Tag: election 2016

On Tuesday, we elected a man who had double-digit sexual offense accusations to be our 45th president. We elected a man as President who repeatedly spoke of groping women and called them “pigs” and “slobs.” We  elected a racist and misogynistic man president, instead of a competent and experienced woman.

This makes me sick to my stomach.

Being a girl in the United States today means being constantly taken for a sack of meat. It means frat boys at the entrance of parties only letting girls enter  – and only the ones who they deem to be “hot” enough – so that brothers can maintain their monopoly on women. It means having to justify not wanting to sleep with this or that boy. It means having to explain why you don’t want to be grabbed by the ass by a boy you barely know. It means being called a slut or a bitch because you refused to go on a date or to sleep with a certain guy. It means having to put your headphones in and your chin up when you walk down the street to tune out the constant harassment.

Growing up a girl means being sexualized before you even understand what that means. It means checking with your father, mother, brother, or best friend about whether that skirt is long enough for you to wear outside. It means the constant “do I look skanky?” and “will I get in trouble?” It means having to second-guess yourself in the mirror every day to make sure you aren’t “provoking” anything or “asking for it.”

This isn’t about the glass ceiling, equal pay for equal work, or academic and professional discrimination. This is about how we relate to our identities and our bodies, about what it means to grow up a girl.

I consider myself a feminist, and yet, I find myself falling into the trap of all these accusations. I find myself wondering whether I was really right to refuse that date, whether it was really okay for me not to go back home with that boy. Boys and men have disrespected me more times than I can count. I have been called a slut for not going along with what a guy was asking of me a shameful number of times. Like this, myself and millions of other women walk on eggshells to avoid the stigma of oversexualization. We keep our eyes down and pull down our skirts not to be noticed, and we fight off unwanted gestures as swiftly as possible.

We all suffer from this, girls and boys, who play along with the trend to appear “tough,” yet we keep quiet. Yet again, yesterday we elected a misogynistic man to preside over this country. We elected someone who not only exposes and embraces the entire array of sexual violence – from harassment to assault – that we face every day, but also legitimizes it. On Tuesday, 53% of white women voted for a man who considers them nothing more  than objects.

We have normalized sexual violence to such an extent that it has become imperceptible. We hide behind our libertarian ideas of hookup culture, drink an extra shot and assume everything is fine. We forget the rapes, the unwanted touching, the gross comments, and, most of all, the pressure. The pressure to pretend that everything is okay, that we are young and free and so is our sexuality. We blame each other for being stuck up, for not playing along.

I firmly believe that this is fundamentally wrong. I also believe that this wrong will only be fixed when we all stand behind our female role models and help them lead. Until we trust our fellow women enough to stand with them and fight against this image. Until we all stand together and fight everyday sexist violence, until we realize it is not normal, we will not be able to change anything.

Ana is a junior in the School of General Studies majoring in MESAAS.

The Lion is the only campus publication with an open-submissions policy. To respond to this piece or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.

Columbia students are currently outside on Low Steps screaming and in tears shocked at the results from the 2016 Election.

This is a scary time for many members of our community who have been frightened by the hatred and vitriol that has come from this campaign season. Students, staff, and faculty are scared. To our beautiful community, stay safe. Talk with your friends, talk with your Professors, talk with CPS, but the most important thing is to talk. Do not feel alone even as the results of this election unfold. We will stay united and we will stay together. No matter what, we absolutely cannot let hate and bigotry win.

Stay safe. The beauty and diversity of this nation will prevail and we will eventually overcome this struggle.

– The Lion Managing Board

 For support, know the following Columbia resources available:

Counseling and Psychological Services – (212) 854-2878
Columbia Health – (212) 854-7426
Office of the University Chaplain – (212) 854-1493
Advising Deans – (212) 854-6378
Nightline – (212) 854-7777

In addition, please talk with your friends, Professors, and coworkers.

Although I had intended to continue the series on the neuroscience of education, when I sat down to write a column a day before the United States votes for a new president, many new senate members, and hundreds of ballot measures, I’ve found that this election has truly consumed us all. So instead, today’s column will be dedicated to the young realm of neuropolitics – and what ramifications neuroscience may have for tomorrow’s vote.

Although contentious elections are nothing new, this cycle certainly feels more polarizing than years past. Many people on both sides are in disbelief as to how supporters of the opposing candidate could possibly overlook the horrible things they’ve said or done. Both sides are utterly confident that not only are they correct, but that all the facts support their position. Here is where fMRI has an answer.

In one of the first studies of its kind right before the 2004 elections, 30 self-identified ‘strong’ Democrats and 30 Republicans reviewed John Kerry and George W. Bush making self-contradictory statements while having their brains imaged. In an experience familiar to anyone who has tried this tactic against a member of the opposing party, the participants were critical of the hypocrisy in the opposing candidate while letting their own candidate off easy. While that result is predictable, the fMRI results were not at all.

The participants achieved this feat of mental gymnastics by quieting down the part of their brains necessary for impartial reasoning like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and instead lighting up emotional circuitry such as the amygdala, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the insula, which will all be important later. Specifically, an area of the brain called the basal ganglia lit up, which is, among other tasks, responsible for rewarding selective behaviors with dopamine. Effectively, partisan brains were triggering dopamine rushes for ignoring the issues in their own candidates’ statements and criticizing their opponents. Once entrenched, it seems very difficult to combat confirmation bias by rational arguments when the ‘rational argument’ part of the brain is offline during these discussions.

The differences that divide us seem to run deeper than confirmation bias. A growing body of research shows some fundamental wiring differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives. One study was actually able to use brain regions of interest from an fMRI to determine political affiliation with 83% accuracy, which is over 10% higher than the next-best factor of parent’s ideology. In general, a conservative brain will more strongly react to disgust and react with more emotionality to uncertain concepts or events, thanks to a larger and more active insula and right amygdala.

Liberals, on the other hand, are less fearful of new stimuli and less reactive to negative events, and more likely to adapt to changes in established patterns. Some of these effects can be attributed to their larger and more reactive anterior cingulate cortex, which has long been known to monitor and mediate conflicting information. From the psychology side of things, personality data shows that conservatives value loyalty, stability, and are both risk- and change-averse.

Meanwhile, liberals are more likely to change their opinions and base decision-making on new information, specifically the kind of fact-heavy information that activates the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Without placing a value judgement on either ideology, it seems that biological differences in how people process and respond to information aligns with ideological differences.

Of course it’s important to keep in mind that the brain is a highly plastic structure, so there’s a classic chicken-and-the-egg problem in play here. Twin studies, long the gold standard for measuring genetic influence, attribute somewhere between 40 to 60% of political preference up to genetics, as manifested by differences in brain structure. It’s also possible, even likely, that slight anatomical differences might snowball into bigger ones if those neurological pathways are strengthened by continued exposure to politically charged information.

As with much of neuroscience, it’s sometimes unnerving to think about how our decisions are so frequently based on the activation of subcortical structures, not conscious thought. While we may find it difficult how someone could possibly vote for the other candidate, perhaps political neuroscience can contribute some understanding to the underlying motivations that determine political choices. So as we decide on a new president this Tuesday, give a thought to those scientists trying to figure out what’s going on in your brain while you’re making that oh-so-important choice.  

Uniquely Human runs alternative Mondays. To submit a comment or a piece of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.