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It has long been the case that American women are generally more liberal than American men. But among young Americans, this gender gap has widened into an enormous rift: According to recent Gallup polling, there is a 30-point difference between the number of women age 18–30 who self-identify as liberal and the number of men in that demographic who do the same.

That’s largely because young women have gotten much more liberal, while young men have stayed ideologically more consistent—or, according to other analyses, become more conservative and anti-feminist. (Of course, not every person identifies as a man or woman. But gender roles still play a big part in shaping our lives and politics, and in the context of this column, I am focusing mostly on the vast majority of Americans who identify as one or the other.) It’s not happening just here either; the political divide between the sexes is a trend that researchers are observing in some other countries too.

One possible cause of the growing gender gap in the United States: Donald Trump. The former president is a notorious misogynist, and his election in 2016 fueled a massive Women’s March, then the #MeToo movement, a great outpouring of rage coupled with demands for accountability. Women were livid that a man accused of sexual predation many times over was in the White House. They couldn’t take Trump down. But they could certainly start to change the culture of impunity that helped to elevate him.

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This newly invigorated feminist movement spurred, as feminist movements inevitably do, a right-wing backlash. A cohort of profoundly misogynistic male influencers, one of whom is currently facing criminal charges in Romania for rape and human trafficking, rose to prominence and captured the attention of young men the world over. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard after she wrote a #MeToo op-ed in the Washington Post; even though the piece didn’t name him, Depp argued that it was defamatory, and legions of his fans (including plenty of women) engaged in a monthslong campaign of vicious harassment, threats, and vilification of Heard and anyone who might stand up for her. A number of Republicans at the national and state levels began to imitate Trump’s unapologetic sexism, with one congressman calling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch” within earshot of a reporter. (Another tweeted an anime-style video that showed him killing her.) J.D. Vance, now a U.S. senator from Ohio, complained during his campaign, “We’re effectively run in this country, via the Democrats, via our corporate oligarchs, by a bunch of childless cat ladies who are miserable at their own lives and the choices that they’ve made.”

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The message to women was clear: There are a whole lot of men who respond with fury when women speak out.

The conservative attempt to put women back in our collective place has manifested in policy and law too. The Supreme Court, stacked with Trump appointees, overturned Roe v. Wade and stripped the fundamental right to abortion from American women; conservative legislators and activists quickly got to work banning abortion at the state level and are still scheming on a national ban and the myriad ways in which Trump could—should he return to the presidency—use the power of his office to make abortion even more unattainable.

The fact that abortion has proved to be a losing issue for Republicans over and over again has not slowed the anti-abortion movement down. Nor has the GOP counterbalanced it with any targeted outreach to alienated female voters. Even the Republicans who have had to swear up and down that they support in vitro fertilization after the Alabama court effectively banned it in that state have failed to do anything at the national level to protect fertility treatments and are, in some cases, doubling down on these vastly unpopular policies.

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It’s almost as if Republicans don’t want female voters—or as if they believe that overt misogyny will better attract male ones. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida recently made that subtext text when he told Newsmax, “For every Karen we lose, … there’s a Julio and Jamal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement.” In other words, the unhinged machismo of the Republican Party is increasingly attracting Latino and Black men—and so it doesn’t need women.

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This harebrained Masculinity First strategy could actually work well for Democrats in the short term. (At least, if strategists like James Carville—who recently said that there are “too many preachy females” dominating the culture of the Democrats—don’t get in the way.)

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After all, women power American elections: We vote more often than men and volunteer on campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts in huge numbers. Women also tend to have more friends and a wider web of social connections than men do, offering more opportunities for political persuasion. Women have for decades now outnumbered men on college campuses, and college graduates are both more likely to vote and more likely to vote for Democrats specifically. Men without a college degree are some of the lowest-turnout voters in the country. Highly educated women—a group the GOP seems almost intent on alienating—are among the highest.

One thing that does seem to get men to the ballot box: being married. Among adult American men, husbands are the most likely voters; single men are the least likely. But the GOP’s current strategy may be an own goal here too: As fewer Americans are willing to marry across political lines, conservative men may have a harder and harder time finding spouses, and fewer married men may mean fewer Republican voters.

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You’d think Republicans would see the writing on the wall: A base made up of isolated men is not exactly a winning coalition in a more diverse country where the people who actually vote are likely to be married, college-educated, politically and socially engaged, and female.

