Lion of the Blogosphere

The importance of self-actualizing careers, and the sad plight of women

1943 was a very important year. And no, the reason for its importance had nothing to do with the Allied invasion of Italy.

1943 was the year when Abraham Maslow published his famous paper A Theory of Human Motivation in which he wrote about self-actualization:

The need for self-actualization. — Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.

This term, first coined by Kurt Goldstein [only a few years earlier in 1939], is being used in this paper in a much more specific and limited fashion. It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.

The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions. It is not necessarily a creative urge although in people who have any capacities for creation it will take this form.

Even though the term “self-actualization” may not be used very often in every-day speech (and in fact, according to the Google Ngram Viewer, usage peaked in the 1970s and has since been declining), the idea behind it has become the very essence of the beliefs of the modern-day elites. But they’ve ignored or forgotten the part about self-actualization maybe taking “the form of the desire to be an ideal mother.” If anyone reads that today, it’s just assumed to be an example of archaic and obsolete attitudes towards women that even a genius like Maslow was unable to rise above. Today, the elites understand that the whole purpose of life is to achieve self-actualization through one’s career.

What did people think was the purpose of life before the 1940s? If I had to guess, I’d say that they thought the purpose of life was to raise children who would then raise grandchildren. Working at a job was seen as an unpleasant task that had to be done in order to provide food, clothing and shelter for one’s family. That seemed to be the attitude of my middle-class grandparents. There was a reason why it was called “work” and not “fun.” (Today, the better classes of people don’t call it work, they call it a “career,” and you don’t say “I’m going to work,” you say “I’m going to the office.”)

Under the old paradigm, women had it really good. Men were drafted into the army and sent to war, and if they were lucky enough to return home alive, they got to slave away at crappy jobs their whole lives, all for the greater purpose of providing for their families. Their wives got to do the best and most important job of raising children. But things have become reversed since then. When the most important goal of life is self-actualization through one’s career, children now get in the way of self-actualization. And if women have to stay home and take care of them, that’s a punishment and not a reward. As supposedly-conservative David Brooks recently wrote in a pro-immigration op-ed, working outside the home is something that wealthier women with children are lucky enough to be able to “afford” to do, and we need immigration so more women can afford do more important stuff than staying home and taking care of kids. (But what about the poor immigrant woman who has to work as a nanny and housekeeper? Not only is she doing the crappiest work that American women don’t want to do, she’s not even able to do it for her own children.)

Because children are now seen as getting in the way of the more important value of self-actualization through one’s career, it’s hardly surprising that birth rates are plummeting. People don’t have children today unless either they are rich enough to afford a nanny, or too prole and stupid to have the option of a self-actualizing career.

Hopefully, the explanation above helps to explain the NY Times op-ed last week by history professor Stephanie Coontz complaining about the sad plight of women in modern-day America. If you accept the premise that the most important goal in life is a self-actualizing career, then Ms. Coontz is right, men do have it better than women. Although if people completely accept the premise, why do women bother to have children at all? Isn’t abortion a perfectly legal option? There must be some innate biological maternal instinct getting in the way of what women are supposed to believe, causing them to make bad life choices.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

49 Responses

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  1. Interesting point, Lion. Part of the shift is that the average job is more fun than it was 100 years ago. Most people would rather work in an office than on a farm or in a factory. Especially women. Some men don’t mind getting their hands dirty and working a physical job, but a lot of men, and almost all women, prefer a office job. 100 years ago there were a handful of teaching and nursing jobs for bright women. Now there is a lot more choice, so it is no big surprise that some are choosing the career path.

    Natural selection will exert itself. Our species is just beginning to adapt to birth control.

    John

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  2. Woman want to do what men do. If the majority of men decide to stay home and raise the children, women will change their minds, quit their jobs, and stay at home until the men decide to get jobs again.

    Blog Raju

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Women want what they are told to want.

      This is much less the case with men. For example, among teens, girls are more likely to believe in global warming than boys. Now, these are teens, so we know that it is not due to their vast knowledge that they form their opinions. Guys are just less likely to believe whatever they are told just because.

      not too late

      February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

  3. OT, but I’m in Pleasanton, Ca. for a funeral, and one of the family members, by marriage is one of the developers of these new google glasses. Perhaps you could do a post sometime on whether you think these glasses will be a success. Oh, and Pleasanton really is pleasant. A SWPL dream!

