WASHINGTON, December 31, 2013 ― There is a commonly held belief that women love and trust the government. The Democrats have made a point to capitalize on this stereotype, casting women as a desperate minority need free birth control, wage protection, and protection against discriminatory language.
The reality is, women fear big government more than men.
In a recent Gallup poll, the research organization found that 72 percent of Americans believe big government is America’s biggest threat. Women, more than men, are driving this trend. Gallup finds that 74 percent of women are worried about big government, while 69.2 percent of men agree. Twenty-one percent of women believe that big business is America’s greatest threat, followed by a marginal 2.6 percent who fear big labor. There are plenty of reasons why a majority of Americans worry about the size of the federal government, but for women, there’s a more nuanced story.
Government intervention has disproportionately made women’s lives more difficult.
The focus on “women’s issues” is code for “sexual issues,” such as birth control and abortion. Since when is having sex only about one party involved? The government — yes, even with a Democrat as president — is no better than the private sector when it comes to sexist advertising. In buying into these painful norms of blatant prejudice, the government legitimizes what is already a strong belief in society: Women are primarily sex objects, and secondarily anything else.
Consider the Obamacare fiasco. While many have argued that Obamacare will disproportionately help women, the exact opposite is true. Obamacare takes a painfully one-dimensional approach to women’s priorities. The advertising campaign behind it suggests that women care more about maternity care than other ramifications of the program, such as job loss and higher taxes. Most women would rather see the economy uptick than pay in excess for services they don’t need. Indeed, most of America’s women are not currently pregnant, nor do they soon intend to be.
Even the demographic that most heavily uses birth control loses out under Obamacare. The under-40 cohort of women is having a historically difficult time finding work. When Obamacare creates costs that force employers to cut jobs to stay afloat, these women are the first to lose out. The Obama Administration insults all these young women when it suggests that all they care about is contraception.
Perhaps this is why 60 percent of women oppose Obamacare: It does not make the United States a better place for them to live.
A recent Pew Report that shows that Millennial women are reaching parity with their male counterparts. The Pew study shows that young women are now making 93 percent of a man’s salary. These women feel more secure in the workplace; unlike their older peers, only 15 percent of women under 30 say they have been discriminated against at work because of their gender.
Some argue that this level of equality could not have happened without hiring discrimination laws and legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. But these laws aren’t closing the pay gap; changing social norms are. Women, now even more than men, name their career as their highest priority, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.
More young women are getting college degrees and bargaining for higher pay than ever before. In no way does regulation have anything to do with that kind of private prioritizing. And the laws the government has passed to “end discrimination” have actually made it more difficult for women to enter the workforce; employers, fearful of being sued, are deterred from hiring perfectly capable female employees. Government has so little to do with closing the pay gap that it is insulting to the millions of feminists that have worked so hard to change public opinion about women at work.
Women have disproportionately gained when government regulation has been removed from their lives. Women were barred from voting until 1920. They could not make their own reproductive decisions until 1973. They still cannot fully choose which gender to marry, to serve in the military, or even make the choice to sell their own body as a small business owner.
In other words, big government actively limits women’s ability to thrive instead of making their lives better. Women are still treated as second-class citizens and only less governmental intervention can change this structural problem.
It’s no wonder women are disproportionately scared of growing government. Legislation has only made America’s women more vulnerable in their careers, in their social lives, and in their personal decisions. They are correct to see big government as America’s biggest threat, because, to so many of us, it’s personal.
Rachel Burger is a Young Voices Advocate and the associate editor of Thoughts on Liberty. She writes frequently about social issues and foreign policy and has been published in Forbes, TownHall.com, and The Libertarian Republic. Rachel graduated with an MA from University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations and with a BA from Agnes Scott College.
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