The Daily Beast Sexism Poll: Feminism a Dirty Word; Sexism Alive and Well

Nov 18, 2008, 13:14 ET from The Daily Beast

NEW YORK, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- In the wake of the 2008 election, a new poll on sexism from The Daily Beast, an operating business of IAC (Nasdaq: IACI), found that registered American voters view feminism very negatively. Yet American women overwhelmingly believe they are being treated unfairly in the press, in the workplace, in politics and in the armed forces. The complete survey, including all data, is available at

For a race that was supposed to have broken the glass ceiling, it may just have shown women how hard and resistant that barrier really is. 63% of women said the press did not treat women equally; more than two thirds of women said that they were being treated unfairly in the workplace (68%) and in politics (72%).

But while "feminism" seems to connote radicalism out of the mainstream, most women have very definite beliefs about the equality of the sexes. Older women believe by nearly 2 to 1 that when given an equal opportunity, women will succeed at whatever they do. Younger women agree but more of them (43%) feel that men and women have different strengths and weaknesses in what they can do well.


-- By an overwhelming 61% to 19% margin, women believe there is a gender bias in the media.

-- Only 20% of women are willing to use the word "feminist" about themselves. Only 17% of all voters said they would welcome their daughters using that label.

-- 4 in 10 men freely admit sexist attitudes towards a female president. 39% of men say that a male is "naturally more suited" to carrying out the duties of the office.

-- Women over 50, the first generation to have a majority in the workforce, see far more discrimination in every area of life than younger women.

"This poll shows the rising anger in American women who feel increasingly ignored politically, culturally and especially by the media," said Tina Brown, Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of The Daily Beast.

The media had a huge opportunity this fall to overcome these perceptions of bias, and it seems they failed the test -- especially with the older generation. Women over 50 said Palin was asked questions and subjected to unfair comments by a remarkable 2 to 1. All voters recalled more stories being written about Palin's hair and clothes than Obama's healthcare plans. And despite the large volume of stories about the hair and clothes of the candidates, 70% of women think those topics are not fair game for discussion.

Both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin emerged as role models to women, while men saw only Hillary as a potential role model. 69% said Hillary's campaign helped the chance we will one day have a women president while the voters were divided (37 to 43) on whether Palin helped that cause.

Saturday Night Live parodies of Palin and Hillary were seen by more than half the voters and most thought they were fair rather than being too hard on them.

Led by an older generation that is harshly disappointed and impatient for equality in all areas of life, women may well show greater solidarity with women running for office in the future. While 95% of African Americans voted for Barack Obama, far fewer women voted for Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin. The heightened perceptions of how women were treated this cycle just may drive more votes by women for women next time around.

The Daily Beast Sexism Poll was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). The poll covered 1,003 internet interviews with registered voters from November 5 - November 6, 2008. Overall, the margin of error is +/- 3.09%.

The sample included: 461 males and 542 females; 361 Democrats, 301 Republicans, and 341 Independents; and 772 white and 231 non-white (Black, Hispanic, Asian, Arabic, Other Race) voters.

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