Gendered lockdown?

Anyone who has been at home all day with a toddler and a pre-schooler knows how tough that can be. Some days are good – you enchant the little so-and-sos with colouring and sing-songs. Other days feel like Guantanamo with nappies. I remember once as a stay-at-home Mum realising the only adult company I had “seen” all day was Jeremy Paxman when I switched on Newsnight at 10.30pm. That’s bad!

It is a million times tougher now – no playgrounds and no chance to let little ones play outside for long. The young children have almost completely disappeared from the small estate where I live and I have the distinct impression that young mums are doing most of the work and they are doing an amazing job. I am lucky to be shut up with two teenagers where the only worry is the Netflix subscription and will it work on two devices at once.

I go for a walk to the park and the Co-op about every three days at about quarter to seven. I went down the whole length of Derby Road, a major road in Eastleigh, and saw no-one. Then a young man cut across me smoking. Social distance? Nah! The other day a youngish guy at the end of an aisle in the Co-op was cheerfully sniffing “at” me 50cm away.  A week ago, shopping at Sainsbury’s, a guy beckoned to me to use the automatic till he was just vacating. Not an inviting prospect as he had been coughing over it without putting his hand up!

Look out the window, here at least and the world belongs to young men in their 20s and 30s perhaps a cynic would say it always has. No-one likes the lockdown or “social distancing”. The implications of these policies should be under constant review. But while they are here they should apply to all.


* Ruth Bright has been a councillor in Southwark and Parliamentary Candidate for Hampshire East

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  • What is the actual argument here? A couple of men have been idiots therefore all men are not obeying the lockdown?

    This post would rightly not have been published if it generalised about and castigated any other group in this way.

  • John Smith 9th Apr ’20 – 5:22pm………..What is the actual argument here? A couple of men have been idiots therefore all men are not obeying the lockdown?
    This post would rightly not have been published if it generalised about and castigated any other group in this way………….

    I posted, on another thread, about seeing a group of teenage girls disregarding social distancing.

    Thousands of people (of both sexes) partying, in Manchester alone, is a fact.

    The experiences of Ruth and I are just a microcosm of the wider issue; seeking to make a point about gender, in this crisis, is silly…

  • Not my experience, streets appear to belong to the over 60’s taking exercise, walking in pairs on pavements wide enough for two, declining to make space or just standing aside.

  • When I’m driving to work at 7.45am, it’s joggers out and about and a few dog-walkers. Driving home aft 5pm, a mix of dog-walkers and families.
    I have to be careful, as many step out into the road to apply social distancing and avoid people walking/jogging the other way.
    Who any one person sees out and about in their particular neighbourhood (and how responsible they are being) is a pretty meaningless statistic.

  • Cassie
    Similar to my area, except a lot of pigeons and, because it’s a city, the occasional plod dressed like a paramilitary warehouse security guard.

  • Richard Easter 10th Apr '20 - 7:09am

    And I have seen middle class entitled mummy types in groups and being obstructive in shops, where as I saw a drunk bloke with a can in hand stay well back from people.

    Bottom line is there will be people from every gender, social class, race, nationality, you name it who are anti-social selfish idiots. And the reverse.

    Identity politics is toxic with the electorate – just look at the way Labour are treated over it.

  • Richard Easter 10th Apr '20 - 7:15am

    Ruth Bright: The burden of dreary stuff is likely falling disproportionately on young and youngish women. That’s all.

    What about the burden of key workers risking infection? Where as there will be a proportion of young women in these jobs, there will also be a lot of older working class men too – whether it will be police, security guards, hospital porters, rail workers, bus drivers or whoever – largely jobs which would be male dominated and largely by middle aged working class men.

    Equally there are a lot of working class middle aged women working in the care sector and large parts of the NHS. They arguably have an even greater burden.

