Author Archives | Dustin Celestino

Money Can Buy Happiness

A few days ago, I published the article “Nothing Will Make You Happy,” which introduced readers to a controversial claim made by Harvard professor of psychology, Dan Gilbert. In the TedTalk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” Gilbert stated that after a year, a paraplegic and a lottery winner will have similar capacities for happiness.

The reason for this is because human beings have developed a psychological immune system that automatically distorts our perception of our own circumstances, automatically making positive perceptions of even bad situations. He called this kind of happiness – synthetic happiness. What this information implies is that external situations do not necessarily affect a person’s capacity for happiness.

The notion that one can be happy even if one was poor, or ugly, or obese, or unhealthy, or unsuccessful, is very comforting for the least motivated of us – me, at least.

However, Gilbert also mentioned the effect of freedom on our capacity for synthesizing happiness. People with less freedom find it easier to rationalize their situation. People with more freedom are not as good with creating synthetic happiness. Knowing that making one choice over another will not improve your situation, your brain starts to rationalize why it’s okay to stop trying because “this isn’t so bad.” But as long as we know that we are capable of acquiring or achieving more, we will inevitably be unsatisfied with our current status. My own freedom and “potential” may be preventing me from achieving a perfect state of synthetic happiness.

Now, I’ll still be as capable of happiness as a rich person even if I was poor. Yes, I can still be happy, but overwhelming evidence suggests that I’ll be happier if I was not poor.

Happiness and sadness are not two sides of a coin. These states exist in a spectrum. Some are simply happier than others. The problem with happiness is that it’s not easy to measure because there are plenty of factors that can increase or decrease happiness. It’s hard to tell what exactly makes a person happy.

The article, “Money, Marriage, Kids,” by Chuck Leddy, for example, explains how having money, being married, and having children can influence a person’s happiness. So, a rich person who isn’t married, and has no children, may self-report less happiness than a person with less (but enough) money, who is married and has children.

We’re not going to be 100% sure what makes other people happy, but there is evidence that there is a positive correlation between money and happiness.

MONEY
 

In 2008, Justin Wolfers, an Australian economist and public policy scholar, wrote a six-part article series called, “The Economics of Happiness”, in Freakonomics.com:

Part 1: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox

Part 2: Are Rich Countries Happier than Poor Countries?

Part 3: Historical Evidence

Part 4: Are Rich People Happier than Poor People?

Part 5: Will Raising the Incomes of All Raise the Happiness of All?

Part 6: Delving Into Subjective Well-Being

If you’re not inclined to read all of that evidence, you can find a summary of the same data in The New York Times article, “Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All,” by David Leonhardt.

If you don’t want to read that either, here’s Wolfers’ conclusions:

The facts about income and happiness turn out to be much simpler than first realized:

1) Rich people are happier than poor people.
2) Richer countries are happier than poorer countries.
3) As countries get richer, they tend to get happier.

Moreover, each of these facts seems to suggest a roughly similar relationship between income and happiness.

There is no ambiguity here. Money makes people happy. However, it’s still possible to have plenty of money and not be happy.

In a research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (2011), Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Timothy D. Wilson suggested that “If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right.”

In the same paper they proposed very useful recommendations on how people can maximize the amount of happiness they buy with their money. The abstract of the study reads as:

“The relationship between money and happiness is surprisingly weak, which may stem in part from the way people spend it. Drawing on empirical research, we propose eight principles designed to help consumers get more happiness for their money. Specifically, we suggest that consumers should (1) buy more experiences and fewer material goods; (2) use their money to benefit others rather than themselves; (3) buy many small pleasures rather than fewer large ones; (4) eschew extended warranties and other forms of overpriced insurance; (5) delay consumption; (6) consider how peripheral features of their purchases may affect their day-to-day lives; (7) beware of comparison shopping; and (8) pay close attention to the happiness of others.”

To conclude, here’s a quick FAQ for possible questions that might still be lingering in the reader’s mind:

Is a poor person as equally capable of happiness as a rich person? Yes.
Is it possible for a poor person to be happier than a rich person? Yes.
Would poor people be happier if they had more money? Yes.
Are poor people, on average, just as happy as rich people? No.

There is no single path to happiness.

One can earn it through achievements, one can find it in marriage and in children, one can “synthesize” happiness out of “nothing,” and it turns out, one can also buy it (as long as one knows what kind of purchases provide happiness).

So, to those who have plenty of money, here’s a terrible pun, “Happy shopping!”

 

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“Nothing” Will Make You Happy

HappyI live from paycheck-to-paycheck. I don’t make a lot of money. I don’t own a lot of useful things – mostly cards and toys. I do not own a television. The only furniture in my room is a bed on the floor. It doesn’t have a bed frame. Most of my immediate family are abroad. The only family I have here, in the Philippines, is my brother. I see him once a week. I have no savings. I’m rather obese; obese II to be exact. I’m 31. Friends of mine from college run businesses, own homes, have started families, have travelled to many places. I, on the other hand, don’t have any savings. In fact, if my mom doesn’t send me a few bucks each month, I won’t be able to pay my rent.

In other words, I’m not one would call a “success story,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people thought I was kind-of a loser.

The weird thing is, I’ve always considered myself a happy person. Despite the fact that I’m often broke, overweight, and getting old, I’m happy. The only time I feel genuinely sad or anxious is when I get into an argument with my girlfriend, or when someone dies, or when I have to take an exam I’m not prepared for, or when the Netrunner data pack I wanted was out of stock. I sometimes think that there’s something wrong with me, because I don’t get as sad or as anxious as most adults do.

When I published the article, “Sad, Sad World,” a few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked, “Are human beings supposed to be sad, by default?” I said, “Our brains are more efficient at retaining memories of negative events and experiences, so, yes.” “Then, why am I not sad?” she asked. I didn’t really have an answer.

I thought about the same thing. I realized that my understanding of what makes people sad and happy is rather incomplete. So, I did more research.

Yesterday morning, I came across the TedTalk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” by Dan Gilbert. In this TedTalk, Gilbert challenges common notions of what creates happiness. He claims that we are generally unaware of what makes us happy, we don’t know makes us sad, and we overestimate how negative experiences might affect our capacity for happiness.

He shares data that supports the notion that human beings have what he calls a “psychological immune system.” He claims that human beings have developed a mechanism that allows them to feel better about their own circumstances.

Gilbert begins his talk by asking the audience to make a choice between two different scenarios:

“Here’s two different futures that I invite you to contemplate, and you can try to simulate them and tell me which one you think you might prefer. One of them is winning the lottery. This is about 314 million dollars. And the other is becoming paraplegic.”

He then makes the claim that, after one year, both paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy. In other words, a person’s capacity for happiness is not limited by his or her circumstances. In fact, studies reveal that most people have a tendency to overestimate the amount of misery they’ll experience from negative events.

Gilbert says:

“From field studies to laboratory studies, we see that winning or losing an election, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion, passing or not passing a college test, on and on, have far less impact, less intensity and much less duration than people expect them to have.”

Another interesting notion Gilbert discussed is the distinction between natural happiness and synthetic happiness. Natural happiness is the positive feelings we gain from getting the things that we want. Synthetic happiness is, in my opinion, a fancy term for “sweet lemons.”

The idea of “sweet lemons” is rumored to have emerged from the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” The idea of “sweet lemons” has a negative implication, however. It implies that a person has successfully fooled himself into thinking positively about undeniably bad circumstances. Similarly, a lot of people are skeptical about synthetic happiness. As Gilbert says, “We smirk because we believe that synthetic happiness is not of the same quality as what we might call “natural happiness.”

We assume that people who cherish their sweet lemons can’t possibly be as happy as people who are happy because of external reasons (wealth, health, fame, beauty, etc). That’s the very notion Gilbert is challenging. He says:

“I want to suggest to you that synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.”

The point Gilbert is trying to make is that a lot of people erroneously consider happiness as something that could be found or earned, when, in fact, it’s something that one can simply create. While most people think that external circumstances determine happiness, Gilbert presents evidence that prove the opposite.

Everyone has a psychological immune system that can synthesize happiness. However, Gilbert reminds us that not all immune systems are created equal. Some people do it better than others, and some situations are more ideal for such synthesis to occur.

Gilbert says:

“It turns out that freedom — the ability to make up your mind and change your mind — is the friend of natural happiness, because it allows you to choose among all those delicious futures and find the one that you would most enjoy. But freedom to choose — to change and make up your mind — is the enemy of synthetic happiness.”

Having more freedom allows you to take the necessary steps to achieve natural happiness, while having less freedom, or being unable to change your situation, forces your psychological immune system to synthesize happiness from within.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

In “Sad, Sad World,” I discussed how our brains are geared to pay more attention to negativity, so we have a tendency to notice and recall negative experiences and events more often. However, based on “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” our happiness can function independently from the negative experiences and events we encounter.

So, essentially, you can acquire natural happiness from fulfilling your dreams and goals. But you can also acquire, or synthesize, happiness should you fail to fulfill these goals. In other words, “nothing” can make you happy just as much as “something” can, because we have a built-in happiness synthesizer that can turn our existential lemons into lemonade. Pretty sweet, don’t you think?

 

Sources:

Gilbert, D. (2004). “The Surprising Science of Happiness.” Retrieved on November 10, 2014. From: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy?language=en

Kay, A. Jimenez, M. Jost, J. (2002).  “Sour Grapes, Sweet Lemons, and the Anticipatory Rationalization of the Status Quo.” Retrieved on November 10, 2014. From: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/jost/Kay,_Jiminez,_&_Jost_%282002%29_Sour_Grapes_Sweet_Lemons.pdf

 

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Quick, Delete Your Hentai!

“Oh no! My childhood is ruined!” I never could relate with people who claim that they’ve been robbed of something precious when they find out certain details about shows they enjoyed as kids: things like the incestuous implications of Finding Nemo, or the fact that the cast of Power Rangers (who many thought were all martial arts experts) were never involved in the fight scenes, or being told that Santa wasn’t real.

However, the other day, someone told me about Voltron porn. I don’t mean robots having sex (although I’m sure they have that as well), I’m talking about the Voltron pilots having sex. It made me upset. See, when I was a kid, all I wanted was to marry Princess Allura from Voltron.

Hentai Image 1

Princess Allura

At night, before I went to sleep, I thought of Allura. I imagined giving her a necklace or a bracelet, and she would say, “Thank you,” and I remember being extremely happy about that. I think Princess Allura was the first woman I desired, or had a crush on, or maybe even loved in a romantic way.

