There’s reason to believe that men, and particularly men with conservative values and politics, were less likely than everyone else to take covid-19 precautions seriously—slapping a face mask on one’s face is, apparently, emasculating. Now that same attitude seems to have extended to getting the covid-19 vaccine.
A poll conducted earlier this month by NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Marist found that half of all Republican men said they don’t plan on getting the jab. Fellas, is it gay to live? In a stark contrast, 92 percent of Democratic men reported they had already been vaccinated, or will once the vaccine is available to them, a percentage that is even higher than for Democratic women.
That this refusal to avoid death is tied up in specific ideas about masculinity and the fear of being seen as weak is pretty obvious, as well as extremely dumb. As Melissa Deckman, a Washington College professor who studies gender and politics, put it to the Lily, Republican men likely don’t view the vaccine as “manly,” and getting the vaccine would show that they’re weak and afraid.
For the family members of these men who think dying of what is now becoming a preventable illness is the height of manliness, this presents a bit of a problem. As the Lily reported, some of their family members, and in particular the women in their families, are now being forced to spend time and effort to convince the men in their lives to get vaccinated, at times resorting to threats and bribes. If all this sounds exhausting, and akin to how one treats a recalcitrant toddler, you’d be right!
Unfortunately, unlike an unruly toddler, many of these men cannot be convinced to just eat the fucking broccoli. Take the story of Tanya Garcia, a Democrat married to a conservative man. Not even the fact that she herself came down with covid-19 convinced her husband to get vaccinated. Via the Lily:
Garcia, a 24-year-old in Buckeye, Ariz., has been hearing firsthand horror stories about the coronavirus since March last year, when her older sister, a nurse, started caring for patients at the hospital. Garcia heard about the patients who died alone and the families who watched them pass away on Zoom. Then the virus came closer: In October, Garcia tested positive, along with her younger sister, her mother and her newborn daughter.
Now most of Garcia’s family has been vaccinated. Her husband is the exception, she said: He doesn’t plan to get the vaccine.
His reasons are part religious, part political: Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, her husband, who declined a request to be interviewed, was taught by his family to doubt much of modern medicine, Garcia said. And while he doesn’t vote in elections, he leans conservative, Garcia added, especially after seven years in the Marines, surrounded by “a bunch of Republican men.”
“Usually I can talk to him, make him understand things,” said Garcia, who identifies as a Democrat. But on this issue, she said, he will not be moved.
Garcia told the Lily that she’s stopped trying to convince her husband, describing it “like talking to a brick wall.” As the Lily put it, “she recognizes that she can’t control him.”