Reading period starts today. This means that if you are a Harvard student, you are almost certainly generally juggling 150 percent of your personal capacity and doing each task somehow at 30 percent motivation. Maybe you aren’t sleeping. At times, you and your friends will trade frustrations: “I don’t even believe what I’m arguing,” they’ll say. Or, “This has zero application to real life.”
Ever since they took a major hit in the election three weeks ago, Republicans have been discussing how they will face the major demographic shifts that account, at least in part, for their losses. In short, the groups who have traditionally voted for Republicans in the last 20 years—white, older married people—are an increasingly smaller percentage of the population of the United States. Or, less tactfully, they are dying out. As one writer put it: “Contrary to much conventional wisdom, voters do not necessarily grow more conservative as they age; until the last decade, a majority of both younger and older voters both tended to go to the winner of the presidential election.” It’s only at this particular point in our country’s history that older people vote very differently—largely because they are more white, more married, and just plain old more conservative than younger Americans. Each year, fewer of these older people are around to vote.
The ballot measure, which grew out of an earlier petition, asks for a couple of key measures. One is as adopting a standard of “affirmative consent,” which sounds redundant but in fact is meaningful. The term refines the definition of consent from “not saying no to sex” to “saying yes to the sex with words or clearly enthusiastic actions.” This is necessary not to harshly punish people caught in seemingly ambiguous situations, but rather to prevent these situations from being as ambiguous in the first place. It rejects the “gatekeeper” model of sexual consent, where one partner, usually a woman, rejects sex repeatedly before finally “giving in,” a model normalizes sex after one party says no repeatedly. It sets the requirement of clear communication up front, and it puts the onus on someone pursuing sex to receive clear communication that their advances are wanted rather than only requiring them to stop if they get a signal it isn’t. It requires and encourages equal agency for both partners.
The first seems practically self-evident to this particular Harvard student for the very basic, almost simplistic reason that I like having female professors. I see myself in them; their success encourages me. I can ask them to dinner without feeling awkward. On a purely anecdotal level, they show a lot more interest in my wellbeing. But beyond my feelings on the matter, it is obvious that women have half the minds of this world, and their apparent exclusion thus likely means worse scholarship. Such exclusion appears likely knowing that the problem extends to women who are already brilliant and accomplished enough to be tenure-tracked at Harvard.
I suppose the punch line to this story might be that I’m succeeding academically now (“aren’t I?”). But that isn’t really the point. I was diagnosed in the most educated neighborhood in America, and my parents, despite both working full-time, were willing to spend hours a day walking me through math problems until I did them on my own. They also had money for doctors and the support of the school system. My success shouldn’t really be a surprise—although I imagine it would be to my third-grade teacher—because ADD is not about intelligence, but learning style.