COVID-19 Reasons WhY: The XX Advantage (Nature) & Mask-ulinity (Nurture) (Reasons 2–7)


Katniss Swan learns she is pregnant & celebrates with her magically happy husband Harry. During pregnancy, the baby’s protection from disease is provided by the immune system of which soon-to-be parent?

2β. Women are Naturally Hotter Than Men

Women are naturally hotter than men (Neff et al., 2016; Waalen & Buxbaum, 2011) & COVID may be more potent at lower body temperatures (Kang & Ellgen, 2020).

by Elizabeth Mendes (Gallup)
by Elizabeth Mendes (Gallup)

3β. Mask-ulinity

It was long opined that the male ego is as fragile as a flower.
Upon reflection, that was disrespectful to flowers.

Belongingness & Mask Adherence

Women are significantly more likely to adhere to wearing a mask than men. In a study of mask adherence while outside on campus here at UC San Diego from August 10th to September 6th, we found that women were more likely to adhere overall, and that sex difference was more pronounced for individuals outside walking with someone else.

Sexual Composition & Mask Adherence

Both men & women are less likely to wear a mask in opposite-sex groups that are numerically even (mostly dyads). However, women are strikingly more likely to wear a mask in majority male groups… because males.


Masks help protect the people wearing them & the people they may encounter (Chu et al., 2020; Johansson, 2020; Leung et al., 2020; Seminara et al., 2020; Sommerstein et al., 2020; Viola et al., 2020). Wearing a mask is simultaneously egoistic & altruistic. It’s patriotic. It moral.

4β. Social Distancing

Counties with a higher proportion of women exhibited greater adherence to social distancing (Okten et al., 2020). You’ll have even greater appreciation of this observation when considered in the context of gender socialization.

Walking: Ladies First vs. Tall Men First

In opposite-sex dyads, males usually walk in front of women (Costa, 2009). In addition, in mixed-height dyads, the taller person usually walks in the front. In the human population, the average height for men is 5–9, for women is about 5-4, and only 1% of women are 5 feet 11 inches or taller (Willis et al., PrePrint). Stated differently, women are more likely to be positioned behind a taller, haphazardly unmasked male, while walking.

Gender Socialization of Spacing

Males friend groups tend to walk & sit down at greater distances from each other than female friend groups (Aiello 1987; Crawford & Unger 2000; Hall 1984; Heshka & Nelson 1972). Male friends are less likely to use a public bathroom at the same time compared to female friends due to the codified laws of BroCode (Elizabeth Plank, 2019 — For the Love of Men).

It indicates that women have enacted a greater degree of adjustment in their behavior than men.

It also makes the other side of the coin that much more disappointing, as the fact that men historically walk at greater distances from each other should have given them a head start in adherence to social distancing.

Superbad (but also see Scott Pilgrim vs the World)

Center of the Sidewalk vs. The Sides

Finally, men are more likely to walk down the center of the sidewalk. To quote Jessica Nathanson (2010): “Walking down the middle of the sidewalk is a male entitlement, as is expecting others to get out of one’s way in other crowded spaces. …it is also a way of performing maleness, so that NOT doing these things marks one as less than manly.”

5β. Wash Your Hands, Man

Women are significantly more likely to wash their hands (Cory Clark et al., 2020; Everett, 2020; Park et al., 2010).

That sense of safety when it says “Mary” is preparing your ‘za as opposed to “Harry Chad

6β. Women Wear Glasses More Than Men

Chu et al. (2020) reported that eye protection reduced the risk of infection by 48–78%.

Women are more likely to be prescribed glasses & research suggests that glasses are helpful for preventing COVID19 (Chu et al., 2020; Edwan, 2020; Lu et al., 2020; Yan et al., 2020).

Over ~50% of women & about 42% of men wear glasses.

Similarly, more women (18%) than men (14%) wear contacts. Of those who use both contacts and eyeglasses, 62% wear contact lenses more often.”

Males & Wearing Contacts (connecting reason 5-Handwashing)

Individuals who already wear contacts should obviously continue to do so, but handwashing is of paramount importance. Given that males are less likely to thoroughly wash their hands than women, and the fact that the eye is a site of potential infection, glasses may be safer than contacts for males at this time.

Image by Eyeconic (

7β. Of Hunters & Gatherers: You Can’t Hunt in Quarantine

Despite the fact that the sex ratio is 1 at UCSD, significantly more males were observed on campus than females during our August 11th — September 6th study of mask adherence, (1, N = 910) = 43.36, p < .001.

X2(1, N = 910) = 43.36, p < .001

Quiz Answer =^.^=

The answer is obviously A.
Given the importance of XX in humans not going extinct, it makes perfect evolutionary sense that women have a stronger immune system than men.


When researchers want to create an antibody to study, they use a female animal, not a male. You get more antibodies” (Richtel, 2019, p. 215).

Saving this discussion for one of our next 19 Reasons pieces


Chan, K. H., Peiris, J. M., Lam, S. Y., Poon, L. L. M., Yuen, K. Y., & Seto, W. H. (2011). The effects of temperature and relative humidity on the viability of the SARS coronavirus. Advances in virology, 2011.



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Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

Dr. Jarryd Willis PhD

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.