At War with an Invisible Enemy : A Critical Feminist Analysis of the Covid-19 Pandemic Narrative

University essay from Försvarshögskolan

Abstract: This thesis aims to investigate the narrative created around the covid-19 virus as a security threat during the first months of the pandemic. Speeches made by three political leaders, namely Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel, held in March 2020 are analysed in depth using a feminist narrative framework. The overall purpose is to investigate how a gendered reading of the portrayal of the covid-19 pandemic as a security threat can contribute to the already existing feminist research on how gender is both part of, and affected by, the construction of security narratives. The research questions concern whether the pandemic was militarised by political leaders, and if so, how this is done through the construction of the narrative. Furthermore, it is investigated how masculinity and femininity come to expression within the narrative of covid-19 as a security threat, and how this differs from the gendered hierarchies in relation to “traditional” security threats already outlined in previous feminist research on security. The result of the analysis shows that the pandemic is clearly being militarised. Traditional gender constructions are however altered, for example when feminine roles are assigned to groups traditionally not perceived as feminine. The result shows the flexibility of gender roles, but also the need to sustain a division between some groups as feminine and some groups as masculine. The very existence of hierarchies is seemingly more important than which physical bodies take place within that hierarchy.

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