Maskulinity in a Pandemic

“Let me run back and grab my…”Keys? Wallet? Jacket? Nope! This past year, ever since the coronavirus made its first public appearance, it was mostly, “oh damn! I forgot my mask, let me run back and get it!” Attribute it to the fact that most of us were still getting used to the idea of constantly wearing a mask, or that we weren’t ready to take something as minuscule to be invisible to the naked eye, as a potential life threat. 

With the pandemic raging around, public places all over the world started to ban entry without a mask covering your face and mouth. And as of today, like it or not, the face mask has become synonymous with our lives in 2021 – helping us to form a bubble of care not just for ourselves and our close ones but also for the larger community. 

While the holy grail of ‘how to stay safe during a pandemic’ has been established with the now familiar protocols of maintaining social distancing and always wearing a mask in public places; surprisingly, the adoption of face masks seems split across gender lines. It seems that while men don’t have much of a problem with social distancing or the frequent washing of hands, wearing a mask for some of them feels like an unnecessary inconvenience. In effect, setting up a clash between the Protector and the  Protected – in the sense that, a mask is to protect from the virus, and men through the ages, over centuries of social conditioning, have come to identify themselves as the protectors of a realm, be it their families, social circles or even as the world leader of a larger community. It’s not a strange coincidence that some world leaders, mostly men, have been quite dismissive about the effectiveness of face masks even ‘in the face’ of the widely accepted scientific view on their potency in beating this pandemic.

The larger picture being, men for the longest time have believed that their manliness stems directly from how strong they are, what their build is, how thick a beard they don, or in today’s world how bold or courageous they are to step out of their homes without a mask! Bring a face mask into the picture and for some, it becomes a challenge to their masculinity. 

It’s time all of us see the world like a Tony Stark – mask on or off! 

You were not born a superhero, just like how most were not; but what if you could be? Break the façade to choose maskulinity over stereotypical masculinity and you’re ready to save the world, à la Iron Man style. Why portray your masculinity by just being bold, badass, and reckless when you can also be man enough by caring for yourself and those around you.

In today’s weird times, all it takes is to WEAR. A. MASK

As Aamir Khan in Dil Chahta Hai strongly advocated - “Be a man”. But, a responsible one. 

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