Most Americans believe in gender equality, but not everyone sees how sexism affects women ― particularly Republican men, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Republican men, who make up 12 percent of the population, repeatedly showed a lack of awareness of sexism’s pervasiveness, according to a poll for non-partisan research firm PerryUndem’s report, “State of the Union on Gender Equality, Sexism and Women’s Rights.” More than half of GOP men said it’s a good time to be a woman, while only 41 percent said it’s a good time to be a man.
“It’s easier being a woman today than it is a man,” Dennis Halaszynski, 81, told The New York Times. “Everybody else is above the white man. … Everything in general is in favor of a woman.” Halaszynski said he voted for Donald Trump in the election.
The survey looks at attitudes toward gender-equality issues, policies that address women’s rights, and President-elect Trump’s sexist comments. Nearly two-thirds of Republican men said women have equal financial security or better, and about 40 percent believed women have reached full equality.
Research overwhelmingly finds the opposite. Women work more hours than men, but are paid less; are less likely to hold top positions in business and politics; and are disproportionately affected by policies on paid parental leave and sick leave.
The survey of 1,300 adults in December was conducted online and by phone through the National Opinion Research Center’s Amerispeak panel at the University of Chicago.
“Equality for women is a clear value held by most of the U.S. population ― even if some of us still hold sexist beliefs,” the report says.
The survey found Republican men also were more likely than the population at large to dismiss the importance of women’s-rights issues.
Overall, men appeared less likely to see sexism in their personal lives. Among all married men, 30 percent said their wives had been touched inappropriately by a man, while 49 percent of married women said they had such an experience.
Republican women echoed some of the views of the GOP men. Thirty percent of Republicans ― men and women ― said men generally make better political leaders. Republican women were less likely than other women to say that they had experienced sexism, or that sexism is a major issue for the country.
Sexism was a frequently topic during the presidential campaign, as Trump made sexist remarks and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton faced attacks based on her gender. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual assault, which he denies.
In October, a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording surfaced in which Trump brags about kissing and groping women without consent. The comments were widely condemned. Trump and some supporters dismissed the recording as “locker room banter.”
More than nine in 10 survey respondents said the comments were unacceptable. Men were less likely to say they were personally upsetting, or that they described sexual assault.
A large majority of both men and women across the political spectrum told the pollsters they want politicians to work on policies that will help women, including equal pay, affordable child care, access to birth control, protecting abortion rights and maintaining funding for Planned Parenthood. The same is mostly true for Republican men, though fewer supported funding for abortion and Planned Parenthood.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said he wants to strip funds from Planned Parenthood as part of Congress’ planned Obamacare repeal legislation, which also would cut birth-control coverage. Trump has offered conflicting views on abortion rights.
“Republican leadership in Congress is out of step with the vast majority of voters” on women’s rights issues, the report notes.
The report includes some encouragement for people concerned about women’s rights under Trump. As a result of Trump’s election win, 43 percent of adults said they are teaching children about consent and sexual assault issues, 32 percent felt less tolerant of sexism in their own lives, and 23 percent were thinking about how to help more women win political office.
Two-thirds of the population said the election result has made them do something differently, whether sexism-related or otherwise. The biggest predictor that a person is taking action is that they are upset by Trump’s comments and behavior toward women, according to the report.
“The more the President-elect makes derogatory comments about women, the more likely his unfavorability will increase and cement ― and the more likely men and women will take action,” the report says. “An easy way to help repair the damage, in terms of the public and his constituents, would be to take action ― working on moving women’s rights and equality forward.”