According to a new poll, liberal women are far less likely than conservative women to say a woman having an extramarital fair is wrong.
The poll found that only 36% of liberal women say that a married woman having an affair is always wrong. 71% of Conservative women say it is always wrong for a woman to have an extramarital affair.
57% of liberal women think a man having an affair is always wrong while 80% of conservative women think that a man having an affair is always wrong.
One of the explanations given for the difference is that liberal women are far more likely to believe in the concept of gender-linked fate. This means that they believe what happens to other women in the United States affects them.
71% of liberal women embrace the idea of gender-linked fate while only 30% of conservative women embrace this same idea.
Liberals are also far less likely to be religious — which leads to them having different moral views.
— Brad Wilcox (@BradWilcoxIFS) November 1, 2022
It turns out that Americans react to infidelity differently for men and women. The gap is particularly large among women: 70% of women say that it is “always” morally wrong when a man has an extramarital affair, but fewer (56%) say the same when it is a woman who has an affair. (Nearly 1 in 4 women say it is morally wrong “most of the time.”)
This moral double standard varies among women from different backgrounds, but the gap is particularly large among liberal women. Only 36% of liberal women say it is always wrong for a woman to engage in an extramarital affair, while 57% say the same for men. Conservative women, by contrast, are somewhat less likely to judge men and women differently for committing infidelity—71% say it is always wrong for a woman to engage in an extramarital affair.
Why is the gender gap so pronounced among liberal women? Part of the reason liberal women are less inclined to believe infidelity is always wrong may lie in their distinct backgrounds and experiences. Liberals are far less religious than conservatives, meaning their views on morality are less rooted in a particular theology or religious belief system. Most religious traditions offer unambiguous messages about the ethics of romantic engagements outside of marriage. Additionally, research has shown that liberals and conservatives “display different profiles of moral concerns, with liberals placing a greater emphasis on moral relativism.”
Another explanation may have to do with the concept of gender-linked fate. Most liberal women believe that what happens to other women in the US impacts their own lives. More than 7 in 10 (71%) embrace this idea. Less than 1 in 3 (30%) conservative women, by contrast, express such strong feelings of gender solidarity. If liberal women empathize strongly with the experiences of other women, they may feel less comfortable judging their decisions, or at the very least hesitant to express universal condemnation.
This says a lot!