If you’ve Googled “erectile dysfunction,” “how to get girls” or questioned your penis size – you might be a Trump supporter, according to The Washington Post.
Critics slammed Post over a “ridiculous” analysis that suggests male Trump supporters could be insecure about their manhood and masculinity.
“We call this the ‘fragile masculinity hypothesis,’” the Post study claims.
Thursday’s piece, “How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood,” was written by New York University social psychologist Eric Knowles and a student, Sarah DiMuccio. It features an assortment of phrases that would make a middle schooler chuckle and points to things such as Trump “boasting about the size of his penis” as to why he — in the eyes of the authors — exudes machismo.
"I have read more coherent thoughts scribbled on the bathroom walls in gas stations"
— Chris Barron
However, the authors feel that men in MAGA hats aren’t always as “confidently masculine” as the president himself.
Conservative strategist Chris Barron couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the analysis in one of the nation’s most respected newspapers.
"Honestly, I have read more coherent thoughts scribbled on the bathroom walls in gas stations,” Barron told Fox News. “If a news outlet had written something similar about Obama supporters, the publication that printed it would be roundly – and rightfully – ridiculed by every other media outlet."
Knowles and DiMuccio wrote that “fragile masculinity” is when men fall short of “unforgiving standard of maleness” that is expected in America from an early age.
“The political process provides a way that fragile men can reaffirm their masculinity. By supporting tough politicians and policies, men can reassure others (and themselves) of their own manliness,” Knowles and DiMuccio wrote before trying to explain how “fragile masculinity” is measured.
“We could not simply do a poll of men, who might not honestly answer questions about their deepest insecurities. Instead we relied on Google Trends, which measures the popularity of Google search terms,” they wrote.
The authors then selected search terms they believed would be common among men concerned about their respective manhood, such as “erectile dysfunction,” “hair loss,” “how to get girls,” “penis enlargement,” “penis size,” “steroids,” “testosterone” and “Viagra.” Then Knowles and DiMuccio asked 300 random men whether they ever would ever search for those terms and declared that their responses suggest “a valid way to capture fragile masculinity.”
Daily Caller media editor Amber Athey told Fox News that if anyone is lacking masculinity, it’s the type of people who would conduct this study.
“I’ve never met more insecure men than sad leftists who lecture women about what they’re supposed to believe,” Athey said.
Psychotherapist and "Be Fearless" author Jonathan Alpert doesn’t buy into the study either, pointing to a tidbit about fragile masculinity not being associated with support for Mitt Romney in 2012 or support for John McCain in 2008, which the authors feel indicates that “the correlation of fragile masculinity and voting in presidential elections” was stronger in 2016.
“Most people, men and women, would say that John McCain is the height of masculinity – about as manly as you can get. But the study indicates that fragile masculinity was not associated with support for McCain in 2008,” Alpert told Fox News. “He was a war hero who epitomized fearlessness in the face of his captors. What about Trump is more masculine than McCain?”
Alpert also feels that several of the search terms used indicate that a man is simply concerned about health issue and want to improve his life, which has nothing to do with whether or not someone is manly enough to match the authors’ expectation.
The report was published in the Post’s “Monkey Cage” section, which allows political scientists and scholars to contribute to the paper. The takeaway from the study, according to the authors, is that “fragile masculinity is a critical feature of our current politics” but warns readers that the entire article could be nonsense.
“We can’t be entirely sure that fragile masculinity is causing people to vote in a certain way,” Knowles and DiMuccio wrote. “It remains to be seen whether any link between fragile masculinity and voting will persist after Trump exits the national stage.”
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha pointed out that the Post has raised eyebrows with an assortment of over-the-top stories over the past few days.
“When Donald Trump is no longer in office and the media like the Washington Post — who in the span of a few days have called Melania Trump’s Christmas decorations a ‘nightmare forest’ and now a story on Trump appealing to a lack of manhood, which as ridiculous as it is sad — we will see a crash of clicks and views that resembles the 2008 financial crash,” Concha told Fox News.
The Post also admitted it made a blunder on Wednesday by placing a story about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh coaching youth basketball under the “Public Safety” section online.
Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.