Weekly Digest: Single Woke Female
Welcome to my weekly digest for January 27, 2023.
For new subscribers, this contains a roundup of my recent writings and podcasts, as well as links to the best articles from around the web this week. You can control what emails you get from me by visiting your account page.
For new paid Subscribers - thank you! - click over for instructions for accessing the Knowledge Base.
Single Woke Female
There’s a great essay by Joel Kotkin and Samuel Abrams over at Real Clear Investigations on the socio-political implications of the rising number of never married, childless women.
Soccer Moms are giving way to Single Woke Females – the new “SWFs” – as one of the most potent voting blocs in American politics…Their power is growing thanks to the demographic winds. The number of never married women has grown from about 20% in 1950 to over 30% in 2022, while the percentage of married women has declined from almost 70% in 1950 to under 50% today. Overall, the percentage of married households with children has declined from 37% in 1976 to 21% today.
A new Institute for Family Studies analysis of 2020 Census data found that one in six women do not have children by the time they reach the end of their childbearing years, up from one in ten in 1990. Single adult women now total some 42 million, comparable to the key African American voting bloc (46 million), while vastly larger than key groups like labor union members (14 million) or college students (20 million). …
The rise of SWFs – a twist on the personal ad abbreviation for single white female – is one of the great untold stories of American politics. Distinct from divorced women or widows, these largely Gen Z and Millennial voters share a sense of collective identity and progressive ideology that sets them apart from older women. More likely to live in urban centers and to support progressive policies, they are a driving force in the Democratic party’s and the nation’s shift to the left. One paradox, however: Democrats depend ever more on women defined in the strict biological sense while much of the party’s progressive wing embraces the blurred and flexible gender boundaries of its identity politics.
Attitudes are what most distinguish single women from other voters. An American Enterprise Institute survey shows that married men and women are far more likely than unmarried females to think women are well-treated or equally treated. As they grow in numbers, these discontented younger single women are developing something of a group consciousness. Nearly two-thirds of women under 30, for example, see what happens to other women as critical to their own lives; among women over 50, this mindset shrinks to less than half.
This perception of linked fate stands in contrast to survey results regarding single men, who report that they are increasingly disconnected from each other while women bond more closely. This is not a temporary phenomenon, and it is much bigger than the bohemian movements of the past. There is even a sense in which women are redefining families, and themselves, by choosing to neither get married nor have offspring.
We are witnessing, as sociologist Daniel Bell noted a half century ago in “The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society,” a new type of individualism, unmoored from religion and family, something fundamentally transforming the foundations of middle-class culture. This echoes what the popular futurist Alvin Toffler in 1970 described as a growing immersion in work at the expense of family life. He envisioned a revolution in marriage that would result in a “streamlined family,” and, if children are in the picture, relying on professional child-raisers. The ideal of long-term marriage would give way, he expected, to more transient relationships and numerous partners at different stages of life.
The lowest birthrates are found in ultra-blue cities and states, magnets largely for singles and the childless. Six years ago the New York Times ran a story headlined “San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone?” and stories abound about the Golden Gate City having the fewest children of all major American cities. Many other major cities lost families with children during the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2021, Manhattan saw a whopping 9.5% decline in the number of children under 5 – and many families are not returning.
Click through to read the whole thing.
The authors wonder whether single women will turn more conservative as they age, following the established pattern. My observation has been that once women reach the point around age 45 at which they are definitively childless and unlikely to marry, there’s a trend towards them hardening and becoming even more militant. It will be interesting to watch, however.
A Word from Our Sponsor
American Reformer an organization whose mission is to promote a vigorous Christian approach to the cultural challenges of our day, rooted in the rich tradition of Protestant social and political thought. Focusing particularly on issues facing American Christians, its seeks to contribute to the reformation of Christian institutions that have become corrupted by false ideologies and practices.
The American Reformer Journal aims at equipping evangelical Christians to confidently and forthrightly defend Scriptural truths and natural law in the face of widespread cultural capitulation. And American Reformer’s Reform work aims at reshaping important Christian institutions by partnering with their leaders and equipping them with the intellectual, strategic and network resources necessary to help their institutions remain faithful and flourish under current cultural conditions.
Learn more at americanreformer.org.
Best of the Web
Discipleship and Dominion: You should want to be a (modified) normie
Walter Kirn: Revolutionary Rut - The preachy misery of the enlightened class
WSJ: High-Earning Men Are Cutting Back on Their Working Hours
The Observer: Ageing planet: the new demographic timebomb
NYT: A Farmer Secretly Paid for His Neighbors’ Prescriptions for Years
Lyman Stone highlights an interesting study.
New Content and Media Mentions
I was mentioned in a new piece from the Social Pathologist.
New this week:
I have a chapter about Indianapolis in a new book about the future of cities from the American Enterprise Institute.
Ryan Michler’s Masculinity Manifesto - A new book by a popular men’s podcaster helps show why men are turning to online gurus instead of the church for guidance.
This week’s podcast is a spotlight on American Reformer with Nate Fischer and Josh Abbotoy. Paid subscribers can read the transcript.
Speaking of American Reformer, J. Matthew Pinson has a piece this week on evangelicals and beauty.
You can subscribe to my podcast on Apple, Google, or YouTube.
Paid subscribers get exclusive content, podcast transcripts, occasional webinars, and access to my Subscriber Knowledge Base. It’s also a great way to support my work, so please subscribe today.
"My observation has been that once women reach the point around age 45 at which they are definitively childless and unlikely to marry, there’s a trend towards them hardening and becoming even more militant."
The other day I was listening to a conversation between my wife and an older friend of hers who fits into the "over 40, single, childless, and basically resigned to never marrying" category and, unlike my wife, mostly seems to socialize within this category. Though this woman is churchgoing and not exactly militant.
And one thing she said to my wife that stuck with me was, "You know, I think you're the only friend of mine who isn't on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, or both." Which, statistically, ought to describe less than 25% of women in their 30s-40s (half that rate for men), but it wouldn't surprise me at all if spinsters were heavily overrepresented in this category of being permanently medicated on mild-altering chemicals.
It's also a good reminder about this entire world of chemicals that's otherwise basically invisible to men like me, for whom the idea of medicating the blues away is literally unthinkable -- it's a course of action I've never given a second's thought to for myself.
The incredibly poor Democratic governance of flagship US cities is a gift that conservatives and the Republican party is likely to squander, based on what I have seen.
While I would never expect a majority of SWFs to go conservative, 25-30% would be in play if there was a real conservative push for decent governance and quality of life in the cities.
SWFs as defined here would see greater than average benefits from public safety improvements. This group deals with the same housing cost issues as anyone in a coastal city. This group is likely to be more technocratic in their leanings, and could be made to be quite skeptical of the dubious organized labor influence on flagship cities.
Culture war and immigration fights are not going to be a winner with this group (and a lot of other people for that matter). But conservative of good conscience could keep those things in the back pocket, or ignore them, while running completely sensible campaigns based on good governance in the cities. The Giuliani playbook is alive and well even if its namesake is doing everything to assure that he will not be for very long.
Right now the cities are so un-competitive that I am a registered Democrat just to vote in primaries. This seems like an opportunity too good to waste when you have plenty of people who would go the other way given an even slightly-matched alternative.