Gay marriage minority

I’ve taken to ending my Intro to American Government discussion of gay marriage with the following chart:

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Take away: opponents of gay marriage need to just give up and find something else to worry about.  Talk about fighting a rear-guard action.  The young adults of today who strongly favor gay marriage, but have little political influence are going to be the ones actually making the laws in 20 years.  And there’s every reason to think that upcoming generations will follow the trend and be even more supportive of the issue.

Nate Silver posted earlier this week that there’s now actually some national polls that show a majority for gay marriage.  Wow– I am truly amazed at how fast public opinion is moving on this issue.

I think Silver’s analysis is more disfavorable to Republicans than it should be, but it certainly is interesting:

But Republican candidates, who have placed less emphasis on gay marriage in recent years, probably cannot expect their opposition to it to be a net electoral positive for them except in select circumstances. If support for gay marriage were to continue accelerating as fast as it has in the past two years, supporters would outnumber opponents roughly 56-40 in the general population by November 2012.

Past trends, of course, are no guarantee of future ones, and it’s always possible that the momentum toward increasing support for gay marriage could flatten out or even reverse itself.

But this does put Republicans in a tricky position. Their traditional position on gay marriage is becoming less popular. But to the extent they disengage from the issue, they may lose even more ground. One way to read the trends of the past few years is that we have passed an inflection point wherein it is no longer politically advantageous for candidates to oppose same-sex marriage, which in turn softens opposition to it among the general public, creating a sort of feedback loop and accelerating the trend.

Feedback loop or not, as long as major religious groups insist that supporting gay marriage is a sin, there’s a definite ceiling on support.   I also expect that there’s more intensity among those in opposition and if there’s one thing that matters in politics, it’s intensity.  I’d love to see some data on that.

Patients are not  consumers

Just read Krugman.

[And, actually, if you want some more context on the matter, read Gladwell's classic piece on the trouble with treating patients as consumers, "The Moral Hazard Myth.”

Anxiety Gap

Really interesting piece in Slate about how parenting and socialization lead to a situation where women are dramatically more likely to have anxiety orders than are men.  This is not biological, but a clear example of how we treat boys and girls differently has important (and negative for females) consequences:

Yet precisely the opposite is true: According to the UCLA anxiety expert Michelle Craske, in the first few months of infants’ lives, it’s boys who show greater emotional neediness. While girls become slightly more prone to negative feelings than boys at two years (which, coincidentally, is the age at which kids begin learning gender roles),research has shown that up until age 11, girls and boys are equally likely to develop an anxiety disorder. By age 15, however, girls are six times more likely to have one than boys are…  [emphasis mine]

After all, whether parents intend to or not, they usually treat the emotional outbursts of girls far differently than those of boys. “From a socialization angle, there’s quite a lot of evidence that little girls who exhibit shyness or anxiety are reinforced for it, whereas little boys who exhibit that behavior might even be punished for it,” Craske told me.

In my book Nerve, I call this the “skinned knee effect”: Parents coddle girls who cry after a painful scrape but tell boys to suck it up, and this formative link between emotional outbursts and kisses from mom predisposes girls to react to unpleasant situations with “negative” feelings like anxiety later in life. On top of this, cultural biases about boys being more capable than girls also lead parents to push sons to show courage and confront their fears, while daughters are far more likely to be sheltered from life’s challenges. If little Olivia shows fear, she gets a hug; if little Oliver shows fear, he gets urged to overcome it.

The result of these parenting disparities is that by the time girls grow into young women, they’ve learned fewer effective coping strategies than their male counterparts, which translates to higher anxiety. The sexes learn to deal with fear in two very different ways: men have been conditioned to tackle problems head-on, while women have been taught to worry, ruminate, and complain to each other (hey, I’m just reporting the research) rather than actively confront challenges.

Of course I’ll only have an N of 1, but perhaps the reason I’m actually most excited to have a daughter is so that I can raise her in a way that avoids many of these pernicious socialization mistakes parents make.  I know I’ll be far from perfect, but I damn well intend for Sarah to be one self-confident, empowered, anxiety-free, young women 20 years from now.   If she’s not, it won’t be anything I did.

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