Photo by Tara Moore

Male, pale and stale?

The supposedly privileged cannot win

Artillery Row

You must have sympathy for the progressive straight white male. He lives in a paradox. On one hand, he is told he has all the privilege the world can offer him. On the other it is demanded that because he has such privilege, he must be silent and make space for others. Whilst he is blamed for most of the injustice in society, he has no way to abdicate his privilege. 

He can donate to a progressive cause, post an anti-sexist infographic to his Instagram story, support minority-owned businesses or even chain his whole family together and go on an anti-racism pilgrimage to score BLM brownie points, but it still will not be enough. He can self-flagellate all day long but there is no way for him to receive salvation from the progressive mob. 

A month ago, I went out in Shoreditch, a liberal part of London, to ask the simple questions of “what are men good for?” and “are men important?” One man took a whole twenty-two seconds to finally stutter the answer: “I guess what traditionally defines men, the traditionally masculine areas of what men do, I think some of that may be important in society, but I think it’s been overly prioritised in society.” It is deeply saddening to watch a man unable to justify the worth of his own identity. 

This should not be surprising, since the attitude of progressive white males in the media is equally as self-loathing. In his song “Straight White Man”, the comedian Bo Burnham provides an ironic take about how the toughest things that straight white men have to go through are first world problems:

I state my problems,
Other people roll their eyes.
Three trips to the mall,
Zero khakis in my size.
I’ve never been the victim
Of a random search for drugs
But you can’t say my life is easy
Until you’ve walked a mile in my UGGs.

Throughout his work, Burnham has a constant need to self-deprecate about his privilege of being a straight white male. Though possibly without realising it, in his Netflix special Inside, Burnham exposes the constant pressures of being told by society that you have power without actually having the power to change society. 

In the song “How The World Works”, Bo Burnham discusses with his Marxist sock puppet, Socko, how the world works. Compared to Burnham’s supposedly romanticised view that “the world can only work when everything works together”, Socko argues that history classes teach a narrative that is “demonstrably false and pedagogically classist”. The world is actual built on blood, genocide and exploitation. Socko goes on to state, “Private property is inherently theft, and the neoliberal fascists are destroying the left.”

Prince Harry’s dedication to the woke code of morality has not paid off

When Bo Burnham politely asks Socko what he can do to help, Socko dismissively answers, “Read a book or something, I don’t know. Just don’t burden me with the responsibility of educating you. It’s incredibly exhausting!” and “Why do you rich fucking white people insist on seeing every socio-political conflict through the myopic lens of your own self-actualization? This isn’t about you! So either get with it or get out of the fucking way.” The straight white male must recognise his privilege whilst being unable to ask others about the ways he’s privileged in order to educate himself.

Burnham states his confusion about what to do with his supposed privilege in a previous song, “Comedy”, where he recognises his inability to make a change. When addressed with world problems, the only solution he can provide is “healing the world with comedy” — which leads him to question, “Should I be joking at a time like this?” 

Though Burnham’s inability to change the world causes him great suffering, in the penultimate song “All Eyes on Me”, Burnham recognises that he can’t change the world and needs to tidy his own room first. Despite society telling him that it isn’t about him as a straight white man, he does need people to be there for him when it comes to his own mental illness. 

Whilst on its surface Inside may seem like just another lefty comedian complaining, Burnham exposes the pressures that society puts on progressive white men to do something about the problems of the world without recognising that these men have also valid problems. 

Even when a straight white male does have undeniable privilege, the woke scripture gives very little guidance on what to do with it. A great example of this is Prince Harry, one of the most privileged men in the world, who has fallen victim to wokeness. Prince Harry has tried to alleviate his privilege by abandoning his family and country and instead siding with his wife — where they did what any marginalised person would do and received a $100 million deal for a Netflix documentary.

With comments like “there was a war against Meghan” and “it’s about hatred, it’s about race”, the Netflix trailer alone sets the tone very clear: Harry and Meghan are being victimised by the British media and the Royal Family. 

However, the evidence of the media hounding them was quickly debunked, and Harry backtracked and denied the previous accusations of calling members of his family racist. In a system where victimhood is rewarded, in order to make up for his deficit of oppression, he creates his own oppressors.

From his perspective, Harry believes that he’s doing the right thing by exposing the Royals and the press. The reality of this has resulted in both him and Meghan being perceived as narcissistic, entitled and arrogant. According to YouGov, only 26 per cent of Brits have a positive view of Prince Harry. It’s clear his dedication to the woke code of morality has not paid off. 

The gender gap in education is celebrated as a success

By leaving his family, Harry seems to have abandoned their methods of altruism. The Royal Family has privilege. Yet the British public doesn’t see this as an issue because the family dedicates their lives to their duty and charity. This compares to Harry abandoning his duty and centring himself above his charitable works, as he left his family and instead joined the Hollywood progressives. From being celebrated for his charity work with the Invictus Games to now being memed on TikTok for detailing how he lost his virginity to an older woman, it’s clear Harry’s devolution to postmodern morality has led to his downfall. 

If you can’t escape hate and discrimination for being a straight, white man, what can you do? The only solution is to escape being a straight white man altogether. It is easier to gain oppression points than you’d think. For some, you can simply announce that you’re nonbinary and get annoyed when people don’t refer to you with the right pronouns. 

The attempt to escape the burdens of being perceived as privileged has gone a step further with the new phenomenon of “transmaxxing”. The writer Mary Harrington describes the term as “a subculture of young men who embrace trans identities not because they believe they were ‘born in the wrong body’ but simply because they can, and because they think it’ll make their lives better”. These individuals see the benefits that society gives those who are transgender or female, compared to the burdens of being a cisgender male. 

In reality, despite the mainstream narrative, not only is the straight white male powerless but every time power is deducted, it is celebrated as a sign of progress — whether it be the Labour Party conference scoffing that “there are too many white men” raising their hands at a debate or the Tories cheering that Liz Truss’ Cabinet was the first with no white men in the four great offices of state. 

Beyond politics, there is the gender gap in education where girls are often doing much better than boys on average. As Richard Reeves points out in his book Of Boys and Men, this isn’t seen as an issue. In fact, it is celebrated as a “phenomenal success”. Another example is that in an attempt to drive diversity, the RAF has recently been accused of discriminating against 160 white men. 

In the majority of society, these problems are often ignored, dismissed and mocked. The progressive straight white male is not allowed to acknowledge any of his disadvantages and must instead focus on the ways his existence is hurting society. 

The process is parallel to Kafka’s novel The Trial: the protagonist is told he has committed a crime without being provided with an explanation of what the crime is. There is no solution or redemption for what he has supposedly done. All he can do is search for futile guidance, which will never give him a resolution. 

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