Oct 192017

[cw: culture war crap]

Straight White Male was the default Awful Group for most of my adult life. It was the typical term of derision to describe the thoughtless bro-type we all can’t stand, and before I woke up I used it a lot too. Over the past year (maybe two?) I’ve seen it morph to Cis White Male.

I hypothesize there are three reasons for this.


The first is that being Gay no longer is enough to firmly place one on the “oppressed” side of the Oppressor/Oppressed scale. It’s no longer the 50s. Everyone knows someone who’s gay. Dick Cheney supports gay rights, Donald Trump has held up the rainbow flag. The Log Cabin Republicans have been around for a long time. But, most dramatically, Milo Yiannopoulos exists.

Don’t get me wrong, Yiannopoulos is a complete douchebag. He picks on vulnerable people for audiences that love to cheer on a bully. More importantly though, he’s totally gay. He is the archetypal Straight White Male that all other Straight White Males are stereotypes of, and dammit, he isn’t straight. This decoupling of “Social Justice Virtue” from “Gay” has been building for a long time, but Yiannopoulus was the nail gun that sealed that coffin up tight.


It turned out as more and more people came out that there’s a lot of ways to be gay. So many ways, in fact, that you can’t reliably tell if someone is gay or not just by observing them. Sure, there’s some stereotypical looks and behaviors. But you can’t really ever be SURE that someone is gay unless you ask them. It got to be that you couldn’t call ANYONE a Straight White Male if you didn’t know them personally (and fairly well), because that all-American quarter back or that manly oil rig worker could be completely gay. The darn genderqueer and non-binary people didn’t make things any easier–they might have high heels and nail polish and be totally straight! If you can’t quickly determine if someone is a Straight White Male or not, the term loses a lot of it’s attack power.


Finally, homosexuality is no longer a good signal. A good signal is hard to fake, normally by being costly.

Homosexuality is super easy to fake. You don’t have to have sex with anyone, because it ain’t no one’s damn business who you sleep with. All those gay kids who are still in the closet and have never had sex with, or even kissed someone of the same gender–are you saying they aren’t gay? Very unwoke of you. All that one has to do to BE gay is to IDENTIFY as gay.

And identifying as gay is sooooo easy. Almost no one is on the extreme ends of the Kinsey scale. Have you (as a guy, since all Straight White Males must be Male) ever fantasized about a guy? Thought “man… I would totally sleep with Johnny Depp if given the opportunity” (or insert pretty celebrity of your choice, I’m obviously dating myself with the Depp reference)? That’s good enough to be slightly gay. Have you kissed a guy, just to try it, and didn’t retch in disgust? That’s enough to claim freedom from the yoke of “Straight White Male.” You are at least a little bit gay.

Heck, the person you’re attracted to doesn’t even have to be a male-presenting guy. There’s tons of really hot feminine guys. My first guy-crush was on Kenshin, I didn’t realize he was a guy until 5 episodes in (missed the first one where it was spelled out), and then realized I didn’t really care, cuz he’s feminine and it’s femininity I’m attracted to. So if you’re a guy, attracted to feminine people, but aren’t freaked the hell out by your feminine partner having a penis, well shit, you can claim the label of “gay” or “gayish” if you want to, and those who say otherwise are the real bigots.

People didn’t used to do this, because being openly gay was costly. It’s not anymore. Gayness is no longer a good signal because it’s broad enough of a term to encompass almost anyone who wants to claim it, and there’s no penalty for claiming it.


So a replacement was needed for the “Straight” in “Straight White Male.” Fortunately, trans-visibility has become really big nowadays.

Which, first of all, thank goodness. I say this in complete seriousness. Trans rights are important, and they’ve been neglected for a long time.

But in terms of signaling and tribalism, replacing Straight with Cis was also the logical step. Being trans is much more definitive than being gay, and is pretty costly. It’s also hard to be “slightly” trans so that one can claim non-Cis status. Even being genderqueer or non-binary is fairly costly in many situations.

Also, Cis is easy to say and follows the asthetically-pleasing sound scheme of “Straight White Male.” “Cis White Male” has a similar mouth feel, possibly a better one, and can be said derogatorily very easily.

