After reader backlash, CNN axes article about how hormones affect women’s votes
Following a firestorm of negative feedback, CNN hastily deleted from its website late Wednesday virtually all mention of a study about the effect hormones have on women’s political preferences.
“A post previously published in this space regarding a study about how hormones may influence voting choices has been removed,” a message posted on the website at 8:15 p.m. read. “After further review it was determined that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN. We thank you for your comments and feedback.”
The study, authored by researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio, used an “Internet survey of 275 women who were not taking hormonal contraception and had regular menstrual cycles” to mine its data.
The results showed that ovulating single women tend to support President Barack Obama because, in the words of lead researcher Kristina Durante, they feel “sexier.”
Heightened sexual feelings, according to Durante, lead women to support politicians who advocate for easy access to birth control and abortion. CNN pointed readers to an article it published about a separate Durante study — which is still available on CNN’s website — that showed women also buy “sexier clothes” when ovulating.
Married or otherwise committed women, by contrast, favored Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. (RELATED: Find out how the election can impact your erection)
“I think they’re overcompensating for the increase of the hormones motivating them to have sex with other men,” Durante explained in the article. “It’s a way of convincing themselves that they’re not the type to give in to such sexual urges.”
The article included this warning in its third paragraph: “Please continue reading with caution. Although the study will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science, several political scientists who read the study have expressed skepticism about its conclusions.”
Nevertheless, the story immediately caught fire, with more than 7,000 recommendations on Facebook and more than 2,100 mentions on Twitter.
It also set CNN’s comments section ablaze, with 287 comments posted on the story’s page. Many readers asked whether both Durante and Landau had resorted to sexism to attract Internet buzz.
“What an insulting question,” wrote one female commenter. “As if my ability to make decisions depends on my cycle!”
“I think I am done with CNN,” agreed another woman.
“Yes. We all know women are irrational creatures, slaves to their hormones, with no agency of their own,” wrote CNN.com reader Joel.
Elizabeth Landau, who wrote the story CNN pulled, was defiant on Twitter in the hours after her piece disappeared from the network’s website.
“For the record, I was reporting on a study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal & included skepticism. I did not conduct the study,” she tweeted.
Although Landau’s story is no longer available at CNN.com, other news outlets who syndicated the article are still providing it to their readers.
In the interest of gender equality, The Daily Caller has confirmed that some academics also believe the political season can impact men’s hormones.
In fact, according to a study published by Duke University, the outcome of the election can also determine the outcome of men’s erections.
“Political elections are dominance competitions,” a team of Duke University researchers wrote in the aftermath of the 2008 election. “When men win a dominance competition, their testosterone levels rise or remain stable to resist a circadian decline; and when they lose, their testosterone levels fall.”
“183 participants provided multiple saliva samples before and after the winner was announced on election night. The results show that male Barack Obama voters (winners) had stable post-outcome testosterone levels, whereas testosterone levels dropped in male John McCain and Robert Barr voters (losers).”
As for women — the ones CNN’s Landau reported are controlled by hormones in the run-up to Election Day — “There were no significant effects in female voters.”
Follow Gregg on Twitter