Why The New York Times Needs an In His Words Column

July 12, 2020

by Sean Kullman

After some recent uptick in COVID-19 coverage of male vulnerability, GIBM felt a more comprehensive article that included more detailed data was needed and a national call for an Office of Men’s Health, long overdue, must be enacted. COVID-19 is exposing the lack of concern for male health and it’s time for The New York Times, other media outlets, government agencies, and academia to embrace an Office of Men’s Health and equal reporting on issues regarding boys and men.

As early as March, gender reporter Alisha Haridasani Gupta of the New York Times focused on female health care workers greater vulnerability to COVID-19 even when it was clear men were dying of the disease in greater numbers in the general population as well as the population of healthcare workers. Women’s concerns certainly remain a central part of the conversation, and like so many articles by gender reporters, championing women’s rights often comes with a marginalizing of men’s rights.

By April, Gupta decided to encourage disaggregated data as a way to reveal the failures of the U.S. health care system to expose the long history of “sex data blind spots [that] can be traced back to the fact that, historically, science didn’t study the female body.” Overtones of sexism and the privilege of the “white, male archetype” take precedence over the truer details of male deaths. Gender articles are laced with such subtle and overt narratives as a way to marginalize male well-being at a time when:

  • Men are dying at significantly higher numbers of COVID-19 according to the CDC

  • Men live nearly 5 years less than women

  • Boys and Men are 79% of U.S. suicide deaths

  • No Office of Men’s Health but an Office of Women’s Health

  • No White House Council on Boys and Men but a White House Council on Women and Girls

  • No California Commission of the Status of Men but A California Commission on the Status of Women.

In Gupta’s April 3 article, Dr. Klein calls for a much needed effort by the U.S. to disaggregate data; acknowledging “we can confidently say from the data from many countries that being male is a risk factor.” Despite these concerns, Gupta and by extension The New York Times places women’s issues at the forefront of a pandemic predominately impacting men. The New York Times has its own blind spot when it comes to boys and men’s issues, embracing Gupta’s “In Her Words” column but offering no comparable “In His Words” column by respected writers in the field of boys’ and men’s issues. Gupta’s point of view might have more merit if The New York Times embraced a comparable column on issues pertaining to boys and men.

Although there is a recognition of male vulnerability in the April 3 article, it really serves as a way to champion women’s needs at the expense of men. But Gender reporters have a hard time staying focused on male issues because the press, government, and academia in large do not make it a priority of equality and equity.

What we clearly know about Gender and COVID-19.

Gender reporters are promoting a narrative instead of identifying gender data more appropriately. But with nearly 2.5 million cases where sex was identified in 98% of cases, it is clear males and females are contracting the disease at nearly the same rate, but men are dying in significantly higher numbers.

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