unworthy.
The Guardian article reflects a growing sentiment among some SWM that they themselves are victims of ‘reverse-prejudice’. That ‘check your privilege’ is merely the 21st century way of saying ‘man up’.
The suggestion that SWM are the new suffering people is easily challenged: one woman dies every week from domestic violence; Indigenous Australians are twelve times more likely to be incarcerated and same-sex marriage is still undecided.
Equality calls for a system that envisions less of a domination of SWM in workplace leadership positions and parliaments. However, exclusion and silencing of the SWM– these voices with power– from joining the movement due to their own privilege may well create a larger gap between the people, rather than the opposite. Can we find a way to include the SWM who calls himself equalist and who wants to see change as much as the next human?
President Barack Obama published an essay in Glamour earlier last year, explaining why he’s a feminist and why feminism is just as important for men as it is for women. “It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.” Like Emma Watson’s famous HeForShe campaign, feminism is not a woman’s issue, or a men’s issue. “It is a people’s issue”.
It seems that the silencing of straight white men is not a feasible answer. After all, we can look at men like Micheal Bloomberg, Warren Buffet and Gordon Moore who are all SWM that have used their privilege as a means of philanthropy. Yes, it’s easy to forget that no one chooses their privilege, but people can choose what they do with it.
It was Will.I. Am, a man behind the best best bangers of the early 2000’s who once said “If you really want change, you really want it to be inclusive, otherwise you’re just going to have more of the same in the future.”