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According to the most recent gender report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) “disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse” (COVID-19: A Gender Lens). The COVID-19 crisis has affected and continues to affect every aspect of our lives, raising anxieties, limiting spaces, and intensifying tension and conflict in different areas. In response to the current situation, Gender Forum dedicates a special issue to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on gender-related issues. …

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One of the first healthcare providers in New York City to die from COVID-19 was a nurse. When the city was already seeing hundreds of cases a day at area hospitals, particularly in neighborhoods already marginalized by health and economic disparities, nurses at one hospital in the Bronx staged a demonstration to protest the lack of essential personal protective equipment. The astounding response by hospital administrators was to threaten nurses that they would be fired if they continued to speak out regarding their concerns. Like many activists, healthcare providers took to social media to warn the public about the realities of both the COVID-19 crisis and the threats to the health and safety of their own families. However, in at least one Facebook thread, the response to nurses was, “This is what you signed up for.” As scholars of women’s history, we have to wonder about the irony of nurses being lauded as heroes in one breath and criticized as hand-wringing turncoats in another. Did such a callous response have anything to do with the fact that nursing is still considered to be a “feminized” profession? As it turns out, nurses—who are always at the forefront of patient care—were right to raise the alarm. By mid-June, more than 140 nurses in the United States were estimated to have died from COVID-19. Countless others continue to put their lives on the line to do the jobs they have committed to do every day. This article does what some hospital administrators and health officials did not. We listen to nurses. Through oral history interviews, we highlight what nurses in the New York metropolitan area, one of the epicenters of the pandemic, experienced during this staggering healthcare crisis.

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Author’s Bio: Corinne McSpedon is a Senior Editor at the American Journal of Nursing. She earned an M.A. in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College and her historical writing focuses on women’s health, public health, and environmental issues.

Dr. Mary Dillard is the Director of the Graduate M.A. Program in Women’s History and a Professor of African History and Global Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. As a social historian, Dr. Dillard teaches courses on gender, healthcare, and education in Africa, in addition to a method course in oral history.

Abstract: Trans healthcare and thus trans people have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trans people’s healthcare situations have turned out to be so vulnerable in this crisis because they have been precarious to begin with. There are multiple ways in which trans healthcare has been affected: Surgeries and other procedures have been cancelled or postponed, and mental health services have been paused or moved online. This raises ethical questions around discrimination against trans people in the healthcare system. This article argues that cancelling trans surgeries and procedures in the crisis is made possible through an understanding of trans healthcare as non-essential. The article explores how trans healthcare in particular has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Author’s Bio: Gen Eickers is a Postdoc at the University of Education Ludwigsburg, Germany. After finishing their Ph.D. in philosophy at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Freie Universität Berlin, they continue to work at the intersections of philosophy of mind, social psychology, and social epistemology, specifically addressing questions around social norms, emotion, and gender.


Intimacy Directors International was founded in 2016 as an organization that targets the artistic direction of intimate scenes (such as sex scenes or romantic scenes) in theatre, film and television. Partially prompted by the #Metoo movement, the intimacy direction effort is an acknowledgement of the sexual harassment and interpersonal discomfort that many performers (largely women) experience in the entertainment industry. The directing approach that is advocated by this group, and other newly formed groups with similar purposes, is one that looks at intimate scene-work much like stage combat or stunt work, where the movements are choreographed in order to prevent harm. There are also frequent check-ins so that the actors feel allowed to voice any anxiety or desire to change or stop what is happening. With COVID-19 bringing performance (particularly live theatre performance) to a halt indefinitely, the effects on performers’ careers are substantial. I focus on the consequences to the intimacy direction movement which already targets gender differently, given the inequity faced by most women in these industries. The Intimacy Directors International organization, according to their website, officially dissolved as of March 15, 2020. While they note that their mission—to initiate the intimacy direction industry—has been accomplished, I will explore how the dissolution of such a supportive and large part of the movement might affect performance as it regains its place in society, particularly for those most negatively affected by the negligent and predatory practices that brought about the need for intimacy direction in the first place.

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Author’s Bio: Lynn Deboeck is an adjunct assistant professor of theatre and gender studies at the University of Utah. he earned her PhD in Theatre and a Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from the University of Kansas. Her research interests include gender in performance and representation and maternity.

Abstract: The unprecedented health crisis caused by COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. The only way deemed plausible to tackle the crisis in most countries was a policy of restricting mobility and of staying home. However, there are varied views on the merit of such a lockdown. In India the enforcement of ‘staying home’ also needs to be considered in light of the fact that about one-third of the households in the country have to accommodate 3-4 persons per room defying the requirement of social distancing. The situation of women during lockdown is particularly difficult, as their workload has increased, as has their exposure to violence and a denial of vital outside sources of support. The ‘staying home’ rule involves a myriad of issues differing according to the respective social environment. Middle-class women tend to be left with the additional burden of taking care of family members and home-schooling children without the support of helpers who have been released during lockdown. Women working in the informal sector are likely to be hit by a loss of their jobs, and as spouses of often equally jobless informal sector workers ‘add to the burden’ on the financial situation. Addressing the needs of women in times of lockdown is important as gender budgeting is widely known to impact positively on development planning.

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Author’s Bio: Sanghmitra S Acharya is a professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She was Director, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, during 2015-18. She has been a Visiting Fellow at CASS, China (2012); Ball State University, USA (2008-09) and UPPI, Manila, The Philippines (2005); East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii (2003) and University of Botswana (1995-96). Research interest include access to health, social epidemiology, marginalization and discrimination.

 Mala Mukherjee is Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. Her research interest include urban issues, marginalization, digital technology and gender. She has published in national and international journals of repute and presented papers in India and aboard.

Chandrani Dutta is a Freelance Researcher. She has worked in development organizations. Her research interest include urban processes, gender and development. She has published in national and international journals of repute and presented papers in India and aboard.

Abstract: Melissa E. Sanchez’ monograph, Shakespeare and Queer Theory (2019) , published in the Arden Shakespeare Series, is situated at the intersection of Shakespeare and Early Modern Studies with Queer Theory, foregrounding how these fields “are not only valuable in themselves, but mutually useful and illuminating” (2) and “have a lot to contribute to that collective project” (55). The idea of the book is to present “queerness as a mode of critique” (Halberstam 2011: 110 in Sanchez 2019: 150), and to explore how “[q]ueer theory reveals the queer within the normal and the ordinary [. . .] [as well as] the normal and the ordinary within the queer” (7). In this sense, Sanchez follows the path of other contributors to the debate, such as Menon (2008; 2011), and Stanivukovic (2017). The book is directed at students and scholars alike and provides a comprehensive introduction to the central concepts, as well as the historical background and origins of the debate. Sanchez furthermore presents the mutual benefit of the intersection of Shakespeare and Queer Theory by supplying her own analyses of several of Shakespeare’s works. Sanchez emphasises that “this book [is not offered] as the ‘truth’ . . . , but as one contribution to an ongoing, productively un-wieldy conversation” (2) and “will [hopefully] not be the last word on either topic, but in its very limitations will catalyse newer, stranger theoretical work and political worlds” (178).. . . .

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Author’s Bio: Robyn Dudic is a MA student of English Studies at the University of Cologne, and has concluded her BA’s in English and American Studies, as well as in Comparative Literature at the University of Innsbruck. Her research focuses, on the one side, on the intersection of literary studies and linguistics and on the creation, generation, and transformation of meaning; and on the other side, on issues of gender and Otherness, with an overall focus on the works of Shakespeare. She is currently an intern at gender forum, an Internet Journal for Gender Studies and working on her first publications.