Since coming to public light in Wuhan, China, at the end 2019, the novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc around the globe. The virus has infected at some time or another over 90.3 million people, with many more going unconfirmed due to a lack of symptoms or access to medical care and testing.
Nearly 2 million people have died of complications from infection, or 248 per every million people. The United States has been one the countries hardest hit with a total of 22.5 million cases and 374,000 deaths, or 1,145 deaths per million people. But how does that break down by gender?
COVID-19 Has Hit Men Harder Than Women
As a virus, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate by gender. Indeed, cases of infection are equal between male and female. However, the virus seems to cause complications much more often in men:
- For every 10 women hospitalized for COVID-19, 12 men are.
- For every 10 women who end up in the ICU due to COVID-19, 19 men do.
- For every 10 women who die from COVID-19, 14 men die.
A study published in Nature Communications specifically took a look the gender differences and found male sex to be a risk factor for death and severe COVID-19 complications.
Specifically, they analyzed numerous sets of global data and found that men were three times as likely to require intensive treatment for SARS-CoV-2, the respiratory disease caused by the COVID-19 virus.
Media and Governments Only Focus on Women
Even though COVID-19 is killing men almost 50% more often than women, the global response of the media and governments has had much more empathy for women and has focused much more on how the pandemic has affected them. Just take a look at these examples:
- The World Economic Forum claims women are “1.8 times more vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact than men” due to job losses in female-dominated industries like childcare. I guess death isn’t an impact of the pandemic.
- A debate moderator for the US Presidential Election claimed women were among those hit hardest by the pandemic.
- CNN made sure to broadcast the UN’s claim of the “Covid pandemic disproportionately hurting women.” These articles have been common in numerous publications. Again, I guess death and hospitalization don’t count as “hurting”. Either that, or we’ve changed the definition of the word “disproportionately.”
Men Suffer More Because Society Cares Less About Them
Ironically, the disproportionate social focus on COVID-19’s effect on women despite men’s higher rate of susceptibility proves that society cares more about women’s health and security, also known as gynocentrism.
The attitude is reminiscent of former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s claim that “women have always been the primary victims of war” because they “lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.” Yes, women are disproportionately affected if we completely ignore the effects on the male gender and only view men as an aspect of the female experience.
The same holds true for the COVID-19 pandemic. Women have obviously suffered greatly under the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is indeed true that female-dominated industries have suffered more economically. But is that suffering truly more tragic than dying? Is it truly worth more attention and government funding than death and hospitalization?
Society’s Serious Gender Empathy Gap Problem
More importantly, why are we so concerned about situations that put women at risk for the virus but nearly silent about the situations that put men at risk, especially when men are more likely to suffer severe complications?
For example, there are endless articles about women’s exposure to COVID-19 due to their roles as caregivers. Find me an article, though, about how males ages 19-64 are the least likely to have health insurance and therefore less likely to receive quality care.
Find one about how boys and men represent 70% of the homeless and therefore more likely to have unconfirmed, untreated cases. What about an article explaining that men are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than women and therefore at elevated risk for contracting coronavirus? More significantly, find me a government program or office dedicated to addressing these problems.
As we continue to ignore the social problems and disadvantages facing men, we continue to ensure that they’ll only face more problems, like higher risk for COVID-19 complications. Instead, let’s start telling the truth. Let’s admit it when something hurts men more than women and put in the commensurate effort to help them as much as we would if it were hurting women more.