All’s Fair in Pandemic and War? A Gendered Analysis of Australian Coverage of Covid-19

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

All’s Fair in Pandemic and War? A Gendered Analysis of Australian Coverage of Covid-19


  • Blair Williams School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Australia
  • Brent Greer School of Politics and International Relations, The Australian National University, Australia


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Abstract:  The Covid-19 pandemic has repeatedly been framed by politicians and the media alike as this generation’s “Great War.” Metaphors are often used in political reportage as effective discursive tools to influence and persuade readers. War metaphors especially are frequently used in election campaigns, leadership spills, and during times of political unrest to portray politics as a brutal and competitive (masculine) arena. As such, the use of militaristic language and war metaphors to describe the shared challenges during a global pandemic is unsurprising. Framing the pandemic as a war can rally citizens by appealing to their sense of national and civic duty at a moment of crisis. Yet such framing is problematic as it draws on stereotyping cultural myths and values associated with war, reinforcing patriarchal understandings of bravery and service that glorify hegemonic masculinity while excluding women from the public sphere. Using a feminist critical discourse analysis, this article will examine Australian print media coverage of the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on two case studies—the prime minister and “frontline” workers—to further understand the gender bias of mainstream media. We argue that, by drawing on war metaphors in Covid-19 coverage which emphasizes protective masculinity, the media reproduce and re-enforce political and societal gender stereotypes and imbalances.

Keywords:  Australian politics; care work; Covid-19; crisis leadership; discourse analysis; gendered mediation; Scott Morrison; war metaphors

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i1.6139


© Blair Williams, Brent Greer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.