Sunday, February 9, 2014

First Reader

After trekking through the readings for this week I found my own stress levels increased. Stress is much more dangerous than I thought it was and it is concerning how long term stress has many damaging effects on our bodies. Towards the end of the Zebra chapters a topic discussed was heart disease among women. As stated in the chapter, heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States. As the occurrence of heart disease has declined in men, it has increased in women in the past decades. The chapter stated that women in these past decades have emerged from the domestic sphere into the public sphere, having careers and equally sharing the burden of parenting with their mates. I wondered if current ideas of gender, women being thought of as lesser to men, being subordinates in the work place etc., could have long term effects on women’s cardiovascular health. Having internalized or struggling with modern western ideas about one’s own gender, feeling lesser and subordinate to half the population, encountering people who mistreat you based off your gender, these could be all be long term stressors that can lead to higher risk of heart disease. Gender is an social and cultural construct that has no basis in biology. Much like any stressor mentioned in this chapter, I feel it too can have long term effects on biology that can lead to increased risk of heart disease.  

1 comment:

  1. Respondent:
    I think think yesterday's movie about stress really highlights the idea of stress having an extremely poor impact on human (and non-human primate) bodies. From the movie, it was clear that macaque monkeys that concerns about stress causing cardiovascular problems is a real and urgent concern for humans as well, as it is well known that stress can raise blood pressure, which overtime, can cause more cardiovascular problems as well. I feel like your concern about women specific is a very real concern, as women are less likely to be in high achieving positions due to inequality in the work place. But, in the future, I believe the gap will be lessened to the point where it is either non-existent or negligible. Until then, the stressors related to being a subordinate (especially if the reason a woman is a subordinate is simply due to her gender), are a real concern and should be approached with all seriousness. This problem is likely to be worse (regardless of the gender) for individuals with desk jobs, where they are chained to a desk for anywhere between 8-10 hours a day. So, a good idea would be to mandate some sort of relaxation/recreation time during the day, past the 15-minute break or the half-hour lunch. More and more businesses are creating basketball courts and incorporating ping-pong tables to try to get their employees to exercise and de-stress. If this continues, I think blood pressure will begin a downward trend and we would see some other benefits as well.