Weekly choice: on being productive, altruist and feminist

RSA Animate – Re-Imagining Work

How can we get people more engaged, more productive, and happier at work? Is technology part of the problem – and could it also be part of the solution? Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, imagines what might be possible if more organization embraced the full, empowering potential of technology and encouraged a truly open, collaborative and flexible working culture.


“Work is no longer a Destination!”


An Analysis of Altruism

Neel Burton is a psychiatrist, philosopher and writer who lives and teaches in Oxford.  In this interesting article he proposes a different perspective of altruism.


“Altruistic acts are self-interested, if not because they relieve anxiety, then perhaps because they lead to pleasant feelings of pride and satisfaction; the expectation of honor or reciprocation; or the greater likelihood of a place in heaven; and even if neither of the above, then at least because they relieve unpleasant feelings such as the guilt or shame of not having acted at all.”



Ted’s best for the week

In this creative talk Ben Saunders (an explorer of limits) urges the audiences to consider carefully how to spend the “tiny amount of time we each have on this planet.”


“To try, to experience, to engage, to endeavor rather than to watch and to wonder, that’s where the real meat of life is to be found. It’s the juice that we can suck out of our hours and days,” says Saunders. “If I’ve learned anything from 12 years now of dragging heavy things around cold places, it’s that true, real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity and challenge, from stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown.”


Person of the week, Simone de Beauvoir, the mother of modern feminism and a symbol of sexual freedom!


The one who upheld the issue of freedom for women, as the most desirable human condition, especially freedom of choice.

Women have reproductive role and the role of upbringing, said Beauvoir, and this is in part why women find it difficult to be free. However, the woman does not need to be defined by her uterus, it is possible to have a life outside of her reproductive functions.

One of her best-known books, The Second Sex, deals with the treatment of women throughout history and is often regarded as a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism.

simonsartreHer life is also known with her relationship with the famous philosopher and Nobel laureate Jean- Paul Sartre. They were one of the most celebrated intellectual unconventional couples. They met in 1929 and never got married or even lived together, but they dedicated themselves to each other agreeing to retain the freedom to be sexually and emotionally with others and up to sharing the details to each of these connections.


second sexIn  her novel, ‘’The Second Sex’’ she explores the biological, psychoanalytic and Marxian explanations of women’s fate, understanding women in terms of “the other”, or what is not the self, which is secondary, inessential, and inferior.  De Beauvoir assesses the history of relations between the poles from the time of the primitive society to modern era and looks at women’s sexuality and her relationship with a female “otherness”.

She observes the myths related to women, especially those who are attached to motherhood; examines representations of women in the novels of male authors and evaluates the evolution of the contemporary status of women from girl to womanhood as wives and mothers. She considers the special position of lesbians, independent woman and a career woman, and extensively analyzes the role of prostitutes, a role which she saw as one where women can, under certain conditions, use the “otherness” in order to take advantage of men.


« L’intellectuel est ainsi fait, il se mêle toujours de ce qu’il ne regard pas. » (Sartre sur pourquoi il se mêle dans les affaires d’autre)


The cost of Feminism

In different themes one can recognize demands and declarations that are the product of idealistic notions more than the understanding of the reasons with a pragmatic intention for resolution. Meaning, where do we notice a continuing contradiction between words and actions?


One example is with the constant talk about equality in salaries between men and women. I too am a big admirer of equal rights and obligations (although the second part is usually left unmentioned), yet my practical understanding of the situation reveals a bigger problem than just powerful men in suits that look down to women (which by itself, is a sad reality). There is a more intrinsic difficulty and it is with our habits and natural culture (another way to say instincts in a civilized society).

I will say that in order to really solve it, we have to start from the primary reason of why men are making more money than women. More than the notorious reason of coupling men with greed and lust for power, there is a profound, primal one: the large majority of women prefer men that make more money than they do. Thus, simplifying the analogy, we can say that as in any market, it is a question of demand and distribution, which in this case, the demand for more men with more money create a proportionate distribution.

How can one say such an outrage? Well, there are interesting studies about this preference in the large majority of women (see chapter 18 in The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker) yet I´m positive that you will find the best one to be your personal experience. If someone knows about a woman that demands equal salary and actually chose for a husband or a partner a man that makes less than she, I will be more than happy to hear about it. That being said, the studies obviously do not take under consideration a choice for an occasional sex and/or a lover, but what we can define a normal relationship (understanding normal by large majority serious relationship with an aspiration for family life). As I noticed in my personal experience and the people I had the opportunity to discuss this matter, many are the women that are aware and even share this ideal but very few actually got married to someone that made less. Interestingly, in most occasions when they first met they had no idea of the outcome of the quantity of the salary, it is almost an instinct preference.

In the study, the subjects found the men who made more money to be more attractive and appealing, and someone they will consider marrying. Now, obviously, not all men with that make a 6 figures salary are from the Bald and the Beautiful, one can presume that nature does it course. This primal instinct is logical from the point of you of Evolutionist behaviorism, where a woman is more attracted to a man that according to her standards will be able to provide the best (in today’s terms it translates to salary).

 we can do it

As always, the idea is that once we obtain the information we´re not to use it as an excuse for some natural reality. This is where we have to use our great capacity of mind and act according to this information to create the society we aspire to. Hence, those that are fighting for the equal pay, if you really want to start having results, be aware of the root of the issue, leave the slogans and the good/bad narrative aside and change the system by creating more awareness of the deeper reason.