Up 3–Gender Inequality: Women Under Stress

While still catching up to men in some spheres of modern life, women appear to be way ahead in at least one undesirable category. “Women are particularly susceptible to developing depression and anxiety disorders in response to stress compared to men.” according to Dr. Yehuda, chief psychiatrist at New York’s Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

Studies of both animals and humans have shown that sex hormones somehow affect the stress response, causing females under stress to produce more of the trigger chemicals than do males under the same conditions. In several of the studies, when stressed-out female rats had their ovaries (the female reproductive organs) removed, their chemical responses became equal to those of the males.

Adding to a woman’s increased dose of stress chemicals, are her increased “opportunities” for stress. “It’s not necessarily that women don’t cope as well. It’s just that they have so much more to cope with.” says Dr. Yehuda. “Their capacity for tolerating stress may even be greater than men’s,” she observes, “it’s just that they’re dealing with so many more things that they become worn out from it more visibly and sooner.”

Dr. Yehuda notes another difference between the sexes. “I think that the kinds of things that women are exposed to tend to be in a chronic or repeated nature. Men go to war and are exposed to combat stress. Men are exposed to more acts of random physical violence. The kinds of interpersonal violence that women are exposed to tend to be in domestic situations, by, unfortunately, parents or other family members, and they tend not to be one-shot deals. The wear-and-tear that comes from these longer relationships can be quite devastating.”

Adeline Alvarez married at 18 and gave birth to a son, but was determined to finish college. “I struggled a lot to get the college degree. I was living in so much frustration that that was my escape, to go to school, and get ahead and do better.” Later, her marriage ended and she became a single mother. “It’s the hardest thing to take care of a teenager, have a job, pay the rent, pay the car payment, and pay the debt. I lived from paycheck to paycheck.”

Not everyone experiences the kinds of severe chronic stresses Alvarez describes. But most women today are coping with a lot of obligations, with few breaks, and feeling the strain. Alvarez’s experience demonstrates the importance of finding ways to diffuse stress before it threatens your health and your ability to function.

Up 2

Intel chairman Andy Grove has decided to cut the Gordian knot of controversy surrounding stem cell research by simply writing a check.

The check, which he pledged last week, could be for as much as $5 million, depending on how many donors make gifts of between $50,000 and $500,000, which he has promised to match. It will be made out to the University of California-San Francisco(UCSF).

Thanks in part to such private donations, university research into uses for human stem cells–the cells at the earliest stages of development that can form any body part–will continue in California. With private financial support, the state will be less likely to lose talented scientists who would be tempted to leave the field or even leave the country as research dependent on federal money slows to glacial pace.

Hindered by limits President Bush placed on stem cell research a year ago, scientists are turning to laboratories that can carry out work without using federal money. This is awkward for universities, which must spend extra money building separate labs and keeping rigorous records proving no federal funds were involved. Grove’s donation, a first step toward a $20 million target at UCSF, will ease the burden.

The president’s decision a year ago to allow research on already existing stem cell lines was portrayed as a reasonable compromise between scientists’ needs for cells to work with, and concerns that this kind of research could lead to wholesale creation and destruction of human embryos, cloned infants and a general contempt for human life.

But Bush’s effort to please both sides ended up pleasing neither. And it certainly didn’t provide the basis for cutting edge research. Of the 78 existing stem cell lines which Bush said are all that science would ever need, only one is in this country (at the University of Wisconsin) and only five are ready for distribution to researchers. All were grown in conjunction with mouse cells, making future therapeutic uses unlikely.

The Bush administration seems bent on satisfying the small but vocal group of Americans who oppose stem cell research under any conditions. Fortunately, Grove and others are more interested in advancing scientific research that could benefit the large number of Americans who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, nerve injuries, heart diseases and many other problems.

Up 1

It used to be that people were proud(自豪) to work for the same company(同伴) for the whole of their working lives. They’d get a gold watch at the end of their productive(多产的,富饶的) years and a dinner featuring(容貌,特色) speeches by their bosses praising their loyalty(忠诚). But today’s rich capitalists(资本家,有钱人) have regressed(退步) to the “survival of the fittest” ideas and their loyalty extends not to their workers or even to their stockholders but only to themselves. Instead of giving out gold watches worth a hundred or so dollars for forty or so years of work, they grab tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars as they sell for their own profit the company they may have been with for only a few years.

The new rich selfishly act on their own to unfairly grab the wealth that the country as a whole has produced. The top 1 percent of the population now has wealth equal to the whole bottom 95 percent and they want more. Their selfishness is most shamelessly expressed in downsizing and outsourcing because these business maneuvers don’t act to create new jobs as the founders of new industries used to do, but only to cut out jobs while keeping the money value of what those jobs produced for themselves.

To keep the money machine working smoothly the rich have bought all the politicians from the top down. The president himself is constantly leaving Washington and the business of the nation because he is summoned to “fundraising dinners” where fat cats pay a thousand or so dollars a plate to worm their way into government not through service but through donations of vast amounts of money. Once on the inside they have both political parties busily tearing up all the regulations that protect the rest of us from the greed of the rich.

The middle class used to be loyal to the free enterprise system. In the past, the people of the middle class mostly thought they’d be rich themselves someday or have a good shot at becoming rich. But nowadays income is being distributed more and more unevenly and corporate loyalty is a thing of the past. The middle class may also wake up to forget its loyalty to the so-called free enterprise system altogether and the government which governs only the rest of us while letting the corporations do what they please with our jobs. As things stand, if somebody doesn’t wake up, the middle class is on a path to being downsized all the way to the bottom of society.