Now, I understand what those people, those who claimed that their childhood was ruined, felt. I don’t want to see Princess Allura, naked, having an orgy with the rest of the Voltron team. If I were to describe how I felt, it’s something along the lines of, “Some asshole decided to piss on the purity and innocence of my seven-year-old romantic feelings.”

Does it bother me that some douchebags make porn of Princess Allura? Hell, yeah! Do I think that people who possess pornographic material of Princess Allura should go to jail? Um, no. In fact, I think it’s normal to watch cartoon porn. I think some people need a harmless means of fulfilling a childhood fantasy.

I get it.

This picture, for example, makes me sort-of nostalgic, and sort-of happy, and a little bothered, and a little aroused:

Hentai Image 2

Childhood ruined?

It’s rather jarring, this image. I’m forced to see Princess Allura in a completely different light, and my childhood and current world views are on a collision course. It’s like someone transported my childhood consciousness from the past into my present body, forcing it into adulthood in 10 seconds. It makes me feel odd, but I don’t think it’s wrong.

I’m aware that some people like Sailor Moon hentai, and some people like Teen Titans hentai, and some people like My Little Pony hentai. I wouldn’t be surprised if these people kept copies of these cartoons. I think it’s normal. What I find disturbing is not what these cartoons depict, but the information that people could go to jail for having hentai.

Rossa Minogue discussed the case of Robul Hoque in the article, “Robul Hoque: sentenced for a thought crime.”

Minogue reports:

“During the trial, Hoque’s barrister, Richard Bennett, insisted that the material was available on legal pornographic websites and the presiding judge, Tony Biggs, emphasized that ‘no actual children or perpetrators [were] involved’. Even so, the judge believed that the possession of the ‘repulsive’ comics and cartoons were worthy of a prison sentence, because, he said, anything that may encourage child abuse should be ‘actively discouraged’.”

I think that’s absurd. What this ruling means is that people could go to jail for possessing naked cartoon images of Sailor Moon and her friends. Usagi Tsukino, the lead character in the series, is only 14 years old, and if you own pornographic cartoons with her image, you could go to jail too.

No, seriously. You really could:

Republic Act No. 9775 – Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009

Section 3. Definition of Terms. –
For the purpose of this Act, a child shall also refer to:
(1) a person regardless of age who is presented, depicted or portrayed as a child as defined herein; and
(2) computer-generated, digitally or manually crafted images or graphics of a person who is represented or who is made to appear to be a child as defined herein.

With regard to child porn, the law does not distinguish between cartoons and real people. Sailor Moon hentai is also child porn.

As for Hoque, his only crime was something a lot of people do on a regular basis, which is to download hentai. In my opinion, Hoque is a threat to children as much as people who watch “My Little Pony” porn are a threat to ponies, and as much as people who are into pixie porn (porn about elves, pixies, and other fantasy creatures having sex) is a threat to pixies. Speaking of pixie porn, another guy was sent to jail for watching fairies fuck.

I don’t think that’s right. Just because a person likes to see sexualized images of talking ponies, doesn’t mean that they’ll start having sex with actual ponies.

Minogue says:

“People getting off on cartoons is in itself very odd. And the fact that the images and animations Hoque possessed depicted children makes it all the more creepy. However, apart from Hoque’s two prosecutions for possession of erotic art depicting children, he has no convictions for child abuse, possession of actual child pornography, or convictions for anything else, for that matter. In other words, there is no reason to believe he is a threat to children.”

This sets a very dangerous precedent. Hoque did not harm anyone, but was convicted anyway because naked cartoons of young girls gave him a hard-on. He’s now listed as a sex-offender, a label usually assigned to child molesters and rapists. However, he was not convicted because he committed a sex crime, but because he kept hentai. That’s weirder than having erotic experiences with cartoons.

Now, tell me, should we start telling our friends to start deleting their hentai?

 

Image Sources:

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Post-Sex Pillow Talk & Other Things Couples Should Practice Before They Get Married

SEX“I like sex.” Not a lot of Filipinos can make such a statement in public without feeling a little bit of embarrassment. Not a lot of Filipinos are willing to admit that sex plays a vital role in their personal happiness.

My formative years were spent in a Christian school and, as a child, I was trained to see sex as something dirty, embarrassing and undignified. I transferred to a secular school for High School, but “sex” was still one of the bad words that, upon mention, could result in a trip to the guidance counselor.

In high school, sex was a dirty little secret that many of us were curious about. We would huddle behind the gym and talk about sex, while we tried to smoke our first cigarettes. Some boys would talk about porn, and it was a big deal then to have seen porn, because the Internet has yet to make it accessible. We said “sex” in whispers and low voices, because that’s how we thought sex should be discussed – secretly.

It would take some time before I developed a healthier attitude towards sex, an attitude that was free of the embarrassment and shame I associated with it because of how my environment responded to the word. In a conservative, self-proclaimed, Catholic country, not a lot of people are open to sexual discourse. In fact, many people feel that having actual sex is easier than talking about sex. Needless to say, a lot of people are missing out on important information.

 

Sex like Vegetables

Having sex is like eating vegetables. Vegetables can burn calories, improve our immune system, and lower the risk for many diseases, including cancer. Sex can do all of that too. Furthermore, sex reduces stress and can even help us sleep.

Most people, couples even, underestimate the value of sex within the relationship. In fact, when choosing a mate, it’s not even something we mention. None of us would openly admit that, “I’d like to have a partner I’ll have fun having lots of sex with.” Sexual compatibility is still a severely underrated factor in the success of a marriage.

In fact, some people still think that marrying before sex is a good idea.

I don’t think it is a good idea to marry someone you haven’t had sex with. In my opinion, sexual compatibility is just as important (if not more important) to the success of a relationship as having similar values or sharing common interests.

 

Sex All Day, Sex Every Day

In the article, “The Ins and Outs of Sexual Frequency,” Dr. Amy Muise explains that frequent sex actually protects people from the negative effects of neuroticism. A neurotic person has a high tendency to experience anxiety and depression. According to studies, this quality has the worst effect on the quality of a romantic relationship. Thankfully, frequent sex buffers against these effects.

Aside from that, Muise explains:

“In addition, both men and women report greater sexual satisfaction and higher levels of overall relationship happiness when they have more sex. But, this goes both ways: satisfied couples have sex more often and frequent sex leads to increases in sexual satisfaction.

One problem with estimates of sexual frequency is that they often only consider the frequency of sexual intercourse. As we discussed previously, many different activities are considered sex (e.g., oral sex, genital touching) and expanding definitions of sex can be beneficial. In a recent study of long-term couples, the frequency of affectionate behaviors such as kissing, cuddling and caressing were also associated with increased sexual satisfaction for both men and women.”

Sexual frequency is important, but our notions of “frequency” is varied. Some couples think that having sex twice a week is too much, while others think it isn’t enough. Muise explains, “If you’re happy with how often you’re getting some, then it doesn’t really matter what others do.”

That’s precisely one of the reason’s why sexual compatibility is important. We have to be familiar and comfortable with how often our partner desires to have sex.

 

Talk Dirty to Me

Here’s an interesting fact: the sounds we make while having sex could enhance our partner’s sexual pleasure. In another study, it was learned that communicating one’s sexual preferences during sex is linked to one’s own sexual satisfaction.

In the article, “Let’s Talk About Sex…During Sex,” Dr. Amy Muise explains “that moaning, groaning, and words of encouragement during sex enhance your partner’s sexual pleasure.”

In the same article, Muise reports that sexual self-disclosure is important to sexual satisfaction. It’s important that our partner is aware of what we find pleasurable. For some couples, these discussions happen outside the bedroom. But studies reveal that it’s just as important for such sexual communication to happen “in the moment.”

Muise explains:

“The researchers found that even a small amount of anxiety can influence the degree to which you communicate pleasure with your partner during sex, and improving these communication skills may have positive results for your sex life.”

 

Pillow Talk

It’s not just sexual frequency or the quality of communication during sex that can influence relationship satisfaction. What we say to our partners after sex also matters.

In the article, “Pillow Talk Speaks A Lot About Your Relationship,” Jana Lembke discusses how pillow talk is a good indicator of relationship satisfaction. One study predicted that positive disclosures following sex would be associated with greater trust and closeness between partners.

The study revealed that:

The more couples engaged in positive pillow talk, the higher they rated their trust for their partner, their level of closeness, and their general relationship satisfaction.

A woman’s orgasm greatly influences her willingness to engage in positive disclosures. The study shows that, with regard to pillow talk, it doesn’t matter how a woman’s orgasm was achieved (whether through intercourse or another form of stimulation). However, women who didn’t orgasm had a tendency to engage in negative pillow talk toward their partner, while women who did orgasm made more positive pillow talk.

Couples who are monogamous and committed engaged in more positive disclosures after sex and reported higher relationship satisfaction after pillow talk.

 

Sex Before Marriage

In my opinion, there are three things you would want to know about your partner before you marry them:

1. You would want information about a partner’s sex drive. This is important because having a partner who wants to have sex as often as you do has an impact on your happiness and relationship satisfaction.

2. You would want to know how willingly your partner communicates, verbally and non-verbally, his or her sexual needs. This is important because your partner’s willingness to express his or her sexual appreciation can increase your overall sexual satisfaction.

3. You would want to know whether or not your partner engages in positive disclosures, positive pillow talk, after sex. This is important because positive disclosures done after sex increases a couples level of closeness, trust, and relationship satisfaction.

However, this is information that you’ll only have access to after you have sex with him/her.

There is nothing wrong with safe, consensual sex, between adults. There is nothing wrong with valuing sexual compatibility. I think it’s time to shed the negative attitudes we developed towards sex because of our indoctrination into various religions. Marrying before sex increases the likelihood that we end up with people we’re not sexually compatible with.

Why risk that, when we can simply do a little “research?”

 

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Why We Tinder

In my youth, I have dabbled a bit in the study of human attraction. I’ve always been fascinated with how complex human interactions progress from the first encounter, to the escalation of desire, to its consummation, and eventual decline.

How do you go from meeting a person you know nothing about, to deciding to share a bed, to committing to spend the rest of your life with this person?

“There has to be some magic there, somehow,” I thought. “There has to be something, a mystical, mysterious force, an erotic demon spirit maybe, that compels people to gaze at each other lovingly, in anticipation of joy, and comfort, and love, and every wonderful promise that the world can offer.”

