Toxic Masculinity Is Going to Get Us All Killed
Men have a history of putting their health — and the health of those around them — at risk for fear of seeming unmasculine
As the Covid-19 pandemic drags into May, we have yet to see the president of the United States wear a mask. Donald Trump has reportedly told his allies that he has no plans to wear one for fears that it would make him look ridiculous. And he’s not the only one.
Since the pandemic started, I’ve heard people give a lot of terrible reasons for not wearing masks to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus: Some claim it’s an infringement of their rights, others think it won’t really help. But perhaps the most distressing justification behind not wearing a mask is the one the president seemed to be getting at: Men don’t want to seem weak.
When feminists say toxic masculinity kills, we aren’t kidding.
One man told an Arizona reporter, for example, that wearing a face mask is “submission.”
“It’s muzzling yourself, it looks weak, especially for men,” he said.
Make no mistake: This is macho bullshit at its most lethal. Donald David Abrams, a psychologist and professor of social and behavioral science at New York University, told CNN that for some people, “Putting on that mask is about as blatant as saying, ‘Hey, I’m a scaredy cat.’”
There’s not enough research yet to know whether it’s mostly men who are refusing to wear masks (though there is a stark ideological divide), but there is some history to give us a clue of what’s to come.
Make no mistake: This is macho bullshit at its most lethal.
In the past, men have put their health — and the health of those around them — at risk for fear of seeming unmasculine. Research shows that during both the SARS and H1N1 outbreaks, women were more likely to wear face masks than men. During the 1918 flu pandemic, public health officials had to create specific messaging for men so that they would follow basic hygiene rules: The fear was that cleanliness was associated with “school marms and Sunday school teachers,” and to prevent…