    CamelCaseRob

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • This is quite true.

      L

      February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  4. Most people just want to feel needed. Your family will always need you more than your employer does so in that sense woman had it better because they focused exclusively on their family. But say what you will about men’s role prior to the 1960s at least they had one and it hadn’t become national policy to make them become as useless as possible.

    Reynald

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  5. Q: Why do women bother to have children at all?
    A: They don’t – at least not white elite females

    We know they’re a vanishing demographic. Steph “Coontz” as a NYT writer – shocking. That Paul Krugman, too.

    David Brooks recently wrote in a pro-immigration op-ed because: There’s no career competition for NY writers from qualified Illegal Aliens.

    Firepower

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  6. How does this fit in with the robot post earlier? I’m puzzled.

    Ed

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  7. We’ll have to go all “Brave New World” and start decanting infants and put women on testosterone and maybe give them childhood hysterectomies so they can be fully autonomous beings who self-actualize through the careers Cultural Marxism envisions for them. “Force them to be free!!!”

    –I’m surprised the LGBT lobby hasn’t reached a consensus on the shameful patriarchal legacy of tits. There must be a few femme holdouts who like to suckle a sweet jug now and then. But I’m sure they can come to an understanding that tits are an oppressive vestigial reminder of our origins in Nature (which is a patriarchal social construct), which must by State mandate be surgically, therapeutically and, if necessary, cybernetically expunged in the pursuit of freedym.

    Lucius Somesuch

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  8. “on April 17, 1962, Abraham Maslow gave a lecture to a group of nuns at Sacred Heart, a Catholic women’s college in Massachusetts. Maslow noted in a diary entry of the same date that the talk had been very “successful,” but he found that very fact troubling. “They shouldn’t applaud me,” he wrote, “they should attack. If they were fully aware of what I was doing, they would [attack]” (Journals, p. 157).”

    http://www.culturewars.com/CultureWars/1999/rogers.html

    soren

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Maslow is part of how, in Modernity, Ethics got downsized from Philosophy and Religion to the Department of Psychology (another score, Gramsci Project!), which explains how nowadays Howard Gardner can publish a book on Goodness, Truth, and Beauty, which is just as cringingly middlebrow, vague, and amateurish as you might imagine [cutting-edge insight: if Kant were alive today, he’d have to rewrite the “Critique of Judgment” because it’s invalidated by the fact that Howard Gardner “gets” Abstract Art! Also, he’d have to go on book tours!].

      Damn right, those nuns should’ve roasted him.

      Lucius Somesuch

      February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Maslow is part of how, in Modernity, Ethics got downsized from Philosophy and Religion to the Department of Psychology

        You’re being unfair to Maslow. He later turned against his hierarchy of needs chart but the elites ignored it because his original idea was useful for supporting all sorts of self-esteem nonsense promoted by Cathedral Borg drones..

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • If you say so, TUJ, I’ll defer. But how late was this repentance? Or else what do you suppose he had in mind with his too-friendly audience of nuns?

        In any event, Maslow and Kohlberg have a lot to answer for, in cementing together a “Reader’s Digest”-level Morality In A Box so serviceable to the Cathedral’s needs (NB: classroom insipidity is not the least of these). Even a great many in the STEMs, I daresay, are taken in by it. Though I grant, too, it has at least the semblance of sanity compared to the rages of Gilligan, Butler, Derrida, and all the defundable dervishes in Humanities Hell.

        Lucius Somesuch

        February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Maybe Maslow figured his ideas would be critiqued and tested by scientists not just focus group tested for their usefulness to power brokers.

        not too late

        February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

      • But how late was this repentance?

        I don’t know how late it was but he did spend time coming up with other models, none of which became popular much to his chagrin.

        Maybe Maslow figured his ideas would be critiqued and tested by scientists not just focus group tested for their usefulness to power brokers.

