Toxic Masculinity and Masks in the Age of COVID-19

If you were in doubt about whether masculinity can be toxic, well, it’s plenty clear now. Numerous studies have shown that men are far less likely to wear masks than women. This masculine behavior is literally toxic. Or… biohazardous? Anyway…

Why are men more likely to go maskless in public? What does it have to do with masculinity, and what can we do to be real men with masks?

This episode has been sponsored by LetsGetChecked. Go to and use code “history” to get 20% off your purchase.

Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review. Support the show on Patreon at Research, writing, editing, and production by B. T. Newberg. Logo Design by Rachel Westhoff. Animation by Maxeem Konrardy. Additional credits, references, and more at


Abad-Santos, Alex. “Performative Masculinity Is Making American Men Sick.” Vox. 2020, Aug. 10.

Brenan, Megan. “Americans Face Mask Usage Varies Greatly by Demographics.” 2020, Jul 13.

Capraro, Valerio and Barcello, Helene. “The Effect of Messaging and Gender on Intentions to Wear a Face Covering to Slow Down COVID-19 Transmissions.” PsyArXiv. 2020, May 11.

“Coronavirus Face Masks: Why Men Are Less Likely to Wear Masks.” 2020, Jul19.

Elan, Priya. “The Data Is In: Men Are Too Fragile to Wear COVID-19 Masks. Grow Up, Guys.” The Guardian. 2020, Jul 3.

Evans, Mel. “Bill Burr Tears Joe Rogan a New One After He Suggests Only ‘B*tches’ Wear Face Masks.” 2020, Jun 22.

Glick, Peter. “Masks and Emasculation: Why Some Men Refuse to Take Safety Precautions.” Scientific American. 2020, Apr 30.

Hesse, Monica. “Making Men Feel Manly in Masks Is, Unfortunately, a Public Health Challenge of Our Time.” The Washington Post. 2020, Jun27.

Hamel, Liz, et al. “KFF Health Tracking Poll – May 2020.” Kaiser Family Foundation. 2020, May 27.

McFarling, Usha Lee. “Which Death Do They Choose? Many Black Men Fear Wearing a Mask More Than Coronavirus.” 2020, Jun 3.

Palmer and Peterson. “Toxic Mask-ulinity: The Link Between Masculine Toughness and Effective Reactions to Mask Wearing in the COVID-19 Era.” Politics and Gender. 2020, Jul 9.

Willingham, Emily. “The Condoms of the Face: Why Some Men Refuse to Wear Masks.” Scientific American. 2020, Jun 29.

Audio Credits

The History of Sex podcast theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant”, “Mystery Sax”, and “There It Is” by Kevin MacLeod. Short Shorts theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant” by Kevin MacLeod and “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens.

Additional audio from:

“Battle Hymn of the Republic” performed by the Capitol Symphony Orchestra mixed with “Nazis Auf Speed” by Die Krupps

“Biohazard Alarm” from myckle mendoza.

“Corona Virus Anthem” by Jonathan Mann.

“DUKE OOH THAT’s GOTTA HURT” from Rise From Your Gwave. (from Duke Nukem)

“Gorilla Sound Effect” from Animal Sounds for Kids – Kids Learning Material.

“Mortal Kombat Theme Song Original” from LuminousAmbition.

“Rabbit Season Duck Season” by Warner Brothers, from Sadegh Sapehri.

“Sound FX Fail Epic” from Sound FX Game & Funny. (from Super Mario)

Image Credits

Scorpion Mask from Pixabay.

Masked Caronavirus from Pixabay.

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