Why Conservatives Are Terrified of Single Women
For the presidency…
Yes. And you also see women having children outside of marriage, which is extremely threatening. The fact that reproduction happens in women’s bodies means that if men want to exert some control and ownership over their offspring, they have to find a way to maintain some level of involvement and control over those women’s bodies. And marriage has been very useful for that, historically. It’s been an organizing principle for how men establish themselves as fathers. That is why women having liberated sexual lives is so threatening. It’s why women being able to exert reproductive control is so threatening. It takes an enormous amount of the control away from men.
What does this shift mean for the upcoming election?
Well if unmarried women vote in large numbers, which they might, it could have a big effect. Page Gardner, who I cite in the book, predicted that there could be more unmarried women in the electorate this year than married women — and they vote super left.
A lot of government policies presume that women and men live together in early-married, hetero units. But we don’t live that way anymore, and what we need is a set of policies that better acknowledges and supports the way that especially women are living, because it is new and revolutionary, and women have not benefitted from government support the way that their male counterparts have, historically. So we do need things like paid leave, paid sick days, a higher minimum wage.
Half of minimum-wage earners are single women, and many of them are mothers. Forty-two percent of single mothers live below the poverty line. Conservative politicians tell you that’s because they’re not married. The reality is, it’s because we don’t have any social programs that support the reality that women are no longer always living their adult lives as wives. Women are not benefiting from pay equality in the workplace, their professions are undervalued and underpaid, they do not have any guarantee that they will be paid when they have children, there are no paid sick days. We need government-subsidized early education and day care, because women are increasingly living and working as earners. There is no longer a class of Americans that is reliably there to do that child care work for free.
It’s interesting that a lot of those policies you mentioned are on the table this election in a way they haven’t been before.
Yes they are! And you know who everybody credits for that is Bernie Sanders. But it’s not because of Bernie Sanders. I mean, he’s a great conduit for a lot of it, and he offers the more aspirational vision that gets closer to the Nordic model of a social democracy — which is exactly what we need, by the way. But what we’re really seeing is a fundamental shift in the needs of the electorate, and certainly of the Democratic base, which is female, made up of a lot of voters of color, younger — and that is exactly the generation that I’m talking about living in an entirely new configuration that demands new social policies that better support female independence. This is about women, and it’s about women of color. That is the new socialism.