Surveys conducted in the recent past have often illustrated women as more liberal than their male counterparts. On issues such as the size of government and gun ownership, women have come out in favor of more liberal options when compared to the views of men within the same demographics. However, the issue on the legalization of marijuana has revealed a different result, with men appearing to be more in favor of the efforts. Although each year shows an increase in support from Americans in general, the gap between the two genders has remained fairly constant. Data shows that 68 percent of men are in favor of marijuana legalization, whereas only 56 percent of women support this cause.
The Parenthood Distinction
The book ‘The Politics of Parenthood’ shows how mothers will often be in support of policies which are helpful to children, ranging from reduced costs of healthcare to the assistance of needy kids by the government. Therefore, it would be natural to assume that concern for the health and well-being of children was spearheading the divide concerning this issue.
Parenthood is a significant life-changing experience. It alters the way time is spent, the thought process of an individual, thoughts around finances, the social circles one belongs to, and even the simple things that worry someone from day to day. Yet, until only recently, there had been blatant disregard as to how this shapes political views. Previously conducted research drawn from a variety of national research datasets illustrated the political link in parenthood. There was a clear illustration of how parents have distinct views concerning policies such as government spending on education and care of children, including the role they felt the government should play in assisting others.
The present day sees fathers who are more ready and willing to take up the duties involved in caring for their children than in previous ages. This, however, did not stop parenthood from still being an exceedingly gendered experience. Mothers are still more likely to spend more time with their children than fathers would. Day-to-day parenting work, such as organizing play dates and scheduling medical appointments is more likely to be done by mothers. When such factors are considered, then it becomes clear that mothers would be more influenced politically by their parenthood. When viewed both across time and demographic groups, a more liberal approach is seen in women who view the government as a source of help and support for their children.
The existence of this previously conducted research fortified the assumption of motherhood playing a role in the debate on legalizing marijuana. Especially since all the efforts against drug abuse in the media project the dangers of drug use on a young population. Any sensible mother would, therefore, want to shield their children from such substances that can be harmful to their children. This hypothesis was put to the test with data drawn from the Pew Research Center and involved questions centered around the respondents’ attitudes towards marijuana, pre-conceived opinions, and any cases of self-reported use of marijuana.
Contrary to expectations, it emerged that there was no statistical difference between marijuana opposition among mothers and fathers compared to men and women who did not have children. With motherhood negated as the reason behind the gender gap, further research prompted the discovery of other probable drivers.
The data revealed 62 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, which is, of course, a reflection of a continued increase over the last decade. The previous year had registered 61 percent support, but in the year 2000, the support was only at 31 percent. Generational and partisan differences exist between the views on legalization. Millennials top the support at 74 percent, Generation Xers follow at 63 percent, and Baby Boomers stand at 54 percent. The Silent Generation are the least supportive at 39 percent.
When considering partisan influence, Democrats stand at 69 percent, almost similar to Democrat-leaning Independents who tallied at 75 percent. Republicans showed division with 45 percent in favor and 51 percent showing opposition. The share of Republicans in support of the legalization still showed an increase from 39 percent in the previous year. Republican-leaning independents showed greater support for legalization at 59 percent. The increase in public support probably stems from the fact that a great number of states have already made use of the drug legal for both medical or recreational reasons within the last few years.
Probable Opinion Drivers
Firstly, there is an increased likelihood of women being more religious than men. Previous research has already proven that with religion comes a greater likelihood to the disapproval of marijuana and reduced likelihood of ‘drug-testing.’ Secondly, there is a higher tolerance for risk among men than women. The daring nature of men would drive them towards the support of marijuana more readily. The legalization of marijuana brings increased risk in society.
Men appear to be more comfortable with this risk than women would be. But, the one thing that would best explain the existence of the gap is the difference in the prevalence of use between men and women. There are simply more men using marijuana than women, and thus would be a more likely reason for the increased support among men than women. Legalization would mean increased access and ready availability for the current consumers. This assistance would, of course, be very much welcome.
There was curiosity around which other demographics would predict the use and support for the legalization of marijuana. While there were some surprising outcomes, the results were generally as expected. The married and the older population had a lesser inclination towards marijuana use. Surprisingly, despite the lower likelihood of Republican support for the legalization of marijuana, there was an almost equal repowering of use among both Democrats and Republicans.
Another surprise was that of fathers and mothers with children below the age of 18 in the same household reported an equal likelihood of marijuana use as those of the same bracket who were not parents. This fact, when looked at from a motherhood perspective, would best explain why it is not a factor when explaining the gender gap. When considering marijuana, the apparent assumption that mothers are more likely to choose a distinctively moral choice than the rest of society lacks the data to back it up.