        He always knew his ideas would be tested by scientists and he was irritated for being famous for a model he no longer believed in. It’s more likely he changed his mind because he thought more about it’s weaknesses.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 27, 2013 at EDT pm

  9. Actually, I think one of the things Philip Longman suggested was that this was a form of population control. We’re running out of resources, so we encourage women to have careers, not have kids, and thus drive down the population to sustainable levels.

    SFG

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Yeah but even if you want fewer children overall you still want the ones that are born to be the best they can. Channeling all of the smartest woman into careers and away from motherhood is robbing the future for the benefit of the present.

      Reynald

      February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Singapore tried to get well-educated women to have three or more children, but they failed.

        “Since one of the specific aims of the new population policy is to promote larger family sizes among those who can afford them, it is important to look at maternal qualifications for the higher order births. As mentioned previously, education is being used here as a proxy measure of economic status. In this regard, it may be pointed out that, even as the proportions of third and higher order babies born to secondary and better-educated mothers have increased over the years, the better-educated women continue to be under-represented in these categories relative to all the women giving birth each year.”

        Read the full report from the United Nations:
        http://www.un.org/Depts/escap/pop/journal/v10n4a3.htm

        Blog Raju

        February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • If you look at CDC data, the states with the highest levels of female education and income have higher fertility than less educated and wealthy states when you look at birth rates per 1000 women 30 years or older.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  10. LB,

    Someone already beat you to writing about this.

    http://theweek.com/article/index/239873/is-having-kids-now-a-social-failure

    When having children is seen as low class, the elite are going to stop having children. As Steve Sailer says, the dying alone cohort is growing and is now politically powerful.

    superdestroyer

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  11. Half of the women at my office job work because they need the money they earn from their clerical-type paper-pushing $35K per year jobs to supplement their husbands’ $35K per year blue collar or low IT jobs. The other half are divorcees supporting themselves and a couple of teenagers. Several are working on their third marriage.

    What is it with women and getting to work on time? At my employer, starting time is 8:30am for hourly workers. All of the females stroll in at 8:45, putz around getting coffee and setting up for another 15 minutes, and finally get ready to push paper at 9:00. Most claim to “work” through their 1 hour lunch break so they can leave an hour early. The female managers are sneaky, gossipy, and angry. I’m starting to think that most women truly are not cut out for the working world.

    E. Rekshun

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • There are a lot of women who would not be working if male wages had increased and the keeping up with the jones consumption race hadn’t gotten so out of control. The irony of course is that both of these things were caused in part by women entering the work force in the first place.

      Reynald

      February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • There are a lot of women who would not be working if male wages had increased and the keeping up with the jones consumption race hadn’t gotten so out of control.

        Women compete with men for fluff jobs in HR, marketing, and education. Aside from BIGLAW, there are few women competing with men in the very alpha male professions such as hedge fund manager or elite consulting that have the highest risk-reward ratios and most stress. The fact the super-alphas at McKinsey and Goldman are mostly fighting against other alpha males may be why they feel less threatened by women entering the workforce.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • And don’t forget the health insurance. The hubby knew he wasn’t going to be worth much in the job market, so he ran “care for me” ANTI-provider beta game and found someone who would mother him.

      But the reason they’re late to work is because they’re trying to make breakfast for the hubby and the kids and run them off to daycare and then frantically putting on makeup in the car and running everyone off the road.

      If they’re willing to support their husband, he’s got some game or some alpha characteristics.

      ATC

      February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

      • Or they’re disgusting and overweight..

        Kaz

        February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  12. Are not women getting self-actualization from having their own family, as well as belonging to some cause or organization? That is the view of female psychology that I have been taught (by actual experts who write books, not NYT columnists). Women get their “actualization” from belonging to family, church, or cause, and not, as men do, from objective success. The NYT claptrap is operating under a false presumption; women are not like men when it comes to self-actualization, so they cannot be judged in the same way.

    Preston Bell

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Women don’t realize how much they will love their children until they have their own. They assume that they will enjoy their children no more than they enjoy other people’s children.

      T

      February 24, 2013 at EDT am

  13. “Half of the women at my office job work because they need the money they earn from their clerical-type paper-pushing $35K per year jobs to supplement their husbands’ $35K per year blue collar or low IT jobs.”