Then, I heard about Tinder.

tinder-slide“Tinder is an online dating app that uses your Facebook profile to match you with people who are nearby and who have similar interests,” a friend explains to me. It seems simple enough, right? You swipe left for people you’re not attracted to, and swipe right for people you are attracted to.

One of its main features is that it only allows you to chat with people who already find you attractive. This may sound a little funny, but this simple dating app has inadvertently revealed a lot about people, in general.

 

Dating Sucks for Everyone

In an article from News.Mic, Erin Brodwin discusses how “New Research Reveals the One Simple Reason Tinder Is So Addictive.” One simple reason for the massive success of Tinder is that it skips the agony of trying to figure out whether or not a person you are physically attracted to is also attracted to you.

Brodwin reports:

“In a recent study from the University of Kansas, heterosexual men and women could tell pretty easily — 80% of the time — when someone wasn’t interested. But when someone was flirting, the other person rarely — 36% of the time for men and just 18% of the time for women — had a clue.”

In other words, we know, almost to a certainty when someone doesn’t like us. However, It appears that the “flirting” stage of the romantic pursuit that’s often glamorized in many Hollywood movies as something supposedly exciting and fun, is mostly confusing and dreadful in real life. We’re just not as confident and self-assured as the characters we see on film.

To make matters worse, just in case we do sum up the courage to talk to a complete stranger whose intentions, motivations, and desires in life is unknown to us, it’s still possible that they won’t like us, or that we’ll have absolutely nothing in common with them.

Brodwin adds that, “Dating is impossible. It’s the worst game adults have invented for themselves since hunting and gathering.”

I agree. I wonder how many hours the human race could have collectively saved if none of them wasted any time trying to win over someone who wasn’t attracted to them.

 

Why Tinder Works

Tinder works because it removes a lot of these unknown variables out of the equation. It uses an algorithm that arranges your selection pool according to similar interests and proximity. Furthermore, once you have a match, you no longer have to agonize over whether or not this person finds you attractive. A match is a match. At the very least, this person is “okay” with your face.

In the article, “The Science Behind 3 Popular Dating Apps,” Dr. Gary Lewandowski discusses the science behind Tinder. He mentions three scientific facts that make Tinder a very efficient application for seeking potential partners.

1) Tinder prioritizes matches with people you already have similar interests with, and “similarity plays a large role in attraction.”

2) Tinder makes suggested matches based on physical proximity. Lewadowski writes that, “the available research suggests that we are more attracted to those who live nearby.”

3) Tinder matches you with people who already like you. This feature, by itself, saves millions and millions of neurotic, insecure, individuals from obsessing about whether someone likes them on the most basic level, physically. But apart from that, Lewadowski adds that, “Matches on Tinder also benefit from the principle of reciprocity (i.e., liking those who like you), which research suggests also increases attraction.”

 

Tinder is Brutal

There is, however, one thing about Tinder that not a lot of people talk about. It’s fucking brutal. You are given the power to evaluate and make judgments on a person’s date-worthiness based on their appearance. What if you don’t find a match after swiping right through a hundred profiles? If you’re familiar with the logarithm that the program uses (more often than not, it puts those who “liked” you at front-end of your selection pool), the whole thing becomes a little depressing.

Human beings have always had an instinct to make judgments about people based on a first impression. In the real world, it’s quite common for people to observe their environment and the people near them. Regardless of how often it happens though, people aren’t really comfortable with the snap-judgments other people make about them.

Tinder’s brutality lies in its unremitting honesty. It allows people to comfortably revert to the primal instinct of selecting mates based on how they look like. After some time on Tinder, an individual would inevitably realize that he or she is only really interested in a person’s hobbies, or interests, or witty remarks about themselves, AFTER said person has been deemed as cute, or pretty, or handsome enough to warrant additional interest. In my opinion, the practice of casually rejecting human beings develops a habit of dismissal: “This one’s too fat, too thin, too old, too dark, too poor, too slutty, too religious, too vain, has too many selfies, etc, ad infinitum.” This illusion of abundance makes it quite easy to forget that none of us are entitled to perfection.

Tinder also reveals what we’ve all known all along, but never had the audacity to say. It’s not a level playing field. At the end of the day, we “like” good looking people, and select mates based on what physical attributes we find attractive. There’s no such thing as “game” or “seduction” on Tinder. All that jazz happens after you’re evaluated as physically worthy to be given the opportunity to seduce or woo. In the business of desire, your face is your resume, and you won’t get an interview if you don’t pass the initial screening process.

As Rachel Esco explains in her article, “LOVE & TECH: Is Tinder the death of romance in the technological age?”:

“We are currently experiencing a battle between efficiency and romance. Alas, we have the rise of Tinder, the savior to quench society’ thirst for unabashedly shallow, yet quick routes toward courtship. It epitomizes the death of organic dating.”

Whether or not “the death of organic dating” is something that we should lament is a matter of perspective. Furthermore, we cant completely claim that Tinder is devoid of romance. I mean, marriages have happened due to Tinder.

But, in my opinion, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Tinder has paved the way for a very primal version of human mate selection – simple, brutal, and extremely efficient. For some, finding “The One” could be as easy as swiping right instead of left.

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Sad, Sad World

“The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us – of becoming happy – is not attainable: yet we may not – nay, cannot – give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.”

– Sigmund Freud

Existential Crisis
 

When I was in college, a common expression among philosophy majors was the term “existential crisis.” It was used as a general term to explain everything you don’t actually want to explain. Why are you always drinking? Existential crisis. Why did you skip class? Existential crisis. Why didn’t you defend your thesis? Existential crisis. What’s wrong? Existential crisis.

We used the term “existential crisis” as an umbrella term for unpleasant emotions: depression, boredom, and anxiety. Looking back though, we used the term “existential crisis” mostly as a euphemism for unhappiness. So, now, 10 years later, I’m wondering why we ever needed a euphemism for unhappiness, and why were we so afraid to admit that some of us were unhappy.

Honestly, I was embarrassed to admit that I was unhappy because I was privileged, and I felt like I had no right to be unhappy. I was being told how fortunate I was that I was studying in DLSU, and that I had a bright future ahead of me. I was afraid that any reference to unhappiness on my part would be seen as a spoiled brat’s childish expressions of discontent – unnecessary whining. It was inordinately implied, by a lot of people I knew, that only those who were born less fortunate were entitled to unhappiness.

Another idea that was constantly hammered into my teenage brain was that we’re all responsible for our own happiness. To admit unhappiness was to admit to a personal failure. I’ve heard that a person who was unhappy was a person who didn’t pray enough, or didn’t work hard enough to be happy, or didn’t know how to be grateful for what he had.

In addition to the unhappiness I felt, I also felt guilty for being unhappy.

I’m here to tell you one fact that I wish someone told me when I was younger: “It’s normal to be unhappy. In fact, most people are, because our brain is geared towards negativity.”

 

Why is it so hard to be happy?

 

It’s so hard to be happy, because our brains were designed to focus on the negative.

Negative experiences are easier for our brains to recall than positive experiences. Some of us have to work very hard to fight off negative thoughts and negative feelings. We simply remember bad things, bad news, and bad experiences, more than we remember the good stuff.

Being young, or thin, or privileged does not make a person immune to negative thoughts and feelings.

In the article, “Our Brain’s Negative Bias,” Hara Estroff Marano mentions studies done by John Cacioppo, Ph.D, of the University of Chicago.

Marano writes:

“[Dr. Cacioppo] showed people pictures known to arouse positive feelings (say, a Ferrari, or a pizza), those certain to stir up negative feelings (a mutilated face or dead cat) and those known to produce neutral feelings (a plate, a hair dryer). Meanwhile, he recorded electrical activity in the brain’s cerebral cortex that reflects the magnitude of information processing taking place.”

The experiment revealed that there is a greater surge in electrical activity in the brain when the brain is exposed to stimuli it interprets as negative. In other words, we respond more to negativity than positivity.

Marano explains that the human tendency to retain negative information may have evolved in humans in order to help them survive. The brain evolved mechanisms to ensure that human beings are constantly aware of the dangers around them.

Here’s another fact I wish someone told me when I was younger: “If you’re feeling bad only half the time, you’re probably having five times more positive experiences than negative ones.”

 

Five to One

In the same article, Marano explains how the human tendency to recall negativity plays a powerful role in the relationships we have.

Marano writes:

“What really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other. Even couples who are volatile and argue a lot stick together by balancing their frequent arguments with a lot of demonstrations of love and passion. And they seem to know exactly when positive actions are needed.”

She later explains that the balance between happiness and unhappiness becomes more complicated when we include the disproportionate effect of negativity to the average brain. It’s not 50-50. The magic ratio, researchers have learned, is 5:1.

In order to find marital bliss, couples have to experience five times as many positive interactions for every negative interaction that they have.

Other researchers have found similar results when examining other areas of a person’s life. We need to be exposed to positive stimuli five times as often as negative stimuli in order to be “fine.” Furthermore, frequent positivity, even in small doses, has a lasting effect on a person’s happiness.

As Marano explains:

“Occasional big positive experiences—say, a birthday bash—are nice. But they don’t make the necessary impact on our brain to override the tilt to negativity. It takes frequent small positive experiences to tip the scales toward happiness.”

 

Civilization and Its Discontents

In any case, what these studies reveal is that people are geared towards unhappiness and discontent, by default. It’s normal to be unhappy, and it’s not entirely our fault if we are. Just because a person might be rich, or beautiful, or successful does not make him immune to unhappiness. Everyone’s entitled to his personal agonies, regardless of how “privileged” or “first world” some of these agonies are.

Furthermore, feelings of unhappiness is not an indicator of a personal failure. It could simply mean that a person has not been exposed to positive stimuli five times as often as he was exposed to negative stimuli. Given the amount of negativity we are exposed to just by browsing through the Facebook timeline (our friends’ rants, bad news, negative comments about a celebrity, scandal, gossip, etc.), it should be no surprise that we demand unrealistic amounts of positive stimuli just to be “not unhappy.”

In other words, we’re never going to reach a state of “happiness,” but as Freud has implied, that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

 

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http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lz5famE0P11qch9x6.png

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Science, Society1 Comment

Married Men, Transgender Women, and the Intricacies of Conditional Consent

In an article from telegraph.co.uk, Laura Perrins discusses how the legal definitions of both consent and rape is is changing. Apparently, courts are beginning to consider the notion of conditional consent.

What exactly is conditional consent?

