Category Archives: Social change

Changing the society

Sustainable food production

Last summer I met a guy from United Kingdom who was doing some volunteering work in Slovenia and I had a chance to interview him about his views on sustainability, agriculture and food. I knew he was a vegetarian and he talked a lot about his views, so I thought that it would be great to film him and do a video about this subject.

Now I have finally edited the footage from the interview, so you can watch the final video below. First I will just outline a few points he makes in the video:

  • meat and dairy industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change
  • if you focus on plant-based diet from an environmental perspective, there is no reason to be a complete abolitionist – it is good enough if you reduce your consumption of animal products to a practical minimum
  • eating meat and raising farm animals was important for the development of humanity, but nowadays the environmental impact of farm animals is just too big
  • most people can be perfectly healthy on a vegan diet; some may possibly need some dietary supplements
  • another good source of animal protein that is much better for the environment than meat and dairy are insects (see also the additional video at the end about the booming American edible insect industry)

The interview:

“The Gateway Bug” – documentary film trailer:

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How Loomio raised ethical investment and made our social mission even stronger

I liked a blog post about how Loomio raised some capital from “values-aligned” investors by using redeemable preference shares, so I decided to reblog the article.

Loomio is a collaborative decision-making tool (software) for groups. Hosted version is at http://www.loomio.org; check it out if your organization needs a democratic decision-making online tool.

Loomio Blog

The last few years have been quite a journey for Loomio. This is a story about navigating the world of startup financing to find ethical investment that works for a truly mission-driven tech company with big ambitions.

So many social enterprises face challenges finding the right capital model. We want them to know that there are amazing values-aligned investors out there, who are prepared to put their investment where their values are. Bold impact investors who put social impact first sometimes feel alone, but we want them to know that they’re not – they’re part of a growing movement.

We want to share our story to reach other purpose-driven startups, and other impact investors like the inspiring folk we’ve met along the way. More than anything, we want our mission-aligned capital raising story to become a more common one. 

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Islam and the Future of Tolerance

One of the more important books that came out last year was a book collaboration between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, titled “Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue.”

Sam Harris, a famous atheist, and Maajid Nawaz, a former radical Islamist, joined forces in order to have a conversation about Islam without “devolving into bigotry or caricature.”

The video below presents a few clips from a Harvard forum, a panel discussion with the authors.

To look things in the eyes and call them by their right names*

I’ve watched a video by Scarlett Rose Turner titled “I’m a feminist & why you should be, too!”

The video wasn’t particularly obnoxious, but I left a comment anyway. And since I don’t post much on this blog lately, I decided to repost my comment here.

Watch the video first, my comment is posted underneath it.

My comment:

If you want equality of the genders, races, sexual orientations, and religions, why don’t you call yourself an egalitarian?

And your speech about society telling us how we have to dress and look… The original idea of feminism was that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, i.e., discrimination on account of sex should be prohibited. If there was a law that women aren’t allowed to wear pants (only skirts), that would be an example of discrimination.

However, there is no law in western democracies about how you should dress (with a minor exception of public nudity laws). Nobody is forcing you to wear make-up.

Sure, there are some informal rules on what most people find pretty and fashionable (they change with time though), and YOU with your beauty channel on youtube are one of the role models that young girls learn these rules from (some standards of beauty are innate, but others are learned).

You say women should “dress up because they want to, not because society is telling them that they have to”. Cool, but you don’t have to be a feminist to say this. You just have to respect individuality and reject herd mentality. The same can apply to almost any issue. The most trivial example I can think of: people should throw birthday parties because they want to, not because society is telling them that they have to!

Scarlett seems to be a perfectly fine young woman. She also likes to dress nicely and make fashion tutorials – I have no problem with any of these things.

Being part of the “beauty community” and having a Youtube channel dedicated to fashion, she probably also realizes that she does influence young girls who look up to her and want to emulate her. So, she felt obliged to make this video and assert that a woman should only dress up, if she wants to. I don’t object to that, either.

The only reason why I wrote my comment is that she’s pushing feminism into that. And modern feminism sees everything through the lens of patriarchy. So, soon it could become: “patriarchy is telling women that they have to dress up.”

In some places, women have to be covered – patriarchy is definitely telling women in Saudi Arabia what to wear. But, in the West, women don’t dress up because men force them to look as sexy as they can (which would be a reverse Saudi Arabia scenario).

No, they dress up, because that is a natural development in a world where men value physical beauty, and women compete for social status and the attention from men (and are free to do so). Scarlett inadvertently gives a clue on this when she says in the video that women have a pretty hairstyle or wear some red lipstick because it empowers them.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and no man values exactly the same physical features – some may prefer a more natural look. But, certain generalizations can be made.

And this is not because of the patriarchy; women have their own standards of what they value in men, and men have to compete for their attention. So, it is fair to say that we are equal in that regard.


*Gone with the Wind quote

Clarifying my views on feminism

Below is my reply to a comment that was made in response to my open letter to Emma Watson. You can read the original exchange on Reddit.

“Feminism aims for equal rights and opportunities, but it also presupposes that it’s women who are being systematically oppressed by the patriarchy.” I’m wondering what you meant by this.

Well, the word itself suggests that this movement is about the empowerment of women, so if you want women to increase their “power” and at the same time you claim that you want gender equality, then it is only logical that you must assume that they don’t have equal power yet, i.e. they are oppressed. And as long [as] you strongly identify with feminism, you will continue to assume this, in spite of any evidence to the contrary.

Where is the evidence that oppression is “scarce”?

It is certainly not scarce in some parts of the Middle East; I clearly stated that this does not apply to the whole world. I was talking mainly about the Western world, and while you may still disagree that it is “scarce”, you cannot claim that the amount of oppression in the West did not decrease over the last century.

Basically, I was NOT making an empirical statement that the oppression of women in the West is scarce, I was explaining the logic of why I think feminism has a built-in flaw that will eventually make it counterproductive. Some people would say that this is happening now.

But hey, feminism was useful in the beginning. It certainly had a positive impact towards gender equality, I’m not denying that. But, maybe it’s time now to evolve to the next level.

what about people who are intersex? I find it curious that Emma Watson mentions a gender spectrum, and yet you continue to use these gender-binary norms

Yea, I used binary man/woman distinction. I was focused on making my argument clear and simple, so honestly, I didn’t even think about that. But, you are right for pointing that out.

Biological sex can be on a spectrum, too. So how do we categorize or find differences there and say what is innately this or that?

We don’t. We support gender egalitarianism and let everybody have the same rights and opportunities. We let people, no matter of their gender identity, to decide for themselves what they want and how they want to live.

I have yet to find any empirical evidence that gender is innate – because it’s so embedded in society that you cannot tease it apart.

Steven Pinker would disagree here. Read his book that I was referencing in my letter to Emma (The Blank Slate).

it’s pretty cool that Emma Watson addressed that men are also subject to this gender role socialization

Yes, we are. And there certainly can be a downside to gender role socialization, but pretending that gender is a social construct will not help. These problems (e.g. some men being incapable to express feelings) have to be addressed individually.

The innate differences between men and women produce gender roles, i.e. statistically significant differences between lifestyles of both sexes. However, egalitarians refuse to judge people by gender stereotypes, even though they might be correct. They treat each person as an individual. Women might (!) really be worse drivers on average than men, but does that mean that no woman should be allowed to become a professional truck driver? Of course not.

Thank you for your response and for being constructive.