When and why do state responses to crises such as the covid-19 pandemic embody hypermasculinity? How does state hypermasculinity contribute to mortality during a pandemic? This article examines state hypermasculinity as a main atrocity risk factor and as a root cause of preventable deaths arising from failures in pandemic response. It focuses on the case of the Philippines under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte to build on feminist scholarship examining gender, crises, and the rise of ‘strongman’ leaders globally. It argues that a state’s predisposition for violence and atrocity crimes renders disease outbreaks more deadly. Significant loss of life and livelihoods during the pandemic are logical outcomes of state structures and responses that combine militarised security, paternalism, and domination of feminised ‘others’. Crucially, the implications of state hypermasculinity extend beyond pandemics as it is clearly emerging as a vector for compounded human insecurities at a time of multiple and overlapping crises.
This chapter situates the growing academic and policy interest in advancing international normative frameworks namely the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Women, Peace, and Security (wps) in asean within broader feminist critiques of the ‘protection gap’ that results from the ‘siloing’ of international security and peace agendas. It builds on recent works that suggest a rethinking of asean as constituted by three distinct community pillars (political-security, economic, and socio-cultural) for fully addressing human security and development in the region. Using the asean Regional Plan for Action (rpa) of the 2013 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (evaw), which covers a ten-year period (2016–2025), this chapter makes a case for how the rpa can serve as a critical vector for broadening the significance of R2P and wps in the region to address sexual and gender-based violence as occurring both in crisis situations and ‘everyday life’.