Well, if it wasn't official before, it is now. Toxic masculinity is fatal. A new report has found that men are less likely than women to wear makes because they think they aren't cool and see them as "a sign of weakness," as if COVID-19 discriminates based on manliness.
According to the paper, which is authored by researchers from Middlesex University London in the UK and Mathematical Science Research Institute in Berkeley, CA, men in the U.S. have "less intention" than women to wear face coverings, especially in places where wearing masks is not mandated.
Awesomesauce. Because of this, when counties or states make wearing masks mandatory, that has way more of an effect on men than it does on women, many of whom have already chosen to protect themselves with masks.
Additionally, despite data that prove the contrary, the study found that men are "less likely to believe they'll be seriously impacted by COVID-19," according to the New York Post. Co-authors of the paper Valerio Capraro and Hélène Barcelo wrote, “The fact that men less than women intend to wear a face covering can be partly explained by the fact that men more than women believe that they will be relatively unaffected by the disease."
The problem is that men are actually more severely impacted by COVID-19 than women are, statistically. But that hasn't led to men realizing that saving their lives and the lives of others is more important than looking cool. Wearing a mask doesn't make you less manly! It makes you a more responsible citizen of the world!
The study also found that men were more likely to feel "negative emotions" while wearing a mask. "Men more than women agree that wearing a face covering is shameful, not cool, a sign of weakness, and a stigma; and these gender differences also mediate gender differences intentions to wear a face covering," the study says.
It also said that finding "indicates that interventions to promote men's use of face coverings work to decrease those emotions." Wonderful. Now sane people have to do a bunch of extra emotional labor to make men feel better about making this one simple, potentially live-saving change to their lives.
This isn't the only paper to come to this conclusion. The New York Post reports that other surveys, including a Gallup / Knight Foundation poll, found that "29 percent of men said they had 'always' worn a mask or cloth face covering outside their home in the past seven days, compared to 44 percent of women."
Unsurprisingly, this isn't an entirely new phenomenon. In several past outbreaks, including SARS and H1N1, women were more likely to wear masks, according to at least one study. Throughout history, in fact, men have been so concerned with appearing manly and strong that they've been willing to put themselves in danger or have denied the fact of the danger completely.
But several studies have found that more men are dying from COVID-19 than women. Part of the reason may be that women tend to have stronger immune systems than men. Huh. Who would have thought? Definitely not men.
Salvatore J. Giorgianni, a pharmacist and senior science advisor for the Men's Health Network, told Healthline that men are culturally conditioned to think of themselves as strong but that "women are not the 'weaker sex' when it comes to immunity."
Additionally, in the U.S. men have higher rates of mortality for nine out the 10 leading causes of death, meaning that they are more likely to have preexisting conditions that can amplify the danger of COVID-19.
Indeed, men's "invincibility syndrome" can also put them at higher risk to contract the virus. It's a giant, toxic masculinity cause-and-effect snowball, and it's not pretty. Doing you part to be a responsible person and potentially save lives isn't weak. In fact, it's the strongest thing you can do right now. Men, take heed.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.