Toleration, Libertarianism

Freedom and Feminism

For those just tuning in, the latest libertarian internet dust up surrounds Julie Borowski’s video about why there are not more libertarian women. In it, she argues that women are not libertarians in part because libertarianism is kinda dorky and women care more than men about acceptance. When I first saw the video, I had a similar reaction as my co-bloggers, especially about Julie’s critique of the “liberal pro-choice feminist magazines.” I like those magazines.

Then I read Julie’s response to the criticism and I became more sympathetic to her position. She does have a point when she writes that social pressure against identifying as a libertarian may discourage women (or anyone) from doing so. Julie thinks that women are more susceptible to that pressure, but an alternative hypothesis is that libertarian culture tends to be more accepting of men. Furthermore, in some industries there are real professional risks to being openly libertarian. When some people hear “libertarian” it instantly translates to “asshole” or “idiot” in their heads. Given this perception, it’s probably more risky for someone who is a member of a socially marginalized group to depart from the mainstream. Still, I think Julie is right that more people would identify as libertarians if it were more culturally relevant and so libertarians should look beyond the state and speak to social issues and culture.

Where Julie and I will disagree is about what libertarians should say when we talk about social issues. I think that libertarians should not oppose feminist cultural values. Libertarians should embrace feminism. Freedom is a libertarian and feminist ideal–an ideal that should inform our politics and our culture. States are not the only institutions that should aim to be more voluntary. So should the family and the workplace.

This is one of the reasons that women on the left should give libertarianism a second look. Of course, libertarians and liberal egalitarian feminists will disagree about the solutions to problems like sexism. Libertarians are skeptical that state-backed violence is the solution to private patterns of gendered injustice, but that doesn’t mean that we endorse sexism in any sense. As I argued earlier, it is consistent to say, “A should not be sexist” and also to say “B should not threaten violence to prevent A from being sexist.”

Anyone who cares about freedom should oppose both public and private forms of oppression. This is why libertarians should be feminists and why feminists should be libertarians.

  • There aren’t more female Libertarians because our party does a horrible job of marketing to voters. Not just women, but voters period. Stop looking for the bloody boogey man under every bed – it’s not that big of a deal. Furthermore, it’s insulting to me (as a woman) to hear any party say it needs to embrace my “culture.” I don’t want you to embrace anything – stick to the LP platform, reach out to like minded voters and get some viable candidates elected to office. All this conversation is is a distraction. We have bigger issues to tackle, don’t we?

    • Jessica Flanigan

      I hear where you are coming from when you say that you don’t want to embrace any particular set of cultural values but to just stick to the LP platform, which I guess means focusing on state power. I’m actually pretty sympathetic to this point because I agree that attempts to promote cultural values often misfire and try to impose values on people that they themselves reject.

      What I meant to point out though is that if you think that the government should not interfere with peoples choices, then maybe it’s because you think it is valuable if people can make whatever choices they like for themselves, and if you think that, then you should support as a cultural value the idea that people have the authority to choose for themselves, why should we limit freedom as a solely political value?.

      I didn’t mean to be insulting by suggesting that everyone should be living their life in accordance with Vogue or Cosmo, I don’t think that at all. What I do think is that people should respect women’s choices, we should respect everyone’s choices (within the boundaries of moral permissibility) I think the best version of feminism affirms this principle, and that libertarians should too.

      • >we should respect everyone’s choices
        I don’t respect bad choices.

        • j_m_h

          In sense 1) or sense 2) above?

          • respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

      • So I should respect “everyone’s choices” even if those choices are 1) idiotic, 2) statist and predatory towards my property, and 3) provide hypocritical cover for shrinking my liberty (i.e., rich liberal womyn who want to raise my taxes and take my guns). I should support these choices — even if they are nihilistic and anti-freedom because the person making the choices has a vagina. Got it.

      • adrianratnapala

        @Don, @Chris

        Let’s keep it cool here. “Respect choices” can mean (1) accept that people have the right to make certain choices, (2) approve of all the choices they do in fact make. Let’s do Ms Flanigan the courtesy of assuming she meant (1).



        Thanks for this interesting post. In it, you say: “Libertarians should embrace feminism. Freedom is a libertarian and feminist ideal–an ideal that should inform our politics and our culture. States are not the only institutions that should aim to be more voluntary.” In this comment, you repeat the idea that feminism implies respecting people’s (especially women’s) choices, within the constraint of what is morally permissible.

        Clearly, if this is what “feminism” means, then what you say is perfectly reasonable and even non-controversial. But, its really not that simple, is it? A brief review of the Wiki description of this movement,, reveals an incredibly wide range of political/ideological views, some of which clearly are consistent with state coercion to bring about certain results in a manner inconsistent with libertarian principles. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could explain why you identify “feminism” with simply respecting choices, when it seems much more complicated than that. What version of feminism do you endorse?

      • feminsim is a hate group

        I’m a woman, and a stranger rape survivor and I despise feminism. Yes, I do. And NO, some screeching women on the internet won’t change my mind. Feminists think they can bully other women into supporting them, but they can’t.

        I’m sure the feminist apologist crew will be along shortly to tell me why I’m so wrong using one of their tired tactics like:

        The no true scotsman argument, “But, but, but you must not have met real feminists! Real feminists wouldn’t X.” (Uh, huh. Sure. Yeah. Whatever sweetie.)

        Or the always fun – “You wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for feminism!!!” – Actually, most laws which are considered feminist milestones were passed by men (ya know those evil things with penises that run everything?). Thanks for playing!

        Or my absolute favorite, “If you believe in women’s rights, you are a feminist!!” (yeah, by that logic, if you believe in love you are a Christian! FAIL.)

        Feminists are always screeching about how women wouldn’t have rights without THEM. WRONG! It was MEN, not bitchy feminists who changed the laws. MEN! I’m married to a man, and I am happy with that arrangement. I’m not interested in feminism’s man-hating, cunt worshiping sycophantic bullshit. Feminists are narcissistic, demanding, dishonest and passive aggressive. They have a permanent victim complex.

        Here is a list of why I as a libertarian woman, do not and will not ever support feminism:

        Number one: I won’t support “sex workers”. If someone sells themselves as a f*ckhole they don’t deserve my respect or help. Period.

        Number two: Social justice. Nope. People have equal rights, now people are just acting like victims for the hell of it. I don’t care about perpetual whiners who cry that they feel “marginalized”. Get a fucking therapist – others are not responsible for your tender feefees.

        Number three: Trannies. If you have enough money to change your sex, you AREN’T oppressed. Just because someone thinks they are a cat, doesn’t mean society has to placate their delusions.

        Number four: Rape culture. I was attacked by a stranger rapist and I STILL don’t believe in “rape culture”. It’s a made up term so feminists can say rape over and over (especially over something as minor as an outfit in a video game) to try to make people knee jerk into supporting them (Ya don’t wanna support rape do ya?!). Not me. Men are NOT rapists. Rapists are rapists. Rape culture is a feminist delusion.

        Number five: Feminism is ANTI-FREEDOM! Period. The author is wrong on this point. Feminism is a totalitarian movement, backed by the government. I live in a mandatory arrest dv state and I have seen a number of men get arrested for things like raising their voices or not moving away from a woman fast enough.

        These are non-violent adult males who are being jailed and charged with assault because of rabid feminist laws that take away police discretion and demand that males be arrested any time a woman says they were “mean” to her WITHOUT PROOF OF ASSAULT.

        Women are not angels. Petty women often make false charges of violence and rape (and I don’t even have a problem saying this as a rape survivor, some women are just liars and men need and deserve legal protection against lying women. Period.).

        I’m libertarian, but I’ll never support or be a feminist. Feminism is a hate group against men and women that dare disagree with them.

        • Liana Borges

          It looks like you’re having heavy periods this month.

  • Adam

    That video was an idiotic rant by what looked to be a 17 year-old with a webcam. Why on earth are you discussing it? People so concerned about the liberal conspiracy to promote sex aren’t libertarian; they’re good old-fashioned social conservatives trying to find a more widely adoptable philosophical grounding for their beliefs now that the mainstream is becoming less religious. Libertarians allying with people like that probably has something to do with not appealing to women, however.

    • martinbrock

      TLG’s rant is childish, but it’s not anti-libertarian in my way of thinking. It’s not the sort of thing that I expect BHL to counter, but the counter-rants reveal debatable assumptions at least.

      1. Libertarianism implies anything about sympathy with Helen Gurley Brown’s personal lifestyle preferences.

      I have no idea how anyone reaches this conclusion. Libertarianism implies that Brown is free to pursue her preferences, but if Julie Borowski believes that casual sex and $200 lipstick do not empower her, she’s equally free to pursue another lifestyle. She’s also equally free to evangelize to anyone willing to listen. Brown and Borowski can both be sublimely libertarian simultaneously without any contradiction.

      2. To “win”, libertarians must attract more people to our ideals, particularly people with vaginas.

      This idea apparently presumes that “victory” is possible only through a majoritarian political process. I reject this idea as not only impractical but also fundamentally anti-liberty.

      If 20,000 libertarians manage to realize a satisfactorily libertarian political structure in New Hampshire and effectively to resist external, political imposition, that is victory. If everyone else on Earth prefers to be subject to a totalitarian, socialist state, majoritarian or otherwise, or an Islamic Republic or a feudal estate, why should these libertarians care?

