David Brooks points out some curious statistics about a growing division between Millennial men and women.
In 2016, female voters under 30 years old voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 63 percent to 31 percent. Males in the same age cohort gave Clinton a much smaller edge, voting for her 46 percent to 42 percent. That’s a 17-point gender gap.
Since the election, the gap in leanings has gotten even bigger, as white male millennials have shifted to the G.O.P. A recent Pew survey of midterm party preference suggests that women under 35 tilt Democratic by an astounding 68 percent to 24 Republican. Men under 35 now tilt Republican 50 percent to 47 percent Democratic.
Granted, these are statistics, and not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but you can’t blame Brooks (or me) for using what’s out there. Even if imprecise, the gap would seem sufficient to overcome the complaints of the most angry standard deviant.
As Ed Kilgore pointed out in New York magazine, that’s a 21-point gender gap in Democratic support and a 26-point gender gap in Republican support. More than ever, millennials are staggeringly divided by gender, while older generations show far smaller differences.
You might never know this from your twitter feed, but guys and gals aren’t seeing things eye to eye. Brooks offers two theories to explain this divergence. The first is “female mobilization,” that women are now in the workforce and thus no longer baking pies.
Both sexes increasingly favor a feminist attitude in the workplace and a neotraditionalist attitude at home. They want both sexes to have equal opportunities at work, but year by year more young people believe that the best home is the one where the man is the outside “achiever” and the working woman is the primary caregiver. In 1994, for example, 42 percent of high school seniors believed this; by 2014, 58 percent did.
What this has to do with the disparity is unclear, except perhaps to the extent that the pie thing is stronger for guys who like pie. The second is “male backlash.”
An increasing number of high school-educated men say they are the ones being screwed by modern society, not women, who are better educated on average. More and more college-educated men adopt a Jordan Peterson-style posture, arguing that the assault on “male privilege” has gone too far, that the feminist speech and behavior codes have gone too far.
Apparently, Brooks has decided that the male side of the gap is comprised of people without higher degrees and those suffering from “male fragility.” But he then asserts that this isn’t a real “gender war,” but one manufactured by social media.
But in the political showbiz sphere, Trump’s cartoonish masculinity squares off against cartoonish “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” incitements. It’s only there that we see the usual social media game of moral one-upmanship in which each tribe competes to be more victimized, more offended and more woke.
And it will all tumble down when time comes to . . . change diapers.
I’m betting that the millennial gender war is a figment of the political circus, and will be washed away by the giant force looming on the horizon: parenthood.
Of course, that ignores the fact that Millennials aren’t marrying or having babies (perhaps because you can’t get pregnant via Facebook “likes”). But is Brooks right, that this disparity is due to stupid fragile males unable to let go of their privilege so they can be more accepting and accommodating to women’s desire for equity?
Or might this be a rational reaction to hysterical shrieks for obsequiousness by women demanding infantilization rather than equality?
Or does the experience of the Nordic Paradox suggest that, once the noise dies down, women and men end up having different desires out of life that no amount of critical theory rhetoric changes?
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.