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Men aren’t drifting Right — but women are moving Left

Are the gender wars what we think they are? Credit: Getty

April 3, 2024 - 4:20pm

A new article in the Times, drawing on Financial Times and Economist data, finds a growing youth political gender gap. I beat them to it in these pages, but no hard feelings: it’s a trend that deserves attention. And while Andrew Tate isn’t exactly the best role model, today’s young men haven’t moved Right. Instead, the story is about young women in Western countries moving in the opposite direction, specifically because they have become more socially progressive.

The timing of the new female progressivism, taking off in the early-to-mid 2010s, coincides with the rise of the social media-smartphone nexus, when apps such as Instagram and TikTok soared in popularity. This has been associated, as Jonathan Haidt notes in his recent book, The Anxious Generation, with a surge in mental illness — especially among young women. At the same time, there has been a jump in the share of young people — again, more female than male — identifying as LGBT. Finally, this marched in lockstep with a veritable explosion of campus no-platformings and campaigns to fire professors for speech deemed offensive to progressive sensibilities.

What Matthew Yglesias and Zach Goldberg term the “Great Awokening” emerged during the same period, with the share of white liberal Americans describing racism as a major problem rising from 35% in 2011 to over 80% by 2020, while remaining flat among white conservatives. As radicalisation took place on the Left, the Right remained broadly stable. Goldberg shows that increased public concern tracked growing media attention to “Critical Social Justice” themes, first on trendsetting sites such as Buzzfeed, then in mainstream outlets such as the New York Times. All this took place simultaneously in Britain and other Western societies.

This “Awokening” is central to the gender gap now widely observed. To show why, I have examined two datasets. The first is the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) 2024 campus free speech survey (conducted in 2023), which polls a massive 55,000 students, mainly in top-200 US universities.

The chart below shows that the 31,000 female students in the survey (nearly all aged 18-22) lean 55% liberal to just 15% conservative, whereas the 22,000 male students lean liberal by 40% to 25%. A possible reason for the gap is that 32% of female students are lesbian, bisexual or queer, while just 20% of males are. If we focus only on heterosexual students, women go from 55-15 to 46-20, narrowing the gender gap somewhat.

Source: FIRE 2024 Free Speech Rankings data.

Yet what eliminates the gap entirely is factoring in attitudes to no-platforming speakers who offend disadvantaged groups. A belief system which demands the sacralisation of historically marginalised identity groups inclines people to prioritise group protection from offensive words over a person’s right to free speech.

Nevertheless, as the chart above shows, there are over twice as many male students who would tolerate such speech as female (6600 vs 2900). Narrowing only to free speech supporters who are heterosexual, there is no longer a statistically significant gender gap (women lean Right 45-22 vs. men at 46-20).

Source: YouGov/Policy Exchange

We find something similar in the UK. Data in the chart above comes from a 2022 YouGov survey I conducted of 1,500 British 18-20-year-olds, including both students and non-students. Women tilt left 51-9, while men do so 46-22. Women are more likely to be gay or bisexual than men. If we narrow to heterosexual opinion the gap shrinks a bit, as it did in the FIRE data.

Yet the big change comes when I focus only on those who oppose political correctness (PC). There are three times as many men as women in this category, but among anti-PC youth there is no statistically significant ideological gender gap. Women are also far more likely than men to favour transwomen entering women’s spaces, sports and shelters.

It is clear, then, that the “Great Awokening”, not women’s interests, explains the political gender gap.


Eric Kaufmann is Professor of Politics at the University of Buckingham and author of Taboo: How Making Race Sacred Led to a Cultural Revolution (Forum Press, 4 July).

epkaufm

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R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

Is it really so shocking that young women, who are generally prone to all manner of trends, delusions and social contagions, would pretend to believe whatever the socially dominant ideological model calls for. Historically many of the most diehard communists and national socialists were women, due presumably to the propensity for women to have agreeableness personality trait.
If and when the pendulum swings back, many women as they grow up will flip a switch in their brains and pretend like they had never fallen hook, line and sinker for Tumblr nonsense for years at a time.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Upvote from me for managing to associate National Socialism with agreeableness.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

My understanding is that in psychology, agreeableness as a trait means reluctance to dissent (from the in-group).

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Thanks Judy, I know. It was a weak attempt at humour.

Not sure if this is the reason, but group identification, conformity and trend following do seem to be more prevalent on the distaff side.

Robbie K
Robbie K
2 months ago

Interesting piece. I guess back in the day it was feminism that young women got all shouty about at this age.
Maybe in time they’ll come round to supporting middle aged straight white males.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Financially?

