Woman yelling while wrapped in twine

Men Die. Women Hardest Hit.

This is one of the funniest tropes of modern opinion pieces these days, and the COVID-19 era has its own flavor.

A CNN piece cites the higher death rate among men who are infected. The first line of the article: “But in many other ways, women are bearing the brunt of this pandemic.”

The article might have a point, but as usual for these types of topics, the overall framing is terrible, and a parody in itself. Its aim is not to inform, but to enflame the emotions of the “right” people. It is rhetoric disguised as dialectic.

But the sentiment isn’t new.

In Hippolytus, a play by the Euripides, the nurse of Phaedra bemoans her fate.

Better to be sick than nurse the sick. Sickness is trouble for the sufferer, but nursing means vexation of the mind and hard work for the hands…

Not coincidentally, the linked article also includes a section on how women make up a greater percentage of healthcare workers.

Nursing a sick one takes a toll. Those words are true. But it is telling that the nurse in Hippolytus is one of the play’s fools, a character who instigates the misery behind the tragedy.

The sick and the caretakers are in it together, a shared fate. There are miseries on both sides. To pit them together in opposition, to see who scores more on the victimhood scale, is unhelpful.

Not only unhelpful, but, dare I say it, the purview of a fool.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash.

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