The Left Still Doesn’t Understand Women

Mostly because it doesn’t want to.

I have seen Dystopia and it looks like this: the year is 2075 and we are still talking about why Hillary Clinton lost.

The release of Clinton’s new book, What Happened, has stimulated a flurry of fresh musings on a topic that was stale a long time ago: why didn’t Hillary dominate the field with women voters, since she is, after all, a woman and a feminist?

As usual, whenever dealing with a problem involving dysfunctional women, the answer is to blame the men. This is the line that Lucia Graves took in The Guardian this week as she dissected the voting habits of straight, white, married female voters and discovered an appalling truth:

Conventional wisdom says women will show solidarity at the polls. But new research shows that for white women, having a husband trumped the sisterhood.

Graves’ article set out to prove that Clinton’s remarks in a 2016 campaign interview were correct:

[Women] will be under tremendous pressure — and I’m talking principally about white women. They will be under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for ‘the girl’.

In a nutshell, Graves’ argument is that the correlation of white, married women’s voting choices with that of their husbands’ implies that their votes were the result of pressure to vote “the man’s way.” Drawing her data from a study performed in April on women’s voting patterns, Graves triumphantly concludes:

The key distinction, according to Kretschmer’s research, is that single women tend to cast votes with the fate of all women in mind, while women married to men vote on behalf of their husbands and families.

The conclusion that married women with families will be more likely to vote in the interest of their family as a whole rather than in the interest of women in general (whatever that means) should not really need a study to back it up. Put another way, married women are more likely to vote in the interest of married women than in the interest of single women. Once a woman or a man begins a family, their interests no longer exist within a tribal vacuum, but are rather tied up in the collective interest of their family as a whole. It would be nonsensical to expect that their voting would not reflect this.

And yet, when confronted with data that predictably reveals this eminently reasonable truth, left-leaning political analysts, instead of asking themselves how the Democrat party can better appeal to the interests of American families, throw up their hands and conclude that the problem is that men won’t let their wives “vote for the girl.”

This, Graves explains, accounts for the troubling phenomenon that,

despite the fact that the Democratic party is generally considered to have policies more favorable to women, Republicans have traditionally won the votes of married women.

Clearly, their votes show that married women who vote Republican do not agree that the Democratic party’s policies are more favorable to women — at least, not to women like them. But unfortunately, women like them do not count for much in the world of Hillary Clinton.

If you are a mom who works part-time or stays home with your children while your husband earns all or most of the household income, you are not a demographic to be courted, but a problem to be solved. The Left cannot expect to be able to scorn certain women’s life choices, ignore their economic interests and social values, and be rewarded with their vote simply because they fall into the vast demographic that is American women. It’s obvious that when Graves, or Clinton, talk about policies that are “favorable to women,” they mean policies that are favorable to breadwinner women, while conveniently ignoring, for instance, that more than half of U.S. moms polled answered that their preference would be to stay home with their minor children rather than work outside the home if they could.

The other problem with how the data has been interpreted is that it ignores the possibility that perhaps the author has the cause and effect backwards. Quoting Kretschmer, Graves writes:

We know white men are more conservative, so when you’re married to a white man you get a lot more pressure to vote consistent with that ideology.

It seems more logical to assume that right-leaning women often marry right-leaning men, rather than that women married to conservative men vote based on pressure from their husbands. People tend to choose partners whose views align with theirs (a trend which the Left heartily encouraged with the countless op-eds in 2016 opining that women should give a hard pass on men who voted for Trump). It should therefore not be surprising that married women frequently vote the same way as their husbands, and if we weren’t so convinced in our minds that women are weaklings and victims and men their domineering overlords, we might just as well ask if perhaps men’s votes are influenced by their wives as the other way around.

The idea that women ought to vote for a Democrat and a woman by default, and that any divergence from this course of action is indicative of some kind of inability to decide anything for ourselves, is profoundly insulting, not just to conservative women, but to women in general. This premise in itself should provide any thinking person with at least a partial answer to the question, “Why did Hillary Clinton lose out with so many women in 2016?”

Women are tired of not being taken at our word. We are tired of having our autonomy constantly brought into question in ways that the Left would never do to men. We are tired of being patronized by people who pretend to be bewildered at the idea that half of America’s population might not all think, act, or vote alike. We are tired of not being believed that our opinions are actually our own simply because we are women.

The paint-by-numbers approach to politics is tempting. In reference to Ada, the program that the Clinton campaign relied on to reduce the electorate to a complicated set of algorithms, Leslie Loftis wrote last year:

We want a formula, because with a formula one only needs to plug in the required elements, and voila, we know the result …
… But life and humans don’t reduce to formulas all that well.

Perhaps instead of expecting to be able to “get the woman vote” with a few strategic policy position and a candidate of the right gender, the Democrat party should stop comforting themselves with “the patriarchy made them do it” narratives about women voters and face the more complicated reality that there is no magic bullet when it comes to getting women’s votes. They have to be earned one at a time, just like men’s,.

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