Arthur King
Arthur King
2 months ago

Women rank high in empathy but also outgroup malevolence. This leads to a toxic combination especially when we also account for the higher rates of personality disorders in women. If you anger these kinds of women they want to just not beat you, but liquidate you.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Women rank high in empathy but also outgroup malevolence

I suspect you may be right – but any research to back this up?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

I don’t know of any research, but I suspect most women could refer to ‘lived experience’ (eye roll) re ‘outgroup malevolence’. Just one example from my childhood: a friend came to stay with us while her parents sorted out their marital problems. During this time she attended my school so was new to my peers. One day I asked whether we could join a group of girls playing in the school yard. After a huddle of whispering the girls said I could join but not my friend. There was absolutely no reason other than she was a stranger. I wonder whether boys kicking around a ball would have done the same? (I refused the invite and walked away, btw.)

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Boys are less cliquish I think, though by no means perfect. Some of the behaviour of both female children and adult women is quite shocking to men. Just the vehemence of it. We’re a bit nonplussed by it. And, of course, the biggest out group where women are concerned is men. Which probably explains some of the vehement prejudice exhibited by feminists against men.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

A bit of digging found this:

When analyzing the intensity of benevolence (or malevolence) we find that overall women exhibit more malevolence than men, but there is no gender difference for benevolence. Furthermore, women exhibit a higher level of in-group favoritism than men.

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/ger-2019-0119/html?lang=en

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago

“A possible reason for the gap is that 32% of female students are lesbian, bisexual or queer,“
I can’t believe I’m reading this.

Robbie K
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

11.4% in the UK according to a 2022 ONS survey of 16-24 year olds, which falls off a cliff when aged 25. The 32% US figure seems ridiculously high.

J Hop
J Hop
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s trendy. Teens are calling themselves lesbians while exclusively dating boys. It’s insane. I have two in this age range.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

My sons say it is impossible to get anyone over the age of 30 to understand how toxic the world of the under 25s is

J Hop
J Hop
2 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Being a Gen X’er I find this head scratching as well. Half of my teenage daughter’s girlfriends call themselves bi or lesbian… while exclusively dating boys. Hmm. I told them they should just do what we did. Kiss girls in college to get the boys all excited and then settle down with a man and call it a day.

Robbie K
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

My ex girlfriend was a lesbian at this age, when I asked her about what she used to get up to it turns out to be not very much – I asked her to make some stuff up.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Why would any man would date a woman who had ever claimed to be a lesbian?
It’s one of the dating red flags.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Yes – if she really was, that might present problems in future. If she really wasn’t, you’d have to wonder about her capacity for self awareness and vulnerability to peer pressure. In some cases it might suggest some sort of personality disorder.

So that’s another 30% out of the dating pool of suitable women 🙂

Robbie K
Robbie K
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Oh she was crazy, no doubt about that. Fun for a while though.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Yes – I thought your post was amusing. In the horrible modern terminology – for recreational use only!

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

They are called LUGs. Lesbian until graduation.

To be honest it’s not very new. In the late seventies lots of feminist leaning students adopted lesbian (ie masculine) dress codes while actually not being lesbian in any serious way.

We’ve been stuck in a cultural groove since the sixties with young people enacting performative rebelliousness which shocks no one. Rebelliousness against a long dead, and now wholly imaginary establishment. Meanwhile the real establishment cheers them on.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

Not being personal here: but if in reality they are slightly dull middle class girls of average intelligence, few passionate interests and little to distinguish them from anyone else their age – what choice do they have.

No one wants to be straight or square or boring. So if you are, you have to pretend you are not. Drinking heavily, taking class A drugs, or joining terrorist groups have their risks. Describing yourself as « queer » is a bit of a short cut to being special and getting attention.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

I think you may have hit at least one nail on the head there

Kelly Madden
Kelly Madden
2 months ago
Reply to  J Hop

“I’m with her him them”?

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago

The Progressive Architecture was built by European males mostly from France and Germany. It was a fusion of Romanticism and Enlightenment values. It sounded like the rationalism of the Scottish Enlightenment but operated emotionally because Romantic movements co-opt or “reimagine” words to achieve “Just Ends.”

In other words, they’re Utilitarian and not based on just standards of fairness. They’re based on achieving “Just Outcomes” and the definition of Just Outcomes gets determined by who is in Power. Romantics in Power are the “Experts” that interpret the definition of general concepts like “Equality” or “Equity” or whether something is “Sustainable.”

To achieve Power, the Romantics engage in emotional Conflict Theory to divide groups into Powerful and Powerless binaries. Those who claim to lead the Powerless do so by claiming the Rhetorical Moral High Ground by using enlightened-sounding terminology to persuade the masses.

Its not really accurate to blame females when the Ideological Architecture was created by Men that were using their credentialled status as “Academics” in European Society to pin “inequality” on all other Men that didn’t ascribe to Romantic Idealism. But it’s not accurate to blame Men either. The problem is that the ideology itself is inherently conflict driven while claiming to be a giant “cooperative.”

