In every crisis, whether real or imagined, the media finds a way to make it about women and/or minorities. The old joke about the newspaper headline, “World to End Tomorrow: Women and Minorities Hardest Hit,” is recreated in some form whether the crisis is about war, climate change, or disease.
The latest example of this particular brand of identity politics comes from Australia’s 7 News, which published an article on Monday titled: “Coronavirus Australia: Why women will feel the impact more than men.” The article begins:
No amount of handwashing or social distancing is going to change the fact that women will be more adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic than men.
And the reasons behind this phenomenon are more sociological than biological, experts say.
It goes on to claim that a single study published in the medical journal The Lancet that suggests, according to 7 News, that “women will bear the lion’s share of the consequences.”
The reason for this, the article claimed, was that women are the majority of healthcare workers, so they are most at risk of contracting the virus or having to care for those who have contracted the virus.
After explaining all this, the outlet reveals the real story: Men are more likely to die from coronavirus than these allegedly vulnerable women.
The outlet suggests there may be some “gender-specific immunity.” Sounds like women actually have an advantage here.
After this quick detour, 7 News goes back to claiming women “are more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their economic insecurity, their over-representation in certain sectors of the economy, their caring responsibilities, and the feminisation of the education and healthcare sectors,” according to “gender expert Amy Haddad.”
The outlet goes on to say that women make up the majority of workers in the industries that will be hardest hit by the virus, like retail and hospitality. Maybe this pandemic will teach women to find more stable careers.
The study from the Lancet includes the information about men dying from coronavirus at the top and says that “sex-disaggregated data for COVID-19 show equal numbers of cases between men and women so far.”
Downplaying the deadly realities for men is common in today’s politics. In 1998, then First Lady Hillary Clinton claimed during a domestic violence conference that “women have always been the primary victims of war.” Her reasoning was that though men were dying, the women were losing those men, making them the real victims.
Numerous outlets, including Wired and the BBC, have produced articles claiming climate change, which is supposedly going to make the planet uninhabitable, will be worse for women. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) infamously introduced a bill in 2013 that suggested climate change would be worse for the world’s poorest women and in turn lead them to prostitution.
“Whereas food-insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health,” the bill read, in part.