Women Most Affected
A platitude may be defined as a remark or statement, especially one with moral content, which has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. Such is the case with the arduous phrase “women most affected.”
As an example, during the pandemic, I recall one source that reported, “Men are much more likely to die from COVID-19 than women. This is true globally – where the death rate has been about 50% higher for men.” One would imagine men were most affected by the virus.
However, a separate source, entitled “Women most affected by COVID-19 […],” conversely stated:
Further, overloaded health systems, reallocation of resources, shortages of medical supplies and disruptions of global supply chains have undermined the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, including their access to maternal care, contraception and treatments for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
Men reportedly died more from COVID-19 though females (women and girls) are supposedly most affected, because of reproductive “rights.” Can you see how this platitude uses the fallacy of an appeal to emotion by centering females as victims while disregarding the plight of males (men and boys)?
If this platitude were represented in logical form, it would unfold thusly:
Major premise: Catastrophic events affect the most vulnerable humans.
Minor premise: Women are the most vulnerable humans.
Conclusion: Therefore, women are most affected by catastrophic events.
Using this syllogistic form, one source states:
The major premise is a broad statement. The minor premise scales down the major premise to something logical, exact, or familiar. The conclusion connects the universal truth of the major premise to the immediate example of the minor premise.
Though it could be argued in various ways, one suspects that most people wouldn’t disagree with the notion of catastrophic events having a significant impact on vulnerable people (major premise). Thus, this broad statement is likely accepted as a universal truth.
The scaled down minor premise is where the sleight of hand occurs. Depending on one’s subjective worldview, women are perceived as the most vulnerable people and this debatable proposal—when accepted at face value—could lead to an invalid conclusion.
For instance, if scientific data support the conclusion of men dying more than women from COVID-19, it stands to reason that women aren’t the most vulnerable humans in regards to the catastrophic event of the pandemic. One’s subjective worldview doesn’t invalidate objective data.
Consequently, women aren’t always most affected by catastrophe. Implicit to the “women most affected” platitude is that women are always most affected by unfortunate events.
Though the logic of the aforementioned syllogism checks out, the minor premise is inaccurate, and so the conclusion is invalid. Women—and girls, for that matter—aren’t always most affected by catastrophic events.
Given this understanding, see if you can identify the sleight of hand in one source’s coverage regarding abduction in Burkina Faso from January 2023, “Security forces conducted a rescue operation and freed 27 women and 39 babies, children and young girls in the adjacent Centre-Nord region.”
Did you catch the deceptive framing of the source? The “women” and “young girls” were clearly separated from the tally of “babies” and “children.” What might the sex or gender of the nebulously identified minors be?
When you understand that the platitude of “women [and girls] most affected” centers the victimhood of anyone other than men and boys, you can then understand the concept of male disposability—the idea that the lives of human males are of less concern to a population than those of human females.
One imagines the reader is already familiar with this widely accepted notion though perhaps has accepted the flawed logic underlying its premise. Building upon what the reader understands thus far, consider the following logical form:
Major premise: Males and females experience harmful events.
Minor premise: Females are more susceptible to effects of harm.
Conclusion: Therefore, females are most affected by harmful events.
As expressed previously, the major premise is true though the minor premise is a sleight of hand—as exemplified by the COVID-19 effects on men. For that reason, females aren’t most affected by harmful events.
Pushing this logic further, one could assert the radical notion that the lives of males actually matter. This isn’t to declare that male lives matter more than females, though to merely suggest that male lives matter, too.
Perhaps the reader disagrees. Maybe you suspect that analysis of the “women most affected” platitude is pedantic and unnecessary. After all, it couldn’t be as relevant an issue as portrayed herein, right?
See if you can spot the reason why it may be worth challenging your irrational beliefs concerning this matter when considering a source with an academic title, “Armed conflict—Women: Most affected but least responsible”:
All too often women are the first to feel the impacts of conflict. The collapse of health systems and social support places a disproportionate burden on their health. Unique health needs place women at an increased risk of malnutrition, poor mental health, sexual violence (at the hands of male soldiers or domestic abuse), and climate-related disease. Poor air quality in areas of conflict has also been associated with negative birth outcomes. These effects are further exacerbated when women are displaced from their homes and communities.
One imagines that women are girls are inarguably impacted by armed conflict. However, what purpose is there in identifying who is “responsible” for conflict? Moreover, per the title of the article, is it true that women are most affected from skirmishes, battles, or wars?
Per one academic source, “Most combatants in armed conflict are men, so naturally men are the major direct victims of military operations,” and adds that indirect consequences “are often overlooked and underappreciated. They also affect women—arguably more so than men.”
One takes no issue with the noted impact of indirect victimization from armed conflict, as women are indeed impacted. However, if male disposability is used as a method of erasure concerning the direct impact of combat on men, one outright rejects the flawed logic used to support a “women most affected” narrative.
[T]he United Nations said on Monday that it had confirmed the deaths of more than 7,000 Ukrainian civilians in the 11 months since Russia invaded. United Nations monitors in Ukraine said those killed included 2,784 men, 1,875 women and another 1,939 adults whose gender was unknown. Those known to have died included 398 children, the monitors reported.
For those petty enough to keep score, civilian men are reported to have died more than women. Jamming an invalid logical platitude into the argument, one supposes that “women [are] most affected” by this statistic, because now there are fewer males available for military conscription and females may eventually be called upon to fight in Ukraine.
Even as it regards the newly-initiated Israel-Hamas war, one source uses an emotional appeal based on the platitude critiqued herein by stating, “The women of Israel are all our mothers and daughters. If we don't stand up to extremists, the horrors happening there can happen here.”
Are men and boys afforded similar concern? The foregoing platitude isn’t difficult to further assess. As an example, consider the report of one source:
In Gaza, at least 950 people have died and 5,000 others have been injured in retaliatory airstrikes by Israeli jet fighters and surface-to-ground missiles since Saturday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Tuesday afternoon. At least 260 of the dead in Gaza are children and 230 are women, the health ministry said.
Notice that men killed in the conflict are altogether excluded. Likewise, the nebulous “children” qualifier tells nothing about the sex or genders of the minor-aged victims.
Once you understand that when the minor premise is inserted into conversations—women are the most vulnerable humans and females are more susceptible to effects of harm—conclusions drawn upon the sleight of hand logic leads to one conclusion: Women (and girls) most affected.
One rejects the exclusion of men and boys from sources listed herein. Schemes to erase males from the conversation are divisive, dishonest, and detrimental to pragmatic strategies for addressing actual harm.
Ultimately, the “women most affected” platitude is as bogus as the artificial intelligence-generated image used for this post. Sure, there narratives may tug at the irrationally emotive heart strings of an individual, though they aren’t logically sound or realistic.
To those men and boys who have been deliberately left out of mainstream narratives, or at least had their suffering minimized by misleading accounts regarding males, you aren’t alone in your experience. If you’d like a psychotherapist who won’t seek to disregard your existence, I’m here.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
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Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
Aljazeera. (2023, January 21). Kidnapped women and children freed in Burkina Faso. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/1/21/women-children-freed-in-burkina-faso-after-kidnapping
Aljazeera. (2023, October 6). Why Ukraine wants female conscripts for war. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/podcasts/2023/10/6/why-ukraine-wants-women-conscripts-for-war
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Vine, S. (2023, October 10). Sarah Vine: The women of Israel are all our mothers and daughters. If we don’t stand up to extremists, the horrors happening there can happen here. Daily Mail. Retrieved from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-12616151/sarah-vine-israel-palestine-mothers-daughters.html