The recurring theme with MAGA devotees with fealty to Donald Trump lately has been the obsession with “masculinity.” Big guns, big trucks, and big egos all seem like pre-requisites to vote Republican – and now we may know why.
Research done by The Washington Post has found a causal relationship between Trump’s male supporters and their perceived masculinity – or lack thereof. It’s a term called “fragile masculinity.”
Despite the social media posturing prevalent on social media among Republican male voters, the gravitational pull toward Donald Trump may have more to do with insecurities, lack of confidence, and feelings of inadequacy.
Researchers gathered data from topics a man may search if he was concerned about coming up short in the masculinity department, searches for words and phrases like: “erectile dysfunction,” “hair loss,” “how to get girls,” “penis enlargement,” “Viagra,” and “testosterone,” and measured search popularity in media markets around the country going back three Presidential election cycles.
No correlation was found between fragile masculinity and those voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 or for John McCain in 2008 – but in the 2018 midterms, the correlation was strong.
In more than 390 House elections where Democratic and Republican candidates went head to head, the cross-referenced search criteria overlapped with votes for the GOP choice.
“The political process provides a way that fragile men can reaffirm their masculinity,” wrote The Post. “By supporting tough politicians and policies, men can reassure others (and themselves) of their own manliness.”
Since the 2020 election, the rhetoric coming from the right has become increasingly violent. Campaign ads featuring politicians sporting assault rifles and perpetuating the stereotypical image of manhood and manliness. Trump’s sexism, misogyny, and constant bullying gave MAGA voters the misconception that he was macho – a “man.”
As long as fragile masculinity continues – and as long as culture wars and identity politics further shape the White American male’s perception of what a “tough” candidate is – the Post predicts that this correlation will only get stronger.
Original reporting by Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio at The Washington Post.
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