So, success. The group that is most deserving of hate is once again easily singled out, and any individual you meet can quickly and easily be placed into it (or out), with very little chance of escaping. I may not be a Straight White Male, but I’m definitely a Cis White Male, and good luck getting out of that pigeonhole. I guess it was nice to think I was out of Most Hated status for a while, even if it was illusory.


Yeah, yeah, I know. Change my circle of peers. I have, for the most part, but it’s still frustrating how many otherwise-good people I like that I have to keep at the margins because of this. /sigh

  6 Responses to “Cis is the new Straight”

  1. Ok I am not really going to talk too much about the body of this because I have a question I really want to know the answer to. Like who is doing this. Like really who?

    Story time you can skip. I went to highschool once, back in the 90’s. Back in those days I went to a very righty school for 7-10 and a very lefty school 10-12. Both schools placed in areas where the seat was quite safely always going one way. I went to the lefty school after having gone to a school where are a kid literally got up and gave a presentation on how bad asians smell and got laughs including from teacher. In the lefty school I did get singled out by a couple of tools for not being a perfect part of the leftwing groupthink machine. I did have a couple of angry lesbians give me a hard time for being a white male one time.

    That was highschool though. Now in my adult life I hear a lot of people telling me how awful jews/muslims/trannies are. Like I literally know several people in the real world and I get bombarded by it online. When was the last time someone gave me a hard time for being a straight white male? Literally over 18 years ago. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with a lot of lefties and righties and just people in general in that time and it hasn’t happened. I come across the whole Muslims will ruin Australia thing a lot though. For the large part I like Muslims because to date they have made the very best of neighbors (I live in an area which is very migrant/muslim heavy). If most of the people I know are lefties and or not white why do I never hear anyone rallying against cis-white-males ? The only time I ever hear of this is from right wing white people telling me it happens and now from you. So could you paint a picture of just what this group of cis-white-male haters looks like and does with its time and how I can find them? (just because itd have to be a bit of a laugh to see someone really go down this road)

    • I used to visit Kotaku regularly. It was definitely leftist, but growing up in a very right-wing area I liked being exposed. It wasn’t every day they talked about how much straight white males sucked, but it wasn’t exactly uncommon. After the election they turned the hate way up, so I eventually had to stop visiting.

      So that’s one place. I don’t know if they’ve switched their hate from straight white males to cis white males, and I don’t intend to go back to check. But that’s at least one place that does regularly hate on straight white males.

      • Sorry, couldn’t edit my post, that second sentence should read:
        It was definitely leftist, but growing up in a very right-wing area I liked being exposed to more leftist ideas, and it actually played a significant role in my moving quite a bit in the leftist direction.

    • The post was primarily about exploring why “straight” is being replaced by “cis.” I complained a bit at the end, and maybe that was a mistake. I have had to cull my peer group due to culture war issues, though.

      I can only speak from my experience. I live in Denver, Colorado, USA. For the most part it isn’t too bad. There are many advantages to being a cis white male in the broader society. I recently started a new job, and I was surprised reading through their dress code the sorts of things that aren’t acceptable in the office (colored hair, more than two ear piercings, anything other than a simple “stud” piercing for men, etc). In large part this is because a lot of my peer group has these things, and I regard them as entirely normal.

      Most of my friends are either in the tech industry (which is so strapped for good employees that you can do anything, and has a very liberal culture anyway) or the arts. There’s a small contingent in the tech side, and a fairly sizable one in the arts side, that is strongly SJW and does use Cis White Male as a term of derision. Again, it’s not a huge deal. It kinda sucks hearing people who are otherwise friends using you as a slur, but it doesn’t compare to what some people have to go through. But yeah, I do hear it with some regularity.

      The story you shared about the laughter at “smelly Asians” is legit shocking to me. Only the edgelords would do something like that in the area I grew up, and everyone would roll their eyes at the kid trying to get attention, and the teachers would sigh and give him detention or send him out of the classroom or something. I’m sorry there’s still places where teachers condone that sort of thing. :(

  2. Haters gonna hate, am I right?

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.