Yesterday, Whatever published an interesting post framing the real world as a video game, and the difficulty setting as the minority status you are born. In an effort to help straight folks understand “privilege” without using the word, the author declared the easiest difficulty setting in the game as being “Straight White Male.”
Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.
This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.
From a bromo perspective, this analogy holds water. While our status as a sexual and/or gender minority sometimes impacts our lives (usually when we come up against laws) being a bromo has its advantages. While we might not play on the lowest difficulty setting: a lot of us have the cheat code.
We don’t play the game as “Straight Male” – but we can if we want to. When entering dungeons, facing off with bosses, or just grinding to gain experience points, if the going gets tough we can hit pause, enter STRAIGHTGUY, and unlock the special abilities of that class of character. All abilities immediately gain +1. Right on!
But of course, this trick isn’t perfect. When the code is engaged it slowly decreases your stats like Stamina and Health. Stress levels increase as you see your status levels drop, and you rush to make it through the quest. When you finally make it through and back to home base, your levels will return to nearly pre-code levels. Not much of a sacrifice, but it still takes its toll.
The post delivers another relevant kick of reality:
In The Real World, you don’t unlock any rewards or receive any benefit for playing on higher difficulty settings. The game is just harder, and potentially a lot less fun. And you say, okay, but what if I want to replay the game later on a higher difficulty setting, just to see what it’s like? Well, here’s the other thing about The Real World: You only get to play it once.
So, if you play with the cheat code on all of the time, you waste your chance at living an honest life. Safer? Easier? Probably. But surely we can use our special ability to reprogram the game for other people. Even without the cheat code many of the players will find us more relatable: so lets use that instead. By all means plug in the code if you’re in danger, but the rest of the time we have an opportunity.
Homophobia -1 to every non-playable character you encounter that reconsiders their view of what it means to be gay. Misogyny -1 when you call out your buddies for using derogatory language. Bigotry -1 when you stand up for our femmebros and tell people there is nothing wrong with being flamboyant. Transphobia -1 when your treat trans bros like bros, bro.
Our default setting may lead through a couple of difficult levels, but more importantly we can change the very fabric of the game. Get out there and play on, bromos.