    Having one salary used to be adequate, but with Third-world immigration taking over formerly decent neighborhoods and feminism demanding that all women work, now even a lower middle-class living requires two.

    posterhere

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  14. “too prole or too stupid”

    You left out the religious types. I think ultra orthodox average an astonishing 8 kids per woman.

    Isn’t there a trend of highly educated women opting out of the workforce to stay home with their kids? I recall reading something about this in the nytimes a while ago. I personally know a lady with an ivy league law degree, once she had kids she opted to stay home full time. I don’t think she lasted more than 5 years in the workforce, all told.

    islandmommy

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Isn’t there a trend of highly educated women opting out of the workforce to stay home with their kids? I recall reading something about this in the nytimes a while ago.

      There is. Elite consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey are trying to woo back female workers who dropped out of work to raise children with more flextime and childcare support.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  15. The “get to work” zombie-ettes can’t stand it that there are women who are cool enough that men want to provide for them.

    Two of my oneitis-es – beautiful, smart, great sense of humor – began staying home the minute their husbands (not me 😦 🙂 began making enough $ for them to do so. But who’s going to do that for a homely Hanna Rosin type?

    ATC

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  16. Is the aspiring middle class different from the truly elite in this sense? Some years ago when I lived in Englad the real toffs all had 4 kids each – being able to afford exhorbitant school fees for 4 kids was in itself one of the highest forms of demonstrating status. I wonder if the genuinely elite in this country, who don’t need to self-actualize thru work, are in fact having 2-4 kids each…? Seems like going childless is only a big issue for the folks who aren’t quite as elite as they’d like to be?

    Bertha

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • The fertility rate in England is 1.9 children per woman and it is only that high due to the much higher rate of recent immigrants. I doubt if the rich are really having that many children. You anecdotes are not support by the data. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2204800/British-birth-rate-soared-highest-Europe-thanks-increase-migrants.html

      superdestroyer

      February 24, 2013 at EDT am

      • The elite are so few in numbers that they wouldn’t show up in any overall statistics.

        CamelCaseRob

        February 24, 2013 at EDT am

      • It’s the same in the US, Bertha. Elites in Boston and New York often have 3 or 4 children. Even in Germany the only Germans I have ever met with more than 2 children are upper class elites. It is most certainly a status symbol among elites to have large families. Bitter people on these boards always try to deny this, but I suspect CamelCaseRob is right. The elites are simply too few to move the dial in a meaningful way.

        Peter the Shark

        February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

      • CamelCaseRob,

        You may have been correct a generation ago but not today. Al Gore Jr (the former Vice President) has four children but only three grandchildren. Other than a few elite Mormons, the fertility rate of the elite has been going down. The Clintons do not even have grandchildren.

        Unless you can can produce some data, then the white fertility rate in the U.S. being less than 1.6 holds.

        superdestroyer

        February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Here and there this is probably true amongst the super rich, like the family in “Queen of Versailles.” The Novogratz family also comes to mind– 7 kids (with kooky names) living in Manhattan.

      But I still think most mega-families are religiously motivated to some degree.

      islandmommy

      February 24, 2013 at EDT am

  17. Factoid: Maslow ended up hating his hierarchy of needs chart the more he thought about the subject. He later tried to invent a different one but failed to sever his reputation with the original.

    And no, the reason for its importance had nothing to do with the Allied invasion of Italy.

    Stalingrad was kind of more important than the Italy landings. And Maslow’s chart.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

    • Factoid: Maslow ended up hating his hierarchy of needs chart the more he thought about the subject. He later tried to invent a different one but failed to sever his reputation with the original.

      That’s really interesting. Why did he hate it? Whatever we may think about the way it has been used, isn’t it more or less correct? What did his alternate look like?

      Samson J.

      February 26, 2013 at EDT pm

  18. I knew a girl a long time ago who was smarter, wiser, sexier, more beautiful, and classier than any one I’ve ever known. I was just one of many sick-puppies who died at her feet.