      If these 20,000 libertarians are all male, they must either choose homosexuality or celibacy. Libertarianism implies no right to libertarian women. If libertarian women never equal libertarian men in number, there’s nothing anti-libertarian about that.

      3. Women are a socially marginalized group, in the United States, in the 21st century. With a daughter and two sons in college presently, I can’t take this idea seriously at all. It’s so counter to my experience that it borders on delusional.

      • ricketson

        If the rest of the world is authoritarian, then a libertarian enclave will not survive.

        If we can’t convince women, then we can’t establish a functioning libertarian community. It also implies that we are failing to consider something — liberty is not supposed to be a male concept.

        The ability to appeal to all demographic groups is what distinguishes real political movements from self-righteous mental masturbation.

        • martinbrock

          Liberty is certainly not a male concept. The state is more of a male concept, insofar as it evolved from territorial dominance contests. While most libertarians are male, the overwhelming majority of males are not libertarians, and in my experience, many nominal “libertarians” are really people seeking control of the state. The early Republicans were very libertarian rhetorically (“Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Fremont”), but as soon as they had control of the state, they became incredibly statist.

          But liberty is not a female concept either. The whole idea of genderizing the discussion is nonsense. Some women are libertarians. Others aren’t. If you want to understand that, look at individual women and their relationships to the state.

          If the real political movements appeal to everyone, even to every “demographic group”, then the Republicrats have the real political movements, and libertarians are just a lot of marginal malcontents. I’ll stick with the marginal malcontents.

      • Jessica Flanigan

        The comment about being socially marginalized was referring to particular industries where people’s political positions/identification would be relevant. Is that thesis counter to your experience?

        • martinbrock

          Women are not a socially marginalized group in any context in my experience. I work in a heavily male dominated industry (software development for engineering applications), and I see nothing but enthusiasm for female colleagues.

          All else is rarely equal, but all else being equal, a woman has a distinct advantage in my opinion, because everyone is looking for an opportunity to promote a qualified woman, and the eagerness to promote qualified woman is not simply a consequence of EEOC pressure. It reflects a widespread, sincere belief that qualified women should be promoted.

          I’m not suggesting that women are promoted into positions for which they aren’t qualified, because I don’t believe they are. Plenty of people seek management positions to escape their technical incompetence but not women particularly in my experience.

          I’m not sure I’ve ever worked in an industry in which a libertarian political identification would be relevant. Libertarians are very common the IT business.

          I spent a decade as a NASA employee in an astrophysics research lab, but even among state employees, scientists and engineers care more about a person’s competence in science and engineering than about their politics. I was never near a level of management where politics was a more important consideration, but I suppose a libertarian man in this context has no advantage over a libertarian woman.

  • Wow. Way to backtrack after taking it on the chin from libertarians everywhere. Might we see an apology for the “slut-shaming” nonsense? I didn’t think so. “Where Julie and I will disagree is about what libertarians should say when we talk about social issues.” In other words, Borowski shouldn’t stray too far from the ideological parameters set by your (statist) Wymin’s Studies Professor. She broke ranks and didn’t speak from her script. That’s just like a libertarian.

  • Meh.

    When some people hear “libertarian” it instantly translates to “asshole” or “idiot” in their heads.

    The same could be said for feminists as well.

    Perhaps this discussion would benefit from another discussion about what feminism actually is rather than descending into the same ol’ same ol’ libertarian cultural divide.

    I think getting a proper definition of feminism from all of the relevant players might help everybody to dig deeper. I’ll start:

    feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

    • martinbrock

      The discussion, as always, also benefits from a clear understanding of what “libertarian” means to all of the parties.

    • Micha Elyi

      masculinism is the yet more radical notion that men are people

      • TracyW

        You’re coming up with a new name for an old idea.

    • female not feminist

      No it isn’t. That an empty slogan. Feminism has an agenda.

  • “libertarians and liberal egalitarian feminists will disagree about the
    solutions to problems like sexism. Libertarians are skeptical that
    state-backed violence is the solution to private patterns of gendered

    Hmm. I’m pretty sure that if you ask a sample of liberal egalitarian feminists whether they believe that state-backed violence is the solution to private patterns of gendered justice, they will say no and will not recognize what you wrote as a characterization of their position. There may be a problem of tendentious framing here.

    • Sean II

      It’s not tendentiousness you’re seeing, it’s politesse.

      Libertarians aren’t “skeptical” of state-backed violence, they’re “against it” or “opposed to it except as a last resort” or else they “just totally fucking hate it.”

      I, for instance, am skeptical that Gangster Squad will be anything other than a really bad movie. That means I don’t know how I feel about it yet, but I sure do have my doubts.

      One thing I expect of anyone who identifies as libertarian is that they should have their minds made up when it comes to the broad limits of state-backed violence.

      • Always examine your own house first.

        If Libertarianism, small or capital ‘L,’ were more successful this line of discussion would be irrelevant. The questions which should have been asked are sadly absent. Consider the following:

        What most people today accept as a free market is nothing of the sort. This is true not just of the main stream but of most people who identify themselves as libertarian and the two major think tanks which position themselves as libertarian, Cato Institute and Reason Foundation. A free market can only exist outside of the limitations for individual choice imposed by government.

        “Privatization,’ returns nothing to the control of individuals. Where the word appears substitute corporatization. Corporations are not people and have no rights. Limiting liability to individuals through the artifice of a corporate
        shield is a tool of the state which, today, is effectively owned by

        Bob Poole was wrong and should be fraught with guilt as he plays with his model trains in Florida. The power to determine how to dispose of your trash should be under your own control. A free market solution would be competition in what method you, as an individual, choose. Extrapolate the policy of ‘privatization’ to the problems proliferating with corporate prisons
        and the number of people who stay there, convicted of victimless
        crimes, profiting ‘privatized’ prison systems at the expense of

        People think Libertarian candidates are crazy or idiots because although some have eloquently expressed rhetorical support for individual rights and the free market the Libertarian Party, as an organization, has a well-earned reputation for lying, cheating, and a shocking lack of simple human decency and justice. What we say is a fart in the wind. What we do is believed as true.

        And most egregious, the LP has produced no progress toward individual freedom either in social justice or for the free market.

        • Sean II

          I’m not being funny, but…was that comment actually directed at me? It seems like it might have been embedded here by mistake.

  • Actually, I oppose feminism. I think, to put it somewhat loosely, that every person should have the right to run his or her own life (so long as he or she does not violate the rights of others). Feminists stand steadfastly opposed to that. They want women to petition the state for specific benefits paid for by the population generally: they turn women into supplicants. They demand (and get) restrictions on behaviour which offends the sensibilities of people steeped in left-wing (quasi-religious) ideology, irrespective of the adverse consequences of those restrictions for most women as well as most men. They support curtailments of freedom of speech to prevent the expression of any view which suggests that women do not, or should not, match the picture of women painted by the left-wing ideologists. And so on and so forth. The debate about equal rights for women is a libertarian debate; and it needs to be disassociated from the uncivilised and childish mess that is feminism.

    This is my pitch to get the highest number of dislikes for any posting to BHL. But I think that what I said is true, more or less.

    • “Feminists stand steadfastly opposed to that. They want women to petition the state for specific benefits…”

      Actually, that’s just statist feminists. We could compare *those* feminists to members of libertarian parties. Neither are particularly libertarian in any strong sense, and neither are representative of the entire movement.


      Hey Danny,
      Even if you deserved it, I could never “dislike” you, so you may fall short of your goal. Maybe others wil pitch in to get you there. Good luck!

      • Hi Mark,

        I suspect some people are holding their dislikes back, because I said I wanted them. Psychology and stuff.

    • Sean II

      I want in on my share of those dislikes, and to earn them, I’ll say this:

      At a certain point, words mean what people take them to mean. Some words have been successfully turned against their original purpose (i.e., “queer”), some are worth a modest effort to recover (i.e., “liberal” in the United States), but some have acquired new meanings that can never be separated (i.e., “ironic”).

      “Feminism” is of the latter kind. It is synonymous both with statism and with a particular brand of academic frivolity and ridiculousness. If you stop kids randomly on campus and ask them what feminism is, you’ll get answers like “Wait, I totally know this. Isn’t that thing where they taught us Maybelline ads are really, like, snuff films in disguise?”

      The word “feminism” has an interesting past, but no future. The other team got to it first, and now it’s been ruined. Irredeemably so.

      Unfortunately that rarely serves as a deterrent around these parts. There’s a long tradition at BHL of attempted word-rescue (hooray for “social justice”) and word-suppression (boo “capitalism”). At this point, one should ask: how’s that working out for us?


        Man, you expect to get disliked for THIS. Give me a break, Sean. If you want to ring the bell in this game, you have to say something that is deeply offensive to modern sensibilities, that pisses on the most cherished and passionately held moral and empirical commitments of all well-educated, sophisticated contemporary men and women.

        Something like this: maybe in our evolutionary history those groups or families that were fortunate enough to enjoy certain specific and differential mutations in the brains of men and women had a better chance of survival. Perhaps, those communities where women were hard-wired for child care and men for hunting/gathering possessed reproductive advantages relative to competing groups. Perhaps it was also an advantage for these families that the “genius” gene was predominately found in men, so that they could use it to become better hunters and providers for their families. There, that ought to do it.

