The PJ Tatler

Why John Scalzi is Wrong About White Privilege

Best selling author Michael Z. Williamson is known for his amazing books and rampant libertarianism. He’s also an immigrant who once sat in front of an immigration official waiting to hear if he’d be sent back to England or not — as a teenager who was here legally and had certainly done nothing to deserve deportation.

So when fellow award-winning author John Scalzi went off on how being a white male is the ultimate in privilege, Mad Mike, as he is sometimes known, got a little … cranky.

Absolute statements are usually a bad idea.  So when John Scalzi categorically states that “straight white male is the easiest setting in the game of life,” he’s wrong.  Repeatedly.

Let’s start with one very obvious example (at least, obvious if you’re part of the culture in question).  To graduate USAF Basic Training, a male, regardless of age, must complete 50 pushups.  A female must complete 27.


It’s worse in the Army, because they adjust for age, and require 50% of potential max score for your age group.  So an older female can graduate with 9. That’s right, 9.


Yes, the male has it much easier.

This continues throughout military service. Males are required to score much higher on pushups and running speed than females, and are held to standard.  Ask any vet, and they can tell you of numerous females who pass with the ugliest, squintiest, not-really-pushups-but-she-tried flops.

Then there’s the fact that any male can be called from his official duties to serve as an infantryman.  Females are forbidden by law from such duty.  Yes, these days the lines are slippery, and some women have served up front and personal (and with honor and professionalism).  But officially, by law, it cannot be mandated.  Any male can be told to charge a machine gun nest.  Such is “male privilege” in the military.

Please note I am not commenting on the logic or morality of said laws, just noting that these laws do exist.  Men are combat troops at the general’s whim.  Women are not.  Men are required to maintain significantly higher standards of physical readiness.

Females can get out of a deployment or cruise in a second by stating, “I think I may be pregnant.”  Bang, off the list, like that.  Now, most troops are there knowing deployment is part of the mission and agreeable to it.  And women do actually get pregnant.  But there are some few who play the card, and for various reasons (legal, moral, practical), that reason must remain.  But it is an available escape that any female has that no male has. (And note they don’t actually have to be pregnant, just claim they think they might be.)

Read the rest of it at his blog here. I don’t always agree with Mike, but he always provokes thought. And in this case he’s dead on.