I have become increasingly disturbed by the images of crowds, mostly men, protesting against wearing masks and the shutdown rules. The backlash over masks has even led to several cases of violence being committed by men who were told to put on masks in order to enter a business establishment. What are the underlying reasons that led this group of men to behaving this way?
I wonder what part of the shadow side of masculinity can help us understand what is going on? One explanation might be a reaction to fear. In other words the fear of contracting the virus and the fear of how the pandemic is disrupting lives creates the need for a distorted version of “Man Up.” In the shadow this becomes a stereotypical macho display of “Warrior” bravado that reinforces the denial of the vulnerability created by the pandemic.
The Warrior – takes action, confronts, commands, motivates.
Light (I do)– change agent, protector, disciplined, assertive, leader
Shadow (I take) – violent, bully, uses aggression as primary strategy
It seems clear that the demonstrators chose to ignore discipline and protection of themselves and their families, the warrior behaving in the light, and instead chose aggression and bullying tactics to advance their agenda of being mask free and in opposition to the guidelines issued by state governments.
The protestors overt message is that government can’t tell them what to do and should not impinge upon their freedom. Given that we follow the many laws and mandates of government every day without too much grumbling it seems that the mask requirement must feel like an even more pronounced attack on personal freedom. We all have the need for freedom and we have a choice on how to meet it. There is little doubt that the Co-vid 19 pandemic seriously limits our ability to meet our freedom needs. Filling this need by choosing not to wear a face mask is a choice that on the surface feels like freedom. This seems to be especially true for those men who see their gender as giving them the right for unchecked freedom from societal norms that they don’t agree with. Every choice has consequences. Choosing to gain freedom by not wearing a face mask puts others in jeopardy. The mask is intended to keep a non-symptomatic individual from spreading the virus to unsuspecting individuals. The freedom to put others in harm’s way is not truly freedom because it robs innocent people of their freedom to be safe from the thoughtlessness of self centered individuals.
My message to the anti-maskers is to rethink what freedom means and how they might meet their need for freedom that is not at the expense of others. Real men meet their needs in a responsible manner with a clear understanding of the consequences of their choices and along with harnessing their warrior in the light they are living the best of masculinity and are defining “Man Up” in the most positive way.