        • Sean II

          Wow, it seems you were right. And I imagined I was working within a proven model of provocation, which holds – I’m paraphrasing Coolio here = that “there ain’t no battle like a methods battle ’cause a methods battle don’t stop.”

          Look, I love this place. Great forum, great people, etc. But I would be derelict in my duty not to notice the three foundational cliches of the BHL universe:

          1) Acting like a political outreach movement when its convenient, pretending to be mere humble seekers of truth when its not.

          2) Coldly spurning the Randians and Rothbardians and Friedmanites who actually support similar policies, to lavish desperate attention on the Rawlsians and left-statists who will never requite our love. But damn, are they not even hotter because they ignore us?

          3) Spending a lot of time and effort in doomed semantic salvage operations.

          I can picture a Mark Twain style parody of the misunderstandings that might arise from 3). Imagine a post-apocalyptic world, where among the very few survivors are Tom Woods and a man who gets all of his political theory from reading BHL. While searching through the wreckage, they meet.

          Woods says: “From these ruins, I mean to build a civilization of true liberty, at last unchained by the fetid fetters of the state. I need to know right now if you’re with me or against me.”

          The BHL’er says : “I stand for social justice, I consider myself a feminist, I’m opposed to capitalism, and…”

          Crack. Woods shoots him right through the gut.

          Stunned, wounded, and dying, the BHL’er says “Wait, wait…you didn’t let me explain what I mean by all those things.”

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            See, the big problem here is that you and Danny have such winning personalities that it is apparently impossible to dislike you.

            I agree with you on the futility of outreach. As someone who has undergone an ideological transformation relatively late in life, I am pretty sure that it all begins with some key internal change of perspective. Political views have their origins in our emotions, not our logic. Also, think how hard it is to convince friends and relatives on political matters, and since they know you, they cannot start with the presumption that all libertarians are bad, selfish people.

          • Sean II

            Interesting you should mention the friends and family dimension.

            Of the people close to me, I’ve only ever put forth a serious effort to share libertarianism with my wife. And even that mostly took the form of me saying casually “these ideas can be found lying around the house, if you should ever happen to develop an interest in them. Obviously, I’d like it very much if you did, but please feel no more pressure than that.”

            Everyone else in my private life gets sorted into the category of “Don’t argue. Not worth the risk of hostility, alienation, and rancor.”

            As you might guess from that, I spent the holidays holding my tongue while some people praised Chris Christie’s “handling” of the weather, others spoke (in a convincing mimicry of informed discussion) about the urgent need to hold magazine capacity below 30 rounds, and one dear in-law rhapsodized about the perfectly obvious necessity of federally funded light rail NOW!

            My wife asked me why I never say anything. I told her: “The same reason why Doctor Who doesn’t give everyone a physics lecture when he visits the 16th century. He’s too far ahead, they’re too far behind, any dialogue that arose between them on the subject would be little better than a session of verbal abuse. All the information and all the practiced arguments would be on my side. They’d have no choice but to fight back against me with maximum nastiness.”

            The odd thing is…they’ve all seen my library. Floor to ceiling, it’s politics, philosophy, and history. You’d think, at some point, one of them would get suspicious of my silent partner act, and wonder why I grow quiet whenever my own favorite subjects come up for discussion.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Yeah, any ideologically-tinged conversation with family and “friends” whose views are radically different than your own is an emotional mine field. Best to avoid it, if you can. In my family we observe an uneasy truce, although thankfully my wife and I are united. This is really fortunate, because we have young kids…Talk about mixed marriages…Oh my goodness!

          • good_in_theory

            Hm, how about the converse:

            BHLer: I mean to build a civilization of true liberty, unchained by the fetid fetters of the state…

            Woods: I stand for a more conservative Catholic church and the League of the South…


            But wait, you didn’t let me tell you about my position on the state!

            Though of course, a BHLer probably wouldn’t shoot someone with an opposing viewpoint.

          • Sean II

            Yeah, but it’s funnier if he would shoot. And you’re right, the problem exists on both sides. I used Woods as my example for a reason.

            You could even play it this way: Same set-up, two strangers meet in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The first is a Friedmanite who time-traveled straight from 1971. The second is a Friedmanite from 2013.

            Both are wearing Adam Smith ties, so they get off to a good start. They introduce themselves, and chat for a while. All goes well until the 1971 Friedmanite says “Obviously, thank you! Of course that’s why, once things get going again, we have to establish some kind of universal basic income…”


            “Wait, wait…I was just about to tell you how much worse would be the alternative…”

      • Yes, except that I reject the word ‘capitalism.’ It is too closely associated with Marxism. And Marxist theory does not apply to reality. Indeed, it is just a fairy tale dressed up in adult language. That is why teenagers like it: it enables them to appear grown up while remaining childish.

    • notfromvenus

      Nope. Feminism advocates that women be treated the same as men.

      That they’ll be seen as equals both under the law and in the eyes of individuals. That they have the same opportunities to work at the same jobs for the same wages. That their health concerns are seen as equally valid, and that when they are assaulted that it is treated as a crime the same as any other. That their opinions are seen as equally important and valid, and not irrational or childish, or any other nonsense like that. That their personal and bodily autonomy is respected the same as if they were a man. That they are equal human beings.

      A lot of reactionaries have mischaracterized feminism over the years, leading to a lot misconceptions. So I understand why you’re misinformed. But, please, try to seek the truth.

      • female not feminist

        They are NOT “misinformed”. You are acting like a typical feminist smug bitch. I’m a rape survivor by the way and PLEASE stop trying to advocate for us, we don’t need bitchy cunts like you on our side. Kthx.

        But your flippant dismissal of the argument is typical of spineless feminist synchophants. That’s just another reiteration of no true scotsman. I have talked to many different types of feminists over the years (rape crisis counselors, academic feminists, hippy feminists). They all have one thing in common – they are absolutely INTOLERANT of disagreement, especially if it is coming from another woman.

        If you disagree the first thing out of their mouths is “You just haven’t met real feminists.” Actually, I’ve met plenty of “real feminists” and their main commonality is the fact that if something is said that they disagree with, the person talking to them must be “wrong” or “uninformed”. It’s pathological behavior, and it’s embarrassment.

        The one thing feminism can do to improve it’s image is to stop sloughing off responsibility for feminism having a bad reputation by blaming the person being critical.

        Feminism HAS a bad reputation because self-identified feminists have acted poorly. Learn to take some goddamned responsibility for yourselves, feminists, and quit whining that any criticism you receive is unwarranted. It’s this sort of immaturity and constant blame shifting and denial of responsibility for obnoxious and bad behavior of feminists that makes me not take feminism seriously.

  • Rick

    Women seem to suffer from the same lack of self-ownership rights as those of pre-Civil War labor slaves in that the modern woman’s labor, particularly that involved in child bearing and rearing, is not adequately recognized or compensated by law. If it was, I think there’d be many more women interested in claiming a libertarian-styled ownership in their bodies, and especially ownership of the labor/energy/actions that proceed from their bodies.

    To illustrate the problem from partnership legal theory, which applies whenever a couple voluntarily produces a child, assume we have a regular business partnership called “Bill and Bob’s,” but whenever new customers are acquired Bill directs them to make and send all payments to him personally at his personal residence. Obviously, courts would not support this, and would recognize it as a breach of partnership law. However, when women produce children, this type of breach of legal theory is really what happens.

    Generally speaking, whenever a couple produces a child, all money coming in should first enter the legal entity (the partnership), and it should be unlawful for any spouse to receive money in their capacity as individuals.

    How much money each spouse receives individually can be negotiated later, but to ignore the partnership as a legal entity is to continue to short-change women’s labor rights, much like the value of pre-Civil War slave labor was ignored, and considered to be part of the plantation owner’s real estate value.

    • martinbrock

      Comparing women in the U.S. today to slaves is laughably incredible, but I agree that modernity often denies classical property to supportive parents generally, not only to mothers. Many women are not mothers, and many men are supportive parents denied classical property.

      Your illustration confuses me. Who is supposed to be Bill and who is supposed to be Bob?

      Your solution is precisely what I proposed to my children’s mother to administer our children’s support when we separated, a trust for our children’s benefit with financial contributions from both of us (based progressively on income) and both of us as cotrustees. To the extent that we never fully agreed on this formulation and I had no legal right to expect it, I have a hard time understanding how she was left in the role of the slave.

      Why women’s labor rights specifically? Women merit some credit for childbearing, but when did men cease to be parents?

      • Rick

        “Your illustration confuses me. Who is supposed to be Bill and who is supposed to be Bob?”

        Assume before the business partnership was formed by Bill and Bob, neither of them had any other legal relationships, so here there are 2 legal entities, Bill the natural person and Bob the natural person.

        When they form a partnership, there are 3 legal entities, Bill the natural person, Bob the natural person, and “Bill and Bob’s” the legal or artificial person.

        If Bill and Bob later dissolve their partnership (i.e., the “divorce”), the situation would revert back to just 2 legal entities, but only if they had no outstanding liabilities. This is because under partnership legal theory the partners are “jointly and severally” liable, so they couldn’t go back to being just 2 legal entities until the liability was paid.

        “Why women’s labor rights specifically? When did men cease to be parents?”

