To Mask or Not to Mask
I have a confession to make: I don’t think wearing masks has anything to do with keeping us “safe” from a virus. I do, however, think it has to do with keeping us “safe”—but from what?
I am on academic leave this term (Autumn 2020) and next (Winter 2021), so I am not scheduled to be in the classroom on campus again until Spring 2021, by which point I am confident that it will have become clear that masks are irrelevant to fighting the so-called pandemic that shut down 2020.
I know, it’s ridiculous. Do you remember March 2020, when we were told the lockdown was going to last for two weeks, so as to flatten the curve and enable the hospitals to set up sufficient emergency wards for patients with the “novel” coronavirus that had descended upon us like a bat? That was a lifetime and more ago, and we are still trying to “flatten” the curve.
Except that the curve flattened, the emergency rooms stood empty, and everybody is still wearing masks, including those who were never at risk in the first place of dying from a virus less deadly to the general population than the vaccine that is being touted as our new hope for return to “normal.” (I am certain I don’t need to give you links to any of this information—you have all been glued to the John Hopkins and CDC sites for months, right? Right?)
We are never going back to “normal.” NORMAL is what the masks are designed to “protect” us from.
Are you as revolted as I am at the thought that “normal people” don’t care?
I shared this meme on my Facebook page the other day. One of my “liberal” friends congratulated me for (finally) getting something right: “You got that right. Brava!” I know he meant it ironically—except it isn’t ironic for him. In his mind, it is normal for people to want to cover their faces and never see their family and friends. It is normal to put on a mask so as to protect others by hiding one’s face, keeping distance, never touching, never being in contact with anybody in person ever again. It is normal to be afraid of other human beings.
Doubtless he will tell me I have all of this wrong—he is not afraid of anybody; he is only afraid of hurting other people by accidentally infecting them with a virus that he doesn’t even know he has, most people’s symptoms are so mild—so mild that you might wonder whether it even exists unless you “test” for it by sticking swabs up people’s noses to scrape the membranes around their brains. (Remember: the doctors just did this “test” on my stepfather, who is unconscious and dying of complications from a spinal injury he sustained four years ago.)
And my “liberal” Facebook friend calls me the conspiracy theorist? How “compassionate” would I have been if I had been too scared to get on an airplane and come here to be with my mother this past month?
Let me remind you again: my stepfather (aged 82) is not dying of coronavirus. And the hospitals (yes, plural—they kept moving him around from emergency room to rehab to hospice) he has been in these past four weeks have been empty. No overflowing wards. No corridors crowded with the dying.
Could it be that wearing a mask is more about training ourselves to be compliant to authority than it is about protecting us or our loved ones from illness? Could it be that “social distancing” is a form of “social control”? Could it be that covering your face in public is intended as a way of wiping out your identity and convincing you not to talk? Could it be that masks worn over the mouth are muzzles, designed to make human beings into sheep?
Prone as I am to believe that the masks are intended to produce trance states (and almost certainly do, thus their pacifying effects when worn over the mouth), I think the reason that people are so willing to wear them is much simpler: they are afraid, and the masks make them feel safe—not from a virus I doubt most people believe they will catch, but from each other, and from the horror that is our current civilization.
Women, how many of you enjoy being the object of the male gaze? To judge from the success of feminism on college campuses, not many. How many of you enjoy being encouraged to wear more and more revealing clothes so as to prove yourself “liberated”? How many of you enjoy the stress of being in public, unprotected by men whom you trust? Conversely, how many of you enjoy having to wear a mask so that no one can see your face other than those with whom you live?
I thought so.
There are layers and layers of irony at play in how quickly Western women and men were willing to mask up this past year, surrendering our individuality, freedom of association, businesses, social interactions, religious services, and voices in order to keep ourselves “safe,” but I do not think it was an accident that it was women, a.k.a. Karens, who led the effort to shame people into keeping themselves masked.
What was the best-selling trilogy among women of a certain age not so very long ago? What did it promise them? Masks.
I am still anxious about having to teach while covering my mouth—consider that irony—but I am thoughtful now about what it means to have to veil myself in order to carry out my public role. Perhaps it would be better if all our women were permanently masked—properly protected from the gaze of strange men.
Without masks, who knows what dangers we might find ourselves in?