World War I soldier and wife during 1918 flu pandemic**
I've thought a lot about the mask in terms of disability, the irony of my objecting to wearing something that is perhaps a "way of life" for a non-verbal person. My friend Andrea sent me an email with this comment which I found brilliant -- the exact words that just didn't come to me:
It has occurred to me that the wearing of the the mask, removed from the context of vaccine/no vaccine, is such a signifier of what many severely handicapped people experience. They wish to be seen for who they are behind the obvious barrier of their disability, they wish to be able to communicate unimpeded, they wish to live without the constant humiliation of whatever masks their essence. I'm sure this wish often fades with time, or is conveniently slaughtered by conditioning, or, for those capable enough, becomes a rallying point for demanding change, but for the most part it never becomes less visible, defining or in the way. They can't take it off.
**On the plus side, I've found it strangely exhilarating to troll around the internet looking for cool photos of surgical masks.