Ian_S
Ian_S
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I hadn’t come across that argument before. I wonder if it’s strong or would it break under pressure?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Women are also far more likely than men to favour transwomen entering women’s spaces, sports and shelters.
all while carping about toxic males, the patriarchy, and assorted other hobgoblins. Feminism went from cause to business to racket and is now at the stage of self-parody.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

But feminists are leading the cause against transwomen entering women’s spaces and etc. Where is the truth in all of this? Is this saying that these women are idiots? Hmmm. Maybe so.

Michael Lipkin
Michael Lipkin
2 months ago

It is strange because these young women are acting against their self interests. One possibility is that it is a sort of passivity or niceness signalling, a sort of Stockholm syndrome.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
2 months ago

Great Derangment to Great Awokening. What dangers lie ahead for a society determined to thrust all these vulnerable ultra progressive women into the workforce, deny them adequate childcare, then act all surprised when they vanish wfh and our productivity, especially in the public sector, tanks?

William Brand
William Brand
2 months ago

The whole sexual identity problem comes down to female fad susceptibility. Its faddish to be trans so girls try to change sex. In addition, men need to be trained to stimulate the c******s in sex.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

What a strangely mixed post!
Are you suggesting that such stimulation will reduce female susceptibility to fads?!

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago

Broads are fools

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Upvote from me for resurrecting « Broads ».

laura m
laura m
2 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

you need to look up the origin of the term you are misusing.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

I thought it meant broad in the hips. Is that not right?

El Uro
El Uro
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

I did not misuse this term!

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 months ago

I concur that it’s not really a surprise based on anecdotal and circumstantial evidence over the years, but it’s interesting to consider the factual evidence all the same.
I don’t have a dog in the fight of the culture wars. I’ve been a lifelong Independent of all political parties and will remain so.
My sense of unease is largely related to the toxic decay within society that we’re witnessing and, especially, its impact on historical institutions that act as the glue that holds society together.
These institutions historically represented a compact of trust – among all individuals in said society – that, above all, fairness would be adhered to. Specifically, that these institutions’ foundations would be established and remain upon the rock of logic and rationality – ‘without fear or favor’ as they say – rather than be moved with the shifting sands of emotional empathy. Emotional empathy that irrationally and arbitrarily favors one person or group above another depending on activist mobs’ fad du jour. The founding institutions in the US are falling apart due to our current societal toxic decay.
But who in academia has the guts to put a definitive name to this new Era?

Ian_S
Ian_S
2 months ago

Since shrill progressive-left women cannot compromise their ideology, wearing it like iron knickers, they’ve got a restricted dating pool. Although that pool is somewhat widened by becoming bi and so on, it’s obviously happy times for the vibrator industry.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 months ago

I read The Times article referenced above. It blames the divergence almost entirely on men shifting to the right… which is the exact opposite of what the data shows and what this writer highlights: that the divergence in views is because women have moved to the left while men have hardly moved at all.
Very obvious bias by The Times.

R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I used to buy physical copies of the Times and now I wouldn’t even use it as kindle. A once great paper reduced to FT levels of idiocy.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

The source of the bias (or, opinion contradicting the data) in the article Alice Evans, a senior lecturer in the social science of development at King’s College London. The Times quotes her in several places and each time she refers to men becoming more right wing… which is not what the data reports at all.
What The Times did makes no sense.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago

Women are also far more likely than men to favour transwomen entering women’s spaces, sports and shelters.

No surprise to me, but completely at odds with the women/feminists v trans narrative that many are pedalling.

D Glover
D Glover
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

So women like J K Rowling and Sharon Davies are outliers?

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

I would say absolutely yes. And to some degree it is generational.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It is definitely generational. The younger generation of women are very much more likely to be supportive of trans rights and you have to say that it seems that the likes of JK Rowling and Julie Bindle are viscerally appalled by the thought that a man can become a woman and are scratching round for arguments that support their position and disguises their their real motivation.

Terry M
Terry M
2 months ago

Younger women are much more supportive until it impacts them directly. Women are the professionals when it comes to virtue signalling, and that is what is going on. Agreeing with having a guy in female garb enter the women’s room is easy until he starts swinging his dong around, farts, and makes untoward remarks in front of their daughters. Young women are the worst at anticipating unplanned consequences.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

Apparently, according to my sons woman of their age really do believe and but into the trans stuff.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago

I think JBs real antipathy is towards men, and always has been. It is qua men that she hates trans women. And she lacks insight into her own motivation. JK Rowling I’m not so sure. Freedom of speech does seem to be a key part of her concern.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

JKR would have gone out on a limb if had not been the trans issue which is what truly motivates her. I think she is a fellow traveller of JB

laura m
laura m
2 months ago

A man can not become a woman. All rational people understand this.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

