EA Lifestyles advice column
male-dominated community and the expected value of boyfriends
EA being a male-dominated community is starting to wear on me. There are aspects of the culture that are really good in certain contexts, but can go wrong when applied to others.
For example: radical honesty/saying true things (great sometimes, not fun when men decide to be super honest about their sexual attraction or the exact amount they’re willing to account for women’s comfort until the costs just “aren’t justified.” This kind of openness is usually pointless: I can’t act on it, I didn’t want to know, and now I’m feeling hurt/wary).
This can lead to cycles where: some man says something gendered/ignorant/upsetting, usually not malicious, then I have to debate them or ignore it, and go through some week-long process where I’m feeling kind of down/doubt myself/don’t feel good in the community. How do I mitigate this?
First: no need to doubt yourself. This is a real trend, both in the EA community and wider society.
You're talking here about the community, so I'm going to assume these conversations aren't happening in a professional context. If they are, please tell someone - your boss, HR, another (female?) leader at your organisation, or CEA’s Community Health team.
Second: unfortunately, I don't think things that help the community improve, like explaining to these guys where they went wrong, is always going to be what's best for you. Don't feel like you have to put other people's well-being ahead of your own.
I'd suggest brainstorming a list of options that are within your control that can help break this pattern. After you think of a bunch of options, then you can choose some to try.
1 talk to only one or two trusted people if upset
2 wait an hour before angry replying to rude comments
3 hang out with women more
4 social media break
5 no gender discourse for the next six months
6 socially quit EA (quit Twitter, not network so much, get a hobby)
7 or just start a new hobby and make some new friends
Which of these options do you want to try? I'd encourage you to be bold. You could make some pretty radical changes to your life for a month and if you decide you don't like those changes, your EA friends will welcome you back. Trying something different is the best way to get different results.
And remember: you don't have to be friends with everyone. You can stop hanging out with annoying people! I absolutely believe in your ability to be gracious while also spending more time with the people who treat you well and less time with the people who don't.
I'm proud of you - let me know how it goes!
you know how there are papers on how on average, falling in love means losing two friends (largely due to time substitution)? I feel like I am leaving impact on the table by being in a new relationship
how do I choose between spending time with my boyfriend - which makes me happy - and things with positive EV for not-me?
I’ll admit I haven’t been keeping up on the literature on the negative effects of falling in love, but I guess it makes sense!
Sounds like the classic trade off between the admirable life and the enviable life. Or as Julia Wise would say: you have more than one goal and that's fine.
Personally I don't think I'm a utility maximising machine, I'm a person who does good stuff sometimes and wants to help people.
So I would set a budget. Like for donations I give 10% of my money, and I don’t worry about spending the rest on myself. I occasionally review the percentage that I give, but it’s not a day-to-day concern.
You could do the same thing with your time. How much time goes towards impartial welfare maximisation? And then prioritise within that.
Whether you decide to spend 8 hours a week maximising the good you can do or 80, I hope you’ll spend at least a few hours a week enjoying your life, guilt-free.