Lazy [insert generic swear word]
Some Random Bloke (from his car window)
Polite notice. This story contains some naughty language and unpleasant behaviour.
So, there I was, walking home with my weekly shopping. I don’t drive, but I live near a supermarket, so I do my weekly shop on foot. I was carrying two big carrier bags of noms, plus a messenger bag full of vegan milk and smoothies, so I had adopted a workmanlike pace.
About halfway home, I have to cross a road. I checked both directions. There was a car coming on the far side, but I had ample time, so I crossed the road without breaking stride.
The approaching car slowed down a little as I crossed. But as it passed behind me, the driver leaned over to the open passenger window and called me a “lazy cunt”, presumably because I hadn’t scurried out of his way, thereby wasting precious micro-seconds of his existence by making him slow down.
Naturally, I told the bloke to “fuck off” and carried on walking.
But, man, I was vexed. Who did this guy think he was? What is the point in spewing this sort of bile into the world? Even writing this, I can feel the rage returning.
What has this got to do with white cis-het male privilege? Well, two things occurred to me.
First, there’s the driver. This bloke appeared to believe that the world is all about him and his immediate needs. Roads exist for him to get where he’s going. Other people can wait, or woe betide them.
This attitude goes hand-in-hand with the privilege of being a culture’s “default”. Were this bloke not the “default” playable character in World of Wankers, he’d have known that not everything is about him. Because people like him would have pointed it out.
The second thing, however, is more subtle. See, I myself am a basic white cis-het male. Although, as Thing 1 points out, I am the Urban Dictionary definition of a “soy boy”, so I’m not quite “default”.
Consequently, the bloke in the car couldn’t use an insult that had anything to do with who I am. He couldn’t insult my race or gender. He couldn’t insult my sexuality or a visible disability I might have. He couldn’t insult me at all. Hence, the perfectly generic “lazy cunt”.
As far as I could tell, the bloke was angry because I hadn’t behaved in the way he’d expected me to (i.e. deferentially). If I’d only let him drive past before crossing, I could have avoided his wrath. Ridiculous, true, but at least it’s an option I had.
Not everyone is so fortunate. To a bigot, the very existence of people who do not fit their idea of “default” is infuriating. Whatever their poison — be they far-right nationalists, mansplaining misogynists, or toilet-patrolling TERFs — the very existence of an “other” is enough to provoke abuse from a bigot. And not just generic abuse. Specific, targeted abuse about someone’s identity.
This isn’t to say that anyone who experiences “non-bigoted” abuse could and/or should have done something to prevent it. The fault will always lie with the abuser, and the circumstances that enable and support abuse.
White cis-het male privilege is one of those circumstances. Because I can pass for “default”, I don’t get abused by randoms very often. And it is precisely this privilege that makes very occasionally being called a “lazy cunt” so annoying. Because, like any privilege, it can be revoked.