Let’s say a woman agrees to have unprotected sex with a boyfriend given the condition that he withdraws and doesn’t ejaculate into her. She has given her boyfriend sexual consent, but only if the conditions for her consent are met. If the boyfriend decided not to withdraw, he violated the conditions of her consent, violated her, and has committed rape.

But what if a woman agrees to have unprotected sex with a boyfriend given the condition that he ejaculates into her? If the boyfriend decides to withdraw, has he violated her consent? Is it also rape?

The writer, herself, has her own apprehensions regarding how conditional consent is interpreted.

She says, “Does this new idea of ‘conditional consent’ include any condition being attached to the act? So if a woman only consents to sexual intercourse on the condition that they are in a relationship, which the defendant leads her to believe is true but in his mind there is no such relationship on the current law, this could be rape.”

I’m not here to argue whether or not such violations should be considered rape. The question I’m asking is what kind of information, and how much of this information, does a partner have a right to?

This is not a simple issue. What makes this issue more complicated is that different people have different conditions for sexual consent. Some people will only consent to sex with a partner of the same religion. Some people will only consent to have sex with partners from a given race. Some people will only consent to have sex with rich people.

Some prerequisites for consent are prejudiced, or even irrational. However, if these prerequisites are intentionally violated, whether through deception, manipulation, or physical force, can we all agree that it is unethical?

The issue of conditional consent raises some relevant concerns.

If a woman withholds the fact that she’s a porn star from her partner, knowing that her partner would hesitate to have intercourse with a porn star, is she committing a violation that should be punishable by law?

Should a transgender woman disclose her transgender status to a partner?

If we extend the idea of conditional consent to transgender relationships, would it mean that a transgender woman must ensure that her partner is open to having a romantic or sexual relationship with a transgender woman, before the transgender woman engages in romantic or sexual relationships with her partner?

Honestly, I’m on the fence regarding this issue.

In a conversation, a friend of mine argues that:

“Only situations where nondisclosure harms others, i.e. with HIV, ‘should’ a person disclose. In any other case, it’s their own private decision and none of anyone else’s business. Consider cases as mundane as having a third nipple. Or a micropenis. Or extra thick pubic hair. Which details should a person be obligated to disclose before having sex with another person, and is it really anyone else’s business to say, besides just being between those two people? It really depends on who you’re talking to. Some people don’t mind finding out certain things in bed, some people do. It’s a dynamic of sex and dating that people need to navigate, and aside from increasing the openness of society to the variety of people in the world, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business to tell anyone what they should/shouldn’t disclose to another person.”

I agree with him, in theory.

Although it’s outside my preferences, if I had relations with a transgender who I thought was a cisgender, not having this information probably won’t harm me. But, personally, I would prefer to find out if the person I’m about to have relations with is a transgender woman or a cisgender woman. I am neither entitled to that information nor is she obligated to provide me that information, but I would like to know anyway.

Even though I consider both the transgender woman and the cisgender woman real women, I would still prefer to have relations with a cisgender woman. I asked a friend if this preference for cis meant that I was transphobic. He replied, “If I refused to date a man am I a homophobe or just straight?”

Just to clarify, I do not prefer a cisgender woman because she is “more woman” than a transgender woman, neither am I making a distinction between a “real woman” and a “fake woman.” It’s not either/or, or black and white.

A person’s gender identity and sexual orientation exists in a spectrum. But people still have preferences. Some men are more heterosexual, some men are more homosexual, and some men are more transoriented.

In the same way that most homosexuals will not consent to have sex with women, some cisoriented men will not consent to have sex with transgender women. A homosexual man who refuses to sleep with a woman is not heterophobic. A man who refuses to sleep with a transgender woman is not transphobic. Both these men simply have preferences that exclude certain groups of people.

For the same reason that a transoriented man will probably prefer to be with a transgender than a cisgender woman, a heterosexual cisoriented man will probably prefer to be with a cisgender woman than a transgender woman.

There is nothing wrong with these preferences.

On Preferences

It’s unfair that some men prefer only cisgender women. It’s also unfair that some women prefer only men with jobs. People’s preferences are influenced by many biases: social class, purity myths, homophobia, transphobia, ignorance, religious intolerance, intellectual snobbery, etc. But what influences the prevalence of these preferences are irrelevant. What’s relevant is that regardless of how silly these preferences are, they are prerequisites for a person’s conditional consent.

One can make the argument that a cisgender woman’s conditional consent – “I only want to have sex with single men” – is often violated. That’s true. In fact, a lot of married men intentionally pretend to be single until they have sex with a woman. But the common occurrence of a violation does not make it less of a violation.

Married Man
 

It’s wrong that women who consent to having sex with single men sometimes end up having sex with people who turn out to be married men. But it’s also wrong that some men who consent to having sex with cisgender women sometimes end up having sex with transgender women.

Although I do not believe that people should be required to disclose harmless information that they don’t want to, I think that withholding information that you know is important to your partner is a violation of his or her consent, regardless of how trivial you think that information is. But, I could also be wrong.

What do you think?

 

Image Source:

http://listdose.com/10-useful-advices-for-newlyweds/

Posted in Society1 Comment

Laude Did Not Know Pemberton was a Killer

The following quote is a comment written as a response to the article, “The Ugly Reality of Transphobia in the Philippines“:

“In the perspective of sex work, lives of transgendered sex workers is at risk in many ways. They have many stories untold, and Jeniffer’s story is one. Given the circumstances her bringing the service man to the hotel herself, stories of transgendered sex workers is reverberating. If the service man really intended to hook up with Jennifer and he knows she was a transgender/transwoman and his purpose was to torture and kill her, I think it is right to say it is hate crime and the element of homophobia is present.

But as the case unfolds, her story is just like our transgender sex workers who don’t disclose their gender to their partner. This practice also inspired Blakdyaks song ‘modeling charing’ (that I guess everyone listening to even gays themselves enjoys it not knowing the popular song promotes transphobia). The only difference is, Jennifer’s life was taken and by rage.”

The comment, in my opinion, seems to suggest that part of the reason Jennifer was attacked was because she did not fully disclose her status to the suspect.

PembertonThe headline a recent Philippine Star article decided to publish, “Pemberton did not know Laude was a transgender,” also seems to suggest that her non-disclosure was relevant to the crime committed.

It’s not.

The victim was killed NOT because she didn’t disclose her transgender status. The victim was killed because Pemberton is a killer. The suffering that the suspect allegedly put the victim through is a criminal act, and can’t be justified in any situation.

One can argue that there are situations where it’s dangerous for a transgender to conceal her transgender status. However, it’s also a fact that there are significant safety concerns that make it difficult for a transgender to be upfront about her status as well.

It is not the moral duty of a transgender woman to randomly volunteer information about her transgender status. She has a right to her own personal information, and it should be up to her, if and when she wants that information to be revealed. Coming out as a transgender woman to anyone is difficult. It’s a personal and private struggle that cisgender people (people who are born with a gender identity that matches their biology) and heterosexuals will find difficult to understand completely. Whether or not she wants to share these private details is ultimately up to her.

Pemberton’s “abrupt discovery” may have contributed to his rage, but it doesn’t change the fact that he allegedly made a decision to cause a human being excess suffering because of what he may have perceived as a deceptive act.

Also, why are we making excuses for the violence committed?

If the victim was not a transgender woman, but a cisgender woman, would people still make excuses for the violence done?

Let’s say that there was a man who exclusively slept with virgins. One day he consents to have intercourse with a woman who he assumed was a virgin. Then, before they have intercourse, the man discovers that the woman was, in fact, no longer a virgin. He feels deceived and decides to kill her. Would anyone be making excuses for the killer then?

The relevance of Jennifer’s gender and profession is brought into question only because the crime happened in a community that is prejudiced against prostitutes, sex workers, and transgender women. If the same crime happened to a heterosexual, cisgender woman, it’s unlikely that the public’s response would be similar.

Even if a man was upset because he almost had sex with a person outside his preferences because of the latter’s deception, he still shouldn’t kill her. The same goes for this particular situation. A person who finds himself in this situation has a right to be upset, because he did not prefer to sleep with a transgender woman, but he still should not commit homicide.

Did Jennifer’s failure to disclose that she was a transgender woman increase the risk of violence? Possibly. But even if the discovery of Jennifer’s transgender status was what agitated the suspect, it doesn’t change the fact that what Pemberton allegedly did was wrong.

Jennifer’s failure to disclose her transgender status SHOULD NOT HAVE resulted in her death, and the only reason that it did, is because she was unfortunate enough to have had relations with a prejudiced killer.

The Philippine Star headline should have been written as, “Laude did not know Pemberton was a killer.”

 

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https://ph.news.yahoo.com/pemberton-did-not-know-laude-000000903.html

Posted in Gender Rights, Politics, Society1 Comment

The Ugly Reality of Transphobia in the Philippines

Jennifer Laude was found dead in the bathroom. She was slumped on the toiled seat, peppered with black and blue bruises. She also had bruises on her neck. Her feet were also bruised. Reporters are not sure whether she died from the injuries she sustained from the beating that she took, or from being strangled. She was murdered.

Let’s try that again.

Jefferey Laude was found dead in the bathroom. He was slumped on the toilet seat, peppered with black and blue bruises. He also had bruises on his neck. His feet were also bruised. Reporters are not sure whether he died from the injuries he sustained from the beating that he took, or from being strangled. He was murdered.

I’m not here to discuss whether Jeffrey/Jennifer Laude should be considered a he or a she. People can debate on his or her gender all they want, but what we can’t debate about is that this person was the victim of a crime. This person was murdered.

Laude 5

When a person is murdered, regardless of sex or gender, the ethical human response should be outrage or, at least, sorrow. If this tragedy happened to a straight woman or a straight man, that’s exactly the kind of response we could expect from the majority.

However, I don’t think some Filipinos see transgender individuals as people. That’s the only reason I can imagine why there are over 200 comments posted on inquirer.net insulting, cursing, and mocking the murder victim.

Many of these comments express disgust and indignation, not because a person was brutally murdered, but because “a tranny tried to have sex with a straight man”:

Laude 1

Many comments expressed satisfaction that karmic justice was served, not because a murderer was caught, but because “a sinner was punished”:

Laude 2

Some comments even suggested that it was funny, and it was Jennifer’s fault that she was murdered because she was “pretending to be a woman”:

Laude 3

The insults and curses hurled at the victim has even inspired its own photo album in Facebook:

Image 1
 

This attitude towards the transgender is not surprising though, especially in a country with a reputation for being religious and conservative. The Philippines, for one, is the last country without divorce and many of our religious countrymen are proud of being the last stronghold of idiocy.