I do but I was talking about feminists

laura m
laura m
2 months ago

4th wave feminists are the TERFs reporting on the attack on women by Gender Ideology. In the US think Reduxx online journal and Kara Dansky to name two. Also, 1st wave or equality Fems, think Camilia Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, have been outspoken against gender ideology for decades. The young women lost to ideological capture are not necessarily feminist, they are clueless virtual signalling fashionistas.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

I think you have your waves mixed up.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

It maybe it is completely at odds with the women/feminists v trans narrative but is the logical conclusion of feminism

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago

I think we largely agree. Without the feminist movement there would be no trans movement. It was feminism that unhooked gender from sex.

laura m
laura m
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Not so fast. Queer theory is not rooted in feminism.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

But it took a lead from it

laura m
laura m
2 months ago

No, listen or read the early feminists scholar’s critiques of Butler.
Feminism is not the problem. No limits or principles guiding social norms is. Equality Feminism is beautiful, good and true.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

I meant they are using the feminist playbook
“No limits or principles guiding social norms is (the problem)” Now I always thought limits or principles guiding social norms was a key feature of the patriarchy
“Equality Feminism is beautiful, good and true” is a meaningless slogan

laura m
laura m
2 months ago

There is no feminist playbook, nor did I repeat a slogan, I made a statement, Equality for Women is good, true and beautiful idea.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

I can’t decide if you are very young, very naive, or just ill-informed.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago
Reply to  laura m

Not solely perhaps, but to a very significant degree yes it is.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago

It is notable that this left/right classification is all about woke, and not at all about class – or social and economic inequality if you prefer. The latter seems to have disappeared off the radar.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago

It’s not just women, but the definitions of what constitutes left and right that have drifted.

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
2 months ago

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us sinners.

David Morley
David Morley
2 months ago

Assuming LJC has a sense of humour, I doubt he thinks of us as sinners any more. Clowns perhaps. And he may be less inclined to mercy. Saving people from their own sins is one thing. Trying to save them from their own stupidity sounds like a fools errand.

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
2 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Read your Bible. Of course we’re still sinners. A clown who sins is a sinner.
Christ hasn’t given up on us yet. We have time to repent. And the whole point is that He will redeem us from our own stupidity and allow us, in His infinite goodness, to participate in the divine nature. There is hope yet.

Will K
Will K
2 months ago

Where in the Bible does it say that God forgives stupidity?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 months ago

I live in a small New England town. Our presidential primary was this past week and I was a ‘greeter’ at the polls directing voters to either a Republican or Democrat door. It was interesting to observe that Republican voters were largely men with a handful of women and they were clearly working class as they voted before work or early. Most women walked through the ‘Democrats door’ and the men that did usually accompanied women; the men were also more ‘coiffed’, ie not blue collar, better dressed, neat haircuts. The very few young that arrived, after all it was a primary, went through the Democrat door. I talked to a male Republican voter, a local country lawyer who said his wife was a Democrat as were most of his friends’ wives. He said these women watch MSNBC and CNN continually and laughingly added that the men gather at the (gun) shooting range to get away from their wives. All in a days’ polling work…

Kelly Madden
Kelly Madden
2 months ago

Shall we settle this outside? No?

Terry M
Terry M
2 months ago

At the same time, there has been a jump in the share of young people — again, more female than male — identifying as LGBT. Finally, this marched in lockstep with a veritable explosion of campus no-platformings and campaigns to fire professors for speech deemed offensive to progressive sensibilities.
Simply the feminization of society. They want everyone to believe and behave like teenage girls.
Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
2 months ago

I think young women declaring themselves to be “lesbian, bisexual or queer” is most analogous to women burning their bras back in the sixties. There was no realistic implication that they would never wear a bra again, and you can bet they weren’t burning their favorite bras. They were making a point.
So the “32 percent” of female US students who say they are doesn’t mean that they actually practice lesbianism, bisexuality or queerness. At least not on any regular basis.
But what do I know?

laura m
laura m
2 months ago

Nah, put on a bra and panty hose and find out why social norms changed so fast in the ’60s.
Also, clothing for young women become more gender neutral so we could be more adventurous outdoors.

Tom More
Tom More
2 months ago

Women and men are only intelligible in reference to the complementary sex and their designed coherence. There is no such thing as “gender” and we are not “cis” social constructs as the Marxists have everything so unintelligently.

Michael Lipkin
Michael Lipkin
2 months ago

‘victims’ such as ‘transgender’ people and other ‘vulnerables’ are proxy babies.
Human nature doesn’t change but institutions can turn it to good or bad effect. The institutions of capitalism have (mostly) turned self interest and greed into positives.
Something similar needs to be done here. Maybe the government should institute conscription for young women into a force for overseas humanitarian work?
Any ideas?

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
2 months ago

Great insights!