        Because in our highly monetized society, where almost everything is assigned a monetary value, men’s labor tend to be represented monetarily as wages, but women’s (often substantial) labor involved in child rearing and bearing tends not to be represented monetarily.

        • martinbrock

          I basically agree that a natural mother and natural father are a natural entity, jointly and severally liable for their children, and that this partnership is naturally indissoluble. Many nominal “divorces” are therefore legalistic fictions. Mine certainly was.

          I don’t see how this assumption leads to the conclusion that women particularly have lost classical property rights. I see how both men and women have lost these rights.

          Child rearing is not yet fully monetized, but it is already highly monetized, and we’re moving rapidly in this direction; however, this fact does not address my question. Again, many women are not parents at all, and many men are supportive parents. If a man doesn’t labor directly for his children’s support but instead labors indirectly by earning wages and spending them on his children’s support, why would you discount his contribution?

          In a “traditional marriage”, a man labors exclusively for wages, and a woman labors exclusively without wages, and all fruits of the marriage are jointly held. When did the wage earners become the masters and the non-wage earners the slaves?

        • TracyW

          …where almost everything is assigned a monetary value,

          On the contrary, most things are not assigned a monetary value. For example, I know how much I paid for a banana yesterday. But I don’t know what my consumer surplus is from the banana, just that it’s quite a bit higher than the cost. This is true of basically everything I buy, except for my truly marginal purchases. Then there’s the things I can’t buy in markets (eg love, a good night’s sleep, health), and things assigned through the political process.

          men’s labor tend to be represented monetarily as wages, but women’s (often substantial) labor involved in child rearing and bearing tends not to be represented monetarily.

          This strikes me as entirely practical. My husband and I have joint bank accounts. If one of us is taking care of the kids, and the other is earning money, it seems rather pointless to set up an explicit payment. Plus, if this was a custom, such labour could be taxed, which is a strong disincentive to making explicit monetary payments.

          • Rick

            “Plus, if this was a custom, such labour could be taxed, which is a strong disincentive to making explicit monetary payments.”

            Yes, good point, which is why there’s a strong incentive for women to claim that their labor, whether represented by wages or not, is their personal property and part of their self-ownership bundle of rights, and not taxable as income.

          • martinbrock

            If Rick had said “mothers’ labor in child rearing tends not to be monetized”, he’d have a better point, but women work for wages in day care centers and in schools, and children spend a very large and growing portion of their lives in these institutions.

            As you say, bringing child rearing services into the monetized economy subjects the services to further taxation, but a man laboring for his children indirectly, by spending his wages on their support, is also taxed for serving his children.

    • TracyW

      particularly that involved in child bearing and rearing, is not adequately recognized or compensated by law

      It is however recognised and compensated by the people who want it done, which is typically the kids’ parents.

      And “not adequately ….” is meaningless without stating what you would regard as an adequate recognition.

      , I think there’d be many more women interested in claiming a libertarian-styled ownership in their bodies, and especially ownership of the labor/energy/actions that proceed from their bodies.

      Personally, as a woman whose mother is still alive, I’m happy to forego owning many of the labour/energy/actions that proceed from my body, in exchange for my mother not being able to own me (and I get on well with my mother too).

      Your partnership law analogy puzzles me. Are the children meant to be the customers? Or are you envisaging one partner not taking paid work, and the other doing so, and thus any earnings should go to both partners? With presumably joint sign-off of any spending decisions? This wouldn’t address your apparent problem about the lack of compensation for the labour involved in child bearing. Let’s say A and B are each earning $50,000 a year, then A has a kid, and stays at home. A and B’s combined income is going to drop by 50%. I don’t see how changing which bank account B’s income is paid to addresses the question of the compensation of child-bearing and rearing, which appears to be your initial problem.

      • Rick

        TracyW, I mean to refer to the children as a kind of liability of the partnership, and to suspend the individual rights of the parents/caregivers until the child(ren) reach the age of majority, in contrast to Murray Rothbard’s treatment of children, which I think is a big turn-off for serious libertarian feminists (because lack of rights for children often translates into lack of rights for the women who birth and nurture them):

        • TracyW

          I’m sorry but having read the linked reply, I still don’t see where your partnership law analogy comes in.

          • Rick

            A key feature of partnership law is joint and several liability, so for example, if a rich person partners with a poor one, and the partnership causes serious injury to someone, or puts someone at risk (such as a child), partnership law commands that if the partnership assets, jointly, can’t support the liability, then each of the partners as individuals (“severally”) shall be liable, regardless as to who can afford to pay, and regardless as to whether it’s fair that the poor partner pays nothing.

            Rothbard would have us ignore the partnership, and just recognize the parents/caregivers as individuals, even to the extent of legally allowing the child to be deprived of food, clothing and shelter. Is it any wonder what anyone with maternal instincts (whether in a man or woman) finds this form of “hard core libertarianism” offensive?

          • TracyW

            I agree with you about finding what Rothbard said offensive. On your analogy, so you’re saying that the children have a claim against the partnership? I don’t quite see how this ties in with your first paragraph, in the comment I originally replied to.

          • Rick

            Yes, children have a claim on the partnership, which of course children can’t enforce themselves if their support system fails, so the state must be allowed to step in some cases. Rothbard painted himself into a corner by not recognizing the partnership’s liability, and since he couldn’t accept a limited role for the state in circumstances like this, his only alternative was to profess that we have a right to let our children (our “property”) starve, which is pretty close to outright murder in my view.

            Also, in my first paragraph above I was trying to show how the state screws things up for parents/caregivers by not allowing a legal mechanism to exist whereby their labor can be legally recognized as their partnership’s personal property, but rather the state taxes the breadwinner’s labor as income, while not recognizing the child-rearing labor as anything at all. Neither labor should be taxed as income if we believe in self-ownership of one’s mind, body, labor, energy, actions, etc.

            So, in that sense, Rothbard was correct in blaming the state for over-burdening families, then offering a remedy for the problem it created, when everyone would have been better off if the state simply let people keep the fruits of their labor. In other words, everyone in the family should have the right to be a “self owner” if they choose, but I would also give that choice to children who may temporarily require state support.

            Not sure if I’m making my point, so I’d like to refer again to my analogy about pre-Civil War slave labor, the value of which was blended into the plantation owner’s real estate value. So, how can we legally bring the slave’s wages out of that confused mix? How can we distinguish the value of the slave’s labor from the value of real estate standing by itself?

            In short, it’s done through various forms of income taxation, which has worked fine so far to free the slave’s labor from the plantation owner’s profits and real estate value, but has not yet freed the child bearer/rearer’s labor from a marital relationship that won’t put the wage-earner’s labor on a level playing field with the non-wage-earner’s labor (regardless as to which gender is playing the breadwinner or caregiver role).

  • ThaomasH

    “This is why libertarians should be feminists and why feminists should be

    Agree about 95%. While there is no reason that feminists should not be libertarians, I’m not sure why feminists should not be liberals, either. Whether or not there are good arguments for some particular state action to overturn a specific market outcome is something that feminists could disagree on.

  • I just watched the video and I didn’t find anything disagreeable with it. I would also add that men as a group are more left brain and logical. Women are more feelers and emoters. I think Larry Summers was right in saying there are male/female differences that explain why men are more likely to be engineers. Libertarian ideology almost certainly attracts more logical people and thus more men.

    I completely agree with Julie’s premise that women are more susceptible to group pressure than men. On the whole, men are much more likely in my experience to be individualistic than women. Does anyone rational actually disagree with that?

    I get that people want to increase the number of women libertarians. But I don’t think evading the reality of gender differences is going to help.

    • ricketson

      I don’t see any reason that libertarianism should be at odds with emotional responses. For instance, I think that pacifism/non-violence implies libertarianism (or anarchism) fairly directly. There is a “logicist” tendency within the libertarian movement (seen in utilitarian and axiomatic arguments), but to define that as the core of libertarianism is to narrow the movement too much.

      Likewise I think that the utopian progressive vision (technophilia) lends itself to libertarianism. While it is kinda geeky and therefore attracks “logical” types, it is still a strongly emotional approach. Heck, even communism was libertarian in its ultimate vision (though this liberty required a very specific culture to develop).

      • female not feminist

        I’m a woman and I appreciate logic. I hate the constant appeal to emotion that is used to try to sway women. It has reached cry wolf status and I no longer even pay attention when feminists start whining about the next horrible thing that has happened to women.

        I’m a woman and I have a good life. Women need to take responsibility for THEIR OWN lives and stop demanding that other women CARE about their petty little issues simply because they assume that all women are as emotionally flaky and stupid as they are.

  • Feminism and Libertarianism are basically incompatible, is your problem. The only acknowledged political unit in libertarianism is the individual. Feminism, on the other hand, is a collectivist ideology.

    As a Libertarian it’s pretty easy to see how so many problems don’t exist when people are treated as individuals rather than as members of a collective, but libertarianism has nothing to say on the subject of the actually-existing institutional discrimination that works on the collective level.

    People think and behave collectively in the real world, and no-where do libertarians offer any solutions on what to do about it.

    So feminists aren’t ever going to see libertarianism as the solution. Which is sad and frustrating.

