Single woke women are driving America to the left — not just the center-left but the socialist left. The media would have us believe this demographic represents what all women want, especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and that they are the future of the country. A Daily Mail headline summed up this narrative well, “Women who are delaying marriage or having kids are the ‘sleeping giants’ of American politics: How ‘Single Woke Females’ are bucking ‘conservative’ traditions and turning into critical voters who could give Dems the edge for years.”
Conservatives should be concerned about this growing group. Unmarried women made up approximately a quarter of eligible voters in November 2020. And in the 2022 midterm election, 68% of unmarried women voted for Democrats compared to the 31% who voted for Republicans, according to the exit polls. Notably, only 42% of married women voted for Democrats.
The results were similar in the 2020 presidential election. While 63% of unmarried women voted for President Joe Biden, only 47% of married women voted for him.
These numbers show conservatives have a long way to go in making the case to all women, including single women, that their policies are better. And that includes a recognition that while some women want to get married, others don’t or won’t.
We need a women’s movement that enables a woman to set up the life she wants. First-wave feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “The strongest reason for giving woman all the opportunities for higher education, for the full development of her faculties, forces of mind and body … is the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life.”
Feminism today caters to the progressive wing of the women’s movement, in part because many on the Right have conceded the term. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It is time for a new version of feminism, one that seeks to empower women and help them pursue their own goals. We need a women’s movement that respects women for their intellect, tenacity, and preferences and advocates policies that allow women to make their own decisions about how to define a successful life.
A simple term for this movement is “Opportunity Feminism.” It would seek to maximize freedom for women so they have the tools they need to build fulfilling and meaningful lives as they see fit.
Opportunity Feminism would be skeptical of modern feminism’s call for more government intervention in the workplace. For example, the gender pay gap is a popular modern feminist tool used to justify more government involvement in employer-employee relationships. But what women really need is for policymakers to decrease the role of the government in the workplace and reduce regulations so they can create the work and personal lives they want. Occupational licensing reform, for instance, is a great issue for conservatives. Women are perfectly capable of running their own lives without being dependent upon a paternalistic state.
Opportunity Feminism would also ensure that women have basic opportunities, such as access to a high-quality education. Women can’t succeed without a good education, which is why school choice should be a priority for conservatives hoping to win over the female demographic.
Lastly, Opportunity Feminism would seek to change the culture around the women’s movement. Disagreement on policy should be celebrated and honored, not silenced. Women are not a uniform-thinking demographic. While feminism today primarily focuses on matters that divide women, there are plenty that women can come together on under the banner of equal opportunity and freedom.
Conservatives shouldn’t accept the narrative that the Left already has the female vote, especially from single women, in its pocket and give up. Instead, they need to make the case proactively for how their policies better give women the chance to flourish and why Opportunity Feminism is female empowerment at its best.