Commentary: A new global gender divide is emerging


In the United States, Gallup data shows that after decades where the sexes were each spread roughly equally across liberal and conservative world views, women aged 18 to 30 are now 30 percentage points more liberal than their male contemporaries. That gap took just six years to open up.

Germany also now shows a 30-point gap between increasingly conservative young men and progressive female contemporaries, and in the UK the gap is 25 points. In Poland last year, almost half of men aged 18 to 21 backed the hard-right Confederation party, compared to just a sixth of young women of the same age.

Outside the west, there are even more stark divisions. In South Korea there is now a yawning chasm between young men and women, and it’s a similar situation in China. In Africa, Tunisia shows the same pattern. Notably, in every country this dramatic split is either exclusive to the younger generation or far more pronounced there than among men and women in their 30s and upwards.

The #MeToo movement was the key trigger, giving rise to fiercely feminist values among young women who felt empowered to speak out against long-running injustices. That spark found especially dry tinder in South Korea, where gender inequality remains stark, and outright misogyny is common.

In the country’s 2022 presidential election, while older men and women voted in lockstep, young men swung heavily behind the right-wing People Power party, and young women backed the liberal Democratic party in almost equal and opposite numbers.

South Korea is an extreme situation, but it serves as a warning to other countries of what can happen when young men and women part ways. Its society is riven in two. Its marriage rate has plummeted, and birth rate has fallen precipitously, dropping to 0.78 births per woman in 2022, the lowest of any country in the world.

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