The Thing About Male Lyft Drivers

By: Maria Ordoñez

source: Mercury Insurance Group
source: Mercury Insurance Group

The thing about male Lyft drivers is that I’m trapped in their car.

I’m acutely aware of it the second I close the door behind me. It’s like a palpable transfer of power that happens when I entrust my safety to a stranger. It’s a transfer that I consent to when the bus doesn’t show up on time, when I’m late for work, or when I don’t want to walk home alone in the middle of the night. However, this power is often abused by male Lyft drivers who see my vulnerable position as an opportunity to say things like:

“How old are you?”

“Is this where you live?”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“I would love to take you out sometime.”

“You should give me your phone number.”

“You are so [insert unwanted compliment here].”

“You have such nice [insert body part here].”

I receive comments like these more often than I ever should, but I never say anything about them, because if I reported every time a male Lyft driver made me feel uncomfortable or objectified, I’d never have time for anything else. That is, until a few days ago:

I had gotten out of class late and had fifteen minutes to get to my job across campus. My job was a 30-minute walk away and the bus was 47 minutes away. And so, I decided to order a Lyft.

From the moment I got into the car, my Lyft driver began complimenting my appearance. It started with my eyes and how special they were. Then, it continued with how “hot” I was making his car. After that, he asked me questions, like how old I am, where I live, and if I smoke weed.

At this point, I’m beginning to feel uncomfortable, praying that no other passenger get added to my shared ride, if only to get out of his car as soon as possible. He then offered to take me back to his place to smoke weed with him, saying how bad he could “fuck me up.” I nervously laughed off the offer as we arrived at my destination. I was relieved to get out, until I noticed his car lingering at my drop-off. I left as quickly as possible, questioning what made him think any part of his behavior was ok.

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So, tell me, Lyft driver, how exactly did you expect this to play out?

Did you expect me to forget about the paying job I was on my way to and go home with you instead?

Has that worked for you before?

Has that worked for anybody?

Ever?

Because all I know is that it’s been days since I felt trapped in your car, and I’m still angry.  

I’m angry at you for having the power to make me feel unsafe.

I’m angry at myself for not speaking up in the moment.

And I’m angry at Lyft for not doing enough to put an end to this kind of behavior.

You see, that day, as soon as I got home, I reported this Lyft driver for his inappropriate behavior. The next day, I received a generic email from a Lyft representative apologizing for the incident. The email went on and on about how much they value my safety and comfort, but in the end, the only thing they had to show for it, was a promise that I would never be paired with the same driver again.

And that’s the problem.

The lack of action taken by companies, like Lyft, is what perpetuates cultures of sexual harassment. Lyft drivers know that there are no real consequences to their actions and that they are at liberty to continue treating young, female passengers like potential conquests instead of customers.

Any Lyft driver, male or otherwise, who takes advantage of the unbalanced power dynamic between a driver and a passenger, should not be paired with anyone at all.

When I use shared ride services, like Lyft, I deserve to feel safe and respected every second of the way – whether I’m going to class in the middle of the day or to my dorm room in the middle of the night.  

And that is the thing about male Lyft drivers.

But, most of all, that is the thing about Lyft.

source: Twitter @AnnaGillcrist
source: Twitter @AnnaGillcrist

The Evolutionary Purpose and Significance of Anxiety in Women

By: Emily Cioch, Eleni Constantinou, Morgan Farrar, and Vartika Govil

Abstract

Anxiety is defined as a strong emotion or feeling that causes an individual to fear an event either in the present or in the future. This type of fear is often illogical and induces a number of symptoms, including increased heart rate, dizziness, and sweating. The causes and sources of anxiety, which is statistically more common in women than men, have evolutionary origins. In the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA), individuals feared stimuli such as venomous snakes, which threatened the viability of humans. The anxiety-like behaviors needed for survival in the EEA are in an evolutionary mismatch with current industrialized societies. Additionally, due to hunter-gatherer models present today, women in the EEA likely experienced higher levels of fear and anxiety-like symptoms in order to remain sensitive to their environment and protect themselves and their children. We propose that, due to the change in technical, professional, and personal expectations and stressors that women experience today, this predisposition to fearful thought has been over-amplified to produce chronic anxiety in women. To test our hypothesis that women in the EEA experienced a different and more mild form of anxiety, we propose to study the Aka people, a group of hunter-gatherers, in comparison to industrialized Bostonians. Through a set of observations and surveys, we hope to determine common stimuli that trigger anxiety between both populations, as well as the frequency of anxiety in men and women of both populations. Through conducting this study, we expect to find similarities in the broader types of fears and worries across populations, but differences in categories of fears and worries between genders. With such research, health providers will have a more complete understanding of why anxiety exists, which will pave the foundation for more effective approaches in treating the underlying mechanisms of anxiety across genders and populations.

