Patriarchy Brain

I’m turning 34 today, which at least in my life is the moment when seemingly everyone around me has young children, is pregnant, or both. That in itself is great—I love other people’s children. Yet, I can’t help but feel anger and disgust in the face of the patronizing treatment to which my childbearing and childrearing female friends are being subjected. In many cases, my friends are complicit in their own abuse and perpetuate it by uttering the following self-deprecating remarks like mantras:

“I have baby brain syndrome.”

“Oh, it’s my pregnancy brain again.”

“That’s just my momnesia.”

“What else can you expect from my mommy brain?”

If you’re unfamiliar with the manifold offensive ways these (popular/pseudo-) scientific terms are being used, just take a look at this, this, this, and this Google Image search.

I thought I had to write a paper on the history of these ideas to help my friends understand that these stereotype-laden insults are not objective truths but contingent historical constructs crafted to keep them down. To my surprise and amazement, I came across the following mind-blowing selection of existing scholarship. Continue reading

Jamal Khashoggi and the Ethics of (Not) Being “on the Market”

Disclaimer: Serious times call for serious posts, and this one has nothing to do with neuroscience—though a lot with brains and academia.

People keep asking me if I am “on the (job) market.” I tell them that I’m not, but that I’m applying for jobs.

There is a crucial difference between seeing oneself as an agent (and being treated as such) and being a good “on the market.” Whoever came up with this terrible formulation anyway? The only humans I am aware of who have been on a market (to be sold) were enslaved people. Do we really want to talk like this about ourselves, in my case, a middle-class-raised white German soon-to-be graduate of an Ivy League university?

It makes me sick (!) to hear the “on the market” phrase over and over again from my peers, teachers, and role models. Talking as if we were on a market to be sold means great injustice to those who have been—and still are—actually enslaved, and it diminishes our own power as discerning agents and excellently educated individuals. Is this way of talking (and acting) an indicator of the fact that political correctness and its enforcement are really more of a shallow habit rather than an honest concern of ours? (I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole now.)

So, no, I’m not on the market. And I’m fully aware that up to 45 search committees for jobs and postdocs that I have applied for might be reading this. Hello to you, and thank you for reading my blog.

Back to my point: What does this have to do with Jamal Khashoggi? Continue reading