The following is an adapted excerpt from Janice Fiamengo’s contribution to “Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order,” which will be published by Bombardier Books on October 18.
What would a Great Reset mean for women and girls — and the men who love them? In “COVID-19: The Great Reset”, the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, and his co-author Thierry Malleret do not address the condition of women at length. But they refer, from the first page, to the search for social justice, saying that a positive consequence of Covid-19 has been its exposing of the “fault lines of the world” and its galvanizing of the will to straighten them. .
By far, the most destabilizing fault line in the Western world is the one that feminism has opened up between men and women. It should widen further if the reset proponents are successful. In its institutional forms, feminism is a radical ideology alleging that women are oppressed in a patriarchal order created and maintained for the benefit of men through institutions such as the traditional family. Developed in North American universities in the 1970s and 1980s, feminism’s assertions of male control of women spread much more widely in society as female feminist students graduated and began teaching careers. , journalism, law, social work, public relations and business. Although they often claim to seek gender equality (itself a dubious, often unachievable goal), feminists regularly claim special privileges for women and corresponding restrictions for men.
Feminism shares with the Schwabian Reset a utopian vision of a reimagined world in which the historically deprived will be compensated and protected by enlightened leaders who will manage all aspects of our social, economic and domestic lives. In this transformed world, unprecedented redress of injustice will become possible as the enemies of fairness and the common good – the selfish, the competitive, the predatory and the backward – will be neutralized once and for all by government. decree.
Discussions of post-Covid she-covering (recovering with a female face) have primarily focused on Reset’s four feminist plans: 1) freeing women from the unjust burdens of family life; 2) empowering women to close the wage and employment gaps; 3) mandate leadership roles for women, especially in politics, business and academia; and 4) advancing the sexual agenda of the #MeToo movement. All, as we will see, are underpinned by deeply anti-masculine assumptions and a disregard for established social and legal norms. Whether any of these plans will make women happier is a very dubious proposition: Bitter and resentful women, rather than contented women, are precisely what Reset talks and policies are designed to create.
A duck on Covid-19 peddled by Schwab and Malleret was that the virus exposed and exacerbated social fractures, hurting those who were already vulnerable. In reality, as the authors well know, it was not Covid itself, which they said was not “a new existential threat,” so much as the draconian policies of governments and health officials, amplified by media-induced terror and conformity, which shaped social divides.
Government shutdowns and masking/distancing policies, often brutally and unevenly enforced, created Covid winners and losers by determining which businesses could open, if and how many family members could congregate, and whether children could go to school or play together. Social elites working in government, media, academia and the corporate world, their paychecks and lifestyles largely intact, have demonized as “Covidiots” anyone who has challenged or even questioned the public health orders, sometimes encouraging readers to report those who have broken one of the obscure rules (unless, of course, the violators are Black Lives Matter protesters, in which case even the Prime Minister of Canada kneels with them in solidarity).
Alongside the daily tally of ‘cases’, hospitalizations and deaths, the media offered a constant barrage of stories designed to highlight Covid heroes and Covid villains, channeling sympathy towards those seen as suffering. legitimately or bravely aiding, and encouraging contempt for, alleged conspiracy theorists or “extreme right” supporters (primarily white males) who posed a danger. Here, the familiar polarities of ideological feminism came into play: women were generally presented as the innocent victims of the injustices of a male-dominated society – that is, when they were not exceptional leaders. keeping the virus at bay or valiant front-line nurses caring for the patient.
In the early days of Covid, medical data showed that men were more likely than women to die from the virus or suffer from the most severe forms of illness, accounting for around 80% of acute care admissions and up to 70% deaths. Yet even as these staggering reports made headlines, the media was busy portraying the pandemic as a women’s issue.
On March 8, 2020, when the effects of the virus were felt in Europe but had yet to affect North America, the focus on the suffering of women was already established. The BBC World Service informed readers that “across Asia, it is women who are disproportionately affected”. A humanitarian adviser to the UN, Maria Holtsberg, reportedly said: “The crisis continues to exacerbate gender inequality. According to the article, women were bearing the brunt of the pandemic not only as the main caregivers of their children, forced to stay home when schools closed (with no mention that breadwinner husbands continued their work and therefore presumably more at risk of infection) but also – and somewhat contradictory – like the majority of “frontline” workers. The article detailed horrific working conditions for nurses in China and elsewhere in which nurses were forced to have their heads shaved and denied bathroom breaks during overtime. Women were also vulnerable, the article said, as migrant workers with few rights, and in the retail and informal sectors of the economy, hard hit by store closures.
The mantra that will be repeated in countless subsequent articles was thus established: as Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women Asia, said, “women play an indispensable role in the fight against the epidemic” and must be at the forefront of all efforts. to deal with it.
Vulnerable male migrant workers, low-income traders and men on other types of front lines – especially long-haul truckers who try to maintain supply chains even if rest areas, toilets and essential restore points are closed – not mentioned. Essential service providers who were men – paramedics, catering and cleaning crews, police, delivery drivers, all-night convenience store clerks, bus and train operators – were made invisible.
As the Covid situation worsened in Europe and spread to North America over the following weeks, the same ideas were amplified, with many commentators focusing on favored first-world feminist themes such as the greater emotional and caring burdens of women. “Coronavirus is a disaster for feminism” by Helen Lewis said “Around the world, women’s independence will be a silent victim of the pandemic,” while Lucia Graves in “Women’s Domestic Burden Comes From getting heavier with coronavirus” predicted that women’s unfair allocation of household chores would be increased. Many commentators have argued that women and girls, as always, do the majority of caring for elderly or sick family members and, already more economically vulnerable than men, would see their earning potential lastingly affected by the dismissals.
Some of the claims were dramatic, others startlingly insignificant. Heather Barr, acting co-director of the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, reported with somber insistence that many now unemployed women “are at risk of losing their homes in countries from South Africa to the United Kingdom.” United” and that even just “maintaining access to water and public services was a struggle for many, including in the United States. Men, it seems, have never lost their homes or lacked the necessities of life (although men actually make up the vast majority of homeless people in Western countries).
Alongside these dire warnings, the aforementioned Helen Lewis, writing for The Atlantic, practiced exclusively on wealth issues, lathered up by the patriarchal injustice that saw a university professor of epidemiology, described in the article, carry the yoke of caring for three young children in the family home while her husband, an emergency doctor treating patients with Covid-19, isolates himself in the family garage. We can only imagine the intensity of his anger if the woman had been the one consigned to the addiction.
Many writers couldn’t seem to decide whether to present women primarily as suffering victims – vulnerable and in need of help – or as valiant heroines noted for their selfless leadership.
An April 18, 2021 Forbes article began by citing pandemic-related studies finding more women with stress-related hypertension and “at significantly higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to men,” but could not resist quoting Lisa Britt, a human resources manager, who proposed that the pandemic had proven “the depth of capabilities of working women,” specifying their “ability to prioritize accurately, multitask and to ensure the well-being of those around them. were women less able or better able than men to cope with the stress of the Covid crisis? Both, it seemed – and still deserving the lion’s share of sympathy.
Janice Fiamengo is a retired English professor from the University of Ottawa who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Follow @janicefiamengo.