Masks as Veils

by | Aug 7, 2020 | Videos

Symbolism of masks in the current context and how they relate to religious veils.

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  1. Heather

    I can you see what you mean about this being a fully loaded symbol. This interpretation fits very well, yet it still feels like there’s so much more to unearth. I’ve noticed “Safer at home” and many of the lockdown catchphrases appeal particularly to mothers, and caregivers of all kinds are being venerated as self-sacrificing heroes, regardless of the actual outcome of care given. As with the mask, the gesture is valued over the result. I have a high-spirited 6-year-old who willfully objects to wearing a mask. Whenever he is forced to wear one, he loudly protests, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” This is rather awkward in public, considering it’s the same rallying cry as the BLM movement. But is there any symbolic synergy here? In my son’s case (or we can say anyone who objects to wearing a mask) he feels stifled because measures taken in the name of public safety (ie. lockdown restrictions) are too tight. In the case of BLM, ostensibly, measures taken in the name of public safety (ie. police action) are too heavy-handed. In both cases, under this hot and heavy blanket of public safety, protection becomes constriction, calling to mind the archetypal Oedipal or devouring mother who, in her efforts to keep her child close, ends up suffocating or abusing him- an upside-down or negative feminine energy prevailing over the collective psyche.

    • Heather

      Another observation more aligned with your equation of masks with veils… I was watching a documentary with my brother the other night and heard the welfare state among single mothers characterized as women “married” to the government. (My brother informed me that this is a common analogy in more right-leaning circles.) During the lockdown, we’re told to wear our masks when we go out, and only take them off at home. Meanwhile, because many are not allowed to work, the government will support us financially -via stimulus checks and unemployment payments – as a working husband normally would in the traditional family sense. Meanwhile we have BLM going strong, the founders of whom have said the traditional nuclear family is a remnant of the patriarchy. So it really does seem to paint a picture of the government taking on the role of the supportive father and the citizenry as the bride in her niqab, becoming completely dependent upon her government for financial support and bodily safety.