Democrats must use this to their advantage. Already, angry women have turned up in droves to put Democrats in office. But the party needs more than pro-choice rage to secure a long-term advantage with women. Women need to see that Democrats are a party that works for them: not just to secure them the right to abortion, but to offer basic support in preventing unwanted pregnancies, in sustaining the ones they do want, and in supporting the children that result. Many progressive politicians have pushed for things including paid family leave and universal child care. But so far, these policies—basics in the rest of the developed and wealthy world—feel like faraway dreams for American women.

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And these policies don’t have to come at the expense of what the Democratic Party is doing for working-class Americans. Raising the minimum wage, securing more workplace protections, investing in infrastructure projects—these are policies that benefit women, men, and families. Democrats are getting better about talking about these achievements, but they should talk specifically about how women and men benefit from them.

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In a larger sense, though, the gender gap is not just a possible advantage for Democrats or a problem for the Republican Party. It’s an issue for everyone.

An ideological gap this wide, drawn along the lines of gender, does not portend long-term national stability. Marriage is declining in the U.S. in part, at least anecdotally, because women, who can now ably provide for themselves, are refusing to pair up with misogynistic men who bring little to the table. This dynamic could leave a lot more single men out there—members of a cohort who are more likely than their female counterparts to be unemployed, financially vulnerable, isolated, and lonely, which in turn can fuel anger and even violence. As young women grow more liberal and young men move right, heterosexual marriage may very well continue to decline, perhaps snowballing political, social, and economic divides.

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Conservative commentators see these same trends and a similarly dire future, but many often overtly or implicitly suggest that this is at least somewhat the fault of women for being too selfish or picky. They encourage women to get over ideological divides, to focus on marriage over career, and to marry before procreating—and judge women who wind up attached to troubled or useless men. They generally oppose the feminist social policies and cultural goals that feminists argue benefit men and women alike. In other words, the current gender divide isn’t lost on Republicans, but they’d rather enable deeply dysfunctional male behavior, then blame the women for declining marriage rates than work to bridge the divide (which, to be clear, would mean pressing men to be better and creating the conditions for both sexes to thrive). America’s conservative party keeps pushing the kind of machismo politics that hurt men in the long run and leave the nation more imperiled—and it blames women for not fixing the men the GOP helped to break.

In the short term, the Trumpian right’s rejection of America’s independent daughters in favor of a rhetorical embrace of the country’s disaffected sons may hurt primarily the Republican Party. And it should. But longer term, this growing gender chasm could leave all of us in a less secure, less stable, and less connected nation.

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Men and Women Live on Two Totally Separate Political Planets Right Now. That’s Great News for One Party.

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27.03.2024
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It has long been the case that American women are generally more liberal than American men. But among young Americans, this gender gap has widened into an enormous rift: According to recent Gallup polling, there is a 30-point difference between the number of women age 18–30 who self-identify as liberal and the number of men in that demographic who do the same.

That’s largely because young women have gotten much more liberal, while young men have stayed ideologically more consistent—or, according to other analyses, become more conservative and anti-feminist. (Of course, not every person identifies as a man or woman. But gender roles still play a big part in shaping our lives and politics, and in the context of this column, I am focusing mostly on the vast majority of Americans who identify as one or the other.) It’s not happening just here either; the political divide between the sexes is a trend that researchers are observing in some other countries too.

One possible cause of the growing gender gap in the United States: Donald Trump. The former president is a notorious misogynist, and his election in 2016 fueled a massive Women’s March, then the #MeToo movement, a great outpouring of rage coupled with demands for accountability. Women were livid that a man accused of sexual predation many times over was in the White House. They couldn’t take Trump down. But they could certainly start to change the culture of impunity that helped to elevate him.

Advertisement

This newly invigorated feminist movement spurred, as feminist movements inevitably do, a right-wing backlash. A cohort of profoundly misogynistic male influencers, one of whom is currently facing criminal charges in Romania for rape and human trafficking, rose to prominence and captured the attention of young men the world over. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard after she wrote a #MeToo op-ed in the Washington Post; even though the piece didn’t name him, Depp argued that it was defamatory, and legions of his fans (including plenty of women) engaged in a monthslong campaign of vicious harassment, threats, and vilification of Heard and anyone who might stand up for her. A number of Republicans at the national and state levels began to imitate Trump’s unapologetic sexism, with one congressman calling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch” within earshot of a reporter. (Another tweeted an anime-style video that showed him killing her.) J.D. Vance, now a U.S. senator from Ohio, complained during his campaign, “We’re effectively run in this country, via the........

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