This got here on the heels of dire coronavirus information. Florida set an ignominious document, with 9,000 new instances reported in a single day. The governor of Texas re-implemented restrictions on public areas after 6,000 new instances had been reported in his state. Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx had been again on tv for his or her first coronavirus job power briefing in two months. And shortly after, Cheney was on his daughter’s Twitter account. He wore a navy fleece vest, a tan cowboy hat and, protecting every little thing from his chin to the bridge of his nostril, an ordinary pale blue surgical masks. Typed Liz Cheney, who can be a Wyoming congresswoman: “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK.”
Have we gathered right here as we speak to mock Dick Cheney, the accidentally-shot-a-friend-in-the-face former Vice President of america? We’ve not. Cheney confirmed up this week demonstrating that he revered public well being. He understood that masks are each the easiest way to guard different folks out of your germs, and likewise one of many few dependable technique of slowing the unfold of the virus. He was humble sufficient to do what medical doctors and epidemiologists advocate.
Thanks, Dick Cheney. Thanks, Mitch McConnell, who lofted a masks at a information convention Friday and declared, “These are actually essential.”
The maddening facet of #RealMenWearMasks isn’t the message however what’s behind it: We’ve reached the purpose of this polarized pandemic the place our present plan for salvation is convincing sure recalcitrant males that sporting masks is the testosteroney factor to do.
“Folks want face coverings that make them really feel trendy, cool, and — sure — even manly,” a Harvard epidemiologist wrote in the Atlantic.
Males, in any other case, are much less inclined to put on masks. A recent study, co-authored by professors at Berkeley and the U.Ok.’s Middlesex College, discovered that males resisted for a number of causes: They had been much less more likely to imagine they’d get sick with the coronavirus (they’re truly extra more likely to get sick), and “Males greater than ladies agree that sporting a face protecting is shameful, not cool, an indication of weak point, and a stigma.”
On account of this poisonous mask-ulinity, we now have a complete marketing campaign devoted to slipping males’s faces into some attractive, attractive N95s.
Do you have got an unmasked man in your life? You possibly can, the article suggests, be sure he had some “powerful” wanting masks, maybe with “camouflage” or “shark enamel.” Or, you can pull him in with a bit of “benevolent sexism,” i.e. encouraging him to consider mask-wearing as a “paternalistic” and “chivalrous” act — a approach for the mask-wearer to suppose, “I’m being a hero.”
First, [screams out window for 12 whole seconds].
It’s barely worrisome that, to ensure that us to outlive as a species, spouses and daughters or sons should scour Etsy for Venom-themed masks in order that their 52-year-old packaging-engineer husbands and fathers can really feel gender-secure after they come out to Safeway for some milk.
Second, who is aware of if this can work? On the Alabama shore final month, a CNN reporter requested a sun-baked man on the seashore whether or not he would contemplate sporting a masks. “I don’t, my spouse and children do,” he stated, including that he simply didn’t suppose he’d get sick. The reporter identified that the aim of a masks wouldn’t be to guard him, however to guard his spouse and children — benevolent sexism within the wild — and the man shrugged. It simply appeared like most individuals survived covid-19, he stated, so he wasn’t going to hassle.
Third — look, we must always do no matter works. If extra recalcitrant males will put on masks if we persuade them that doing so makes them appear like Jason Momoa or one of many brothers Hemsworth, let’s do this. No matter. Sounds good. Greater than 123,000 People have died.
#RealMenWearMasks. Let’s spray paint it on each sidewalk within the nation, rent skywriters to scribble it up and down the Gulf shoreline. Get Lee Greenwood to jot down a music. Let’s hope different politicians get behind it, too. (Ahem, President Trump and Vice President Pence?)
However the messaging behind all of that is crap. It presents mask-wearing as one thing cool that males can individually do so as to be rugged heroes, deserving of accolades for his or her courageous, manly selections.
What masks actually are is a ache within the neck. Chafing, uncomfortable, uncool in each conceivable approach. You don’t put on them as a result of Dick Cheney determined he can pull it off in a cowboy hat. You do it as a result of no one could make a masks look cool, however we’re going to do it anyway: be chafed and dorky collectively, all of us, as a result of doing that saves lives. You possibly can name that being a hero, however you can even name it being a accountable grownup.
Monica Hesse is a columnist writing about gender and its affect on society. For extra go to wapo.st/hesse.