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The masculinities of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold around the globe. The consequences are dire, both in terms of lives lost and in terms of lives being pushed to the fringes of precariousness. While insights into the health effects of COVID-19 are still emerging, it also seems that men, generally, in all age groups seem to have a much higher risk of dying from an infection with COVID-19 than women in the same age groups, with old age, lack of access to adequate healthcare, and underlying health conditions exacerbating that risk even further. The social dimensions of this risk are clear, both locally and globally, with the most vulnerable groups of men being in great danger while affluent men more or less continue their lives unchanged. Thus, hierarchies between different masculinities mark the health outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simultaneously, masculinities are also at play in the scientific, economic, and political battlefields of the pandemic. The ongoing resurgence of traditional masculinity politics, both among political leaders as well as among grassroots movements, seems to have intensified during and through COVID-19. Anti-feminist sentiments, conspiracy theories, and right-wing propaganda often go hand in hand when social and political measures thought to suppress infection with and alleviate consequences of COVID-19 are protested on the streets of cities around the globe. What is more, masculinities are also not lost in the biopolitical moment of the politics of COVID-19. Political and social appeals to act responsibly seem to be intertwined with different assumptions of what a good man should and should not do, not only among politicians but also in everyday encounters between obliging and obstructing citizens.

With this general call for paper, NORMA invites the transdisciplinary scholarly community in masculinity and gender studies to submit papers on the masculinities of COVID-19 to the journal.