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Some idiots won’t wear coronavirus face masks because they’re not manly

Published May 15th, 2020 9:10PM EDT
coronavirus face mask
Image: Radowitz/Shutterstock

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  • A new study suggests men feel more embarrassed and uncool when wearing protective face coverings than women do.
  • Men reported feeling “shameful” when having to wear a face mask in public, and reported that they are less likely to wear them unless it is absolutely mandatory.
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Whether or not you support the easing of stay-at-home restrictions across the United States as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, there’s something that I think we should all be in agreement on: Masks are good and we should wear them. You can even make them yourself. Unfortunately, we’re not all on the same page, and a new study suggests that men (c’mon, guys!) tend to be far more willing to leave their masks at home than women are.

The paper, which was based on responses to a survey of nearly 2,500 men and women, and based on the data it’s clear that a larger percentage of men both misunderstand the risks of COVID-19 and are also less willing to protect themselves and others.

The survey included questions regarding the perceived risks of coming down with a coronavirus infection, the participants’ understanding of why face coverings are important, and also the emotions they attach to the practice of wearing a mask.

Participants were asked whether they agree with statements like “wearing a face covering is not cool” and “wearing a face covering is shameful.” You can probably see where this is going, right? Men were far more likely to see wearing masks as uncool and shameful than women, while also largely agreeing that “the stigma attached to wearing a face covering is preventing me from wearing one as often as I should.”

Another interesting tidbit from the study suggests that men don’t believe they’re at a greater risk of serious health consequences if they do end up getting COVID-19. The data scientists have gathered from around the globe says the exact opposite, and the authors of the paper note that men both ignoring their greater risk profile while also refusing to wear face coverings is “ironic.”

“We also found that more men than women tend to report negative emotions when wearing a face covering,” the researchers write. “Moreover, negative emotions when wearing a face covering mediates gender differences in the intentions to wear a face covering. However, interestingly, gender differences in negative emotions felt when wearing a face covering does not seem to depend on whether wearing a face covering is mandatory.”

Put simply, men are more likely to wear a mask if it’s absolutely mandatory, but they still feel shameful and embarrassed about it. These feelings extend to times when wearing a face covering isn’t mandatory, and leads a greater percentage of men to ignore the safety and health implications.