Taiwan Quick Take: You might think women would have more of a problem with the KMT. They don’t.

From the Taipei Times:

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday defended calling President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) an “ill-starred woman” (衰尾查某, literally “droopy-tailed woman”) on Tuesday, despite criticism from politicians across party lines.

Wu made the remark in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) during a rally for Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜)

That doesn’t sound good, but Wu simply doubled down:

Following widespread criticism from politicians over the sexist remark, Wu yesterday insisted that Tsai has brought the nation misfortune.

Under Tsai, all sectors of the economy have suffered, he wrote on Facebook.

“Has Taiwan not gone downhill? Has Tsai Ing-wen not brought misfortune to Taiwan?” Wu asked.

Hours after Wu’s remarks on Tuesday, Tsai wrote on Facebook that his language was inappropriate and that the KMT is “full of discrimination.”

Personally, she can withstand the attack, but the nation should not tolerate such a negative election culture, she said.

“I find such a political culture unacceptable and we will not accept any personal attacks against women using such language,” Tsai said.

The president has always put on a calm, brave face in public–taking it all in stride.  She has said many times she expects it as a trail-blazer, but she’s been very consistent and clear is stating it is unacceptable for her successors in the future.  Regardless of how she may feel about the attacks privately, in public her unwavering dignity and strength when–yet again–this happens, shows she’s a class act and very much in control.  Whatever one may thinks about her politics, in this regard she deserves respect from everyone.  She continues:

She recounted many sexist comments made by KMT members in the past, including Wu last year calling Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) “a fat sow,” and former premier Simon Chang (張善政), the KMT’s vice presidential candidate, last week saying that Tsai does not understand what immigrant mothers need, because she has never given birth.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Deputy Secretary-General Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) and New Power Party (NPP) Secretary-General Wu Pei-yun (吳佩芸) have both demanded an apology from Wu.

And this from DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲):

Wu’s mindset is stuck in the patriarchal culture of 50 years ago that featured great gender disparity and a male-dominated society, in which women were relegated to subservient roles, such as housekeepers, cooks and maids, Kuan said yesterday.

“Taiwan has seen movements for women’s rights and empowerment, but we see the KMT has not woken up on gender equality,” Kuan said.

“It is astonishing to see the deep level of misogyny among KMT politicians,” she said.

There are some problems with this.  First, these kinds of comments are not the exclusive preserve of the KMT by any stretch of the imagination.  DPP bigshots, TPP Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je among others repeatedly make comments that are clearly offensive–claiming to be astonished about it existing in the KMT is disingenuous.  Nor has progress on the issue been limited to the DPP, the KMT at times has also moved the ball forward.

That being said, recently it does feel like it is more likely to come from KMT politicians–after all their leadership, candidates and party list nominees almost entirely qualify for elderly discounts.  I don’t mean to suggest that simply because they are older that means they are by default sexist, many have learned to move on from the attitudes they were raised with.  Nor do I want to suggest any excuse for those who haven’t.  But the fact remains that people of older generations were raised in different times, and may have found it harder–or haven’t tried–to keep up with changing social mores.

Jenna Lynn Cody over at Lao Ren Cha also recently wrote on the move towards social conservatism in the KMT, which also comes with more traditional views on women.

So, how badly has this hurt the KMT with women?  Not a whit, it appears.

I posted this up on Facebook on November 30 based on results in this poll:

Interesting, the gender gap on DPP vs KMT support has widened further, women support KMT 10% more than men, men support DPP 10% more than women. Same for support for Tsai, men 10% higher. However, on “plan to vote” there is only a 2.5% gap (men slightly more likely to vote).

First, the close parity between intentions to vote suggests that both men and women have similar levels of involvement, and though it’s not a certainty, that is suggestive of similar levels of interest.  Why are they coming to significantly different conclusions on which party is best for the country?

It doesn’t appear that it is about President Tsai, or her gender: the gap in support between her and the gap between support for the DPP is the same.  True, could be different people, but that seems unlikely. While it is certainly true that sexism has caused problems for the president, it doesn’t appear that it is manifesting men’s voting intentions to any significant degree.

Do you trust in Tsai In-wen? Avg 54.2% yes
59.7% men put their faith in Tsai, 49% women

Satisfied with Tsai administration:
Men 57.9%, women 48.1%

Positive feelings toward DPP? Avg 46.4%
Men 51.7%, women 41.3%

Positive feelings toward KMT? Avg 26.6%
Men 21.6%, women 31.3%

Plan to vote for…
Tsai/Lai: 51.2% (men 55.5%, women 46.9%)
Han/Chang: 23.7% (men 20.2%, women 27.1%)
Soong/Yu: 5.2% (men 5%, women 5.3%)

Party list vote:
DPP: 34.1% (men 37.4, women 31, c.tw. 33.1%)
KMT: 25.1% (men 20.6, women 29.5, c.tw. 25.5)
TPP: 9.5% (men 12.5, women 6.7, c.tw. 9)
NPP: 5.3% (men 5.3, women 5.3, c.tw. 4.8%)
PFP: 2.5% (men 3.2, women 1.8, c.tw. 3.7%)

Will you vote?
Yes: 89.6% (men 90.9, women 88.4, c.tw. 89.2%)

NOTE: “c.tw” is central Taiwan, which was the other thing I was playing close attention to.

Notice that men are almost twice as likely to support the TPP and PFP.  However, the one party whose support is almost entirely among younger, more socially liberal Taiwanese support is identical among men and women.

And the gap on Premier Su Tseng-chang was even wider:

Satisfied with Su Tseng-chang’s administration? Avg 50,9% yes
Men 58.7%, women 43.4%

The gap in support for the parties has existed for some time, but has widened recently.

This all begs the question: Why?  If the interest in being involved in the political process is almost identical, and the associated guesses that both therefore probably have similar levels of interest, and are exposed to the same range of media and news outlets, what is going on here?

I have no idea.  Not a clue. In fact, I’m not even sure how to even frame the question on how to begin.

There were many comments on that Facebook post, many very thoughtful and interesting–but they were simply possibilities and/or partial explanations, none appeared to explain it in it’s entirety.

Interestingly, the comments focused on why the women didn’t support the DPP more.  I’m not even sure that is the proper framing to begin with.  It might be that it is the men who’ve moved away from the KMT to the DPP, PFP and TPP, and the women who haven’t.  It does appear that women are supporting the KMT in numbers closer to what society as a whole did a few years ago.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, their reasons for supporting the KMT now may–or may not–have much to do with the reasons then, but it’s possibly a thread to pull on.  There is also the possibility that it isn’t only men or women who’ve moved, but rather they both moved further in different directions.  Again, I don’t know.

Another thread to potentially pull on is trust, does one gender tend to trust or distrust the parties for different reasons?  Or acceptance of change versus traditional stability?  Problem there is now the DPP is the one campaigning on stability, the TPP, PFP and KMT on change–which doesn’t line up with the gender split across parties.  Possibly the traditional view of the DPP and PFP being for change, and the TPP being new–and the traditional view that the KMT is the traditional stable force has a role in this.  Maybe.  Don’t know.

If I had the time I’d love to go over tons of data and see if could tease out some patterns on this that aren’t apparent to me now, but until after the election that time isn’t available.  Even better if a smart, curiousity-driven, trained professional whose job it is to go over political data were to go over it.  I wonder where we could find someone like that?

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