Unfortunately for the LGBT community, research done by Wade Rowatt and colleagues from Baylor University in the States learned that religiousness and conservatism are the top two factors that account for a person’s homophobia.

Here’s a graph:

Image Source: http://goo.gl/jZSpX1

Image Source: http://goo.gl/jZSpX1

 

It should be no surprise that hate crimes against the LGBT community are tolerated in a country where majority of the people identify as Catholics, Christians, or Muslims; all of them, religions that hate homosexuality.

I can provide a litany of research proving how those who believe themselves to be the holiest of the holy, the most righteous of the righteous, the most faithful of the faithful, the most religious of the religious, the closest to God, are the most determined advocates of hate and bigotry. The most fervent believers of homophobic religious doctrine inevitably become the most homophobic people. When a person is indoctrinated and trained from childhood to hate homosexuality, it’s rather difficult to unlearn it as an adult.

The suspect, obviously, is himself transphobic. He probably can’t tell the difference between a homosexual and a trans-woman. He probably doesn’t give a shit about those subtle differences either. This may sound a little racist, but studies do prove that Americans are less accepting of homosexuality than other westerners and religion may have something to do with it.

Many Filipinos have no empathy for the murder victim, Jennifer/Jefferey Laude, simply because of religion. They were raised to believe that any non-heterosexual person is a Sodomite; a disordered sinner that deserves divine punishment, in the same way the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were punished – with the righteous vengeance of a brutal God.

The Philippines’ religiousness and conservatism simply can’t peacefully co-exist with homosexuality. In the minds of some Filipinos, it might as well be God beating up the victim.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the Catholic hierarchy hates LGBT people. Just recently a bishop said that homosexuals should not be invited to the dinner table if there are children present, because impressionable children should not be exposed to something so “intrinsically disordered.”

Some people would argue that homophobic doctrines, like the Bible, don’t necessarily cause homophobia. They say things like, “But the Bible also has verses about love and tolerance…”

Are you serious? The Bible said that homosexuality is an abomination. The Bible also said that an adulteress should be stoned to death. The Bible also said that a rape victim should marry her rapist. Unfortunately, the context for these verses are not explained because the Bible doesn’t have editor’s footnotes. Many believers also suggest it’s “open to interpretation.” Well, anything can be open to interpretation. Even “Dora the Explorer” can be interpreted from a Marxist perspective.

However, there is a limit to the number of ways one can interpret, “Gay = Abomination.” If you think that these verses, as they appear in the Bible, do not at all, inspire prejudice or bigotry, you need a mental health evaluation.

The Bible, along with other homophobic religious doctrines, are books filled with hate. These books don’t belong in any society that aspires for gender equality. As long as there are people who adhere to Biblical authority, to verses that call homosexuals abominations, there will always be members of the LGBT community found dead in toilets and there will always be people celebrating the torture of the victim.

Posted in Gender Rights, Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Society6 Comments

Entitlement: Creating Killers and Divas One Spoiled Brat at a Time

The site Jezebel reports that a week ago, a man has slashed a woman’s neck after she refused to talk to him. At around 5:20 am, on October 1, a woman was in the lobby of a building in New York when a man approached her in an attempt to make conversation. She refused to talk to him and turn away. As soon as she did, he grabbed her from behind and slashed her neck.

Two days ago, Mary Spears, an engaged mother-of-three was harassed in a bar. A man came up to her and said, “Can I get your name, your number?” She told him that she was in a relationship, but he persisted. Because of the constant harassment, the man was asked to leave the venue. However, he later confronted Spears and shot her three times, killing her.

Last May, Elliot Rodger posted a video complaining about how women have rejected his advances, even though he was a gentleman. He also ranted about still being a virgin at the age of 22. Because of these perceived slights, he promises ‘retribution’ and ‘punishment.’ Later, he killed 6 people.

These men shared a similar attitude towards women; they felt entitled to a woman’s affection, or at least, attention. When they encountered resistance, they felt as if they were being deprived of something that they deserved. This frustration has led them to commit violence.

Entitlement

“Nice Guy Syndrome” aka “Irrational Feelings of Sexual Entitlement”

I’m not saying that all men are capable of killing a woman out of frustration. I’m saying that there is proof that a sense of entitlement is a predictor of violence toward women.

According to a study found by ScienceDaily

“…for men, entitlement was associated with hostile views of women. Entitled men were more likely to endorse views of women as manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy — attitudes, which past research has shown are predictors of violence toward women.”

A common complaint made by men about women who reject them is, “She never even gave me a chance.” Some men perceive that “not being given a chance” represents an opportunity they were deprived of. What most men and women should start to understand is that the attention another person provides is a privilege, not a right.

I get where entitled men are coming from. I used to harbor the same illusion that “girls should, at least, listen to my pickup line when I try to talk to them in bars.”

Here’s what men might be thinking:

“I am entitled to this opportunity, because I live in a society that has essentially required me to approach a woman to reduce the odds that I’ll die single. This is ‘me,’ taking matters into my own hands; being a man. The choices are clear: it’s either I approach a woman, or I never get a date, because women will never approach men.”

This type of logic holds a number of sexist assumptions. For one, a man who thinks this way may have associated the idea of pursuit with his own masculine identity. He may be thinking that he’s simply performing a gender role. To some extent, when a man approaches a woman, he may actually believe that he’s simply being “masculine.” If he gets rejected, he may feel slighted, because he may see the rejection as a hostile act that robs him of his ability to express his sexual identity as a man.

In other words, he’s being told to stop his inappropriate advances, but he may interpret it as being told to stop being a man.

I’m not surprised that entitlement and sexism are correlated. Sexist people think in terms of binaries. A sexist man believes that he is supposed to be the “active” participant in the courtship dance, and a woman is supposed to be the “passive” recipient of his advances. When he’s told to stop being “active,” to stop advancing, he feels like he’s been robbed of his birthright – the right to pursue.

However, men are just one half of the entitled, sexist club.

In the same article, it was mentioned that:

“Conversely, the researchers found women who have a high sense of entitlement are likely to demand men take care of them because they are weak and frail. A large body of research shows that such demands lead to women being viewed as too weak and placed in roles where they are not allowed to advance in education and jobs.”

The research also reports on how feelings of entitlement affect men and women differently. Generally, entitled men are more prone to exhibiting hostile sexism; many of them held misogynistic beliefs and viewed women as manipulative and demanding. On the other hand, entitled women exhibited benevolent sexism. They harbored the “princess mentality” and thought that women deserved special care and treatment, because they were, you know, women.

That’s not even the bad news yet.

According to a report by Richard Alleyne, the science correspondent of The Telegraph, there’s a study that shows how “Those who were born into ‘Generation Y’ have an over-inflated sense of entitlement, [but] lack the work ethic to achieve their goals.” What the study reveals is that our generation, those born between 1980 and 1990, is fostering an entire generation who think they’re “special” and should be treated as such.

According to the article:

“Professor Paul Harvey, of the University of Hampshire, carried out a series of studies measuring psychological entitlement and narcissism on a group of Gen -Yers and found they scored 25 per cent higher than respondents ages 40 to 60 and 50 per cent higher than those over 61.”

Entitled men believe that they deserve a woman’s adoration and desire, by default, or by simply being “nice guys” (See: “Nice Guy Sydrome“); they feel that they don’t need a woman’s permission to pursue her romantically or sexually, by default, because they are men; they feel that if they are sexually attracted to a woman, being the woman’s friend is something they are entitled to complain about (See: “Friend Zone“).

Women feel that they deserve to be taken care of and provided for, by default, because they are women (In fact, 75% of women will not even date an unemployed man).

However, although entitlement corrupts both men and women, entitlement in men have worse consequences.

Let’s take a closer look at the behavioral disparity between the sexes:

  • An entitled woman, who has diva or princess delusions, throws a histrionic fit when her expectations are not met. It’s possible that she thinks she’s entitled to a man’s resources, expecting to be provided for.
  • An entitled man, who thinks he should be “permitted” to “woo” women he is romantically interested in, may turn into a violent psycho once the permission he assumed was there is withdrawn. It’s possible that he thinks he’s entitled to a woman’s body.

The only conclusion I can think of from the material I’ve read is that entitlement turns men and women into horrible people, but it makes men significantly more horrible. Unfortunately, we’re living in an era littered with an entire generation of psychotic, narcissistic, entitled assholes. I think that this might be the only generation in history that would benefit from being told, “You’re not entitled to a beautiful woman, or a wealthy man, or even a job, really.”

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Posted in Gender Rights, Personal, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Science, Society1 Comment

Does The Church Accept Boy Abunda?

Boy-Abunda-health-conditionA special episode of “The Bottomline with Boy Abunda” aired last Sunday. In the show, Boy Abunda was asked if he believes that living the life of a gay man is a sin. Boy Abunda explained, “I do not agree to all the teachings of the Church, and one of them is saying that, ‘We’re okay with homosexuality, but the moment you practice, the moment you have sex, it is a sin.'” He later added, “How can love be a sin?”

I’m glad that Boy Abunda asks the right questions about love and faith, but I don’t think he has the right information. I’m sorry, Boy, but The Church is not okay with homosexuality.

John Finnis’ article, “Reason, Faith and Homosexual Acts,” provides a very thorough breakdown as to why homosexuality can never be “okay” from a Catholic perspective.

The article mentions that:

The Church refuses to consider the person as a ‘heterosexual’ or a ‘homosexual’ and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

The Church does not believe in sexual orientation or sexual preference. There is no such thing as a homosexual. People are not gay or straight, and their preference for men or women is irrelevant. People are either men or women, period. So, The Church doesn’t consider Boy Abunda a “homosexual.” The Church was never okay with Boy Abunda being a homosexual; they were okay with him being a man who has homosexual inclinations, but doesn’t do homosexual acts.

What The Church wants Boy Abunda to do, really, is to not have sex with boys, and start having sex with a girl that he has married, because The Church believes that although Boy Abunda may prefer men, they don’t think he’s incapable of having sex with women.

According to the article:

That is to say, most people who engage, or have an inclination to engage, in homosexual activity also engage, or are more or less inclined to engage, in sexual activity with a person or persons of the opposite sex.  Very many homosexual persons – persons with homosexual inclinations – marry and have children by their spouse.

