Professor Lincoln: Americans Consider Wearing Mask 'An Anti-Social Gesture'

Wednesday, June 10, 2020
VOX -- If it has been an uphill battle to acclimate the country to our new masked life, there is a deep-seated reason for it. “In some countries, the moral significance of masks has been understood to be pro-social,” says Martha Lincoln, a medical anthropologist at San Francisco State University, pointing to China and Vietnam as examples. “Whereas in the U.S., I think we have a sense that wearing a mask is an anti-social gesture.” Masked figures tend to get read not as communitarian, but criminal. “A person wearing a mask may have a nefarious motive, may be an outlaw, may be a member of an anarchist black bloc,” she says. To subordinate your own identity doesn’t make you civically responsible; it means you’re hiding something.