Democratic women have a complaining problem, a nonpartisan polling firm recently found. Compared to Republican women, Democratic women are twice as likely to complain about feeling unequal, according to a new poll reported on by The New York Times. The poll, conducted by PerryUndem, “surveyed 1,302 adults in December via the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak panel.”
In total, 50 percent of Democratic women said they feel discriminated against, compared to 26 percent of Republican women who feel similarly. Of course, pollsters didn’t ask participants to guess how often they complain about this. Instead, pollsters asked female respondents to share whether they “have felt unequal in American society because of aspects of their identity.”
Key word: “Felt.” Pollsters did not quantify—or legitimize—actual experiences of inequality or discrimination. They simply asked women if they felt unequal.
The difference in responses raises the question: Do Democratic women really experience twice as much discrimination as Republican women do? It’s possible. But more likely is that Democratic women are twice as likely as Republican women to perceive that they’re being discriminated against, and hence, complain about it. Yet, as we learned in the 2016 presidential election cycle, liberal perception doesn’t always translate into reality.
The State of Female Suffering
From abortion and birth control to paid maternity leave and worker’s rights, the Left has no shortage of grievances. Their complaints, in fact, feel so urgent that more than an estimated one million people rallied over the weekend at marches around the world, demanding equal rights for women.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Women, particularly on the Left, are constantly told by their political leaders and left-leaning media that they’re discriminated against. There’s no disputing these women feel slighted, and to that, they have every right. At least some of these women have likely experienced real instances of discrimination, as well. But who gets to decide what makes women feel unequal? Women, of course.
According to The New York Times, a majority of those PerryUndem surveyed cited the following issues as tilting the playing field against them: “Unequal responsibilities caring for children; violence against women; a focus on women’s beauty and sexuality; the lack of women in political office and positions of power; sexism; racism; equal opportunities in the workplace; and access to birth control and abortion.”
Other reasons cited include “catcalls on the street, disrespect at work and unbalanced responsibilities at home.” For starters, catcalling is rude, but are you really going to let an unwelcome compliment make you feel like a lesser being?
On a more serious note, if you base equality on your ability to get free birth control, or your disappointment over the latest photoshopped cover of Vogue, or the fact that because of biology (darn it!) you may have to put in a little more work to raise children, then it’s no wonder you feel discriminated against.
This poll also suggests that Republican and Democratic women define equality quite differently. Both Republicans and Democrats, after all, face the same realities surrounding birth control, abortion, women in political office, equality in the work place, and so forth. Yet Republican women are statistically far less likely than their Democratic counterparts to let these issues define whether they consider themselves equals in American society. Perhaps that’s why they’re so happy.
The Happiness Factor
According to Arthur Brooks, writing also in The New York Times, scholars on the Left and Right all agree that conservative Republicans are generally much happier than liberals—68 percent more happy, to be precise. To explain the discrepancy, Brooks cited Jamie Napier and John Jost, two psychologists from New York University who argued: “Liberals may be less happy than conservatives because they are less ideologically prepared to rationalize (or explain away) the degree of inequality in society.”
Translation: Liberals are more sensitive to perceived inequalities in society and, according to PerryUndem, they’re more likely to allow these perceived inequalities to define them. One could argue that it’s a good thing to be hyper-sensitive to any degree of inequality in society. But at what cost?
Of the happiness factor, Brooks noted: “The data show that conservatives do indeed see the free enterprise system in a sunnier light than liberals do, believing in each American’s ability to get ahead on the basis of achievement. Liberals are more likely to see people as victims of circumstance and oppression, and doubt whether individuals can climb without governmental help.”
The dangerous thing about the liberal woe-is-me ideology is that it perpetuates a cycle of victimhood. When Democratic women are constantly told by their political leaders, beloved celebrities, and left-leaning media outlets that they’re treated unfairly, eventually they’re bound to believe it. That lets it define them.
It’s hardly a coincidence that only 14 percent of Republicans trust the mass media. Republican women, it appears, aren’t buying into the notion that they’re treated unfairly. They also happen to be much happier. How women perceive themselves can go a long way.
Female leaders don’t rise to the top of their professions by believing they are lesser than their male counterparts. They don’t get there by complaining about how oppressed they are, either. Female leaders achieve greatness by believing they are the most capable persons for the job—more capable than other men or women. If or when women experience obstacles because of their sex, they use it as motivation to work harder.
If Democratic women don’t change their mindsets and start feeling like the equals they are, they might never be able to find the equality they so desperately want.