“Woke Women”: Making Too Much of the ‘Great Gender Divide’


“Are young women more ‘woke’ than their male peers?”

According to an analysis by Channel NewsAsia, titled “Are young women more ‘woke’ than their male peers? In Singapore, it’s not so clear-cut” the answer is that it’s complicated.

The article, attempted to explore the gender divide in political views among Singapore’s Gen Z, in the light of global trends of young men leaning towards conservative ideologies and young women towards more liberal ones.

In an attempt to flesh out Singapore’s nuances, the writer pits a comment from a “politically conservative”, Alex Jones watching man against the views of three others who purportedly held more liberal views. These views were interjected by some data and academic commentary which indicated that the gender divide was not as pronounced as seen in the rest of the world.

This is what passes for public interest journalism in Singapore.

The inspiration for such a line of inquiry comes from an article originally from the Financial Times (FT) that has been making the rounds recently, pointing to a new ‘global gender divide’. 

Survey results from the UK, US, Germany, and South Korea reveal distinct generational differences, particularly within Gen Z. This generation showcases a paradoxical blend of progressive and conservative views, characterised by an increasing ideological divide between men and women.

The #MeToo movement and the surge in feminist activism are widely considered major factors behind this trend, alongside non-gender-specific issues such as immigration and racial justice, which also contribute to the growing ideological split.

This situation paints a complex and fascinating multidimensional landscape of the factors driving the apparent gender divide. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge the subtleties in data collection and interpretation, as these nuances significantly impact our understanding of the underlying dynamics.

More Women are Possibly Becoming ‘Liberal’

Data from the US was based on respondents’ self-reported ideological leanings, while data from other countries represented the respondents’ support for liberal or conservative parties.

But while these only reflect ideological identifications in a binary manner (for example, progressive versus conservative), they do not directly give insights into the extent of how liberal or conservative the cohorts are becoming. 

In this vein, independent channel TLDR News Global suggests that the data could also indicate that women remain as liberal as before while right-wing political parties become more conservative. This shift results in more women identifying symbolically as liberals, although their operational attitudes and beliefs have remained constant. 

Consider watching their YouTube segment for a nuanced discussion of this topic.

So, is there really a gender divide?

The trends presented by the FT strongly suggest that the answer is ‘yes’. But they should not be mistaken for suggesting increased polarisation along the political spectrum. 

In other words, more women are becoming liberal, not that women are becoming more liberal.

However, other publications drawing from the FT piece seem to arrive at different conclusions, suggesting that young women are indeed moving to the left while men stand still.

But, are Young Women Really Becoming More Liberal?

Then there are the fringe arguments made by some that add an additional layer, saying that ‘young women, trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people’ are somehow involved in this trend due to their participation in #MeToo and resistance to anti-abortion lobbying in the US.

Because of course, as the centre of the universe, everything has to revolve around them.

Is there growing membership within these ideologically marginal, ‘woke’ identity groups, and are they being counted among the ‘women’? It could be true, but any mention of such gender identity categories is absent from the original FT article, making it a discussion for another day.

We therefore have men on one side, being compared to anything that is ‘not-man’, including obfuscatory gender categories, on the other, as a means to sharpen the supposed gender divide, in a way that diverges from the original case made by the FT article.

Journalistic Activism at CNA?

It is therefore intriguing that CNA decided to pursue a similar path by also promoting the viewpoints of woke individuals and groups as somewhat mainstream while presenting a caricature of the average conservative man (more on that later).

A tell is that we never see the word ‘woke’ appear anywhere else beyond the title and the first paragraph – used in its place are labels like ‘left-wing’, ‘left-leaning’, and ‘liberal’, which are not the same things.

Why is this? It could be that ‘wokeness’ is emerging at the forefront of local collective consciousness in a bad way (just ask Russell Lee of True Singapore Ghost Stories fame), and some more effort is needed to rehabilitate the ‘woke’ label – work that was beyond the scope of what the writer was trying to accomplish in this piece.

But first, let’s be clear on what ‘woke’ means and why using it is a big deal.

Calling Out ‘Woke’ For What It Is: Not ‘Liberal’.

Initially, being woke meant that one was “alert to racial injustice, sexism, and the denial of LGBT rights”. But it has now evolved into a pejorative term referring to the excesses of critical social justice movements.

Citing Vivek Ramaswamy, former US presidential candidate of Indian descent and critic of corporate wokeness, it is an extreme form of identity politics which posits that an unjust power hierarchy exists between ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed’ groups. The liberation of the oppressed must be achieved by all means necessary, including silencing, strong activism, and the destruction of key institutions. 

Furthermore, it actually disempowers ‘oppressed’ groups of their agency by teaching that their lot in life is inextricably tied to their identity markers (e.g. colour of skin, gender, sexuality). And ‘the oppressed’ who refuse to fall in lockstep with woke precepts must (ironically) be discarded and stigmatised.

Hence, it is a mistake to associate ‘wokeness’ as a more quixotic form of liberalism, like how the CNA article frames it by associating it with left-wing politics which presumably advocates for “social equality, liberty, progress and reform”.

Wokeness is, in fact, very aggressive, illiberal, socially corrosive and coercive.

CNA: Women are not ‘woke’… yet

However, CNA deserves praise for its attempt to have a balanced discussion on the available local data from sources such as the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), concluding that there are reasons to believe that women are somewhat less ‘liberal’ than men when it comes to racial justice, but more ‘liberal’ when it comes to marriage and parenthood. 