Introduction

Anxiety, a prolonged sensation of stress and worry, is a phenomenon seen in approximately 19.1 percent of U.S. adults (NIMH »Any Anxiety Disorder). The disorder has a similar physiological response to fear, which prepares the individual for immediate action: muscle tension, increased respiration and heart rate, and a rise in blood pressure (Fredric 2014). Proximately, these bodily changes contribute to an ability to handle immediate stress, heightening alertness and a physical readiness to respond to threats. However, there is a significant difference between fear, which is an adaptive function, and the anxiety we see today. Fear is a normal response to an unconditional stimulus, usually something dangerous, while anxiety is the result of an individual linking a neutral stimulus to a fear-producing unconditional stimulus, thus causing that what was neutral to evoke fear (Marks and Nesse 1994). With the introduction of industrialized communities, humans today seemingly encounter a constant amount of environmental and mental stressors, which ancestral humans did not face. Although stressors present in our industrialized society are usually not as dangerous as the ones faced by our ancestors, anxiety and fear surrounding stressors relative to the EEA, such as snakes, spiders, and injury, are still present, suggesting that these fears are evolutionarily ingrained (Lebron-Milad et al. 2012).            

The earliest remains of modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, are approximately two hundred thousand years old and have a brain relatively similar to that of modern humans. In particular, the neocortex—the newest part of the brain and the region responsible for higher functions like sensory perception—was roughly the same size as it is today, which indicates it functions today in a way similar to that of our evolutionary environment. However, within the last five-hundred years, society has shifted to be more industrialized and into becoming a predominantly Delayed Return Environment. A Delayed Return Environment (DRE) functions in such a way that the reward, or outcome, of an action is not received immediately, a result driven by the rate of technological and societal development within the last one-hundred years. In contrast, the human brain evolved in the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation (EEA), which is an Immediate Return Environment (IRE), where actions deliver instant, clear, and immediate outcomes (Scott 2013). A delay in outcomes paired with the human brain’s programming to be highly active and sensitive to stimuli creates a mismatch between modern industrialized society and humans today, as seen in the presence of high levels of anxiety. Stress and other traits associated with anxiety were useful functions in the EEA, because they helped individuals to survive and take action in the face of immediate problems (Daskalakis et al. 2013). Humans are biologically programed to give into a “fight or flight” mode in potentially dangerous situations, but our current lifestyle leads us to experience more stress and worry, thus feeling less in control of our environment (Bateson et al. 2011). When the rational brain is unable to deal with the stress of conspecific danger, primitive de-escalating strategies are activated and can present themselves as anxiety disorders (Bateson et al. 2011). Chronic stress was not experienced in the EEA since an IRE did not allow for long-term problems or stresses. Unfortunately, current industrialized societies often delay rewards until some point in the future, as well as prolong problems over long periods of time, thus creating uncertainty, and fueling anxiety (Clear 2016). One such example of this is the presence of income inequality, which is a social determinant of health and a large determining factor in causing anxiety in humans. Evidence shows that larger differences in social statuses lead to worse social relations. This contrasts to hunter-gatherer societies, which are largely egalitarian (Hewlett 1993). In these groups there is little to no competition amongst individuals regarding resources or status, allowing for extremely healthy social relations and thus decreasing anxiety. Industrialized societies unfortunately prioritize and compete over resources, wealth, and status, creating additional stressors that were not present in the EEA (Wilkinson 1999).

The properties associated with anxiety were likely present in some form in the early human ancestral environment, especially for women. Having a heightened sense of awareness and fear would have been extremely helpful, as women were responsible for gathering essential foods and supplies, as well as caring and protecting their children (Altemus et al. 2014). Research shows that the way a new mother acts can be linked with activities in prefrontal cortex, midbrain, parietal lobes, and limbic system. An increased activity is noted in these regions of the brain that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction, indicating that the maternal feeling of overwhelming and consistent worry is a result of reactions in a mother’s brain (LaFrance 2015). Furthermore, while the primary physiological human stress response is considered to be “fight or flight”, behaviorally, females are more inclined towards the pattern of “tend-and-befriend” when compared to males. Tend and befriend is an attachment caregiving system that has shown to play a role in maternal bonding and child development, where tending includes activities and behavior directed to promoting safety by protecting the offspring , and befriending aids in this process by creating social relationships, especially with other females. Since females are usually the more invested parent, particularly under stressful situations, their stress response has evolved to maximize survival of both self and the offspring (Taylor et al. 2000).

