The feminist Factor and the Emerging Electorate

New poll finds the majority of women voters consider themselves feminists

The feminist Factor and the Emerging ElectorateI’m sorry, what was that you were saying about how young women are afraid to call themselves feminists these days?

A poll commissioned by Ms. conducted just after the election found that 55 percent of women voters and 30 percent of men voters consider themselves feminists.

These results are generally 9 points higher than they were in 2008, when the same question was posed to voters, and this upward trend is likely to continue given the strong identification with feminism by younger women and women of color.

Speaking of younger women, a solid majority of them (58 percent) identify as feminists—as did 54 percent of older women, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of Democratic women and a respectable 38 percent of Republican women.

“The feminist factor cuts across race and ethnic lines,” they note. In fact, white women as a whole are considerably less likely than black and Latina women to claim the label, which is in line with the voting differences I’ve noted before. And which perhaps helps to explain why much of the media continues to act as if feminists are unicorns these days.

Unsurprisingly, voters’ views on feminism tend to correlate with their choice of candidates. It’s actually pretty amazing that so many self-identified feminists are Republicans. You’d think they’d be pressuring their party to evolve a bit harder.

But I wonder what we’re gonna do about the fact that older women aren’t as likely to embrace feminism as younger women. Perhaps they’ve been convinced the fight has already been won? Maybe they should be reading more feminist blogs. Just sayin’.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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