One good thing about the coronavirus scourge, it brings a truce to the battle of the sexes.
Men can’t grope women on the subway from six feet away. If there is no office anymore, managers can’t harass female employees at their desks. Predators can’t slip Rohypnol into women’s drinks if all the bars are closed. There is no date rape on Houseparty. And on Zoom, women can just put mansplaining on mute. As someone called @_RyanKirk said on Twitter, “This quarantine is affecting everyone in the work force, but it especially sucks for men. We’re losing $1 for every $.79 women are losing.”
Looking on the bright side is hard when the future looks so dark. Already we have soaring unemployment, class warfare, breadlines (O.K., food banks), and would-be dictators who seem so nutty nobody can take them seriously—until it’s too late.
And, no, not just in the White House.
In Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow, Beijing, Istanbul, and countless other capitals, twisted despots are marshaling pandemic emergency laws to contain not only the virus—but the opposition. It’s so easy now. No need to send out the secret police; there is an app for that.
From Moscow, our friend Andrew Ryvkin describes all the ways that Putin’s Russia has mixed old-school Soviet brutality with modern tracking technology to fight the virus invasion—including coercing untrained and unarmed medical students to the front lines.
At the moment, the world doesn’t look a day over 1930.
All the more reason to seek silver linings. Finally, underachievers can actually attend the college of their dreams. If universities stay shuttered, as seems likely, who is going to want to pay $60,000 to U.S.C. or Haverford to stay home and take classes online?
If only Lori Loughlin had waited. As talented students defer, or take themselves off the waiting list, or just opt for a gap year, the mediocre children of Hollywood B-listers won’t have to fake crew-team photos or pay graduate students to take their S.A.T.’s—we’re back to the Depression era, when the only thing the dim but privileged needed for admission to a good college was a parent’s checkbook.
The world doesn’t look a day over 1930.
True, churches, synagogues, and mosques are closed. But fundamentalist Muslims in Saudi Arabia, who work themselves into a lather forcing women behind veils and chadors, can relax their vigil and stop the stoning—all of us are covering our faces these days. Even the teaboys.
And at Air Mail, we too are doing our best to keep looking for good news. One example: George Kalogerakis explains how the coronavirus pandemic has turned a wonky, oft-ignored New York Times science reporter into a national heartthrob.
Part II of “Lights Out,” Johanna Berkman’s riveting series about sexual predators at a summer camp for sons of the rich and famous, isn’t exactly cheery, but it may make you feel a bit better about having your kids in your house come July, now that so many camps are closed for the season.
Several studies have shown that smokers may be less likely to catch the coronavirus than nonsmokers are, good news that emboldened us to send our intrepid reporter Elena Clavarino, who has been known to visit a tobacconist, to make her way into a secret underground after-hours club—a Gen Z speakeasy. Using a closely held password, Elena discovered people in their 20s, including a few famous ones, crammed into a basement drinking, dancing, snorting cocaine, and partying like it’s March 2020.
There’s no cause for celebration in that, but we felt better anyway. Maybe Marlboro Lights will be included in our first-aid kits.