The headline on the big new gender survey from the Pew Research Center begins, “On Gender Differences, No Consensus”— and that could have been the report’s entire conclusion, too. The survey, released today, reveals deep divides in Americans’ perspectives on gender norms, including by political affiliation:
- Republicans appear to be more comfortable with traditional femininity and masculinity: Republican men are more likely to consider themselves “very masculine” than Democratic men are. Republican women are also slightly more likely than Democratic women to consider themselves “very feminine.” According to an earlier Pew survey, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say that changes to traditional gender norms have led to a host of benefits, like success at work and and in marriage.
- Democrats think gender norms can and should be shaped by society: Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the differences between men and women are the product of societal expectations, rather than biology. And they are more likely than Republicans, by far, to say young boys should be encouraged to take part in activities that are usually associated with girls.
- Republicans see a war being waged against boys: Fewer Republicans than Democrats say society looks up to manly men—perhaps because they are also more likely to feel the push for gender equality has already gone too far. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to feel society is “too accepting” when it comes to women taking roles that are typically associated with men, and the same is true of men taking women’s roles. This mirrors another finding from this Pew survey: Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to say we should do more to urge girls to be leaders. Meanwhile, a majority of Republicans say there is too little emphasis on leadership for boys, a sentiment only a third of Democrats agreed with. Most Democrats think we should do more to teach girls to stand up for themselves; Republicans are more likely than Democrats to think the same thing about boys. Among those who do feel society respects masculinity, Republicans “overwhelmingly say this is a good thing,” the Pew researchers write. Meanwhile, “Democrats aren’t convinced ... almost identical shares say this is a good thing as say it is a bad thing.”