    • martinbrock

      Charlotte nails the problem here. I respect iFeminists like Wendy McElroy, but they’re swimming against a very strong tide. Their “feminism” is so far from the thinking of most self-described “feminists” these days that they might as well choose a different label. Individualist Feminism sounds a lot like Christian Atheism. Some people really do call themselves Christian Atheists. They’re entitled to label themselves however they like, and I understand what they mean, but the label is more confusing than illuminating to most people

    • Sergio Méndez

      I think libertarianism is a theory of rights, and a theory that posits that only individuals have rights. But that doesn´t mean that in your analisis of how individuals behave, you have to think them as monades, or you can deny the right to talk about groups of people.

      Regarding if feminism is compatible with libertarianism, not only they are, but also they have a long history of being interwined ( see: ).

      • Rick

        The quote below was taken from Section 3 of Sergio’s link to the Roderick Long/Charles Johnson paper. I thought it was a good quote, but I disagree with discounting the importance of legal reform. In fact, no legal reform is really needed, but just a raising of consciousness about post-Civil War evolution of income taxation (which right now is so conflated that we see all forms of income taxation as evil, and caused by the Sixteenth Amendment).

        “Such problems as domestic violence and crimes of jealousy, for example, derive, Stephen Pearl Andrews taught, primarily from the inculcation of patriarchal values, which encourage a man to suppose “that the woman belongs, not to herself, but to him.” Although the best immediate solution to this problem “may be to knock the man on the head, or to commit him … to Sing-Sing,” the superior longterm solution is “a public sentiment, based on the recognition of the Sovereignty of the Individual.” The ultimate cure for domestic violence thus lies in cultural rather than in legal reform: “Let the idea be completely repudiated from the man’s mind that that woman, or any woman, could, by possibility, belong to him, or was to be true to him, or owed him anything, farther than as she might choose to bestow herself.” (Andrews 1889, p. 70) But Andrews’ solution was not solely cultural but also economic, stressing the need for women to achieve financial independence. Andrews criticized the system “by which the husband and father earns all the money, and doles it out in charitable pittances to wife and daughters, who are kept as helpless dependents, in ignorance of business and the responsibilities of life,” and “liable at any time to be thrown upon their own resources, with no resources to be thrown upon.” (p. 42) One key to women’s economic independence would be to have children “reared in Unitary Nurseries” (p. 41), i.e., day care (funded of course by voluntarily pooled resources rather than by the State, which Andrews sought to abolish). Andrews looked forward to a future in which “with such provision … for the care of children, Women find it as easy to earn an independent living as Men,” and thus “freed by these changes from the care of the nursery and the household, Woman is enabled, even while a mother, to select whatever calling or profession suits her tastes.”

  • famadeo

    Language between different ideologies, mostly because of their taxonomies, tend to be inconmensurable. It’s frustrating when certain basic sensibilities within one tend to be ignored because of the percieved nastiness attatched to it.

    Having said that, I don’t think it takes much effort to arrive at an understanding. Despite all the misandry and cooky excesses found in feminism, it doesn’t sound controversial to consider that it’s central premise is the liberation of women. Or, to be more precise, the emancipation of women from their percieved historically subjugated role in society. There is a point in which several libertarians simply play dumb in the face of this in order to maintain hidden the nature of their supposed “plumbline” position when it comes to cultural issues. This is an instance in which push comes to shove and several (though not all) libertarians reveal themselves as cloaked conservatives.

    • Sean II

      It’s not idealogues on the margin who get to decide what the language is, it’s everybody who does that.

      Although I admit, it is often hilarious to listen the ideolgues play their word games: those wacky Keynesians, insisting the wartime command economy of FDR was “capitalism” saved, the BHL’s and C4SS’ers who retaliate by refusing to use that word, as if it might go away simply because they (population share = roughly 0.0000001) ignore it.

      If you want to know what feminism means, go ask about 50 people (to be fair, make sure 46 of them are not liberal arts faculty). In the end, the term is going to mean something very close to the average of what you get back.

      You may hear “liberation of women” here and there, but much of that time, it will mean something like “liberation of women from the high cost of day care” or even “liberation from the phallocentric model of penetrant sex”.

      I’m guessing that’s not quite what you have in mind, when you use the term.

      • famadeo

        I’m not quite satisfied with your account. At the end of the day, you can engage in discourse with these 46 people and probably make them look like idiots. Even then, the concern for the liberation of women would not go away with them, nor would it lose it’s meaning. Common sense induces me to call that feminism, but I wouldn’t throw a hissy fit over terminology. I have problems with feminism of my own.

        • Sean II

          Okay, but walk with me a few steps down Reductio Avenue.

          Libertarians are also in favor of freedom for blacks, right? So why do we not call ourselves Black Power Feminist Libertarians.

          Don’t forget framers. We also want to liberate them. So now its Black Power Feminist Grange Libertarians.

          Ah, but what about the unions? Really then, it should be Black Power Feminist Grange Syndicalist Libertarians.

          You see, I trust, where this leads. Libertarians believe in liberation for everyone. The terms itself includes all of its constituencies. There is no need to go listing them out, one by one. Indeed, that would be both redundant and ridiculous.

          • famadeo

            I understand and I don’t dissagree. But on the flip side just because feminism concentrates on women solely doesn’t make it incompatible in and of itself with anything else. My point is there doesn’t seem to be enough reason for a blanket condemnation.

        • brian

          Having perused several feminist blogs a while I back, I got the distinct sense they were not concerned with the liberation of women, they were espousing misandry. I think Sean is right here, go talk to 50 people about what “Feminism” means, they will tell you it does not mean gender equality.

          • good_in_theory

            Go talk to 50 people about what libertarianism, communism, or anarchism mean and they probably won’t tell you they mean what they actually mean to people who take them seriously. The same thing happens with feminism. For example, you talk to some people and think it just amounts to misandry.

  • good_in_theory

    Perhaps on one side you have things like hiring and firing protections, mandatory maternity leave, state support for access to certain health services, affirmative action, anti-pornography views and a few more things along those lines as being ‘feminist’ policies. But on the other side you have the cultivation of financial and personal autonomy, anti-war/militarism, protection against sexual and domestic violence/assault, the legalization of sex work, reproductive/bodily autonomy…

    The notion expressed in the comments that feminism is somehow lost to libertarians seems silly. So there is a general tendency to support civil rights era style regulation of employment and some degree of taxation for the sake of mild social redistribution to compensate for the vulnerability of fertility/child bearing and maybe sex discrimination. If that background, and the fact that most people on the left think ‘feminism’ is pretty important and so build it into their (“statist”) political understandings poisons the well for libertarians and feminism, then that’s pretty pathetic.

    If you can’t figure out how to make libertarianism sympathetic to some part of a movement first chiefly about equal protection and respect of the law, then the overcoming of domestic dependence and the social expectation of servility, and now most prominently about bodily integrity and physical violence, libertarian – because you’re having a conniption fit about taxes and not being allowed to discriminate by sex or sexually harass your employees – then it’s likely many women will continue to see libertarianism as parochial, sexist, and irrelevant.

    • martinbrock

      What does anti-militarism have to do with feminism? Why is a feminist necessarily anti-militarist? How many feminists exclude Hillary Clinton from their club because she’s a militarist?

      If “feminism” is just a basket of political positions that some self-described “feminists” accept while as many “feminists” reject the same positions, the word is hardly more useful than “good guyism”.

      Practically all libertarians oppose criminalizing sex work. I’ll wager that even a social conservative Julie Borowski favors legalizing sex work while still opposing it as destructive to women, just as she presumably favors legalizing recreational drug use while opposing drug use itself.

      But all feminists do not favor legalizing sex work, and all feminists (even most feminists in the past) do not favor legalizing abortion.

      • good_in_theory

        feminism isn’t necessarily anything. Libertarianism, liberalism, feminism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism,&etc are all baskets of contradictory political positions. And yet, miraculously, none of the terms are useless.

        • martinbrock

          All of these terms are baskets of contradictory political positions, but most people claiming the “libertarian” label share some core values, and most people claiming the “feminist” label share some core values, and many of the core values shared by self-described “libertarians” are not among the core values shared by most self-described “feminists”. Most self-described “feminists” are not also self-described “libertarians” precisely because they reject the shared values of self-described “libertarians”.

          • good_in_theory

            It’s not a question of what core values they share, but what core values they share in virtue of their particular -ism Maybe most feminists are “statists” or whatever epithet a libertarian wants to throw around. I don’t see how many of them are statist as a necessary consequence of their feminism. (though I certainly know feminists who are to some extent anti-capitalist or statist as a consequence of their feminism, that’s not a necessary consequence; it’s contingent.)

            Feminism appears to me to be motivated by some particular set of problems which appear when examining the world through the concepts of gender and sex. It’s simply a commitment to the existence of problems particular to that frame and the intention to mitigate or eliminate the relevant problems. *What* the problems are and *how* they are solved is up for debate; that there are such problems amenable to political or social solutions is not. Of course, what this particular framing reveals is influenced by what other frames someone uses.

            Maybe it is the case that all possible feminist problems necessitate “statist” solutions, and relatedly, no possible libertarian solutions fix feminist’s problems. Or maybe libertarians object to analyzing the world so as to pick out problems specific to sex/gender. If either of those are true, then I guess libertarianism can’t be feminist.

          • martinbrock

            “Statist” is not an epithet that I throw around. Earlier, I say that Cornel West and Sylvia Hewlett are too statist for my tastes, but I say it while expressing solidarity with them where we do agree. When I note that someone disagrees with me, I am not insulting them. I’m only trying to avoid misunderstanding.