 The onset of anxiety disorders peaks during adolescence and early adulthood, the same period at which ancestral females would start having children. There are also researched sex differences that promote reproductive success that likely increase vulnerability of women to mood and anxiety disorders. For example, adaptive behavioral differences in terms of childrearing seem to include, in females, superior social cognition and capacity for attunement with others, important for cognitive and social development of offspring (Altemus et al. 2014). However, these sex differences are also thought to result in women experiencing more sensitivity to rejection, criticism and separation, which are key features of anxiety disorders (Altemus et al. 2014). Additional research illustrates that although men generally have more traumatic experiences, including serious accidents, violence, and war, women are more vulnerable to situations that are unpredictable, such as sexual assault and abuse, which makes them more susceptible to anxiety disorders (Craske 2003).  Another study suggests that women have more persistent amygdala responses to negative material, especially familiar negative material, in comparison to men. This is correlated with negative mood, anxiety, and depression, thus suggesting that women might be biologically more vulnerable to anxiety (Andreano et al. 2017). This is further supported by studies that found men and women fear the same stimuli, but feel that fear in different ways (Lebron-Milad et al. 2012).

Taking these factors into consideration, we hypothesize that women in the EEA, due to environmental and social conditions, constantly considered the safety of themselves and of offspring. Due to the change in expectations and stressors that women experience today, this predisposition to fearful thought has been over-amplified to produce chronic anxiety.

Broader Impacts and Conclusion

Understanding the evolutionary explanation for causes of anxiety will allow scientists to focus on new research perspectives in the treatment of anxiety disorders in women. Currently, research has shown that the common practice of cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmaceutical medication is not nearly as effective as once thought to be (Hoffman et al.2013). In fact, typical treatment often leaves remnants of anxiety that have debilitating effects later in life (Hebert and Dugas 2018). Considering the consequences of untreated anxiety on women today, it is necessary that more appropriate forms of therapy and medication be used to address the evolutionary basis from which anxiety stems. Because of the pervasive and constant nature of unnecessary fear, current treatments focus on addressing the tolerance of uncertainty and evaluation of fear-based worries. These new forms of therapy have shown to be incredibly effective in helping individuals eliminate almost all of their anxiety, and give them the tools to address any remaining anxiety. (Hebert and Dugas 2018). This effectiveness is also reflected in the success of practices of mindful meditation, as it allows individuals to take time to cope with their stress and stress hormones (Hoge et al. 2018). By examining the basis from which anxiety stems in women, that of fear necessary for survival of oneself and others, we are able to more accurately treat the mindsets that perpetuate anxiety, not just the symptoms or the surface level issues.

Furthermore, by understanding the differences in industrialized societies and the EEA, our society can better understand what triggers anxiety, and how to possibly minimize such triggers. After all, more women in industrialized societies generally suffer from anxiety in comparison to women who live in more egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. For example, in industrialized societies where higher male status and power through a patriarchal organization underlies societal functions, women feel more pressure to subdue their emotions and are repetitively taught that they have less control over their lives, thus causing anxiety in women, which they are ultimately not allowed to express (Craske 2003). Furthermore, technology poses another threat to mental health, especially because humans evolved in a societal organization of approximately fifty people. Today, through technological advancements, humans now have access to almost seven billion individuals, a significantly greater amount of people than our immediate ancestors; the amount of negative information and other anxiety-inducting stressors have massively increased, adding to an already stressful world (Cartwright 2016).

With such information, our community has the tools to realize the dangers that our modernized society poses on women, and determine improved treatment for women to diminish anxiety. Women themselves can understand the cause of their anxiety when it occurs and can have better control over their lives, as well. More specifically, women from certain societies can utilize various techniques that will quell their anxiety, as well as have the ability to realize which specific stimuli may trigger their response. Through studying the Aka population and their anxietal triggers, as well as the prevalence of anxiety, anthropologists may better understand the impacts of the mismatch between the EEA and our industrialized society. Especially if, as hypothesized, the Aka people suffer from anxiety at a significantly smaller frequency than Bostonians, then perhaps industrialized people should attempt to adopt some of their cultural norms. For example, domestic violence is rare, and the society is egalitarian between men/women (Hewlett 1993).

The study of anxiety across populations and between genders can give us a broader understanding of the impacts the disorder has on different people and societies. Examining the evolutionary significance of anxiety, heightening awareness and preparedness for dangerous stimuli, allows for a in-depth perspective of how anxiety functions and therefore a more appropriate treatment of the mismatch between current industrialized societies and our genetic programming. Through examining the purposes and impacts of anxiety on women in the EEA and today, comparisons can be made to help further apply effective treatments on the uncertainty mechanisms driven by anxiety. Analyzing the evolutionary foundations to anxiety in women will change not only the treatment, but the social understanding of the impacts it has on all populations.

 

 

 

References

Altemus, M., Sarvaiya, N., & Neill Epperson, C. (2014). Sex differences in anxiety and depression clinical perspectives. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 35(3), 320–330.

