Six links worth reading

August 18, 2010

1. Five stupid, sexist things expected of men

3. Be physically strong. This is an obvious one: so obvious it almost seems ridiculous to mention it. One of the most common expectations of men is that they be physically powerful: big, strong, muscular, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. We see this everywhere: on TV, in movies, in video games, all over advertising like a cheap suit. It’s tied in with competitiveness, of course — but it’s also very much its own thing. And lots of men I talked with about gender roles brought it up. Even gay men, who on the whole seem to feel a lot more free of these gender expectations than straight men, have a decided tendency to buy into the Big Strong Man myth. For themselves, and their objects of desire.

2. Mutant power: sensitivity to social conventions

Kim found that Koreans are less likely than Americans to turn to their social circle for support and they get less out of doing so; they are more concerned about burdening their friends and straining their relationships.

The OXTR gene exerts its influence against the background of these contrasting cultural conventions. Distressed Americans with one or more copies of the G version were more likely to seek emotional support from their friends, compared to those with two copies of the A version. But for the Koreans, the opposite was true – G carriers were less likely to look for support among their peers in times of need (although this particular trend was not statistically significant). In both cases, the G carriers were more sensitive to the social conventions of their own cultures. But the differences between these conventions led to different behaviour.

3. A gender-enforcing drug

The treatment is a step toward “engineering in the womb for sexual orientation,” said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University and an outspoken opponent of the treatment.

4. The psychology of power

“It’s an incredibly consistent effect,” Mr. Keltner says. “When you give people power, they basically start acting like fools. They flirt inappropriately, tease in a hostile fashion, and become totally impulsive.” Mr. Keltner compares the feeling of power to brain damage, noting that people with lots of authority tend to behave like neurological patients with a damaged orbito-frontal lobe, a brain area that’s crucial for empathy and decision-making. Even the most virtuous people can be undone by the corner office

5. Why Russians don’t get depressed

When Russians engaged in brooding self-analysis, they were much more likely to engage in self-distancing, or looking at the past experience from the detached perspective of someone else. Instead of reliving their confused and visceral feelings, they reinterpreted the negative memory , which helped them make sense of it. According to the researchers, this led to significantly less “emotional distress” among the Russian subjects. (It also made them less likely to blame another person for the event.) Furthermore, the habit of self-distancing seemed to explain the striking differences in depressive symptoms between Russian and Americans. Brooding wasn’t the problem. Instead, it was brooding without self-distance.

6. Memoirs of an entomophage

It managed to be even less appealing than I’d expected. As my teeth crunched through the brittle exoskeleton, the rapidly disarticulating body parts poked my tongue and palate. Oh my god, I thought, I’ve got a leg stuck between my teeth. Worse, the flavor was grotesque: acrid and somehow reminiscent of lighter fluid. The bug’s feel in my mouth made me think of globs of barbecue sauce that had fallen onto a grill and burned

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