The Church thinks that the only reason Boy Abunda doesn’t want to have sex with girls is because something went wrong with his sexual development, or because he saw gays having sex, or because he didn’t get a proper education, or he developed a habit of homosexuality. But, even though there are a lot of disordered gays out there, it’s okay, because gayness, according to The Church, might be curable.

According to the article:

The Church observes that in some homosexual persons the homosexual inclination (= orientation) comes, it seems, “from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable.

Although The Church acknowledges the fact that a person’s homosexuality may have been inborn, meaning it wasn’t a choice, they still think it’s wrong.

According to the article:

The Christian teaching from the outset, has been that no homosexual acts are ever justified, even the acts of someone whose inclination to engage in them is ‘innate’ (that is, present at birth) and, in one sense of the word, ‘natural.’

The main reason homosexual attraction can never be morally justified from a Christian perspective is because they view homosexuals as inevitable adulterers.

The article says:

As Jesus makes clear, this natural communion requires for its integrity not only the sexual intercourse of the spouses (Matt. 19: 5), but also the complete and unwavering mastery and overcoming – by everyone, married or unmarried — of every desire for sexual contact or enjoyment outside marriage (Matt. 5: 27).

What that means is that it is morally wrong for anyone to lust outside of marriage. Unfortunately, for gays, they can’t ever lust within a marriage, because they’re not allowed to get married. The Church is basically telling Boy Abunda, “It’s okay to be a man with gay inclinations as long as you don’t do any sex outside of marriage; but you can’t get married, so doing sex in any circumstance is immoral.”

The Church doesn’t accept Boy Abunda, or any homosexual for that matter. But in my opinion, Boy Abunda shouldn’t worry. I personally think Boy Abunda has more moral authority than The Church. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Boy Abunda did not have Galileo arrested and imprisoned for being right about heliocentrism.

2. Boy Abunda never burnt a 19-year-old girl at the stake for heresy.

3. Boy Abunda didn’t start an Inquisition to drive Muslims out of Europe.

4. Boy Abunda didn’t cover up child abuse crimes by priests. Neither did he spend over 4 billion dollars in settlements to shut victims up.

5. Boy Abunda never threatened his followers with eternal damnation just so he can sell them Indulgences, to buy back their salvation.

If The Church doesn’t accept Boy Abunda, he doesn’t have to accept them. They don’t have monopoly on God. Boy Abunda can worship, love, believe, and serve his God from the comfort of his own home, or his new Hummer, free from any discrimination based on gender, orientation, or preference.

The good news is, you can too.

 

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Filipinos are Poor Because of a Loser Mentality?

loserIn the research writing classes I teach at Asia Pacific College, I often argue that research should be seen as a social and personal responsibility, rather than as a practice done exclusively for academic reasons. I believe that it should be an individual’s duty to approach information he encounters online and elsewhere with a healthy dose of skepticism. I also believe that it should be an individual’s duty to refrain from making unfounded accusations prior to actual research.

Earlier today, I read an article from GetRealPhilippines.com that says, “Filipinos’ obssession (sic) with ‘happiness’ is what keeps them mired in chronic poverty.”

According to benign0, “You wonder why the Philippines continues to fail? It is because Filipinos have been led to believe that simply being “happy” makes them “winners”. That is a nice philosophy to live by — when you are happy being a loser for the rest of your existence, that is.”

One reason why people need to research more is to prevent their fingers from typing ridiculous statements. The only thing such a statement reveals is that the writer doesn’t understand poverty.

There are three questions the writer is trying to answer in his poorly researched article:

1) Why are many Filipinos poor?

2) Why are many Filipinos happy even if they’re poor?

3) If a poor Filipino is happy, is it a bad thing?

His answer to question number one is, “Because they’re obsessed with happiness.” His answer to question number two is, “Because they have a loser mentality.” His answer to number three is, “Yes, because it’s their happiness that is making them poor.” What data were used to support the validity of these answers? None.

The writer was guessing, or making up information, or making an erroneous observation. Basically, all his answers are wrong.

I like teaching research. Every time I correct a student who makes assumptions based on nothing, I feel warm and fuzzy inside, like, maybe I made the world a slightly better place by reducing the number of people who say dumb things by one. So, as a public service, I’m going to demonstrate how to use simple research data to make defensible conclusions about the world we live in.

Why are Many Filipinos Poor?

There are many reasons why a Filipino could be poor. We can blame a rapid population growth that our economy can’t keep up with. We can blame unemployment, inflation, inequality and corruption.However, if we wanted to simplify the subject, we can definitely say that most Filipinos are poor because they were born poor to begin with.

According to an SWS survey, self-rated poverty in Luzon is at 45 percent, 74 percent in Visayas, and 71 percent in Mindanao.

Needless to say, many Filipinos become poor before they can even spell “happiness.” Filipino babies become poor before they can obsess about happiness.

Once these babies grow up and realize that they’re poor, why don’t these people just decide to be rich then? Well, for one, life doesn’t work that way. A poor person can’t simply “decide” to be rich. In fact, even if he wanted to, there are factors that may prevent a poor person from being rich, and it has very little to do with the often blamed Filipino laziness.

People Who Grow Up Poor Experience More Negative Emotions as an Adult

With regard to how difficult it is for a poor person to be rich, it’s possible that people who are born poor struggle to become rich because kids who grow up poor have less impulse control. According to ScienceDaily, “Researchers found that test subjects who had lower family incomes at age 9 exhibited, as adults, greater activity in the amygdala, an area in the brain known for its role in fear and other negative emotions. These individuals showed less activity in areas of the prefrontal cortex, an area in the brain thought to regulate negative emotion.”

What that means is that a person who experienced chronic stress from childhood to adolescence may be less capable of suppressing negative emotions such as fear. In fact, according to surveys, 1/6 people raised in poverty develop mental disorders.

The psychological consequences of childhood poverty and stress are the same psychological barriers that may prevent a person from becoming more successful in adulthood. Furthermore, impediments to the development of the prefrontal cortex can also affect a child’s ability to learn, making it more difficult to compete with children who did not grow up in poverty.

Poor People Make Bad Decisions

A common gripe against the poor is that they’re poor because it’s their fault. They’re poor because they make bad decisions. However, according to this, this, and this, it’s actually the other way around.

Bad decisions don’t cause people to be poor. Poverty causes people to make bad decisions. The research article, “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function,” suggests that stress experienced due to poverty impede cognitive function. In other words, people who are poor are at greater risk to make decisions that further perpetuate their poverty, because their brain is so exhausted by, well, poverty. The poorer are person is, the higher the likelihood that he’ll make decisions that will worsen his situation.

“Previous views of poverty have blamed (it) on personal failings, on an environment that is not conducive to success. We are arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function,” says Jiaying Zhao.

Why are many Filipinos happy even if they’re poor?

Benign0 implied that he’s seen too many Filipinos who are poor use “happiness” as an excuse to not try to improve their own economic situation. He even mentioned that, “It is easy to retreat to the ‘happiness’ metric when all other success indicators suck. That’s the loser approach to rationalising one’s existence. There’s a a simple colloquial term that encapsulates that attitude: sour grapes.”

In other words, he’s saying that unless you are “successful,” you can’t be happy; and if you’re poor, and you say that you are happy, you’re probably lying, because the Philippines, as a country, is not among happy countries.

Here’s the thing, according to most studies, happiness can be attained by people who are poor for various reasons.

Happiness is Determined More by Genetics than by Economics

A person’s capacity for happiness have very little or nothing to do with other indicators of “success.” In the research report, “Happiness is a Stochastic Phenomenon,” David Lykken and Auke Tellegen write:

“Are those people who go to work in suits happier and more fulfilled than those who go in overalls? Do people higher on the socioeconomic ladder enjoy life more than those lower down? Can money buy happiness? As a consequence of racism and relative poverty, are black Americans less contented on average than white Americans? Because men still hold the reins of power, are men happier than women? The survey in this journal by Myers and Diener (1995) indicated that the answer to these questions, surprisingly, is “no.” These authors pointed out that people have a remarkable ability to adapt, both to bad fortune and to good, so that one’s life circumstances, unless they are very bad indeed, do not seem to have lasting effects on one’s mood.”

In other words, people who are poor are just as capable of happiness as people who are rich. A more productive question to ask is “Why do rich people think that they are happier than poor people?”

Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer?

Two professors from Princeton, economist Alan B. Krueger and psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, along with several colleagues wrote the research paper, “Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion.”

According to the paper, a lot of people believe that a high income is associated with a person’s good mood. However, it’s not true. The correlations are illusory. Wealthy people are content with their lives, but they’re not much happier than poor people. They don’t spend more time doing cooler, more enjoyable, activities either.

According to Kreuger, people with a higher income report more satisfaction only because they think that they should be more satisfied because of the high income they enjoy. He says, “If people have high income, they think they should be satisfied and reflect that in their answers. Income, however, matters very little for moment-to-moment experience.”

If Anything, We Should Encourage Poor People to Be Happy

If someone wanted to help poor people, discouraging them from happiness and calling them losers, like benign0 did, will not help them. The article, “Self-worth boosts ability to overcome poverty,” from ScienceDaily discusses how encouraging the poor to improve their feelings of self-worth will help them overcome the psychological and emotional barriers that prevent them from seeking help or making good decisions.

According to Jiaying Zhao, the study’s co author, “This study shows that surprisingly simple acts of self-affirmation can improve the cognitive function and behavioral outcomes of people in poverty.”

In addition to that, happiness improves a person’s motivation and actually causes an individual to work harder. A study on the relationship between happiness and productivity was done by Andrew Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi. According to the study, “Happiness and Productivity,” happiness made people around 12% more productive.

“The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality,” says Dr. Sgroi.

Conclusions

Based on the evidence gathered from multiple reliable sources, we can make the following defensible conclusions:

1. Filipinos are poor NOT because they have an “obsession with happiness.” In fact, there is no evidence that suggests that “contentment” can cause poverty. Through inferences made from reading the evidence, we can say that it’s possible that many Filipinos are poor simply because they are born poor. Their experiences of poverty in the crucial years of their mental development negatively affected their capacity to learn and their ability to regulate negative emotions – factors that may impede their economic progress as adults. Furthermore, poverty itself impedes their cognitive function, making them prone to bad decisions that could worsen their situation.