    Large numbers of people are having it tough. The problem with anti-social idiots is that the only way to control them would be considered illiberal by many people on here – tougher more visible policing, or getting the army to do patrols…

  • Ruth, women are more likely to pick up the virus but much less likely than men to have serious complications; people of colour may be more affected than whites (according to the mayor of NY), the chances of you dying from it are very low… so perk up!

    On the street, had one encounter with a drunk rough-sleeper weaving all over the place between two different spaced out queues but otherwise in my hourly, daily walk everyone has been rather nice. Biggest group I have seen is three young girls walking together, other than the usual family units. Only time i have freaked out mildly was in the PO paying my council tax (can pay online but primitive system and never give councils bank details) when an elderly lady had a harsh cough but she was a couple of metres away.

  • WIlliam Wallace 10th Apr '20 - 10:42am

    Ruth: one of the encouraging elements of the lockdown for me has been the discovery that grandparents can be useful on Skype. Helen and I spend an hour on Skype with ours each day from our locked-down house,timed to fit in with our daughter having video conferences with colleagues from her ‘working at home’ status. I’ve mugged up on Key stage 2 history and geography, found items on the web that my grandson will enjoy looking at, and have the satisfaction that this helps his parents as they both struggle to work from home with children cooped in as well.

  • These grandparents had eldest daughter and 2 year old Grandaughter move in with us ‘for the duration’ because son in law is an essential worker. Likewise youngest daughter who lives and works in Leeds has temporarily returned to the nest as her workplace is closed and she is working remotely.

    So lots of very enjoyable direct family involvement for me during Lockdown. Youngest daughter (28) did make me laugh when she started instructing me how to change her Niece’s nappy two years ago. I had to point out that with 3 young children in the 1980’s and early 1990’s I was very qualified having previously changed a very large quantity, including hers. Neither did I ever jab any of them with the safety pins -the joys of Terry Towel nappies and smally nappy buckets full of washing to deal with!

    But this can’t be some who post here will cry. Men don’t share in such work. Strangely enough every male workmate and friend of mine did back in the 80’s, only my older brother conformed to the stereotype beloved of some. As for these days, son in law cooks, irons, shops and yes, changes nappies. We had to wait awhile for our first grandchild precisely because he wanted to have left the Royal Navy first as he wanted to be a hands on father at home.

  • Sue Sutherland 10th Apr '20 - 2:39pm

    I thought Ruth was just sharing a personal view of what is happening in families during lock down but then I read the comments. Come on guys, if you look at the stats it’s far more likely for women with young children to work part time and dads full time than it is for dads to work part time and mums full time. If in ordinary times mothers are the primary carer of young children, Ruth’s assumption that they are during this crisis seems to me to be quite reasonable. In which case they will be finding it difficult to keep their children occupied especially if they have no garden.
    I’m glad that Lib Dem men are the exception to these stats because I would expect them to be. My husband certainly helped a lot with childcare because we both wanted him to be involved back in the 70s and 80s but I stayed at home as most women did then.
    Life is certainly difficult for everyone at the moment regardless of gender but to highlight one particular group of people for us to think about for a moment isn’t a sin.

  • There is a dreadful lack of data in the daily presentations, all you can really gather is that if you are an old, fat male you are very likely to have serious complications (from the TV visits to the hospitals). It would be ironical if it turns out Asians are least likely to die, whites next and the others more likely. No information on race. Most of those in serious condition seem to be tending towards being obese (including Boris). I suppose the other side of that is it does not matter because if you are carrying the virus you can affect others who are more at risk, so you have to be in lock-down to save the general population. But guys are writing here because of the title, it is a gender and race biased virus in terms of susceptibility, white women getting off lightly!

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Apr '20 - 10:18am

    Well, I’m a bloke and I agree with Ruth Bright.

  • Dilettante Eye 11th Apr '20 - 6:05pm

    “Well, I’m a bloke and I agree with Ruth Bright. “

    Well I’m a bloke and I Don’t agree with Ruth Bright. Indeed I’m finding this constant bias against men across society very tiresome. Its blatant prejudice against men, and outdated prejudice at that.

