Kitchener-Waterloo

Fight over face masks much like condom debate, sexologist and Waterloo grad says

Sexologist Jill McDevitt says the debate over face masks is similar to the push to convince people to use a condom.

Not the first time health officials have needed to convince people to wear something they didn't want to

A woman wears a face mask as she walks along a street in Montreal, Saturday, June 27, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Sexologist Jill McDevitt says she's hoping the lessons from society's approach to condom usage since the 1980s can be applied to face masks. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Sexologist Jill McDevitt says the debate over face masks is similar to the push to convince people to use a condom.

McDevitt, a San Diego-based sexuality educator, wellness coach and University of Waterloo graduate, says this isn't the first time public health officials have needed to convince people to wear something they didn't want to wear in an effort to slow the spread of a serious virus.

As a sexologist, she's hoping the lessons from society's approach to condom usage since the 1980s can be applied to face masks.

McDevitt says instead of anger and shaming, health organizations have gotten better at delivering the message in an effective manner over the last 40 years.

She says the work has already been done and the lessons learned.

"It's not our first rodeo when it comes to convincing people they should wear a barrier for protection from a deadly virus," she said on Twitter.

McDevitt posted a widely shared list on her Facebook page last week highlighting ways to help convince people to wear face masks.

Among them was avoiding guilt-based methods, like shaming people online when they don't wear masks in public; making sure face masks are accessible; and educating people on the risks of not wearing them.

McDevitt says the biggest positive change, needs to be making sure leaders and public health officials are on the same page with their messaging.

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