            The self-described “feminists” opposing abortion insist strongly that their opposition follows from their feminism, that it is not merely contingent. They insist that their opposition to abortion is consistent with earlier feminism and that modern feminists favoring legal abortion have adopted an ideology fundamentally at odds with earlier feminism and (in the case of female feminists) at odds with their essential femininity. But despite these minority voices, the pro-choice position is practically a defining characteristic of modern “feminism”, because words mean only what people commonly mean by them.

            I don’t know what “all possible feminist problems” means. I only know what self-described “feminists” say that they want.

          • good_in_theory

            Possible feminist problems are whatever problems people who sincerely take themselves to be feminist could/would say they want to do something about.

            I use statist with reservation because nearly no one identifies as a statist. Rather, it’s a term anarchistic or anti-state folks use to refer to everyone else. An ‘epithet’ need not be a ‘pejorative,’ though they often are, and statist is typically used with a pejorative sense.

            Of course feminists argue about what necessarily follows from being feminist and attempt to police the boundaries; that’s how argument over these things tends to work.

          • martinbrock

            I use “statist” to describe policies requiring action by a central authority, so when I say that West and Hewlett are too statist for my tastes, I’m not describing a coherent ideology that they embrace. I’m describing specific policies that they propose, specifically the policies they propose in their book “The War Against Parents”. They basically advocate more state programs to fix problems created, often unintentionally, by earlier state programs, whereas I’d like to solve these problems by eliminating the earlier programs and addressing problems that the earlier programs addressed differently.

            We can agree that “feminism” describes both pro-choice feminists (who seem to be a large majority of self-described “feminists”) and members of Feminists for Life, and we can agree that “libertarian” describes both pro-choice libertarians the Ron Paul and Julie Borowski. In this sense of the words, feminism and libertarianism have a larger intersection, but the larger intersection seems contrived to me.

            I definitely favor the “big tent” approach, but libertarianism is fundamentally a big tent in my way of thinking.

            I’m happy for people with a strong aversion to recreational drug use to associate exclusively with like-minded people, to ban all recreational drug use from an exclusive community, as long as they don’t impose this prohibition outside of their community.

            I’m also happy for people with a strong aversion to banning recreational drug use to form a community where individuals may use any judge they like as long as they pay for it themselves and don’t harm others in the process.

            Seems to me that we can all have what we want as long as we’re willing to mind our own business, and this idea is the essence of libertarianism in my way of thinking, but it doesn’t seem to be the essential idea of feminists, only of a minority of feminists that other feminists marginalize as much as they marginalize libertarians.

          • good_in_theory

            The intersection is contrived relative to what? I don’t see very much contrived in suggesting that questions of autonomy, liberty, self-reliance, non-violence, and integrity of the person concern general principles that have a specifically heightened importance within feminist thought, in relation to problems that are salient for women in particular, not just people in general.

            If one can’t construct a discourse sympathetic to and well-received by women and feminists out of those libertarian principles and try to engage the preference for state-solutions to problems (which concern those issues in ways most salient to women) on the empirical merit of competing policies, then you’re evincing a lack of political imagination and will.

            But if your concern for liberty amounts to saying ‘mind your own business, if it’s happening within your house I don’t care’ then I suppose most women, who have through concerted political effort had to fight their way out of repressive relationships in the domestic and communal sphere in order to secure for themselves more equal possibilities in both choosing the communities in which they live and work and in being able to live their lives as they see fit, might not be very interested in what you have to say.

          • martinbrock

            Here’s another, more extreme contrivance. Let’s expand the libertarian tent as far as we can possibly stretch it. Here’s Mussolini:

            “… if liberty is to be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet envisaged by individualistic Liberalism, Fascism is for liberty. And for the only liberty which can be a real thing, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State.”

            So Mussolini is for the only real liberty, according to him, and we libertarians aren’t only advocating some abstraction in a fairy tale, so Mussolini must be one of us too.

            If we want the largest possible intersection of the most nebulous possible statement of our principles with the largest possible pool of humanity, why don’t we just become Republicrats and be done with it?

            I’m all for a constructive discourse with women, but most women are not self-described feminists themselves. Feminism is a political movement, incorporating both men and women, possibly even more men than women. Men are more pro-choice in most polls for example.

            As a political movement, feminism has a particular history and advocates particular policies. It’s not just advocating motherhood and apple pie and either reverence for the fetus or indifference toward it depending on one’s personal preference.

            No one escapes an oppressive relationship through political action, other than an oppressive relationship with the state, and I don’t at all believe that states oppress women more than men.

            Men and women wishing to escape the oppression of states have everything in common, but not everyone wants to escape their state, and women at this time in my neck of the woods are less interested in escaping than men. Libertarian women are fewer than libertarian men for this reason, seems to me. Libertarian women are fewer because the state is more friendly toward women generally these days.

          • good_in_theory

            I’m not concerned with making things as wide as possible, I’m concerned with whether or not libertarians can legitimately articulate themselves as having a feminist project.

            Most women don’t identify as feminist but they identify as supporting the women’s movement and the dictionary definition of feminism.

            As a political movement, feminism has a particular history which can and does support a broad range of political philosophies, from classical liberalism to communism.

            Plenty of people escape oppressive relationships through political action.

            Men and women who wish to escape state oppression don’t have everything in common. They have one thing in common.

          • martinbrock

            As a political movement, feminism has a particular history which can and does support a broad range of political philosophies, from classical liberalism to communism.

            And from legal abortion to illegal abortion. In other words, “feminism” defined this way is practically meaningless. It means, “we just love women”, much as politicians generally love “our children”.

            Plenty of people escape oppressive relationships through political action.

            People who believe themselves escaping oppressive relationships through political action typically escape oppressive relationships created by previous political action, or they change the balance in oppressive relationships by becoming more the oppressor and less the oppressed.

            Men and women who wish to escape state oppression don’t have everything in common. They have one thing in common.

            I’ll grant you that one.

          • good_in_theory

            No, it’s not practically meaningless. Conflicting positions within feminism are generally held together in opposition to one another by competing theorizations of feminism. Acknowledging that these theories are in competition over the definition of the word feminism does not make ‘feminism’ meaningless. The stakes of the debate are still clearly about what constitutes the oppression of women and what methods best address ameliorating it, and if one talks about ‘feminism’ one clearly picks out a specific debate which limits itself in particular ways. If the theories are so out of sync that they no longer see themselves as engaged in the same project, ‘feminism’ just becomes more polysemous, in the same way that libertarians of the European anarchist socialist variety and libertarians of the American conservative variety have nothing much to do with each other.

            Escaping the oppression of previous political action is still escaping oppression (as if there was some meaningful pre-political phase free of a particular distribution of power over others). Changing the balance of power in relationships may merely redistribute ‘oppression’ (if ‘oppression’ is de-moralized and simply meant to mean ‘restriction’), but there’s nothing particularly objectionable in limiting the privileges and powers of some so as to increase the powers of others. Killing slavers and imprisoning rapists and removing the exclusivity of paternal power in the household oppresses someone at the benefit of someone else, and that’s fine.

            Personal powers cannot be unbounded – someone is always going to be ‘oppressed.’

          • martinbrock

            When have rapists not been imprisoned? Nothing else you say has anything specifically to do with women or any political movement nominally “for women”.

            “Paternal power in households” is largely a political construct. There has never been any overwhelming paternal power in households, even after common standards of paternal proprietorship (a husband’s exclusive responsibility for defending a married couple’s property rights and corresponding responsibilities) were codified in statutes.

            Mothers always had a lot of power in households. Modern feminists pretends otherwise by pretending that codified statutes are the only historical reality and by selectively ignoring what even these historical codes say.

            Maybe someone is always going to be “oppressed”, but we’re discussing the “oppression” of women specifically here and the specific remedial measures advocated by proponents of specific theories of this “oppression”.

            Most self-described “feminists” advocate measures that most self-described “libertarians” oppose, and this divergence of political preferences is more the rule than the exception. That’s just a fact in my experience.

            I don’t need to persuade the large majority of feminists who reject libertarianism that they should think more like me; however, if “feminism” simply means “less oppression”, I’m not the least bit convinced that the power balance in my neck of the woods in my lifetime remotely oppresses women. The opposite is more nearly true. If “feminism” simply means “more for women”, I have even less sympathy with it.


          • good_in_theory

            This: “People who believe themselves escaping oppressive relationships through political action t” seems like it’s talking about all oppression, not just feminist oppression, so I did not restrict my references.

            Spousal rape was protected by law or practice for quite a while, though I suppose you’d just say being raped by one’s husband was just the cost of whatever benefits a woman acquired by being married. Waiving specific consent and the right to resist acts which intrude upon one’s own physical integrity are just the price of the benefits of having a husband. Or, rather, whatever benefits she had relative to the ignominy and exclusion she would face if she were to seek to end her marriage. No oppression here, just voluntary transactions, of course.

            If libertarians oppose efforts to deter rape, prevent the over-regulation of reproductive health clinics, stop discrimination in the disbursement of government funds so as to specifically constrain the options available to (poor) women, or de-criminalize sex work so that sex workers can have easy recourse to basic legal protections, then they are transparently unserious about liberty and unfaithful to their ostensible principles.