    Ruth Bright based her whole premise on the diaries of middle class women during the war.
    “a bit like ordinary women who did mass observation diaries during the war “

    What she fails to Observe?, is that whilst the womenfolk had a pen in their hand, their menfolk had a rifle in their hand, and their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons were dying in mud?

    Tell me again which gender had a worse time?

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Apr '20 - 10:17pm

    Dilettante Eye …

    Let me tell you a story about how I spent my week.

    I work in a local authority in older adult care.
    I have accompanied 2 persons with dementia to emergency care home placements this week, both men.

    One, because his ingrained habits of going out looking for a pub couldn’t be reconciled with his inability to retain information about the lockdown, the other because his wife could not manage his aggressive and controlling behaviour (exacerbated by dementia) within the confines of a small house.

    For both these men, their inherited cultural understandings of what it was to be male, (ie ‘gender norms’) were a contributory factor — the one understanding their ‘right’ to go out and play the lad, the other understanding their ‘right’ as the man of the house to be in charge.

    For both these cases, this was a ‘gendered’ lockdown. And these are not the only cases I could cite.

    This isn’t to say men have it worse — in fact it is becoming obvious that many men are more susceptible to this disease.

    But I do think it’s fair to say that face with a problem, many men — not all men, of course — have been taught by society that they can either cheat, command or fight their way out of it, and that sits badly with the current crisis.

    That’s not prejudice. That’s reporting inherited culture over several centuries.

    How could it not be a gendered lockdown?

  • Tony Greaves 13th Apr '20 - 9:53pm

    People who do not use their real names should be banned on here.

  • @Tony Greeves

    “People who do not use their real names should be banned on here.”

    Am I right to understand that you believe that Civil Liberties must be protected at all costs and you are resistant when it comes to the Government being able to track trace and isolate people when it comes to national safety on this coronavirus issue, however, when it comes to someone being able to post on a forum whose identity you do not fully know, you want full disclosure or they should be locked out?

    Does that not seem a bit strange???

  • @ matt Maybe it’s a development of the party’s stance on Identity politics ???

  • Dilettante Eye 14th Apr '20 - 10:20am

    Tony Greaves

    “People who do not use their real names should be banned on here”

    Complaining about anonymity is the last gasp of a loser, equivalent to kicking over the chessboard when it becomes apparent that a checkmate is looming.

    If your argument in the debate at hand is strong enough, the name of the commenter is irrelevant. If you are saying that anonymous commenters are being abusive, that is the job of moderators, and you need to be specific about what that abuse is?
    I can assure you that moderators who have access to my email address are fully aware of who I am, and where I live.

    Maybe the trick is to put more effort into thinking your arguments through better, before presenting them for public scrutiny?

  • Dilettante Eye, petal, I wish you well in these trying times – if you would care to read my article RAF 100 on LDV you will see that I know exactly what my own Dad sacrificed in the war – basically his mental health. As I type I can also see a sepia picture of my Grandpa and Uncle, the latter died in World War Two, not making it to his 34th birthday.

    Love William Wallace’s comment about teaching his grandchildren history.

    As I do battle at the Co-op and Poundland and the staff continue to be awesome I often think of my Grandpa running a village butcher’s shop during the war doling out rabbits and whale meat to keep the village fed. Wish you were here Grandpa.

  • “Dilettante Eye, petal, I wish you well in these trying times”

    Ruth Bright, dearie, I take it you are seeking to prove that, when it comes to deploying faux terms of endearment in order to belittle persons of the opposite sex, men do not have a complete monopoly?

    Here’s my take on all this. First, women do tend to draw the short straw compared with men in many situations and circumstances, though not all. Second, there is precious little evidence that antisocial failure to comply with lockdown is substantially gender-related, though it may be commoner for young people, simply because they personally have less to fear. Thirdly and most importantly, this is a hard time for many, most of all the poor, the homeless, and the exploited NHS and care home staff. Let’s not make things harder by stirring up resentments.

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