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January 18 2013

Ricochet: Women in the Wilderness: Problem Solved

Ricochet

 

by Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

 

I mentioned I'd be discussing how to show women the strengths of limited government and economic liberty. TheIndependent Women's Forum event was last night and it was really interesting. The most important thing to note is that I got to meet Barkha Herman in the flesh! (Her write-up of the event is here.)

Karlyn Bowman began our discussion with all the depressing data about how women are much more likely to support a big role for government. There has always been a gender gap in voting preferences, but it's becoming much more dramatic. And there are just interesting gender gaps in general. My absolute favorite stat was that if you ask people if they want to ride on the space shuttle, the vast majority of men say "yes, please" while the vast majority of women decline. She had a glimmer of good news for people who support Republican candidates, saying that the 2014 election should show some gains on account of 2012 being a wake-up call and because the electorates in mid-term elections are more favorable to Republicans.

Veronique de Rugy reminded us that while Republicans might be less hostile than Democrats to the ideas of liberty, they're aren't exactly the ideal vessels for them. She pointed out how much of the crises our government faces will hurt women (e.g. by a large margin, most recipients of Social Security are of the female variety).

We've had many conversations about Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind, and I brought up his point about morality binding us together but blinding us to the moral motivations of others. Those of us who already care about a limited government are convinced of the worthiness of the cause. But how do we reach out to others who are motivated less by fairness and more by compassion and security? We need to earnestly listen to the arguments of others, see the value in these arguments, and make the case in concert with their moral reasoning. Which is basically Arthur Brooks' point in The Road To Freedom. I also pointed out that the marriage gap is much larger than the gender gap and it's getting worse. While we might want to focus on political technology, the real problems we face are much larger cultural issues that require hard work.

Sabrina Schaeffer had many good points, including "If You've Got It, Flaunt It." The Republican Party has many fantastic female messengers at the national, state, and local levels. Bowman had joked that she wanted to see Cathy McMorris Rodgers glued to the hip of every John Boehner presser. Schaeffer pointed out that because the GOP doesn't really get into gender politics, they forget to do obvious things like point out that one of the House's leaders is a female Republican.

Anyway, I figure we solved the gender gap. Just kidding. It was a somewhat sobering evening to realize how much work there is to do. But it was nice to see a huge turnout of people interested in this topic and how to address it.

I even find it interesting here at Ricochet. I don't have a running tally of which members are male or female (or pretending to be!) but I think it's fair to say most members are male. Part of that, undoubtedly, is that women report less interest in political topics than men do. But I wonder if there's anything else. Are we too space shuttle-y?

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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