Volume 108

Gender Mistrust as a Public Health Crisis: A Preliminary Proposal

by Helen M. Alvaré

Gender mistrust is an important subject against the backdrop of current electoral politics—a concern of this Symposium—because candidates inevitably claim to care about boosting the fortunes of women, especially in economically vulnerable populations. Sometimes they also claim to care about reducing in-equality between socioeconomic, ethnic, or racial groups. But without some attention to the willingness of women and men to form and sustain unions, their efforts—if any—will be incomplete at best and ineffective at worst.

In order to support my thesis about the public health urgency of gender mistrust, and to meet the likely objections to my thesis, this Article will proceed as follows:

Part I will consider the broad question of declaring impaired relations a public health crisis. To answer this question, I will look at health authorities’ classifications of public health crises and advance analogies to a 2019 legislative declaration that racism is a public health crisis and to other recent claims linking gun violence and the opioid crisis with impaired relationships.

On the basis of well-accepted definitions of gender mistrust, Part II will conclude that gender mistrust is a fit object of heightened public health concern. It will also discuss in detail the negative health effects of gender mistrust upon women.

Part III will consider several of the leading obstacles to addressing gender mis-trust as a matter of law and policy. Reviewing these obstacles provokes the dis-cussion of a variety of potential responses the state might consider in order to advance the health of women and others.

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