We’re publishing an original piece today – Valentine’s Day – by regular contributor Dr. Sinéad Murphy, an Associate Researcher in Philosophy at Newcastle University, about some research published by Cardiff University showing that women find men in facemasks more attractive. According to Dr. Murphy, this is not a cause for celebration.
Now that recommendations/mandates/rules/guidance regarding mask wearing have been more or less lifted, it is dispiritingly clear by the numbers continuing to cleave to them that there are many among us who rather like their masks. But not the wildest speculation on why this might be was likely to have settled on the explanation that masking your face makes you more desirable.
How can such a contradiction be, that we are enhanced as we are effaced? Shouldn’t we wish to see more of an attractive person rather than find them attractive because we see less of them?
There is nothing to whet the philosophical appetite like such a paradox – resolution of apparent contradictions is its bread and butter. So here goes:
Paradox: we like to see less of what we like to see.
Resolution: there are two things to see in this case, not one, and we can see more of the thing that we like to see (abstract personality) by seeing less of the thing that we don’t like to see (actual person).
When men wear a medical mask, women do see more of what they like to see because what they like to see is not real men but generic characteristics – Kind, Safe, Caring, Healthy – characteristics that real men can expect only to channel and only at the expense of their realness.
Sadly, this effacement of what is real by polished abstractions is not confined to the realm of romance. It is the overarching trajectory of our times, increasingly promoted as the promise of ‘personalised’ living.
Worth reading in full.