    She had career ambition and did very well, but her ultimate ambition was to get married, have kids, and stay at home.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    February 23, 2013 at EDT pm

  19. Robyn Dawes noted that, despite its popularity, Maslow’s hierarchy is lacking in evidence.

    teageegeepea

    February 24, 2013 at EDT am

  20. Like all adherents to hbd, i would like to see high iq white young women living in the usa have three or more children. How can a nation persuade high iq young women to do this? I think the evidence from sweden and france is clear… If you offer professional women free super high quality day care starting at birth the high iq young women will have kids. If you follow italy example and not give free child care, high iq women will refuse to reproduce. I invite criticism but those are the facts as i see them

    Bob

    February 24, 2013 at EDT am

    • How do you get super high quality day care? What is it? I’ll tell you what it is. It is care given by high IQ women who like kids, specifically their own kids. We should persuade the stupid women to work outside the home and not have kids. Duh.

      not too late

      February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

    • If you read about the eugenics program in Singapore, they are now trying to pay high IQ women to have children. Apparently, when having few (or no) children is held up as the societal ideal, only highly educated women stop reproducing, while less educated women keep on going– exactly the opposite of what one would hope. We’ve seen a similar phenomena in the west, sans an overt eugenics attempt.

      islandmommy

      February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

  21. My grandfather was born before 1940, in 1918, and my mother told me that he had taught her the point of life was, “betterment of the species.” Seriously.

    not too late

    February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

  22. Women are not abandoning family for career. They are using careers as a high-risk, high-reward strategy to create a family.

    Remember, feminism is just an expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of man available to the average woman. Average women somehow got it into their heads that they deserved above average men, and, when that did not happen naturally, they invented feminism to complain about it.

    Women are huge fans of aristocracy. They love kings, princes and nobles. They cannot get enough of the British Royal family. Why? Because aristocracy is very clear about who the top dogs are. Women want to first identify who the top men are. They then want to put themselves in the orbit of these top men. With sexual liberation and other tools, thy hope to get these top men to eventually marry them.

    That was the Kate Middleton strategy. She goes to Oxford. She hangs out with Prince William. She let’s him practice his donkey punch. Then William pops the question. Or the Hillary Clinton strategy.

    Women want the opportunity to emulate this strategy. They want to be let in to top universities so they can work in top firms and be in close contact with executives who will make potential husbands. The reward is forming a family with an alpha male. The risk is wasting your prime reproductive years chasing alphas that reject you for marriage until you’re too old to compete.

    The flaw in the whole female strategy is that women want to be judged in the same way as men, but they want to trade up to better than themselves. A female Harvard law grad does not want to marry another Harvard law grad. She wants to marry the firm’s partner or its equivalent. The trouble is, her education and other masculine credentials are vastly inferior to that of the man’s, because her “trading up” results in her being inferior in every way that she wants to be judged. Unless she brings real physical beauty to the relationship, real “boners and babies” firepower, or something the man does not already have, then she will be left out in the cold to stew in her own bitterness. In other words, the men that she wants are superior to her in every way that she wants to be judged. She does not understand that she needs to bring something to the table that the man does not have.

    Feminism is basically the mating strategy of ugly women: the Sandra Flukes of the world.

    map

    February 24, 2013 at EDT pm

    • THIS^^^^ the worst part about this is that tax payers are funding this madness. elite women are only working until they catch their alpha male. as soon as that happens they stop working and waste all that opportunity cost of limited university spots, tax payer funded tuition etc etc on a women who only works for a few years out of university. in comparison with a male one would get a lifetime of labor and taxes in return for the tax payer investment

      anon

      February 28, 2013 at EDT pm

  23. “But they’ve ignored or forgotten the part about self-actualization maybe taking ‘the form of the desire to be an ideal mother.'”

    Related. New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is pissing off modern women with her attitude toward maternity leave and her email wrt telecommuting: http://allthingsd.com/20130222/physically-together-heres-the-internal-yahoo-no-work-from-home-memo-which-extends-beyond-remote-workers/; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-owens/marissa-mayer-work-from-home-ban_b_2758671.html

    I have a crush on Mayer.

    aki (@DSGNTD_PLYR)

    February 25, 2013 at EDT pm

    • lol whiny feminists are are upset because they thought that she was one of them and looked up to her. in reality she is just another CEO that makes decisions based on economic realities. aka a capitalist

      anon

      February 28, 2013 at EDT pm


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