What is male privilege in the attention economy?
Economic markets understand your attention has monetary value. Grabbing someone’s attention is the first step in influencing a thought, that thought is the first step in taking action. Marketers want your actions to fall inline with their interests.
The more Coke-a-Cola is in front of your eyes the more it is on your mind and the more likely you are to buy Coke-a-Cola. Through this lens your consciousness and attention control your budget — your consciousness then, is your most valuable possession.
The various hustles attempting to win over your awareness is known as the “Attention Economy.” Examining our consciousness as an economy, we can set conditions in our daily routines, habits, and relationships that free as much of our most precious resource.
Fear is the largest thief in this mental marketplace. Our nervous systems were designed to constantly gauge threat. All of our bodily sensations are in unison measuring threats constantly.
When we find ourselves in the safe rest-and-digest state our thoughts reside in our executive frontal lobe brains.
Once a threat is perceived, our brains generate beta-waves that take thought-control from our newer frontal executive brain to our ancient lower reptilian brain. This is known as the fear-response.
The tools we use in our lives were designed and created to be best operated with our executive brains. The design of computers, cars and even the human network organizations had the intention of rational and predictable actors for optimal use. These tools and systems are best manipulated from the higher thinking executive brain and not our reptilian brain.
To complicate this dynamic, the higher-lower brain trade-off isn’t zero-sum. We can be thinking about a complex situation at work and the mental image of an unliked boss can trigger the fear response inside of our executive thought. A powerful life skill is to recognize fear within your executive thoughts and determine if the threat is real or perceived.
Simply put, freedom in the Attention Economy is the ability to choose your thoughts in your executive brain void of fear. Men inherently have more freedom in thoughts due to the circumstance of nature — or a privilege in the most valuable market in the universe. The male inability to breastfeed, menstruate and the larger physical structure results in less major triggers of the klepto-fear response.
Why men have nipples
The ability to feed offspring is such an important aspect of life, nature designed both sexes with nipples to make sure the trait is inherited. The woman’s ability to feed babies has the woman’s nervous system on hyper-alert to encompass the vulnerable young. For example, nursing mothers testify they lactate in public when any baby starts crying. Women’s nervous systems working for the benefit of more than themselves is a major requirement in the Attention Economy. Sure men react to crying babies too, however as the male body isn’t physically reacting to the crying baby as is the woman next to him, the male has more choice in how to respond.
Culture and technology have allowed us to spreadload childcare responsibility, however, over the millennia of the human condition and in much of the gender-imbalanced world, this reality has resulted in a lopsided benefit in the gendered Attention Economy, and all other economies to be honest.
As fear restricts free thought, sleep enables free thinking and mental resiliency. Nature and cultures’ requirements for women to feed offspring directly impacts women’s sleep. Lack of sleep adds to fear, anxiety, and depression; all major disadvantages in the Attention Economy.
Africa offers a microscope on how males receive a natural advantage due to this natural function. In impoverished areas of Africa, school girls miss up to six weeks a school year because they lack access to proper menstruation hygiene gear. To best simplify a complex social construct; girls are expected to stay home from school during their cycles just as Westerners are expected to stay home from work if we have a cold. It is showing good manners not to go to school when menstruating without the luxury of pads or even panties in many cases.
Agreed that in modern Western societies we have overcome some of the stigma surrounding menses, however factoring all of humanity, over all-time, menstruation has robbed women’s attention on a massive scale.
Calculating Security and Sex
In fear of oversimplifying another complex issue, a strong argument can be made that men’s decisions about security and sex are much less consuming and more streamlined. Exceptions asside, most of the times in a man’s life his boss is not trying to lure him into bed, the Uber driver isn’t hitting on him, and the stranger in the parking garage isn’t sizing him up sexually.
Women face real threats and aggressions in ways that are abstract to men and at a shocking frequency. Every micro-aggression experienced by a woman that takes her out of her executive thought is a de-facto micro-advantage for her male peers.
Not to say men’s attention isn’t vulnerable to being unproductively consumed with security and sex, however, there is more of an element of choice in those calculations — and choice is ultimately what we are seeking.
Leveling the playing field usually evokes the idea of bringing the privileged down to the level of the unprivileged. However, taking men out of their executive brains as an equalizing measure will only make the problem worse. The idea is to set social and economic conditions that provide universal access to the free marketplace of thoughts. Setting conditions for thoughts free of fear is in everyone’s interest. Society benefits when everyone is processing information, creating ideas and taking risk without fear’s drowning weight. While we need technical and policy solutions to provide universal access to free thought, at the grassroots level we can all seek to set conditions for ourselves and those around us to think free of fear.
Every micro-aggression experienced by a woman that takes her out of her executive thought is a de-facto micro-advantage for her male peers.