A big part of the feminist project in the media is to keep female victimhood to the foreground at all times. This can be seen as one dimension of gamma bias that operates within a matrix of four judgements about gender; doing good (celebration), doing harm (perpetration), receiving good (privilege) and receiving harm (victimhood). For example, acts of heroism performed by men are gender neutralised (fire fighters) or are not reported at all. Conversely, in acts perpetration, male gender is in the foreground. Similarly with victimhood, male murder or suicide victims receive much less coverage in the media. Compare the column inches devoted to the murders of Jo Cox and Sarah Everard with those devoted to David Amess, for example.
Gamma bias was apparent in the reporting of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although more men were dying of COVID-19 and were more likely to end up on an ICU that had to be explained away as being their own fault and within a short time the socially constructed disorder of ‘long-covid’ that affects women more than men began to be foregrounded by the usual suspects in the media.
It is often repeated that the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic has fallen more heavily on women than men. However, little evidence is cited to support this contention. For example, Meghan Markle was able to gain column inches on the front pages of UK newspapers with her claim that 47 Million women and girls would be tipped into poverty by the COVID pandemic. A statement that was true, as far as it went. However, Meghan neglected to reveal the other half of this statistic, lifted from the WHO website, that estimated that 49 million men and boys would also be tipped into poverty. Similarly, at a time when good data was hard to come by, Meghan claimed that women would be more likely to lose employment (See blogpost Meghan Markle and the missing 49 million men).
Finally, in the UK at least, data is emerging on the impact of COVID-19 on employment and that shows that the worst affected are are men without university degrees. Non-graduate men were more than twice as likely to lose their jobs as non-graduate women see here. See figure below.
This was also the same group that were most likely to die from COVID. Workers in manual occupations, bus drivers and taxi drivers for example. I don’t imagine the Guardian or the BBC online will be covering this story, that conflicts with the narrative of female victimhood, any time in the near future.
COVID has amplified a trend that has been apparent for a long time. A writer in The Conversation (normally a misandrist publication) notes that recent decades have seen male employment falling while female employment has risen. The rise in male unemployment has been driven by non-graduate men who mostly work in manual occupations. I predict that their plight will attract little interest from left-leaning news outlets or political parties. If it is covered, those men will be blamed for their own misfortune. That is a big mistake.
The author of the article in The Conversation notes….
Whether or not non-graduate men will be able to find work again is likely to have a profound impact for both them and society. The decline in job opportunities available to them has already had dramatic effects. Research suggests that their economic angst helped fuel the populist movements of both Brexit and Donald Trump, in the belief that these would defend and promote their relative status.
The article goes on to note that these are the same men who were dying in greater numbers before the COVID pandemic struck. People who can’t find work are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs as life becomes hopeless and these are the same men who are committing suicide in greater numbers. These are the invisible casualties of our toxic culture wars. When the Guardian or the BBC online wanted to illustrate a story of someone in distress or suffering during the COVID pandemic it was almost always a healthy looking young woman at home and seldom a man employed in manual labour.