DISCLAIMER: ideas here come from The Los Angeles Times newspaper, but with added commentary from yours truly.
As I do most weeks for the day, I prepare myself: gloves, hand sanitizer, mask, and 6 feet of distance to avoid people. I am talking about shopping, of course. Shopping has taken on a totally new delight other than what I am excited to buy to make my weekend feasts. Shopping means we now are all exclusively invited as a community to make a fashion statement, by donning personal protective gear over our face, looking over one shoulder with one eye, and keeping an eye in front of me with the other. Never has shopping been such a totally immersive experience for me in terms of trying to avoid crowds, use control when deciding if I want to touch something, or even sprint through the store like I usually would so as not to breath to hard or heavy. Shopping has become a planned, deliberate task. That apple looks great! Oh, and you just sneezed. Never mind.
But perhaps, like me you have walked throughout stores, outside, and in recreational spaces and seen a site like this, people not wearing face masks. Need an example?
Perhaps this example of a customer who was kicked out of a Costco for not wearing a mask will jar your memory.
The oft excuse (too often by white males, unfortunately) is that I am not going to wear a mask because I live “in a free country.” Never mind the fact that in Soviet Russia, up until a month or so ago, people of Russia were not allowed to leave the house except for two times a week for groceries or for walks, on a government-sanctioned schedule based on the apartment or house number on your block where you live. Never mind that in France, you need papers to walk outside to show that you are going for specific, government-approved errands, or never mind the fact that in some East Asian countries, contact tracing has been a necessary enforcement that was enacted without the citizens’ tacit voter approval. You live in a free country, and wearing a mask to buy food and support your family is somehow an impingement of your freedoms and rights.
The truth is is that men are less likely to wear face coverings than women (Capraro and Barcelo, 2020).
The Los Angeles Times news article written just yesterday provides a 4-pronged approach, M.A.S.K., to help appeal to the machismo, masculine, manly, tough guy attitude we have tacitly accepted in society. Let’s take a look at some of appeals that the newspaper suggested in talking with and approaching men to inform them about the benefits, protections, and freedoms that dawning those PPEs during COVID-19 can afford them and us, in our quest to once and for all flatten the COVID-19 curve:
- “M- make it about the community, not the individual”
Caprarero and Barcelo argue that the most likely motivator to having men wear masks is to “emphasize the benefit to one’s community… rather than one’s family, country, or self” (Los Angeles Times, 2020, p. F4). What the research is suggesting here is that it would not be such a stretch to ask men to wear a mask if it helps out those around you, the people around you whom you love, that you enjoy, and that you are free to hang out. The guy in the video above spoke about how he thought this was a “free country,” right? Start by talking to men like him with the notion that it is indeed that very free country of which you would be supporting, that Costco manager who allows you whenever you want (during store business hours, of course) to come in and help be the bread winner (yeah, try that! Saying he is the breadwinner will stoke the manly flames from beneath his beard), 4th of July fireworks person for your local city’s fireworks fare. Community first, is key in igniting the flame to wear that mask and stop the spread of COVID-19.
2. A- Appeal to Patriotism
Do it for your country, you often hear when someone is trying to convince someone else to do something for a larger cause. In World War II, the emotional appeal of something larger than self, much like that of a country, was used often, such as in campaign posters that appeal to peoples’ emotions and feelings, rather than logic and science-based evidence.
If it is the “free country” that that man was defending, perhaps taking a dose of his own medicine will help convince him to do don a mask. Either way, the pressure of something you do not like (wearing masks) could create a sense of cognitive dissonance for something you do like (your country) and thus may help men decide to choose one and resolve that disonance. Just wearing the damn mask might help resolve this tension. They may not say it as such out loud, but they could be thinking along these lines. Convincing men that America’s health safety, economic robustness, and ability to rebound to normalcy seem to be particularly salient ways to help men hop on the mask-wearing train and move back to a sense of normalcy. Your reward is a tan, chiseled biceps, and badass goatee like President Washington sports above.
3. S- Stick with the stereotypes
This is kind of an interesting one. In a summary the Los Angeles Times mentions a few commonly known stereotypes, such as that men enjoy sports, smoking, hunting, lifting weights, and more activities that “ooze testosterone” (See picture above). Why not use with those men who are persuaded by testosterone-laden, stereotypical images such as those that as Los Angeles Times suggests, masks with “the Minnesota Vikings’ team logo… cigars, whiskey bottles” could be brazenly advertised on your mask. Wearing masks could be a kind of cool way to sport what you believe in. How cool would that be, fellas?
4. K- Key into Humor
Which brings us to our last conversation piece: humor. As a male, I can tell you that for so many of my friends, talking about feelings is tough, because as you know, you have to be a MAN, and men do not talk about their feelings, because that would show a sign of perceived weakness. While I really hate this portrayal of men, because not all men are this way, I will admit there is some truth to this. Perhaps, speaking around the subject, using humor, the same way that when a man is having relationship difficulties, you might hear something like this from his friend: “Ah, man, you good! Just put that bitch/hoe/puta in her place bro (No homie, I am not doing that. That is ridic.). Nah, what I mean is you need to listen to her, man (That’s more like it.)” would help for those that are not able to talk about something in a direct way.
What the L.A. Times suggests to remedy this lack-of-directness or uncomfortable-shifting-in-a-man’s-seat is that tapping into humor with, for example a pitch like “real men wear masks” (LA Times, 2020, p. F5) could help address the very emotionally-laden, challenging topic of health safety during the spread of an ever-evolving strain of SARS-CoV-2 that we come to know as Corona Virus. Huge “Coroner Bonner” buzzkill. Hell, I just did it now without thinking about it: making a joke about a very serious topic. Am I right?
Humor is a way to tap into that part of the male species that needs a way to make sense of complex information in bite size ways. Making light of the truth of a pandemic killing thousands may just be the first step towards making a heavy, serious change for males.
There you have it. When it comes to masking up, think about M.A.S.K.ing up. The four key ideas that the L.A. Times suggested on their Saturday Section article on 6/27/2020 are:
– Make it about the community, not the individual.
– Appeal to Patriotism
– Stick with stereotypes
– Key into humor
We all sometimes fall a little bit short of our goals, and it is not just a man or women, male or female situation. The more we can remember our common humanity, while also M.A.S.K.ing up, the more we will be able to clear out this pandemic, together. Plus, wearing a cigar on your mask is pretty dope. Signing out, and see you soon!