It’s a weird feeling when you’re in a grocery store and everyone is still wearing a mask because it’s the smart thing to do but there’s one dude waltzing around without one.
I’ve seen this a couple of times since the mandatory mask rule was (sadly) lifted by B.C. health officials. I’ve tried to ignore it, but the other day at one store the dude in question decided that wasn’t enough.
“Why are you wearing a mask,” the dude asked me in the check-out lineup. “Aren’t you tough?”
Seriously, it’s not enough to just be defiant, but you actually have to get into people’s personal space about it?
I ignored the dude, paid my bill and left the store.
The “tough” comment, however, really bugged me. It’s something I’ve heard over and over again from guys about the COVID-19 pandemic. They take restrictions and mask mandates as some sort of personal assault on their manhood – as though giving in makes them less of a man.
Which is ridiculous, of course.
This is why you see so many couples in which the woman is wearing a mask and the man isn’t. It’s why you see so many “tough” guys on construction sites not wearing masks. (If you doubt that, note that Fraser Health held vaccination clinics specifically for constructions workers.) It’s why I get so many messages from male readers vowing to never get the COVID-19 vaccines.
It’s toxic masculinity that puts these men at risk as well as everyone else around them.
Wearing a mask in a store or a restaurant isn’t just about protecting the person wearing the mask, but the workers who have to deal with them. It’s a show of respect for their safety by taking steps to not spread it to others. After all, we're seeing COVID-19 cases rise once again and we all need to do more to stop the spread.
It’s five little minutes. Surely these men are “tough” enough to handle wearing a mask for that long?
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.