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[Op-Ed] Daughters and Progressivism

Posted May. 26, 2009 05:24,   


The late Hugh Ellsworth Rodham, the father of former U.S. First Lady and incumbent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a staunch Republican. He joked that it was a big mistake to allow Hillary to attend Wellesley College. He said he hated that his “reliable” eldest daughter watched, listened and wore clothing like a hippy and read the liberal New York Times. When Bill Clinton ran for president for the Democratic Party in 1992, Rodham supported him, saying, “I’m Republican, but he’s a really great guy.”

The results of a study show that fathers with daughters are more progressive than those without daughters. According to a household survey conducted by the British daily Telegraph, fathers with daughters are more likely to vote for the progressive Labor Party. Sixty-seven percent of parents with three sons voted for Labor, but 77 percent of those with three daughters did so. Parents with two or four daughters were also likely to vote for the progressive party. It is uncertain whether the same conclusion can be drawn in Korea, however.

Andrew Oswald, a professor at the University of Warwick, said, “Daughters get fathers to gradually shift their political stance and become more sympathetic to female desires.” In other words, women who eventually take on the responsibility of childbirth and childcare demand higher taxes, more efforts for the public good, and lower burden on women. Fathers of daughters become more sympathetic to women’s causes perhaps as a show of paternal love for their daughters. On the other hand, mothers with sons grow more sympathetic to men’s causes such as lower taxes and a smaller role of the government in society. Does this mean a parent’s love for his or her children goes before political stance?

Another study found that the attitudes by U.S. congressmen toward a bill depend on whether they have children. Those with children are progressive and those with daughters more progressive. No men seem to change their political stances for their wives. So why are men willing to change their political stances for their daughters? Probably because of a double standard. Men do not want to see their wives drink beer but they enjoy doing so with their daughters. Moreover, they dislike their wives watching TV dramas but want to watch trendy dramas with their daughters.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)