For most of my life, I have been put-upon, marginalised, and had my rights taken away from me. As a white heterosexual male I have seen a steady erosion of my workplace rights, my freedom to live as I wish, and to practice my beliefs. Meanwhile any bunch of rabble-rousers from a so-called minority can walk in and do as they please, and I'm expected to pay for it all through my taxes.
Enraged yet? I hope so :). The paragraph above is of course rubbish.
There are bad things about being a white heterosexual male. The ruthless intolerance of failure, and the expectation to conform to a rather ridiculous ideal, to name two examples. But as someone who can still mount a world-class performance of a member of that group when I choose it's rather obvious that it's not hindered me in life.
So why the inflammatory first paragraph? I was trying to represent a very common view that you'll find not far below the surface of Middle England, and no doubt middle-anywhere-else too. A resistance to change coupled with a suspicion that someone else might be getting a Better Deal forms itself into a boiling resentment. You'll find it in every field, from race relations, gender politics and policing, through to the allocation of NHS services and cycle lanes on busy roads. The comment streams of any mainstream news website provide ample demonstration, voted up on the Mail and Express sites and voted down on the Guardian site no doubt.
It is important to realise that the people who express such views are generally not bad or evil. Some of them may vote for a different political party than you do, others may not. It's simply that they see the problems in their, the majority's lives being ignored while public money they see as rightfully theirs is lavished on those of a minority they perceive as undeserving. And it is thus also important to understand that while their reasons may not chime with everyone's politics, their resentment is no less real for it.
It pains me then to see how such views are dealt with from the other side of the fence. Usually dismissed out of hand in a cloud of invective which only deepens the resentment and makes things worse. I'm thinking about some of the more vocal elements of the cycling lobby as I write this, there are times when I want to cry "SHUT UP! You're only MAKING MATTERS WORSE!" in that arena.
That's the thing about majorities you can't deny: ultimately in a democracy they do control the purse strings so winding them up for the sake of it, while it might make you feel better, is unlikely to be productive.
Far better to engage with the resentment and try to defuse it, however thankless a task it might seem at times. It's a marketing challenge not a political one, and it is not an insurmountable challenge. While there will be people who are unswayable there will be others who can be reached, and for every one of those another personal sphere of influence is tapped into.
So to return to the rather inflammatory title of this piece: spare a thought for the white heterosexual male. Or anyone else whose disagreement with your views is based on resentment. Understand and engage with the resentment, and who knows, your efforts just might bear fruit.