What condoms can teach anti-maskers about role of face masks in battle against Covid-19 

Awareness and guidance, much like sex education for the use of condoms, can help normalize the use of masks

                            What condoms can teach anti-maskers about role of face masks in battle against Covid-19 
(Getty Images)

While we've been grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic that has swept across the nation, a topic of conversation that has been rampant amid the chaos is that of wearing a mask. It is such a highly debated subject that it has even given rise to a resistance group that has been protesting against wearing masks, chanting 'My body, my rules.' Essentially, masks have become a controversial topic to the point that when they were made mandatory in Palm Beach County, Florida in June, a protester went as far as to call it "the devil's law". 

Pondering over protective equipment and safety precaution, would it be right to liken masks to condoms? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has repeatedly said that masks are the best safety equipment one can wear, to protect themselves from the infection. And now while the latest reports suggest that Covid-19 is airborne and even people with no symptoms are carriers of the virus, the need for masks has skyrocketed. The comparison with condoms comes as masks, much like the rubber contraception, have been hailed as lifesavers and the need of the hour. Masks may just deserve all-out creative promotions like those condom advertisements. 

A protester holds up a sign protesting wearing a mask at the Texas State Capital building on April 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas (Getty Images)

The general consensus so far has been that donning a mask is pretty much public service. So why was there so much resistance against it that some protesters even deemed it a "crime against humanity?" The answer comes from Jill McDevitt, PhD, a sexologist or sexual educator, who wrote in a Facebook post, “If you want to know how we get people to comply with wearing face masks, ask a #sexologist — it’s not our first rodeo when it comes to convincing people they should wear a barrier for protection from a deadly virus." In April, The New York Times posed a popular question regarding the same: “Are face masks going to become like condoms — ubiquitous, sometimes fashionable, promoted with public service announcements? They should be?"

What McDevitt said makes a whole lot of sense and even rings a bell. There are some out there who are unwilling to wear a mask, which weirdly and coincidentally resonates with many people who dislike condoms and avoid wearing them while having sex. So could it be that people refuse to wear masks for the same reasons as they don't like wearing condoms? Face masks are pretty much a barrier from the possible transmission of the virus and need to be donned constantly. Yet there is a point for a counter-argument. While a condom protects a man and his sexual partner from a sexually transmitted disease, a face mask wouldn't be as effective in preventing infections as long as others around them also wear it. 

Demonstrator Bryan Fleury wears a hat adorned with condoms at a rally outside the United Nations' High Level Meeting on HIV & AIDS at UN headquarters June 8, 2011 in New York City (Getty Images)

There isn't any research evidence as to what makes people not want to wear masks, but a Gallup Poll found that women wore masks more often than men. For now, the one thing that is for certain is that wearing a mask decreases risks of infection, and hence should be worn while venturing out into public, when you know there's going to be people around. Secondly, it is imperative to make sure that you have more than one mask in hand, and that if you're wearing disposable masks, then do away with them as soon as you're done using them. Finally, awareness and guidance (much like sex ed for the use of condoms) can help normalize the use of masks. 

Disclaimer : The views expressed in this article belong to the writer and are not necessarily shared by MEAWW.