2. Some poor Filipinos are happy NOT because they have a loser mentality. Some poor Filipinos are happy simply because nothing is preventing them from feeling otherwise. Although depression is twice as common among poor people, poor people who don’t have depression are not much less happy than rich people. In fact, a study suggests that, “one’s life circumstances, unless they are very bad indeed, do not seem to have lasting effects on one’s mood,” implying that there are genetic factors to be considered when measuring a person’s capacity for happiness.

3. Happiness has a tendency to increase a persons productivity and make him work harder. If a person thinks that the problem of poverty is due to a poor person’s lack of productivity, the scientifically correct thing to do is to help them recover their self-esteem and encourage them to be happy, to improve their cognitive function and increase their productivity. In any case, one should not call poor people losers, because doing so will only reinforce the psychological barriers that impede their cognitive functioning.

Based on the same evidence, we can also conclude that benign0’s article, “Filipinos’ obssession (sic) with ‘happiness’ is what keeps them mired in chronic poverty,” is wrong about a lot of things. THAT is why research is important.

It’s the difference between being a writer and being a ranter.

 

References:

benign0. (2014). “Filipinos’ obssession with ‘happiness’ is what keeps them mired in chronic poverty.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2014/05/filipinos-obssession-with-happiness-is-what-keeps-them-mired-in-chronic-poverty/

Brady, D. (2013). “Poverty strains cognitive abilities, opening door for bad decision-making, new study finds.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/poverty-strains-cognitive-abilities-opening-door-for-bad-decision-making-new-study-finds/2013/08/29/89990288-102b-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html

Examined Existence. “The Profound Effects of Childhood Poverty and Stress on Adult Brain Function”Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://examinedexistence.com/the-profound-effects-of-childhood-poverty-and-stress-on-adult-brain-function/

Flores, H. (2014). “Number of ‘poor’ Pinoy families up by 600,000.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/07/29/1351563/number-poor-pinoy-families-600000

Kahneman, D. Krueger, A. Schkade, D. Schwarz, N. Stone, A. (2006) “Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion “ Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.morgenkommichspaeterrein.de/ressources/download/125krueger.pdf

Kim, P. Evans, G. Angstadt, M. Ho, S. Sripada, C. Swain, J. Liberzon, I. Phan, K. (2013). “Effects of childhood poverty and chronic stress on emotion regulatory brain function in adulthood.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1308240110

Lykken, D. Tellegen, A. (1996). “Happiness is a Stochastic Phenomenon” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://cogprints.org/767/3/167.pdf

Mani, A. Mullainathan, S. Shafir, E. Zhao, J. (2013). “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976

Oswald, A. Proto, E. Sgroi, D. (2014). “Happiness and Productivity” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/eproto/workingpapers/happinessproductivity.pdf

ScienceDaily. (2013). “Self-worth boosts ability to overcome poverty” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From:
Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217085056.htm

ScienceDaily. (2013). “Growing up poor, stressed impacts brain function as adult.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021211450.htm

Starecheski, L. (2014). “This Is Your Stressed-Out Brain On Scarcity.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/14/330434597/this-is-your-stressed-out-brain-on-scarcity

Weller, C. (2013) “Poverty Lowers IQ: How Financial Strains Put Pressure On Cognitive, Logical Reasoning.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.medicaldaily.com/poverty-lowers-iq-how-financial-strains-put-pressure-cognitive-logical-reasoning-255093

Yglesias, M. (2013). “Bad Decisions Don’t Make You Poor. Being Poor Makes for Bad Decisions.” Retrieved on October 1, 2014. From: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/09/poverty_and_cognitive_impairment_study_shows_money_troubles_make_decision.html

 

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Why Victim Blaming in Rape is Always Ignorant and Irresponsible

TRIGGER WARNING: This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Victim Blaming 101

Let’s say a person left his iPhone unattended in a public place and it was stolen. Can we say that he contributed to his fate by being negligent? Yes. Is this victim blaming? Yes. Can the same logic be applied to rape? No.

But some people would say, “Yes.” Some people think that women get raped because they wear “slutty” clothes. Some people think that women get raped because they drink alcohol. Some people think that women get raped because they stay out late at night. Some people think that women get raped because they don’t pray. Some people are ignorant, yes.

I feel extremely frustrated right now to have to explain the distinction between a man who leaves his phone unattended and a woman who was raped.

Here’s the deal. In the case of the iPhone, to prevent the same occurrence from happening again, all the man has to do is to put his iPhone in his pocket. Needless to say, putting his phone in his pocket, instead of leaving it in a public place, would reduce the risk of theft greatly.

The problem with victim blaming in rape is that the common precautionary measures advised – don’t get drunk, don’t wear slutty clothes, don’t talk to strangers – do not reduce the likelihood of rape. Sober girls are just as likely to be raped as drunk girls. Girls who don’t talk to strangers are just as likely to be raped as girls who talk only to acquaintances. Girls who wear completely normal clothing are just as likely to be raped as girls who wear what some people consider “slutty” clothing.

 

“Take the Necessary Precautions”

In a conversation, I was asked this question:

“Let’s say a woman spends an average of 8 hours a day at home. Are the chances of her being raped at least once in her lifetime the same as if she spends an average of 8 hours a day in that dangerous part of town known for its alarming number of sexual assaults?”

It’s easy to make the assumption that avoiding a dangerous area could reduce the odds that a person was sexually assaulted. But we have to recognize the implications of such a statement. To suggest that avoiding a dangerous area could prevent rape is to imply that if a woman chose to spend time in an area where she could be raped by a random stranger, she didn’t do a good enough job of avoiding rape and may have been partially responsible for what happened.

The problem with this assumption is that it’s wrong. It’s also offensive. For one, a woman is more likely to be raped in a familiar venue, by a familiar person, than she is to be raped by a stranger in an area with a “dangerous” reputation. In the case of rape, the places that she “could be” raped in are exactly the places that she “should be” safe in: her own home, the home of an acquaintance, or an indoor venue near her home.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics, “More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.”

What advice should we give women then to “avoid rape” then? Avoid your home and areas within 1 mile of your home because majority of rapes happen in these places?

Furthermore, a “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women” says:

“64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date.”

So, to “avoid rape,” should we advice women to avoid their husband, their live-in partner, their boyfriend, and their date?

To pursue the analogy further, rape survivors did not “leave their iPhones unattended.” They were keeping them in their pockets and they got mugged while sober, in normal clothes, by familiar people, in familiar places that may include their own home.

In other words, there is very little a victim could have done if someone has decided to rape them. The “preventive measures” people usually bring up (stay sober, don’t wear slutty clothes) aren’t really factors at all when we consider the evidence.

To simplify, leaving your iPhone lying around will increase the odds that it will be stolen. Putting your iPhone in your pocket, will reduce the odds that it will be stolen. So, if you choose to leave your phone out in the open, when you could have placed it in your pocket, means that it is your fault if it was stolen.

However, dressing slutty or talking to strangers will not increase the odds that you are raped. Dressing modestly and talking only to acquaintances will not reduce the odds that you are raped either. If a person is raped, it is not his or her fault.

It’s a completely different issue altogether.

 

“Don’t Get Drunk”

This statement is also commonly provided as a precautionary measure to “prevent rape.” It’s also wrong. If drunkenness was a direct contributor to the prevalence of rape, then a statistical increase in alcohol consumption should lead to a statistical increase in the prevalence of rape.

However, in the article “To Prevent Rape on College Campuses, Focus on the Rapists, Not the Victims,” Amanda Hess reveals that:

“According to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey—which surveys Americans ages 12 and older about crime they’ve experienced, whether or not they reported it to the authorities—rape has declined markedly in the United States since 1979, even as female binge drinking has risen.”

In the article, “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think,” Tara Culp-Ressler explains that:

“Even though alcohol is associated with sexual assault, it’s not actually a direct association. Getting intoxicated only leads to rape when there’s someone present to commit that rape. When you remove rapists from the equation, the risks of getting drunk — which, of course, do involve serious public health consequences — don’t include getting raped.”

 

“Sexual Violence is Predatory”

According to the study “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence” by David Lisak, perpetrators of sexual violence:

are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;

plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;

use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse control and use only as much violence as is needed

to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;

use psychological weapons — power, control, manipulation, and threats — backed up by physical force, and almost never

resort to weapons such as knives or guns;

use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

In Culp-Ressler’s article, she admits that alcohol may be one of the tools a rapist uses. However, she says that it’s just one of many tools at a rapists disposal, and the unavailability of alcohol won’t necessarily prevent a rapist from raping if the rapist decides to rape.

In other words, alcohol is just one of the things a rapist may use AFTER they have selected a victim. It’s very likely that a rapist who has raped an intoxicated girl already decided to rape her, before she even took a sip of alcohol. If alcohol is not available at that moment, he would simply chosen another tactic to rape her.

The common myth surrounding rape is that a drunk woman, in a dark street, wearing “slutty clothing,” is more likely to be raped, than a sober woman, in her home, wearing normal clothing, having lunch with an acquaintance. This leads people to think that if the drunk woman was raped, she may have contributed to it by being “negligent.” That’s not true. The odds that either would be raped is zero, if there was no rapist nearby to rape them. These odds increase drastically if there was a nearby rapist who wanted to rape them. What a woman is wearing or what she was doing before she was attacked is irrelevant. She would have been attacked anyway if a sexual predator has decided to attack her.

 

Why Do We Blame the Victim?

Two years ago, there was a thread on Reddit asking sexual assault perpetrators what their motives were, “Reddit’s had a few threads about sexual assault victims, but are there any redditors from the other side of the story? What were your motivations? Do you regret it?” It has since been deleted, but not before parts of it were featured in several articles.

The article “If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Reddit Thread For You!” features a very chilling, first-hand confession copied from Reddit’s rapist thread.

Here’s the entire confession:

I am a post-colleged age male who raped several girls through use of coercion, alcohol, and other tactics over a course of 3 years.

First off, I must say, I was at a dark and horrible place in my life, that I’ve since grown from. I’m ashamed of the person I was, if the people who I’m close to now knew who I was, I would be ruined. I’m known for being a great guy, friendly and easy to get along with, a community/political activist, a fervent volunteer in the community, and a person who rises through the ranks quickly due to successes at work. That was my mask, and I was good at it, so good that maybe I convinced myself along the line that was who I could really be, and that may of helped me change, and stop doing what I did.

I’m somewhat remorseful for what I did to those girls, but I don’t think I could ever face them to apologize. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I had this certain insatiable thirst that brought me to do what I did. I didn’t know how to stop, and just when I thought maybe I could, I’d find myself back in my pattern, back on the hunt.

