To the surprise of no one, study links toxic masculinity with supporting Donald Trump
An entirely predictable study has found that Americans who support traditional stereotypes of toxic masculinity are more likely to back Donald Trump.
A team from Penn State University found a correlation between belief in “hegemonic masculinity” – the notion that men should be strong, tough and dominant – and voting for Trump.
Of the 2,007 participants the researchers recruited, those who held outdated ideals of manhood were more likely to vote for and have positive feelings about Trump. This held true even when they controlled for political party, gender and how much the participants trusted the government.
“The pervasiveness of hegemonic masculinity exists because we do not always know that our attitudes and behaviours are contributing to it,” said doctoral candidate Nathaniel Schermerhorn, who was involved in the study.
“The success of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign shows that even if we, as a society, have made progress in saying that discrimination and prejudice is undesirable, we have not, as a society, fully interrogated the systematic ways in which those prejudices are upheld.”
Professor Theresa Vescio added that while Trump’s ideals of masculinity may resonate with voters, few are actually able to embody them.
“In contemporary America, idealised forms of masculinity suggest that men should be high in power, status and dominance, while being physically, mentally and emotionally tough,” she said.
“But this is an incredibly high standard that few can achieve or maintain. Therefore, this is an idea that many men strive to achieve, but few men actually exhibit.”
Meanwhile, a 2020 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that homophobic men who exhibit traits of toxic masculinity are more likely to be prone to violent bullying, sexual harassment and mental illness.
So-called “macho” men with aggressive and anti-LGBT+ attitudes are twice as likely to be at risk of depression or suicidal tendencies, and up to five times more likely to engage in sexual harassment and online, physical or verbal bullying, the study showed.