Choices, Not Lack of Access, Have Moms Feeling Guilty About Lifestyle
Women Not Easily Bamboozled by Media & Government Scare Tactics

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Independent Women’s Forum today released the results of a national online survey of women regarding “alarmism” conducted by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend among N=801 women with a +/– 3.5% margin of error.  The survey found that negative headlines and alarming warnings about food, household items, and health leaves women feeling confused, suspicious, and overwhelmed, and does little to make them adjust their lifestyles.   

The results show women want more information but they have a widespread distrust in the media – the largest purveyors of alarmist warnings. Moreover, women have little faith in warnings provided by the federal government and activist organizations. Rather they rely on friends, family, and doctors for sound health and safety advice.

Vast alarmism naturally leads to increased worry and the poll found that mommy guilt (and non-mommy guilt) is very pervasive, with two-thirds of women saying they sometimes feel badly about not doing enough to promote the health and well-being of their families.

But women aren’t pointing fingers, they are adamant that their poor decisions are a matter of choice, and not access. Women also reject the idea that government action will succeed at encouraging people to live healthier:  In fact twice as many women believe government’s meddling makes no difference or is counter-productive than believe in works.

Julie Gunlock, director of the Culture of Alarmism project at the Independent Women’s Forum, issued the following statement regarding the poll:

“Women—especially mothers—have had enough of all the scaremongering. Women want reliable information not the dodgy science so often reported by the press.  Women have choices in the marketplace right now. They don’t need government minders and activist groups to tell them how to live or how to raise their children.

“The constant bombardment of negative information is creating a “Never Cry Wolf” phenomena in this country where women simply cannot tell the difference between legitimate concerns that might affect their family’s health and well-being, and scary headlines designed to attract attention.”

CLICK HERE to view the full polling memo.

Key Findings: 

•  68 percent of women believe the United States is becoming a more dangerous place, yet they don’t trust government to react to it responsibly, or the media to report on it accurately.

•  This fear centers less on terrorism and nuclear holocaust than the ubiquitous onslaught of negative information and alarmist warning hurled at them regularly.

•  Although 78 percent of all women report paying close attention to health and safety warnings, over half of them (56%) have not altered their use or purchasing habits based on the information.

•  By a 2-to-1 margin, most women see little effective role for the federal government to help navigate consumer choices or smart decisions. 63 percent of women say government intervention, by means of regulating food and consumer choices, has either no effect or a counter-productive impact on personal lives and improved health.

•  59 percent of all women oppose the New York City soda ban. Two-thirds (66%) of women over the age of 35 oppose it; yet women under the age of 35 narrowly favor it, 49%-45%.

•  When asked generally about government regulations on unhealthy foods,  65% of all women oppose it. But while white women oppose it by a 70%-26% margin, black women and Hispanics have a more narrow margin (52%-43% and 55%-42%, respectively).

•  Part of the basis of rejecting a more expansive government is a lack of trust in government—and of the media who report health and safety warnings. The only groups that women report less trust in than media and government are big businesses, and partisan politicians. Rather, women trust their friends and family, and their doctors most of all.

•  Distrust of the media is widespread across all age, ethnic, and ideological lines. Over 4 out of 5 women agree that the media are more interested in getting ratings than accurately reporting threats to health and safety.

•  87 percent of women agree that it is cheap and easy to find somebody to argue a given position.

•  Overwhelming majority (83%) of women say they have difficulty discerning between legitimate concerns that might affect their health and well-being, and scary headlines designed to attract attention.

•  This held true among women who revealed varying levels of trust. Both those that say they trust the media and distrust the media agree that they have difficulty telling the difference between real and hyped warnings, a sign that our headline-driven media and the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality is well-ingrained in our culture and an impediment to creating an informed population.

•  While the majority of women pay attention to health and safety concerns (primarily delivered by the media), only 36% of women say that the negative warnings they receive leaves them informed.


Independent Women's Forum is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and educational institution dedicated to expanding the conservative coalition, both by increasing the number of women who understand and value the benefits of limited government, personal liberty, and free markets, and by countering those who seek to ever expand government in the name of protecting women.