Explaining Behavior: Evolution, Societal Structure, and Neurology

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 By Cassie Greenwald

Based on the findings discussed in this article men and women are different, and men and women behave differently. Is the source of these differences neurological, due to evolutionary influence, or to socialization, or a combination of the three? It is speculative what drives the thoughts of men and women that translate into behaviors, which are often in accordance with sex/gender. It is important to note that unlike the sex of an individual, gender refers to the cultural differences expected (by society / culture) of men and women according to their sex. How have what we call “men” and “women,” and the way we define them, developed over time?

To explore the behavior differences between men and women, evolved dispositions versus social roles need to be analyzed. Evolved dispositions is proposed by evolutionary psychologists who describe the differences between men and women as sex-specific mechanisms, which cause men and women to differ psychologically and as a result, have a tendency to occupy different social roles. According to the article The Origins of Sex Differences in Human Behavior, “From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, human sex differences reflect adaptations to pressures of the differing physical and social environments that impinged on females and males during primeval times” (Eagly and Wood, 1999). Evolutionary psychology would suggest that violence, competition, and risk-taking behaviors in men evolved because men competed with other men for sexual access to women. This resulted in women then developing a counter-tendency to nurture and seek long-term mates. Thus, through the scope of evolution, psychologists believe that behavior has evolved because of ancestral influence. Continue reading

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The Double Standards of Objectification: How Do We Stop?

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By Morgan Fisher

When I was in high school, I had a photomontage of shirtless Zac Efrons all over my room. I hadn’t thought much of it until recently, when I was looking through posters at Hastings, and found myself appalled at the number of posters of half-naked women on display there. Thoughts of “Why do men think this is okay?” and “I wouldn’t date a guy who had this in his room…” invaded my head. So when I came home and thought about my high school self, the hypocrisy hit me hard.

It’s offensive because it’s objectification. As women, we feel that if you have a picture of a bikini model up in your room, it’s because you like her figure and don’t have any interest in anything but the way she looks. We then take this to mean that if you only care about her looks, you only care about our looks.

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The Trouble with Tropes

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By Corrin Bond

Maria von Trapp has been added to the list. Although she preceded the identification of this archetype by about forty years, The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert has declared that The Sound of Music’s female protagonist, like so many other cinematic iconoclasts, is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. First coined in 2007 in film critic Nathan Rabin’s review about the movie Elizabethtown, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is defined as a female fantasy character who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

In the eight years since it first came to be, scores of characters have been classified as whimsical, quirky, carefree women whose sole purpose is to help the male character come to term with his emotions and find his way in life. In addition to Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown and the recently initiated Maria von Trapp, notable Manic Pixie Dream Girls include Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer, Natalie Portman in Garden State, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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Calling Women “Crazy”

By Morgan Fisher

“She was just crazy.”

The number of times I heard these words come out of my ex boyfriend’s mouth was absolutely ludicrous. This was how he would justify everything that had gone wrong when mentioning previous exes—this was why his relationships had ended, why he hadn’t kept in touch with any exes, why it was so easy to move on from them. Because they were “just crazy”. I have no doubt in my mind that he uses the same term to describe me now.

As it turns out, this is a common thing. Articles have been popping up everywhere about it, on BuzzFeed, in online news articles, and all over social media. It’s how some men rationalize big emotions. If a woman is “too” sensitive, “too” emotional, “too” clingy, she’s crazy, and that’s all there is to it. So why do men tend to demean women’s feelings like this?

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Ronda Rousey: A Feminist Leader

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By Ian Sullivan

In my opinion, the most important athlete in America right now isn’t Lebron James or Tom Brady. In fact, it’s not even a man. The most important athlete in America right now is “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, the undisputed best female MMA fighter in the world. Her international renown comes from what she’s doing both on and off the “playing field, “which in this case happens to be an octagon enclosed with chain link fencing.

Rousey, who was the first woman to ever medal in Judo at the 2008 Summer Olympics, has been making waves in the MMA community for the past few years, but until very recently, she was far from being a household name, despite her impressive undefeated record. This past Friday, Rousey defeated Cat Zingano by submission in UFC 184. It only took 14 seconds. That’s right: the match was just slightly less than a quarter of a minute long, making it the quickest defeat in UFC history. Zingano was actually predicted to be a worthy adversary, but Rousey shattered expectations, and in a literal manner of seconds, she catapulted from being a professional athlete on the rise, to one of the most talked about in sports these past few days. And deservedly so. Ronda Rousey needs to be recognized.

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Women and International Relations

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By Cassie Greenwald

Considering women and gender in the scope of international relations allows us to examine the fundamental contributions women have made politically. “The divide itself is complex, weaving together threads of history, of academic, political and gender identity, of power and resistance” (Youngs, 2004). In the realm of international relations, masculinity should not be the only lens through which both men and women communicate foreign policy.

A common belief in the United States, and throughout the world, is that military and foreign policy are arenas of policy-making that are not appropriate for women. Personal characteristics such as strength, power, autonomy, and rationality are typically considered masculine traits. Those characteristics are what are most valued in areas of foreign policy. “Frequently, manliness has also been associated with violence and the use of force, a type of behavior that, when conducted in the international arena, has been valorized and applauded in the name of defending one’s country” (Tickner, 1992). Feminine characteristics are not thought of as having a viable place in the spectrum of global politics. Continue reading

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Unveiling Virginity

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By Corrin Bond

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of what it means to be pure is to be “unmixed with any other matter” or to be “clean and not harmful in any way”–– while there is slight variation between definitions, the root of the word remains the same. If the Latin root of the word “pure” means clean, it is assumed that anything which isn’t pure is inherently dirty–– a term that is essentially interpreted in the human mind as not good. This kind of terminology, when applied to sexuality, immediately paints sexual activity in a deviant light. If you’re not a virgin, or “pure”, then you’re “dirty” and according to society, dirty is bad. There’s a type of cross-cultural phenomenon where we covet the concept of physical purity and degrade females by placing a greater value on their bodies than on who they are as individuals. So much so, in fact, that certain countries are turning to performing forced virginity tests on women who apply to hold positions within the government or who are about to be married.

Although the concept of violating someone’s right to their own body is layers of disturbing, it’s a situation that a surprising number of women can relate to, as every day across the globe scores of women are subjected to forced virginity tests. These involuntary examinations are intrusive, painful, and often traumatic experiences for the women on which they are performed. The forced tests take place in a number of different places around the world, with an especially high prevalence in Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia.

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