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Women and the future of politics


It should probably come as little surprise that a majority of American millennial and Generation Z women identify as liberal.
A Gallup Poll released earlier this month indicated the ideological gap between men and women across various generations has increased over the past few years, and that young women today are much more liberal than young men.
Some of their findings:
– Women aged 18 to 29 are now 15 percentage points more likely to identify as liberal than men of the same age group.
– Young men are slightly more likely to identify as conservative (29%) than liberal (25%), with moderate (44%) as the largest share — numbers that have been consistent over the past quarter of a century.
– More young women identify as liberal (40%) than moderate (37%).
– Women aged 18 to 29 are 13 percentage points more likely to identify as “pro-choice” than men, according to a Harvard poll released last year.

Such results don't surprise me. For a plethora of reasons, the past few years have been emotionally fraught for women across all ages. In just over the past few years we've seen the rise of the #MeToo movement, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the implementation of draconian anti-abortion laws in Republican-controlled states across the country. These have all had a alarmingly detrimental and chilling effect on many women.
Abortion and reproductive rights are not the sole issues that account for such effects. Many more women than men are enrolled in postsecondary education. The number of women attending college far outpaces that of men. This is a trend that has been occurring for decades. Meanwhile, the number of men enrolled in higher education institutions has consistently decreased. Currently, the ratio of women to men in college enrollment stands at roughly 60 to 40, and the gap is widening. Americans with college degrees tend to gravitate more toward left-wing politics compared to Americans without such degrees.
Until a few decades ago, sexual politics was primarily discussed underground or in restricted circles with like-minded individuals. Today, with more tolerance among Americans, and with the rise of liberalism among younger millennials and Gen Z, there has been a notable increase in young people openly and publicly identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. In a recent survey, 56% of young women reported they were exclusively attracted to men, whereas 75% of young men said they were exclusively attracted to women. Prior and current research suggests LGBTQ Americans of all ages tend toward liberalism.
Unlike some of their aunts, grandmothers, and older female relatives, younger American women do not have to rely on a man’s income for their livelihood. Many young women make as much, if not more, than their male cohorts, so the need to have a husband or male provider for their economic security is less of a reality. Several longer-term trends have influenced young women’s liberalization as well. For example, the share of women aged 18 to 29 who are married has fallen by half in 20 years, from 31% in 2000 to 15% in 2021, according to the National Opinion Research Center. In a nation with a 50% divorce rate, it makes sense that people would consider marriage with some trepidation.
American women, from little girls to teenagers to adults, have always had to confront multiple dilemmas in their lives. Like with many non-white groups (although women of color are members of both categories), for one or two steps forward, American women have encountered a step or two backward. However, given the increasing opportunities for women in politics, corporate America, higher education, and other arenas that were largely off-limits decades earlier, the future for the current generation looks much more positive.

Copyright 2024 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate