During an interview, Stephanie Coontz discusses why she thinks so many white women voted for Trump.
Most women do not like to be sexually harassed. Most women now say that they ought to get equal pay for equal work. But the fact remains that women who have the fewest opportunities to compete successfully in the labor market are the ones who are much more likely to support the policies and values that reward a traditional division of labor in the household.
Women with more social, economic, or educational capital are much more likely to support the activities of women making their own way in the world, to be proud when they see powerful women who stand up or who are getting ahead of men in any way, and they’re also much more open to supporting social policies that reward individual initiative even if they know that it’s not always rewarded equally.
Women with less economic or personal autonomy are often drawn to a culture of family values that emphasizes men’s responsibility to look after women. Women who have a shot at achieving or competing on their own emphasize equality, supporting the kind of policies that make it possible for them to move up in their jobs and combine work and family.
Women who want to be protected in the private sphere or need to be protected in the private sphere tend to emphasize the need to protect and privilege women’s special capacities for nurturing. I think it’s a big factor in the debates over contraception and sexuality and abortion. The flip side of women having all these freedoms from male control, they believe, is that it actually threatens women’s entitlement to male protection.