These conclusions are based on attitudes related to particular issues, rather than political self-identification which is a fuzzy broad-stroke indicator. To be fair, this is more rigorous and useful than the original FT article, which focused broadly on political self-identification rather than granular issues.

Priming the Reader?

While these efforts are a bare minimum, we can see instances of how the author tries to artificially prime the reader into accepting that wokeness is the inevitable state of womanhood, and possibly society.

You might wonder, “How do they do this?”

Consider how the woke concept of ‘Anti-racism’, (which posits that neutrality on racial issues is not an option, and demands instead active engagement in dismantling systems of racial dominance, such as ‘white supremacy’ or Chinese supremacy in the context of Singapore) is casually slipped into the discussion and obfuscates between radical woke precepts, and more mainstream liberal ideas.

While women thankfully don’t seem keen on anti-racism at present, the final section of the article is instructive.

While seeking out the opinions of young Singaporeans, three people are profiled, all of whom either try to make the case that women are more open-minded or that men are the real problem.

There is a total absence of viewpoint diversity in this section.

To be fair, it could be due to a range of trivial reasons, from submission deadlines to not being able to readily find conservative or liberal non-woke people (yes, those exist in large numbers). 

But this seems to be done through design. For one, two of the three profiled are individuals from woke advocacy groups (AWARE and ‘Minority Voices’). This is not vox populi or an attempt to hear from the man on the street. Rather, it is a deliberate attempt to privilege the woke activist worldview. 

Poisoning the Conservative Well

Secondly, there was a deliberate attempt to poison the conservative well. The article opens up with a quotation by a “politically conservative” man (Mr Ng) who purportedly gets his news from the likes of Alex Jones and other “conspiracy theorists” (remember, these are “his own words”).

Other notable beliefs he holds include Covid vaccine hesitancy, and opposing the gender transitioning of children before they are adults. All these are included to paint a discrediting picture of a whacky conservative cartoon character.

Consider this brief exchange on Reddit as further elaboration.

In contrast, the absurd claims of the other profiles featured in the article are never questioned.

For example, there is no counternarrative to the claims made by Ms Nithiananthan, director of advocacy, research and communications at AWARE, who indiscriminately connects the recent odious case of wife-sharing drug rapes to the “manosphere” and presumably, conservatism which is the context of this section.

This is a gross misrepresentation and smear of social conservatives, when liberal sexual ethics, including polyamory, have long been extolled by social progressives rather than conservatives.

We at Regardless wonder if AWARE could also explain whether former lecturer Jeremy Fernando, whom they defend, was a secret conservative influenced by the manosphere when he chose to commit an act of molestation.

Then there’s “non-binary” Mr. Sharvesh Leatchmanan, who claims that men are rarely challenged because Singapore is “obviously patriarchal”. We challenge him on this, by simply referring to the next interview subject, Ms Darcel Anastasia Al Anthony who claims that she and her male friends confronted a lunch acquaintance who made supposed off-colour remarks about women’s place in universities.

Moralising Ideologies While Confusing Labels

Why is this a problem? Implicit in many of the publications on this topic is the idea that anything progressive, liberal, left-wing or woke is morally good, whereas anything conservative or right-wing is morally bad. 

This is a mistake because it creates an impetus, and even a moral panic, to erroneously classify particular beliefs or attitudes as being conservative, and hence dismissible, purely out of convenience and not in the pursuit of truth and nuance. 

For example, while much of the energy towards vaccine scepticism was driven by conservative figures, it was also prevalent among the liberal black community in the US due to historical tragedies like the Tuskegee experiment. 

Furthermore, figures that hardly self-identify as right-wing or conservative (although frequently tarred as being just that), have also expressed scepticism towards the mRNA vaccines. These include Robert F Kennedy Junior (Democrat US Presidential candidate), Joe Rogan (popular liberal podcaster), and Bill Maher (liberal TV host).

And the halt on the administration of puberty blockers used in transitioning minors has become mainstream in many European countries including Sweden, Finland, the UK, and Norway. 

Yes, liberal folks and societies who are not woke do exist. That’s another reason why it’s problematic to lump ‘woke’ together with ‘liberal’ or ‘left-leaning’.

It is grossly reductionistic to pigeonhole the above issues as ‘conservative’ or fringe, yet this was done by the author of the CNA article to elevate the lived experiences and voices of her woke counterparts. 

The effect is that it stymies the free, unhindered exchange of ideas, and robs people of the chance to understand issues deeply and in an informed manner.


While the original FT article was an interesting springboard to exploring a fascinating topic, we find that CNA mishandled its approach by trying to force a particular conclusion, while abandoning best journalistic practices. 

In particular, we criticise the CNA analysis for a few reasons. 

First, it attempts to use the FT article as a basis for sneaking in the idea that not only are more women liberal, but women are getting more liberal as well. It does so not based on data and diverse opinions, but by engaging the voices of a select group of people.

Second, it tries to surreptitiously present ‘wokeness’ as something more respectable and palatable, by reframing it as being a core liberal or left-leaning set of beliefs and values.

Third, it sabotages viewpoint diversity while promoting ‘wokeness’ by demonising conservatives and entertaining unchallenged smears against them, effectively associating conservativism with criminality and conspiracy theories.

In conclusion, we recommend readers take the findings from the FT article with a pinch of salt and the CNA article with a dollop of scepticism.

And finally, to CNA if you’re reading this: if you are finding it hard to find centre-right or conservative voices for viewpoint representation, you can always contact us here at Regardless.

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