Andreano, J. M., Dickerson, B. C., & Barrett, L. F. (2014). Sex differences in the persistence of the amygdala response to negative material. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(9), 1388–1394.

Anxiety Disorders. (2013). In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Association.

Bateson, M., Brilot, B., & Nettle, D. (2011). Anxiety: an evolutionary approach. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie, 56(12), 707–715.

Cartwright, J. (2016). Evolution and Human Behavior: Darwinian Perspectives on the Human Condition. London: Palgrave.

Clear, J. (2016, March 22). The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It. Retrieved February 25, 2019, from https://jamesclear.com/evolution-of-anxiety

Craske, M. G. (2003). Origins of Phobias and Anxiety Disorders: Why More Women than Men?Elsevier.

Daskalakis, N. P., Bagot, R. C., Parker, K. J., Vinkers, C. H., & de Kloet, E. R. (2013). The three-hit concept of vulnerability and resilience: toward understanding adaptation to early-life adversity outcome. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(9), 1858–1873.

Fredric, N. (2014, April 5). The Evolution of an Anxious Feeling. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201404/the-evolution-anxious-feeling

Hebert, E. A., & Dugas, M. J. (2018). Behavioral Experiments for Intolerance of Uncertainty: Challenging the Unknown in the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2018.07.007

Hewlett, B. S. (1993). Intimate fathers: The nature and context of Aka pygmy paternal infant care. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Hofmann, S. G., Wu, J. Q., & Boettcher, H. (2013). D-Cycloserine as an augmentation strategy for cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety disorders. Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 3(1), 11.

Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Palitz, S. A., Schwarz, N. R., Owens, M. E., Johnston, J. M., … Simon, N. M. (2018). The effect of mindfulness meditation training on biological acute stress responses in generalized anxiety disorder. Psychiatry Research, 262, 328–332.

LaFrance, A. (2015, January 8). What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/what-happens-to-a-womans-brain-when-she-becomes-a-mother/384179/

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5 Black-Owned Makeup Brands To Keep On Your Radar

By: Hannah Xue

There’s no denying that our society is becoming increasingly racially conscious. Now more than ever, businesses are being held accountable for their politics and are heavily criticized when they make problematic statements.

For those unfamiliar with the industry, the makeup world might seem relatively removed from these issues. But in recent times consumers have demanded increasing diversity and representation from makeup brands.  

Several businesses have recently come under fire for offensive or insensitive messaging. Last July, Beautyblender released a foundation that was criticized for not carrying enough darker shades. In the same month, 3CE was accused of painting a model’s hand brown instead of using an actual dark-skinned model.

Rather than support makeup brands that fail to recognize the importance of inclusion, perhaps it may be better to invest in businesses that were built with diversity in mind. Black-owned makeup brands, aka B.O.M.Bs, were created to serve a historically marginalized group with products that meet their unique needs. Read on for a list of B.O.M.Bs that are currently killing the game.

  1. Fenty Beauty

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A conversation about representation in the makeup industry is incomplete without mentioning Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s makeup line. Since launching with 40 shades of the Pro Filt’r Foundation in 2017, the line has truly set the standard for inclusion in beauty products. As Fenty Beauty’s tagline suggest, these products truly create “Beauty ForAll.”

2. Juvia’s Place

Juvia’s Place is well known in the beauty community for its highly pigmented eyeshadow palettes, which all retail for $20 or less. Chichi Eburu, who created the line in 2014, draws on her African heritage in the visual branding of her products; the brand’s most popular palette,The Nubian, features an illustration of Queen Nefertiti on the inside cover.

3. Iman Cosmetics

Created by legendary 90s model, Iman, Iman Cosmetics was founded out of the bombshell’s frustration of having to mix her own foundation for makeup artists to use on set. The brand was one of the first B.O.M.Bs to be carried in major drugstore retailers. In addition to makeup, Iman Cosmetics also carries skincare and beauty tools.  

4. Beauty Bakerie

With product names like Lollipop Liner, Snickerdoodle Lip Gloss, and Cake Mix Foundation,Beauty Bakerie’s unique products sound just as phenomenal as they perform. CEO Cashmere Nicole, a breast cancer survivor, also uses her pink-themed business to support awareness of the illness she overcame.

5. Pat McGrath Labs

Once proclaimed by Anna Wintour as “the most influential makeup artist in the world,” Pat McGrath created her eponymous makeup for use by makeup professionals and novices alike. The artist’s distinctive editorial style is evident with products such as Blitztrance glitter lipstick and Fetisheyes mascara.

The makeup industry has quite a long way to go in terms of ensuring equitable representation for all of its consumers, but these black-owned businesses are doing their best to empower themselves and the communities they hope to serve.