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October 21, 2012

Column: ‘Gender gap’ has become a self-fulfilling prophecy

The gender gap — the difference between how men and women vote — represents on average a seven point gulf between the sexes during presidential elections. Though there was evidence of some voting differences between the genders as far back as the 1960s, many political scientists date the emergence of the modern gender gap to the 1980 election, which served as the culmination of years of change in women’s lives. By then more women were working, more were single and living on their own. The women’s movement reinforced the growing sense that women’s political interests could and should be different than those of their husbands and fathers.

Libby Copeland, Slate Magazine, Jan. 4, 2012

Oh please. Now I’ll write about the Barbara gap – the difference between me/women like me and women who can be convinced by Democrats that there is a Republican “war on women.”

The big difference I saw between 1977, when I started collecting signatures on ballot questions, and 1980, when I collected signatures on Proposition 2 ½, was that during the later petition drive far fewer women were asking their husbands if they should sign.

That was permanent progress. But I was surprised to learn that there was a gender gap with Prop 2 ½, a larger percentage of men than of women voting for it. I’ve never understood this — why would women want higher property taxes? — but it made me doubt my assumption that we are all individuals, unable to be classified by sex, race, or anything but common sense.

I’ve heard the theory that many women moved from dependency on men — fathers, then husbands — to potential dependency on government. But if that were true, these women would want government to remain viable, not falling deeper and deeper into debt. At this point they’d join the tea party, connecting with other women who are concerned about their children and grandchildren being burdened with that debt. So what am I still missing?

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