Sex & Død

There’s an old joke about the liberal slant of New York Times news coverage encapsulated in a single representative headline: World Ends: Women and Minorities Hardest Hit.”

TV2 is clearly trying to keep up with the Times.

I can’t fault them entirely: they’re just following the lead of the United Nations, whose Secretary General António Guterres issued the following tweet on Monday:

“#COVID19 has had a devastating social and economic impact on women and girls, reversing decades of limited & fragile progress on gender equality. But I want to reassure women everywhere that the @UN  stands with you & will continue working for you every day, around the world.”

TV2’s article begins with that tweet, noting beforehand only that “For snart et halvt år siden lukkede store dele af verden ned på grund af covid-19.  Nu tyder det på, at særligt kvinder er blevet hårdt ramt af krisen.”

Women have been especially hard hit by the crisis, says journalist Emilie Haaber Lynggaard.

By the crisis. What crisis?

Well, smitterisikoen, for one thing.  But all the other suffering alluded to in the article (and, as we’ll see, chronicled on the U.N.’s very special “U.N. Woman Covid 19 Multimedia Explainer” website) is not the result of the virus, but of the reactions to the virus.  A minor distinction, but an important one, since it’s hard to hold anyone accountable for the impact of a virus, while we can and should hold our governments accountable for their reactions to it.

But leave that aside.

There are some interesting statistics about the imbalance of men’s and women’s employment on the front lines of health care, and an anecdotal observation by Guterres that “Alene beskyttelsesudstyret er ofte lavet til at kunne passe en standard mand, så kvindeligt sundhedspersonale er muligvis i højere risiko for smitte.”

Are we talking about face shields?  Masks?  Gloves?  Hazmat suits?  These things are “often” made to fit “a standard man?”  So that female health workers are possibly at a higher risk of infection?

Well, by god, let’s end the sexist production and start rolling out some female-friendly masks and shields and gloves, then.  (Did you know the “standard woman” had a different facial structure than the “standard man?”  And that apparently all men fit the “standard man” model, while not all women do? I did not.)  I think this is something we can all get behind, if indeed it’s a thing.

What else?

Women’s jobs are more vulnerable:

McKinseys beregninger viser, at kvinders jobs er næsten to gange så sårbare over for krisen end mænds.

Det skyldes, at kvinder oftere end mænd arbejder i brancher, der er blevet påvirket negativt af coronakrisen – for eksempel service- og detailbranchen.

Clearly we need to start forcing women into other lines of work, since they choose so poorly for themselves.  Let’s get them out of service and retail and into mining, trucking, construction, and other male-dominated fields.  We can set quotas.

Anything else?

I udviklingslande er unge kvinder ekstra udsatte under coronakrisen på grund af noget helt tredje: adgangen til undervisning.

Mange skoler er midlertidigt lukket ned som følge af pandemien, og det kan være svært at sikre sig, at unge kvinder fortsat kan modtage undervisning.

Samtidig melder flere udviklingslande om store stigninger i teenagegraviditeter under månederne i lockdown.

For eksempel i Kenya, hvor man frygter, at tusindvis af teenagepiger i den kommende tid vil få brug for hjælp til uønsket graviditet og fødsel.

I’m reading that as “a lot of Kenyan girls got themselves knocked up during the lockdown because they couldn’t go to school.”

I don’t deny that thousands of teenaged girls with unwanted pregnancies is a significant social problem, but it sounds like a symptom of an even larger social problem.  The global reaction of school children to closed schools and lockdowns has not been to go out and make more future school children.  This sounds like a Kenyan problem best left to Kenyans.

I mentioned the “U.N. Woman Covid-19 Multimedia Explainer” earlier.  Here’s a link.  You can educate yourself on the terrible impact that Covid-19 and the government reactions to Covid-19 have had on the women and girls of the world. It’s all neatly arranged. There are even nine category tiles to take you right to the injustice you’re interested in.

U.N. Graphic

Poor women.  Poor girls.  It’s all very horrible and of course Something Must Be Done.  Why should a pandemic be harder on females than males?  It’s so unfair!

I mean, even the mortality statistics are unfair.  I couldn’t find the results anywhere on the U.N.’s many websites (all mentions of sex or gender in a search including the terms “U.N.” and “covid” just lead to the U.N.’s many pages about gender inequality’s terrible impact on women), but I did find a private study on the issue.

And that study, by the Reinsurance Group of America, shows that, indeed, covid-19 is guilty of monstrous gender inequality. 

Another study by Global Health 5050 (“Toward Gender Equality in Global Health”) shows similar findings. 

Although the exact proportions differ by country and age cohort, in the most significantly affected age groups (70+), nearly everywhere in the world, at least twice as many men as women die

Even ignoring age, in most countries only about 66 women die for every 100 men.

Neither the U.N. nor the TV2 article seem to feel that’s worth mentioning. Understandably, I guess: I mean, don’t men deserve to die for all that inequality they’ve been throwing at women?

Dear lord: we live in a world where women in healthcare have to wear “standard man”-sized protective gear, and where women choose to work in service and retail, and where Kenyan school closings cause pregnancy.

All this sexist crisis does to men is fucking kill them. 

There’s no U.N. website looking into that. And it would be so easy… they’d only need a single tile:

So there you have it, courtesy of TV2: “Virus Kills Wildly Disproportionate Number of Men: Women and Girls Hardest Hit.”