Why young women back Obama
by Melvyn L Fein
May 19, 2013 08:07 PM | 1062 views | 6 6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Melvyn Fein
Melvyn Fein
Barack Obama is at it again. Once more he is wooing young women in hopes of drumming up support for ObamaCare. And why not? He knows that he probably owes his re-election to having succeeded in attracting their votes last year.

In any event, he is now telling women about all of the “free” stuff they will be getting because of his medical initiative. Never mind that, as any thinking person should know, the promised benefits are not free. They will actually be financed by new taxes and increased insurance premiums.

Nevertheless they may appear free because they are not paid for directly. The same was true of the “free” birth control promised during the campaign. It too would ultimately come out of the pockets of the recipients.

My question is, therefore, this: Were these promises the real reason so many young women voted for Barack? In fact, I doubt it. They may have believed our campaigner-in-chief was more concerned about their welfare than his opponent, but it is unlikely they could have been bought off with a few trinkets.

The central motive why so many women favored Obama is more profound. It has, I believe, to do with some basic differences between males and females. Feminists may be appalled by what I am about to write; yet there is good sociological evidence to substantiate it.

First, I see this difference in my KSU classrooms. By and large female students are more diligent than males. They are more likely to read the assigned books and to research the assigned papers. Indeed, on average they get better grades.

Lest it be suspected this is a local phenomenon, women nationwide also obtaining better grades and graduating more frequently. They are simply more respectful of authority than are men; hence they do what is asked.

This disposition can be attributed to a deep-seated difference between the genders. A half-century ago social scientists began discovering a significant disparity in how the sexes dealt with the world and with other people. They concluded that men were likely to be “instrumental,” whereas women were apt to be “expressive.”

What does this mean? It refers to the fact that men are generally more concerned about getting a job done, while women are more interested in maintaining good social relationships. Women, in short, tend to be peacemakers, men more task-oriented.

And so let us return to Obama. Because women like peace, they are less inclined to challenge authority. Obama, as president, is obviously an authority. Therefore challenging him was apt to feel uncomfortable to many females. Attacking him plainly rocked the applecart and hence seemed dangerous.

But there was more than this. Men disliked the fact that the president had not accomplished his mission. He made many promises that he did not fulfill and consequently was judged incompetent. Women, on the other hand, liked the tone of his promises. Thus they wanted to believe him when he spoke of helping the downtrodden.

From the female perspective, Obama and the Democrats were compassionate, whereas Romney and the Republicans were mean-spirited. Evidently liberals wanted people to get along, while conservatives were nasty, selfish and demanding.

What then can these uncaring Republicans do to attract women voters? The task is daunting, but they can begin by making it clear that failing to keep one’s promises is not compassionate. Help that is pledged, but not delivered, is not help. It is manipulation grounded in a perceived vulnerability. Nor is getting a job done inherently callous. If that job is getting our economy going again, and/or protecting us from external enemies, then achieving it will bring the peace and prosperity that women too desire.

If this is so, then the challenge is to communicate in ways that are understood by both genders. Responsibility is not inherently mean, nor are honeyed-words inherently kind. Consequences matter and must be seen to matter.

Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
David W
May 21, 2013
Dr. Fein: Let's face a few more basic reasons for obama's success with young women:

1) He is a good looking guy.

2) He has an engaging smile with flashing pearly whites that give the impression of happiness.

3) He has a good voice and excellent oratory skills.

4) He is half black.

Since most young women have little knowledge of his political platform, one might say these reasons have most likely been THE determining factor for his popularity with them.
Women Vote
May 20, 2013
Some of your assumptions or conclusions may be right, but for a thorough research into this subject women of all ages need to be polled on why they voted for Pres. Obama.

As an older female, I always voted for a Republican presidential candidate until Pres. Obama's second term. And here are the main reasons I voted for Obama:

1. Healthcare Insurance- Every American citizen deserves healthcare AND not just when they are an emergency & their care will do nothing but ease their Dying pain. Example-I mean going to a doctor to help with high cholestrol in order to avoid a heart attack, NOT just care in the ER AFTER a heart attack. And I also mean healthcare and insurance that does not require complete personal bankruptcy. If I had waited for the Republicans to act on healthcare insurance, I would still be waiting.

2. The promise of Pres. Obama to get us out of Afghanistan. Even he has not acted soon enough here. Our troops should have already been home. We spent $2.2 TRILLION in Iraq, 4530 American troops killed and we can't even fund healthcare insurance in the U.S.? A pure travesty!

3. The Republicans/Ryan wanted to raise the age for Social Security & Medicare qualification on people 55 yrs old and younger. Waiting until someone is 55 is WAY too late to tell them to change their retirement plan. Again, we can waste $2.2 Trillion in Iraq and Trillions more in Afghanistan, but we can NOT fulfill the promise of Social Security & Medicare to American citizens. Republicans care more about Iraquis than their own citizens.

4. And yes, the Republican party does seem to favor rich men, particularly older, white men. You don't even have to raise the income tax rates on the wealthy, just do away with the absurd deductions and have a multi-millionaire pay my 24% tax rate instead of their 12% tax rate & that goes for the President also.

5. Republicans are more likely to start a war and we cannot afford more wars. The men involved in 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, NOT Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan. And there were no WMDs in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was not religious and he kept the 3 Muslim factions in Iraq more in tact than they are now. We have wasted lives & money in Iraq & now Afghanistan. Russia did not bring down the U.S. and some how the Republicans think that Saddam Hussein could have. If Iraq & Iran want to fight each other, have at it. I do NOT care. All we do when we become involved is tick off more people. That is why they hate us now. We get in everybody's business. Leave them, Libya, Syria, Afghistan, Pakistan, Egypt and yes Israel alone. Stop the U.S. from crumbling from our neglect. Politicians, stop arguing and stonewalling, ALL of you.

Finally, Pres. Obama was not my perfect candidate, but he was a much better choice than Romney, Bachman, or Santorumm. I would have preferred Gingrich, who is more reasonable, level headed and willing to work a compromise.
Old timer
May 21, 2013
We all need to plan for the government to NOT take care of us. Even authors of the healthcare act are now saying it is a train wreck. There were fixes needed that would not fundamentally change our healthcare. If you use social security for your support at retirement, you will be poor undead.

I think women vote for him because they were looking at a Big Daddy to take care of them

And, I used to vote for democrats until this person ran for office.

Fein v Fein
May 20, 2013
FEIN: He knows that he probably owes his re-election to having succeeded in attracting their votes last year.

2 paragraphs later

FEIN: Were these promises the real reason so many young women voted for Barack? In fact, I doubt it.

Laura Armstrong
May 20, 2013
Dr. Fein, your advice to the Republican party should become Republican "talking points" immediately!

Let me also suggest that with this president, both men AND women are afraid to challenge. Because if you do, you will likely be vindictively targeted by the administration's lackey agencies. It's now out in the open that Obama has used the full force of the federal government to intimidate, harass and punish groups AND individuals who crossed him or did not publicly support him, and that includes media people, individual citizens and various groups like Tea Partiers (IRS harassment), veterans (cancelling health insurance, prosecuting individuals who didn't "go along," transferring others who were at odds with politicizing combat tactics) and individual citizens (the poor guy who made the YouTube video that Obama made up as the excuse for Benghazi). Millions have been prevented from exercising their rights to oppose this president and punished when they did. The Chicago way? Or the Moscow way? All that's missing are the Gulags.
Old timer
May 21, 2013
Well said!
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