            If you operate under the belief that women in general are not diferentially and more seriously subject to oppression than men, or that oppressive conditions affecting all do not spread because of misogynist practices, then you probably can’t be much of a feminist. The hope, however, is that other libertarians don’t necessarily operate under your delusions and can identify many of the achievements and goals of the women’s movement with their own and take them up as an object of advocacy.

            If you can’t do that, fine, but as I started with, that will simply mean that many women, and men, often times themselves critical of the state, will find you irrelevant and not want to have anything to do with you.

          • martinbrock

            I wouldn’t say that being raped by one’s husband before recent reforms was the cost of marriage. I would rather say that a husband could not rape his wife before the reforms. “Rape” is a legal term and means what the law says it means.

            Customarily, a husband was not entitled to assault his wife brutally to compel her to have sex with him, but he was entitled to sex with her. She was entitled to sex with him too, i.e. refusal to have sex was grounds for divorce. I don’t want any statutory terms of marriage at all, but if people don’t want marriage on these terms, I’m O.K. with it.

            Both husbands and wives surrender many liberties upon marriage. People generally surrender the liberty to violate terms of contract by contracting.

            Libertarians do not oppose efforts to deter rape.

            My libertarian ideal permits you to contract with another man to battle to the death in an arena and charge admission, winner take all, and terms of the contract may include a right to anally rape a combatant during the contest. I have no fundamental problem with it, and gender has nothing to do with it.

            Women in my neck of the words during my lifetime are not more seriously subject to oppression than men. Men in my lifetime have been drafted into wars where they were killed, maimed and tortured for years. I’m supposed to believe that any rape is worse than any imaginable maiming or torture a man can experience, but I don’t believe it. Rape is not an oppression in my way of thinking, unless it’s sanctioned by a state. It’s a crime. “Crime” is not equivalent to “oppression” in my way of thinking.

            You want to believe that you’re “on the side of women” and that I’m not, and that’s essentially why we have states and wars for territory.

            Calling me “deluded” doesn’t change anything.

          • good_in_theory

            It’s not a matter of what I want to believe. It’s a matter of what one does as part of their political practices. One either takes feminist issues seriously and treat them as matters of importance, or one doesn’t, or, further, one says the feminist issues aren’t real issues and demeans them. But if part of the reason we have states is in order to safeguard women against, for example, sexual violence, then that’s a point in the favor of states.

          • martinbrock

            “Feminist issues” covers a lot of territory. I don’t generalize this way. Particular people calling themselves “feminists” advocate particular policies that they call “feminist policies”, and I don’t support many of these policies.

            We don’t have states to safeguard women. We have states to safeguard statesmen, and statesmen typically want to satisfy women, because they are men.

          • good_in_theory

            Feminist policies are means oriented towards ends. If you’re interested in the ends, then one might want to engage those interested in the same ends about the appropriate means.

            “We” have states for a plurality of reasons, among which safeguarding statesmen is a rather tiny one. As far as the horndog theory of state action goes, it’s inane.

          • martinbrock

            I don’t know the ends of feminist policies. Some feminists favor legal abortion in various circumstances while others oppose legal abortion in the same circumstances. Which feminist ends are supposed to interest me? If “feminism” just means “wanting what’s good for women”, I’m a feminist too, because I want what’s good for people generally, and women are people. I’m also a masculinist and a caninist and a felinist but not so much a bovinist. I eat bovines.

            Males don’t seek to dominate territory because they’re horny and like fucking. They do it to increase the number of their progeny, and their progeny are beings like themselves following rules that they promulgate. Outside of the human species, these rules are chiefly codified in DNA, and creatures communicate them between generations by fucking.

            Politicians love the sound of their own voice and enjoy flapping their lips for this reason, but many people who enjoy flapping their lips are not politicians, and lip flapping is hardly the only path to political power. Politicians are rulers, not lip flappers, by definition.

  • Rick

    In response to Martin and comments by others, I’d like to again supply the link to Rothbard’s views on the rights of children (because I can’t locate my prior comment about it in this thread):

    If one understands the ultimate legal effect of Rothbard’s views on children’s rights, it should be fairly obvious why most feminists hate men, and patriarchal libertarianism in general.

    As I said before, Rothbard wants to ignore the “joint and several” liability aspect derived from partnership law principles when a child is the result of an unstable relationship, which most often will leave the woman short-changed and desperate, particularly if her labor can’t be represented by money.

    What other response could women have than to hate the male-dominated stacked deck, even if she is not consciously aware of the fact that failure of the legal system to fully recognize partnership law principles is the cause?

    Stated differently, from a psychological perspective, maybe misandry is the outward manifestation of an unconscious injustice that is presently being perpetrated on women (and perhaps has been occurring for a very long time).

    • martinbrock

      Rothbard doesn’t speak for me in chapter 14 of Ethics of Liberty, and I’ve said as much many times elsewhere; however, I’m not sure why you refer to women specifically here. Rothbard doesn’t.

      Rothbard suggests (and I absolutely disagree) that a parent should have no legal obligation to support a child, but he’s discussing both mothers and fathers. He says, provocatively, that law should not compel a parent to feed a child even if the child dies of starvation otherwise, and I certainly understand why all sorts of people, of every conceivable gender, recoil at this suggestion; however, Rothbard is really only saying that parents should have a right to surrender children for adoption, and women typically have more rights in this respect than men.

      It’s not obvious to me why feminists hate men for this reason or for any other reason.

      You need to be more specific about the injustice presently perpetrated on women, because I’m not seeing it.

    • j r

      I have read and re-read your comments and I still have only the most vague notion of what you’re talking about. You posit this weird legalistic model for how a family “ought” to work and then claim injustice at the fact that real families don’t actually work like that. It’s a little like jumping off the roof of a skyscraper and then claiming that gravity is unjust.

      Yes, The fact that women bear children and men do not is a form of biological difference that often manifests itself in some form of inequality. That, however, is the nature of the universe. And I haven’t seen anywhere in your comments an argument as to why your conception of partnership law holds a higher moral position than the evolved family unit that presently exists.

      At that time when the law effectively made a wife, and all of her belongings, the legal property of her husband, your argument might have some merit. We are, however, far from that time.

      Here’s a common-sense question for you? If marriage and motherhood constitute an “injustice presently being perpetrated against women,” why do so many women want to become wives and mothers? And please have a better answer than some cop-out false consciousness argument.

      • Rick

        Regarding your view of “the nature of the universe” (which, like Rothbard, curiously appears to let men off the hook quite easily) here’s a “common-sense question” for you:

        Why do so many men want to use a woman to pass on their DNA, and then refuse to pay to raise their children to (at least) the age of majority?

        In other words, resorting to the existence of unconscious motives is not a “cop-out,” as you say. In fact, I don’t see how your question or mine can be answered without involving a discussion of unconscious motives.

        • j r

          What hook? What unconscious motives? I am sorry, but you are not even making an argument. You’re saying that since the world doesn’t conform to your artificial legal standards, the world is unjust. Maybe there is a point there, but you have to make that point and not just assert it.

  • Fallon

    Tom Woods makes a good point about the danger of creeping Politburo mentalities perverting libertarianism for ends that are deceptively narrow, loaded with inclusive terminology but authoritarian in action. e.g. Most any “ism” movement can be “feminist”. But when Lew Rockwell contributor Laurence Vance posts things like the following it only confirms the Central Party’s accusations:

    “The new 113th Congress is said to be the most diverse ever: more women,
    more gays, more non-whites, and more non-Christian religions than ever
    before. Even a female Iraq War veteran. The important question, however,
    which only libertarians are asking, is will this diversity lead to an
    increase in liberty or an increase in statism? I predict the latter.”

    I respect Vance for his anti-war and anti-state contributions. But ‘diversity leads to statism’, really? That’s what the Bible told Vance? Geez, I am going to give the SPLC more credit, and especially if they name Vance. Maybe I will send them his bio.

    At any rate, Vance’s insularity (I am being nice) is more the reason to embrace anarchic libertarianism: The more libertarian the world gets– the more power I will likely have to (not) deal with Vance types.

    I think I will go listen to some old tracks from Marlo Thomas and Friends, e.g. “Free to Be You and Me.”

    • Fallon

      I should have mentioned that Vance is making an antiwar name for himself via “Christian Just War Theory”.

  • DerekATC

    My first instinct is definitely to point out that libertarianism doesn’t skew male… it skews privileged asshole. You get all the obliviousness and blindness that privilege brings combined with not enough empathy to overcome said blindness. And her facebook friend that was scared to tell her sorority sisters she was libertarian… #whitepeopleproblems

    That comment by Flanigan links to by jholbo says it way more elegantly then that though.

    To add my twist onto jholbo’s ideas, the problem presented here is contradictory. A libertarian bemoans the fact that private means are being used to perpetuate a certain culture. But one of the main points in rejecting libertarianism is that powerful groups will always used their power to engender certain social outcomes through public OR private means. I understand that for libertarians, the point isn’t censorship, but for libertarians promote ideas that will change the culture. But for people that have skin in the game, it’s hard to take seriously the idea they should give up actual social gains for the sake of ideology.

    For the non-privileged, the state isn’t the only way that groups (especially in america) have been victimized. So many people in this thread see feminism as adversarial because of things like affirmative action. But the fact is, you can still appreciate feminism on the cultural front, because sexism is a real thing. As are the patriarchal expectations of society. I can see being indifferent to that, but that’s where that whole privileged asshole thing comes in again.

