Thursday, December 08, 2022

Why men will always be a slave to their ambitions.


Someone on social media was promoting some event that is all about finding some safe space for men to express their emotions. The idea is that we live in a very destructive competitive environment and the current definition of what masculinity is is very narrow. 

While I will not openly oppose any attempt to rewrite what masculinity should be, I am old-school and believe that boys will be boys. 

I am also aware that it is very difficult to disengage from ambition. I struggle with it personally, and when I finally made the decision to suit up and go to a law firm, a lot of what I do had to do with my son who's watching my every move. If he gets winds of the idea that it's possible for a guy to basically do nothing at home and still earn a nice 5-digit passive income, one possible reaction is to just stop striving. 

I think that loss of motivation takes away a greater part of the meaning of life.

Another perspective I have on masculinity is that it’s not ultimately up to men (or worse, single men who actually have the time to think about moderating their masculinity) to determine what’s masculine. The main determining factor is women. We should ask ourself what kind of guy actually attracts women in Singapore, gets to settle down, and have kids. Women ultimately gate-keep because they decide what kind of men gets to propagate their gene pool.

For example, in Shanghai China, women don’t really care how good looking a guy is, he just needs to be able own an apartment. In such societies, savings rates amongst men are one of the highest in the world. When there is a real estate boom, so much attention goes into real estate ownership, workers become more disengaged at work.

So if we adopt this approach to determine the evolution of masculinity, we should start with a survey conducted by Lunch Actually recently on what Singaporean women want in a guy. In a nutshell,  a guy should be highly educated, have a high income, and have a compatible religion with the woman. In other surveys, it was also found that guys actually don’t really mind higher earning girlfriends, but a large swath of the female population would not be able to accept guys who earn below them.

So if I want my son to be successful in starting a family, he needs to study really hard, gun for the best paying jobs, and be a free-thinker (as opposed to being an atheist like me) so he gets to be as flexible as possible when it comes to religion at a later time. Another words, I don’t think it is wise for my son to focus on developing traits like kindness and empathy. These traits can be a bonus, but I’d put a bigger premium on traditional masculine traits like being decisive, ambitious, or even a little confrontational.  Case in point, not having a degree in Singapore means halving your income. So if we already know that women prefer high earning men, missing out on a local degree is like getting castrated.

Of course, this analysis should also consider whether there is an equivalence of dividend income and earned income. There are no surveys on this yet, but I suspect when women talk about high earning men, they are more interested in traits of conscientiousness and disagreeableness when looking for mates. This would actually put a higher weight on earned income compared to dividend income. So I would conclude that even if you have a nice $5,000 passive income every month, you may want to hold a job that gives you amount of status in society. 

The singlehood status of many guys in the FIRE movement may attest to this possibility. 

So this is why men will always be a slave to their ambitions, because women like ambitious men and ambitious men continue to propagate the gene pool for humanity’s next iteration.

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