Not #ThemToo

I’m flabbergasted. Why did the Kavanaugh hearings convince so many GOP women of a certain age that past sexual harassment was no longer cause for prosecution?

sister sledging chartHere’s what we know. The Economist is reporting from its YouGov survey. Between November 2017 and September 2018, the percentage of female Trump voters over age 65 who believe “men who sexually harassed women 20 years ago should keep their jobs today” leaped from about 30% to near 80%.

What gives?

The article suggests a couple of explanations. Perhaps this group of mature women worries about the professional status of their grown sons. They don’t want teenage peccadillos held against their “boys” in their adult careers. But that would apply equally to female Clinton voters of the same age, and that group has swerved in the opposite direction.

Or, The Economist wonders, do older GOP women have a “we survived it, so will you” attitude toward sexual harassment? Something we might call MMSS (Mad Men Survivor Syndrome)? That seems equally sketchy to this reporter. Even if some Trump voters feel that way, it doesn’t seem like it would be enough to push the needle so far.

Finally, The Economist suggests that this demographic is merely parroting the attitudes of their domineering husbands. They cite one observer from the Midwest who reported watching GOP husbands filling in ballots for their wives as well. Could that really be such a widespread phenomenon? And, even if so, why were the numbers so different as recently as November 2017?

In the end, none of the explanations offered make sense to me. They don’t adequately explain why so many GOP voters embraced this “water-under-the-bridge” attitude toward sexual harassment.

Any suggestions out there? Any GOP-voting women have a better explanation for us?

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3 Comments

  1. Patrick Halbrook

     /  January 19, 2019

    I am wondering why they decided to word the survey question this way. I’d think there would be much better ways to ask it that would result in more accurate results. It implies that supporting #MeToo and believing in the appropriateness of legal prosecution for sexual harassment are synonymous with believing that men should be punished with perpetual(?) unemployment. And what kinds of jobs are we talking about? Senators? Youth Pastors? Plumbers? Assistant Managers at Denny’s? Is there not a significant distinction to be made there that the survey and its commentators fail to even acknowledge?

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  2. Agellius

     /  January 19, 2019

    My first instinct is that it was the same reason Clinton voters of the same age went from 25% to 10%: It became the thing to do within your tribe.

    I know an older professional woman who’s an avid Democrat, and she feels that although a lot went on that shouldn’t have in the old days, now the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. She half-jokingly said she doesn’t know how the younger generation will manage to have children since they’re afraid to talk to each other. This attitude isn’t a result of Kavanaugh since she was entirely supportive of Ms. Ford and opposed to Kavanaugh’s nomination on that basis. I think she just feels that it shouldn’t be a crime to be a little rough around the edges, and it won’t kill women to learn how to deal with it; after all it didn’t kill her.

    I agree with Patrick that the questions in this survey are poorly worded. By tying it in with Kavanaugh, the article gives the impression that older women don’t believe old instances of sexual *assault* — such as the one Kavanaugh was accused of — ought to be prosecuted, but that’s not what they’re saying since that’s not what’s being asked. They’re responding with regard to sexual *harassment*, which I think has a more nebulous definition. They could be saying that some things which today are considered harassment warranting punishment, are relatively mild and should not necessarily follow you throughout your life if you outgrow them and have shown no such propensity for a long time; also taking into consideration that standards of propriety have changed a lot since these women were young, and it may be unfair to hold people back then to the standards of today.

    (Again I can’t help but be amused at how the tables have turned and now it’s the “liberals” who are imposing strict standards of appropriate speech and deportment on society.)

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