    • Sean II

      Always soooo edgy when a white guy talks about white people problems, with a tone suggesting he is either a) exempt, or b) so fearlessly introspective about his whiteness that he might as well be.

      • DerekATC

        Sorry, but I’m actually a black guy. But either way, the #whitepeopleproblems thing is just a snarky way for me to get across my point sharply without making Borowski’s privilege the main issue.I could have went a lot harder with that. The line about women buying 200 dollar lipstick? Hah. Yeah, I’m sure that’s representative of women outside of Borowski’s peer group. But like I said, my post wasn’t meant to make fun of Borowski in particular.

        I was being provocative, yes. But the point was to make the reader stop and think about his own place in that (what can I say, like you I assume the default commenter here is white)

        • Sean II

          Well, it is typically the safest of assumptions. No gambler would take the other side of that bet. But still, it’s clear I owe you an apology.

          Let’s agree that Borowski is unsympathetic and not very persuasive, even within her limited sphere of competence.

          I would like to point out, though: as you’re using it, the idea of privilege is conceptually unstable. It seems to mean something between “a person who doesn’t have any short-term basic survival problems” and “a person who doesn’t have any problems I can be bothered to care about”…which in turn might lead to “I’m not even going to try understanding your silly little problems, because they don’t rate in my world”.

          Writing off whole categories of people as “privileged” (without a very specific definition of the term) runs the same risk that comes with any other label that has ever been used to write off whole categories of people, including: woman, black, jew, bourgeoise, kulak, whatever.

          You know what I mean?

  • Jesse

    I’ve never seen a group of people so purposefully waste so much time discussing something so ridiculous without saying anything. Good grief.

    And yet, you actually wonder – with what I gather to be total seriousness – why more people aren’t libertarians…?


  • notfromvenus

    So, caveat, I’m a liberal and feminist and so you can take this with a grain of salt. But to me, libertarianism is the brand of conservatism that seems most appealing, because of the focus on personal freedom and individual choice. And you’re right – a lot of feminist ideals are, at least in theory, compatible with libertarianism. For a couple of examples:

    – Feminists want the government to not have a say in their medical care or what they do with their bodies. Bodily autonomy seems like the ultimate issue of liberty, to me.

    – Feminists want to be safe from sexual violence. If we abandon the “war on drugs” and don’t imprison non-violent drug users, the police will have more time and resources to go after rapists and police the streets.

    – While it’s not a feminist issue, liberal women also tend be anti-war.

    Also, I think that it’s fair for libertarians say that that fighting private sexism (in employment etc) is something that’s not the government’s place. Frankly, even from a liberal perspective, there’s really only so much the government can do about it. For there to be real change, it has to be a cultural shift, a change in people’s minds.

    So basically, I think if libertarians made a better effort to go out and
    1) talk intelligently and compassionately about how their platform will specifically give women more freedom, and
    2) advocate (through non-government means) for women’s equality,
    they’d get better results.

    (Though I still have no idea where violence comes into it? That seems like a strawman argument to me.)

    • Fallon

      Please name a liberal mainstream feminist that actually sticks to the said values when it comes to politics? Most of them support Obama– which means more state, corporatist and bureaucratic, control over healthcare decisions. Most of them support Obama, which means increasing the drug war. Most of them support Obama, which means war, lots of bloody war.

      Libertarians trump your high liberal feminists in every category, even with counting discriminative preferences. You just might not find everybody on board with everything across the board. E.g. Bible-ocrat Laurence Vance: staunchly anti-war, and… staunchly anti-feminist.

      I would caution the use of “conservative” to describe libertarianism. What exactly is it trying to preserve through the use of state power?

      • Fallon

        “board… board.” I should do less work and concentrate on commenting more…

      • good_in_theory

        Except voting for libertarians in Presidential elections does absolutely nothing to affect healthcare, drug, or military policy. Voting for Obama over Romney doesn’t signal much of anything in particular.

        • Fallon

          Right, agreed. That’s why I used the more general “support”. Ron Paul had an educational effect anyway.

    • Al Bundy

      Don’t forget legalization/decriminalization of prostitution, which i’d wager the great majority of libertarians and a good number of feminists support. I agree that we (libertarians) should at the very least remember and mention these things, whatever our personal views about feminism as a whole.

      These sorts of specific issues can lead people to become interested in libertarianism. In my case the war on drugs was my gateway drug to the philosophy.

      • keimh3regpeh2umeg

        Are you sure about that? I was under the impression, and I admit I haven’t seen any specific data, that most feminists would oppose legalization/decriminalization of prostitution. Perhaps because, feminists (like most “-ists,” and in fact most people) generally being statists, they hate the idea of someone (particularly capitalistic men) making a profit off of the female body. It’s degrading and rapacious and all that. But like I said, this is just an impression.

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  • Jess

    I hope this doesn’t sound too confrontational, but there honestly is a lot I disagree with here.

    I’m conflicted on those magazines, because while I’m sex-positive and pro-choice, I dislike the consumerism, pedestalizing of, and glorification of women being self-absorbed. I find all too common in those magazines.

    I don’t find libertarianism to be more accepting of men. I find that it tends to have more men in it, but when a women walks on in, they are very nice. I know of quite a few libertarians that are women. In fact I would estimate that the numbers between libertarian men and women aren’t all that different, it’s just men tend to be more outspoken and visible.

    If libertarianism translates to ‘asshole’ or ‘idiot’ in some people’s heads, then that’s their problem honestly. If they are unable to look past their initial emotional and socially influenced assumptions about libertarianism and actually understand the ideas in libertarian philosophy, then that’s their fault. If they want to inquire about my beliefs, then I will gladly discuss that with them. But if they are going to assume and judge me, then I won’t have much patience for that. Moving on though…

    Hold on, women are a socially marginalized group? So the group that accounts for the majority of consumer spending and for most TV programs, is the target audience is marginalized? The group of people who comfortably inhabit the left, which has held significant political and cultural power for arguably the last 50 years? The group that receives the most cookies from the government or otherwise, such as exclusive scholarships, exclusive funding and shelters for domestic, sexual and other types of abuse, has far more power and preference in the legal system to the point of receiving less harsh sentences, being excused of crimes and being presumed innocent, receives more health care funding, benefits from subsidized daycare, tends to work the safer, and more socially recognized jobs (teachers, nurses, social workers, etc.), makes up the majority of high school and college graduates and the majority of the voters.

    This group is marginalized? I have a feeling you weren’t aware of those facts about women today.

    So feminist cultural values? Such as perpetually victimizing women by painting them as oppressed? Telling women that if they complain, people will come to help them? Or viewing male sexuality as objectifying while women’s as sacred and beautiful? Or the decades of overt 2nd-wave feminist anti-male hate? The modern feminist anti-male hate and comfortable sexist bliss towards anything other then women’s issues?

    Feminist political values? You mean intense lobbying, corruption and suppression and distortion of statistics and facts to fund various political schemes and industries that people profit off of at the expense of others? Maybe The Violence Against Women Act, which ignores study after study proving domestic violence to NOT be a gendered issue but is in fact something that affects men and women at about equal rates. Or the policies of making school more accessible to girls and isolating for boys despite the fact that boys are struggling more in the system? Or the feminist who talk about the wage gap, while ignoring the individual choices women make that lead to them earning less annually, how men make up the majority of people working the most dangerous jobs (and predictably, account for the vast majority of workplace deaths). Or maybe the organizational support of mass mutilation of infant boys, despite it’s thoroughly proven negative health effects?

    Or were you talking about liberation, independence, empathy and empowerment for women? Honestly, feminism hasn’t been about those things for a long time, and the feminists that arguably are, are on the fringes. For all intensive purposes, feminism has nothing to do with those, and their political and social actions show that.

    I am a humanist. I support liberation, independence, empathy and empowerment for all PEOPLE. Women’s issues are to an extent, men’s issues, and men’s issues are to an extend, women’s issues. I support both.

    I refuse to support a movement that expouses things like patriarchy theory, where men hold most of the power and oppress women for their benefit, despite such a reality being thoroughly disproven (maybe check out Warren Farrel’s The Myth of Male Power?). I’m not going to support an ideology that doesn’t give women credit by saying they were basically shit on by men since day one. An ideology that not only rejects biology and evolutionary logic, which is the logic that says that men and women needed to work together to survive, but also strictly abides by those same instincts our need for survival created by reducing women to their experiences and men to to their actions.

    It’s the ideology that will be so quick to call out and honestly exaggerate male privilege and the oppression of women, but can’t to say it’s own life recognize female privilege and the oppression of men.

    I don’t endorse sexism in any way. I also don’t endorse feminism. One doesn’t have to be a feminist to support gender equality. In fact, I would make the argument that being a feminist is contrary to supporting gender equality.

    What libertarianism needs is HUMANISM. Not feminism. Not the left. Not the right. Not progressivism. Not conservatism. But humanism. Empathy and empowerment for all people, regardless of gender, race, class or anything else.

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  • Women hate the word “cunt.” Libertarian men use that word all the time to malign their ideological enemies and chat-room foes. And that’s why there are not more libertarian women, Charlie Brown.

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  • John

    Is it too late to call this complete bullshit?