Sometimes It Takes A Daughter To Make A Man A Feminist

Illustration for article titled Sometimes It Takes A Daughter To Make A Man A Feminist

Social scientists Rebecca Warner and Ebonya Washington have found a strong correlation between having daughters and holding feminist views — particularly among fathers.

In a new study, British researchers Andrew J. Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee write:

The authors' key finding is that support for policies designed to address gender equity is greater among parents with daughters. This result emerges particularly strongly for fathers. Because parents invest a significant amount of themselves in their children, the authors argue, the anticipated and actual struggles that offspring face, and the public policies that tackle those, matter to those parents. . . The authors demonstrate that people who parent only daughters are more likely to hold feminist views (for example, to favor affirmative action).


In other words, equality matters most to many people when the people they care for deeply are most likely to lack it.

It goes further than just individual voters, too.

By collecting data on the voting records of US congressmen, Washington (2004) is able to go beyond this. She provides persuasive evidence that congressmen with female children tend to vote liberally on reproductive rights issues such as teen access to contraceptives. In a revision, Washington (2008) argues for a wider result, namely, that the congressmen vote more liberally on a range of issues such as working families flexibility and tax-free education.

She might not have looked into too many governors from Alaska, though.

Oswald and Powdthavee argue that it goes beyond simple issue-identification. People — particularly men — are more likely to vote for liberal candidates after having daughters than before.

We document evidence that having daughters leads people to be more sympathetic to left-wing parties. Giving birth to sons, by contrast, seems to make people more likely to vote for a right-wing party.


Yet another reason to love having daughters? This one is way better than the ability to buy dresses.

Having Daughters Rather Than Sons Makes You More Liberal [FiveThirtyEight]
Daughters and Left-Wing Voting [University of Warwick]

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This is a few weeks early but seems like a good thread for it.

Dear Dad,

Thank you for becoming a feminist when I was born. Thank you for letting me play with fire, power tools and personal finance at a young age and for showing me how to use all of them safely. Thank you for swallowing your pride when it turned out that Mom's return-to-work-after-kids career had more legs than yours did and showing me that cooking, cleaning the house (and playing with the stock market) could be done just fine by either gender. That can't have been easy for a big, tough-looking, educated man to do. Thank you for making me learn how to to change tires, boost a dead battery, check fluids and etherize a frozen carburetor before letting me getting my learner's permit. Thank you for teaching me how to solve my own damn problems.

Thank you for being wise to the ways of males and warning me about what they were up to based on your own teenage years, even though I rather resented this at the time... and my boyfriends certainly did! :P

Thank you for overcoming your own upbringing to do all this, to stand up for equal opportunities and rights because they were MY opportunities and rights.

Most of all, thank you for making sure that I did not grow up believing that men are the enemy. I wish all women were as lucky as I was. I wish they all had fathers that were protector, guide and friend. I wish all their fathers had become feminists the way you did.

Love, your oldest daughter.