Disparate Impact: Ironclad Proof of Systemic Misandry?
Posted by Ed Folsom, April 25, 2023.
Have you noticed the never-ending search in the public discourse for disparate outcomes as automatic, ironclad proof of systemic injustice at work? For instance, fairly early in the COVID-19 pandemic, public health authorities began pointing to statistics showing that COVID-19 adversely affected Blacks (always with a capital B) more than whites (always with a lower-case w); Hispanics more than whites; women more than men. This, they argued, demonstrates underlying systemic flaws in American society that lead to such injustice; flaws in need of the remedy that they prescribe: equity.
Of course, the idea that disparate outcomes = automatic, ironclad proof of systemic injustice rests on the unstated, and entirely simple-minded, premise that if not for systemic injustice all outcomes would be equal for all identified groups. Does this premise hold up for matters in which those who are identified as oppressors in this oppressor/oppressed morality drama fare worse than those identified as the oppressed? Of course not. In those cases, we must talk of other things. But just for kicks, let’s see how the disparate outcome = systemic injustice paradigm holds up with respect to COVID-19 deaths, drug overdose deaths, and longevity.
The CDC and National Center for Health Statistics keep track of COVID-19-related deaths, broken down by the race and ethnicity of the deceased (See here). Through April 19, 2023, their data include 1,114,272 such deaths. Of those:
- 743,714 of the decedents were non-Hispanic whites. That’s 66% of the deceased in this 59.7% of the population.
- Non-Hispanic Blacks were 155,286 of the deceased, for 13.8% of the total in this 12.6% of the U.S. population.
- Hispanics were 170,499 of the deceased, for 15.1% of the total in this 18.6% of the population.
- Non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaskan Natives were 11,970 of the deceased, for 1.1% of the total in this 0.7% of the population.
- Non-Hispanic Asians were 35,194 of the deceased, for 3.1% of the total in this 5.9% of the population.
- Non-Hispanic Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders were 2,289 of the deceased, for 0.2% of the total in this 0.2% of the population.
- Non-Hispanic, other race, were 4,320 of the deceased, for 0.4% of the deaths in this 2.3% of the population.
Whites did not fare well in this mix. Was it due to systemic racism? To some other form of systemic injustice? Was there some sort of phobia at work? Or does this one size not actually fit or explain it all, after all?
We could take a look at Maine’s numbers, except that Maine’s CDC doesn’t publish COVID-related death information by race or ethnicity, only COVID-19 case numbers.
In the oppressor/oppressed paradigm, males are always top oppressors (most especially the white ones). How did males fare with COVID-19-related deaths versus females?
Males are about 49% of the population, females about 51%. The CDC publishes statistics on COVID-19-related deaths broken down by sex (here). Through April 19, 2023, they recorded 1,126,497 such deaths in this database. Of those, males are 55% of the deceased, 619,153, while females are 45%, 507,344.
Maine’s CDC’s most recently published CSV file (linked here) breaking down COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and related deaths shows the following:
- Cases: Total of 322,043; Males 147,452 (45.8%); Females 174,591 (54.2%).
- Hospitalizations: Total of 7,377; Males 4,052 (55%); Females 3,325 (45%).
- Deaths: Total 2,998; Males 1,576 (52.6%); Females 1,422 (47.4%).
While males in Maine fared better with the male/female death numbers than males in the U.S. as a whole, males are on the losing end of unmistakably disparate outcomes when it comes to COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine and to COVID-related deaths throughout the U.S., including Maine. Sure, women in Maine had more recorded COVID-19 cases, but just to make it real, testing positive doesn’t have quite the same sting as being hospitalized with COVID or dying with COVID, does it? Is the hospitalization and death disparity ironclad proof of systemic misandry?
How do males fare versus females when it comes to drug overdose deaths?
According to a recent report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2021, 69% of U.S. drug overdose deaths were males (31% females).
Information contained in monthly and quarterly drug overdose reports on Maine’s Drug Data Hub shows that there were 1,944 drug overdose deaths in Maine from January 1, 2020 through February of 2023, of which 72% (1,403) were males.
So, how do male oppressors fare versus females when it comes to the big enchilada – longevity?
The CDC tells us that U.S. life expectancy declined in 2021, the most recent year measured. For males, life expectancy at birth dropped 0.7 years, to 73.5. For females, it dropped 0.6 years, to 79.3. A female born in 2021 can expect to live more than half a decade longer than a male – an extra 5.8 years! That represents a clearly disparate impact…of something.
There was a time when at least part of it would have been explained by inherent biological differences between the sexes, including hormonal differences that result in different levels of engagement in risky and unhealthy behaviors. But if disparate group outcomes are necessarily the manifestation of injustice and oppression, then: Oh, the injustice of oppression that robs the men of life itself!
Not to even mention the lopsided disproportion of all those men versus women in prison while the men are still alive!
Where is the hue and cry? Will the masters of the intersectionality matrix simply stand aside, letting the violence of their silence reverberate in the face of such clearly demonstrated injustice? Of course they will, unless they can find a way to stand it on its head, to further enhance their power and control.