A RECENT study by The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion indicates that evangelical men living predominantly in Bible belt states in America believe that they need larger penises to fulfil their Christian masculinity.
According to a PsyPost report last week, the study – entitled “Linking Evangelical Subculture and Phallically Insecure Masculinity Using Google Searches for Male Enhancement” – found that:
Though there have been dissenting voices and countermovements within mainstream evangelicalism, writings of prominent evangelical thought leaders have for decades relied on phallic symbolism and even explicit phallic references to either valorize physical strength or, more often in the negative, castigate Christian men for their lack of ‘manliness.’
Scholars argue this effort to equate Christian masculinity with (phallocentric) size and strength has grown progressively more radicalized as evangelical men internalize these values, increasingly perceive threats to their patriarchal hegemony, and begin to worry they cannot live up to the standards of the strong, dangerous, virile man …
We theorize that the largely patriarchal –and increasingly embattled and radicalized – evangelical subculture explicitly or implicitly promotes equating masculinity with physical strength and size, leaving men influenced by that subculture (whether evangelical or not) to seek solutions for their privately felt failure to measure up.
The study itself says:
We theorized that the evangelical subculture as a ‘moral community’ simultaneously fosters within men (1) a subjective valuation of phallic strength and size and (2) a privately felt recognition that they do not measure up to that standard.
Drawing on Google Trends searches for male enhancement as an indicator of both phenomena, and building on insights from the moral communities framework, our findings affirm that a greater preponderance of evangelicals in a state predicted more frequent searches for terms like ‘male enhancement,’ ‘male enhancement pills,’ ‘Extenze,’ ‘ExtenZe,’ ‘penis pump’ and ‘penis enlargement,’ even after accounting for other factors that predict such searches such as gender, political conservatism, lower education, unmarried status, and racial identity.
Our findings provide important insight beyond the potential psychic damage that could be associated with subcultural views that equate masculine worth with physical size and strength either centering on or symbolized by the penis. At minimum, a higher prevalence of searches for male enhancement terms like ‘penis enlargement’ and ‘male enhancement’ (though these searches could also be performed by women) mean men in that region not only feel that having a larger penis is important, but that their penis does not measure up.
This is perhaps the very archetype of masculine insecurity. The fact that evangelical thought leaders have so frequently challenged the masculinity of their followers by appealing to their (symbolic lack of) a large‐enough penis, suggests that they helped contribute to this phallic insecurity so clearly prevalent in states where evangelicals predominate.
Indeed, even if some of these searches were performed by women in these states, that would provide additional support for the idea that such a subculture of phallocentric masculinity has so pervaded the region that even women feel the need to remedy their male partner’s or spouse’s perceived physical shortcomings.