Coronavirus Safety Runs Into a Stubborn Barrier: Masculinity


On Tuesday, and not for the first time, Joseph R. Biden Jr. described President Trump’s reluctant attitude toward wearing masks as “macho.”

Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator and Fox Nation host, countered that Mr. Biden “might as well carry a purse with that mask.”

They were among the most direct comments yet that have tied stereotypes about acting and appearing manly to the basic precautions that doctors, epidemiologists and other health experts recommend to prevent infection by the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus.

The theme has been there since the beginning of the pandemic. Some experts who study masculinity and public health say the perception that wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines are unmanly has carried a destructive cost. The virus has infected more men than women and killed far more of them.

Credit…Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters admire his aggressive style, Professor Glick said, and see him as a model of male dominance.

It was a lost opportunity early in the pandemic. The president could have used that authority to change the perception of masks and other precautions among those who value traditional masculine traits, he said.

“It certainly would have helped,” Professor Glick said. “But at this point, it’s hard to go back.”


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