I’m a good looking guy, and I can get girls pretty easily. I’m currently married to a beautiful woman that I met during this time of my life (not someone I raped, but someone who knew my mask during this time). So, anyways, after a while it became boring to go after the sluts and sorority girls that would easily throw their cunt after you. I wanted the thrill of the chase, and that’s what led me to forcing myself on girls. I would find attractive girls that were self-conscious about their looks. Girls who were pretty in their own unique way, but not the outgoing sort, mostly introverts, and girls that didn’t party or do wild things. Hopefully a girl who was a bit damaged, had a shitty ex-boyfriend, or family issues, came from a small shut in town, that sort of thing. So, when I showed interest in them they’d be completely enamored, they’d almost be shocked that a popular, good-looking, and well liked guy would be talking to them. I’d have that initial meeting at the library, a coffee shop, a work function, or a party where I had them convinced of what a great guy I was. I listened to them, and made them feel special, like they were a princess. Sometimes we might sort of hook-up that night (kissing, making-out, never anything more). The next day I’d call, and see when they wanted to get together again. I’d feign some excuse for not going out somewhere, but having them come over late in the night. It was college, and not a lot of people had transportation off campus, so it was typical for people to come over and watch a movie or something on a date.

They would come over, and I’d always make sure it was real cold in the room, cold enough so that when we started watching the movie I’d say something about being chilly, and grab a big fleece blanket for the both of us. We’d get kind of close, and then maybe ignore the movie for some kissing. After a while, we’d talk some more, and I’d start edging my hands around the under strap of the bra, or maybe a bit into her pants, just kind of playing on the edge to gauge her response. Some girls would stiffen up a little, and that’s when you knew they didn’t like what was going on. We were in my studio apartment, so the bed served as the couch, and it was easy to start sliding down throughout the movie so we’d be laying down. It was then that I could turn around and get on top of her. The girls usually didn’t know how to respond. Some of them were into it, and those nights were usually consensual and boring sex, sometimes followed up by a few more nightly visits before getting the boot. However, the great nights were the ones who squirmed, ones who didn’t want to give in. I’d have to shush them down, and try to work on them slowly enough so they didn’t know what was going on until it was pretty much already happening. I’m a muscular guy, over 6′ around 200 lbs. and most of these girls may have been 125-130, really tiny and easy to pin down. To be honest, even remembering it now, the squirming always made it better, they didn’t want it to happen, but they couldn’t do anything about it. Most girls don’t say no either. They think you’re a good guy, and should pick up on the hints, they don’t want to have to say “no” and admit to themselves what’s happening.

Alcohol helped. Having a few drinks during the movie, or doing a few jello shots that were “prepared for a party that weekend” would usually do the trick.

The aftermath was always different. Some girls left after about 15 minutes after. Some girls would stay until the morning and then leave. A few tried to call back, maybe blaming themselves for what happened or something. I never worried too much about being caught. Everyone knew me, and I worked with the police a lot, with administrators, and campus officials. I was on first name basis with the Chancellor and the President of Student Affairs, so if anything came down to a he/she-said I figured I’d be in the clear. Having her come over to my place also made it seem less predatory, as she came into my domain, and “could leave at any time”.

I guess that’s about it…seeing as just about everything has been said I’m gonna call it a day. I hope this view into a dark part of my history offers some insight into the mind of a serial rapist.

As the confession reveals, the rapist is not the stranger hiding in a bush, ready to attack you as you walk by at night, in a “dangerous area.” He could be popular. He could seem friendly. He could be attractive. He could be a date, an acquaintance, or even a close friend. This fact shatters our sense of security. We don’t want to believe that any one of us could be a victim of rape. That is why we victim blame.

In the article, “Why Do We Blame Victims?” Juliana Breines explains that:

“Victim blaming is not just about avoiding culpability—it’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When bad things happen to good people, it implies that no one is safe, that no matter how good we are, we too could be vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought, and yet we are faced every day with evidence that it may be true.”

The very idea that sexual assault can happen anytime, to anyone, violates our personal sense of control, so we refuse to accept that reality. We want to tell ourselves that, “I will not be raped, as long as I don’t get drunk.” We want to tell ourselves that, “My daughter will not be raped, as long as I make sure she doesn’t wear tube tops.”

When an anonymous girl gets raped, we tell ourselves, “Surely, she must have done something my mother, my sister, and my daughter is not doing.” We tell ourselves these things because it’s too disturbing for us to accept the reality that our sisters, daughters, and mothers can be raped anytime, anywhere, by people that they know, and in places that we thought they were safe in.

We blame the victim because we are afraid; for ourselves and for our loved ones. But instead of victim blaming, we should look for more productive ways to respond to this threat. We should be disturbed enough to do something about rape. We should be afraid enough to educate ourselves and our loved ones. At the very least, we should be human enough to empathize with the rape survivor; a person unfortunate enough to have had to endure the assault of a skilled criminal.

Survivors deserve our support, not our scrutiny.

 

References:

Breines, J. “Why Do We Blame Victims?” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-love-and-war/201311/why-do-we-blame-victims

Culp-Ressler, T. (2013, October). “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/29/2844951/link-alcohol-sexual-assault/

Hess, A. (2013, October). “To Prevent Rape on College Campuses, Focus on the Rapists, Not the Victims.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/10/16/it_s_the_rapists_not_the_drinking_to_prevent_sexual_assault_on_college_campuses.html

Lisak, D. “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.middlebury.edu/media/view/240951/original/

National Violence Against Women Survey. “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-offenders

The Cajun Boy. “If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Reddit Thread For You!” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://uproxx.com/webculture/2012/07/rapists-explain-why-they-rape-on-reddit/

 

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Posted in Education, Gender Rights, Politics, Science, Society1 Comment

Wasting Your Life: One Peso at a Time, One Minute at a Time

I commute to work on a daily basis. I wake up at around 6:00 AM to make sure that I arrive at the MRT station before 6:30 AM. If I arrive any later than that, I basically missed my chance to make it to my 7:30 AM class in Makati.

My teaching obligations end at 5:30 PM. Everything that happens before 5:30 PM, I consider a privilege. I get paid to talk about things that I like talking about. But after 5:30 PM, that’s when the real work begins.I’m talking about the rush hour commute between 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. The experience is unpleasant, stressful, unproductive, and time-consuming.

In the station I often ride the train from, the MRT platform has a pathway that links it to the Alphaland Mall. The platform links to the third floor. The line, however, often extends to the entrance of the mall. During rush hour, it would take more than 30 minutes just to get to the MRT platform. And let’s not talk about the shoving, grinding, swearing, and cramping that happens once inside the train.

Deep inside everyone who takes the MRT at this time feels that something about this experience is extremely wrong. Everyone that takes alternative means of transportation, via buses, feels equally as miserable. I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but the feelings we all have about our commute is correct – it’s bad for us.

mrt

North Avenue Station

Commuting Makes Us Unhappy

In the article “Your Commute is Killing You,” Anne Lowry discusses how long commutes can make us fat, cause neck pain,increase our feelings of loneliness, cause stress, and may even lead to divorce. According to her, researchers at Umea University in Sweden discovered that, “Couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.”

In the same article, she mentions how a survey done by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Alan Krueger reveals that among common activities that 900 Texan women share, they find commuting in the morning the most unpleasant.

The misery of the commute extends to other areas of a person’s life. It was revealed in a report by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that workers with lengthy commutes report more adverse emotional conditions.

Commuting Isolates Us from Fulfilling Relationships

Robert Putnam is another name that was mentioned in Lowry’s article. Robert Putnam is a Harvard political scientist and is the author of “Bowling Alone.” According to Putnam, every 10 minutes we spend on our daily commute results in 10% fewer social connections. He warns that our social capital is plummeting, and our lives and communities are becoming impoverished. We, as a society, belong to fewer organizations, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less often, and spend less time with our families.

Personally, I spend almost 10 hours a week commuting to and from the office. As much as I can, I try my best to spend Sunday lunch with my siblings and my grandmother. We would sit at the same table and chat from around 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. That’s 3 hours.

Sometimes, if I am lucky, I can spend an evening having dinner with a few friends. We’d meet at around 7:00 PM, but we’d have to part ways before 11:00 PM because I have to be at the MRT platform by 6:30 AM. I can honestly say that I spend more time at the commute with strangers than I do with my friends and family. That sucks.

Commuting is Unpaid Work

Mentioned in Lowry’s article is another study by Thomas James Christian of Brown University. According to Christian’s research,each minute spent at the commute reduces our exercise time, our food preparation time, and our time for sleep. The length of our commute also determines our propensity for making non-grocery food purchases.

In other words, if we often find ourselves in long commutes, we tend to buy unhealthy food knowing that we will have no time to prepare healthier meals when we get home. Other people,in their desire to avoid the rush hour, would have dinner at a fast food instead to kill time. In both cases, we’ll be spending more, eating less healthy, and we’ll be having less time and energy for exercise because we’re too tired.

When we compute for how much we’re earning, one of the invisible liabilities we often forget to acknowledge is the cost of commuting.

According to Lowry’s article, two economists at the University of Zurich quantified the value of how much more a worker should be compensated to make even just an additional hour of commute worthwhile.

In the paper entitled, “Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox,” economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer found that for an extra hour of commuting, a worker has to be compensated with a 40% increase in salary, just to make it worthwhile.

In other words, don’t work for a far location if the salary difference is minimal. If you’re working at an office 15 minutes away for P14,000, the same work SHOULD pay you P19,600 if it’s 1 hour and 15 minutes away. If it’s 2 hours away, the same work SHOULD pay you P27,440. Anything less and you’re incurring a loss.

The time we spend commuting takes a major toll on our lives. We experience neck and back pain,spend less time with friends and family, experience loneliness, spend more, get fat, exercise less, sleep less, worry more, and get stressed.

80% of Filipinos are commuters. 80% of Filipinos will have their happiness and their health compromised. Every minute we spend in the MRT line or on a bus along EDSA is a minute of work that we did for free. It is a minute with a loved one that was taken from us. It is a minute we could have invested in our own physical or intellectual development. It is a minute we could have spent preparing a healthy meal. It is a minute we could have spent with our children. It is a minute of our lives that was wasted.

Apparently, it’s not just our money, our taxes, that corrupt and inefficient government officials can squander. They’re wasting our lives: one minute at a time, one peso at a time.

Posted in Personal, Science, Society46 Comments

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