Libertarians Need a Little Less Ron Paul, and a Lot More Women

As you travel through the world of libertarianism, the kind most closely — rightfully or wrongly — identified with the Republican Party and/or the “right,” you come across a startlingly, but not overly surprising revelation. There aren’t a lot of women who are “leading voices” in the modern libertarian community. There are historic figures like Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson, but the most vehement bloggers and leading figures in the current movement are predominantly men. As one blogger said for Sovereign Life, "Anybody who has hung around any libertarian-type organisation, or forum will have noticed the paucity of women."

It got me wondering if part of their frustration with American politics is that they can’t get laid. But that is too superficial. Libertarians, the type usually associated with the right, tend to be some of the most argumentative and pretentious people in the political blogosphere, and that probably don’t attract a lot of women. The constant chatter about American oppression and the stripping of their liberties and freedom must ring hollow to women who are still fighting for gender equality in the home and the workplace.

A common opinion is that “as a predominantly white male political group, the crushing effects of social oppression often go unrecognized within the [libertarian] circle, simply because it doesn’t affect the majority of libertarians.”

It is strange that you don’t hear of and read more comments by female libertarians. As proponents of social liberalism, you would think they would be a fun group to hang around with, especially on college campuses and among millennials which represent the loudest and most passionate faction of the movement. But that isn’t the case. Travel to any political website and invariably it is just men doing most of the talking. Maybe it has something to do with all of the fervor around being constitutional originalists, and pining for a time when women didn't even have the right to vote..

Maybe, it is because libertarians on the right are so thin-skinned. Say something about the sacred scroll that is the Constitution, disagree with their literal interpretation, and you will receive a boatload of quotes by the Founding Fathers, and  slew of comments about how they find your thoughts “disgusting” and “reprehensible.” Quoting 18thcentury old white men is probably not a party favorite.

This is not to say libertarians are emotional. Citing a survey of 12,000 self-identified libertarians conducted by Yourmorals.org, Matt Ridley wrote that in reacting to moral dilemmas, for example, “libertarians displayed less emotion, less empathy and less disgust than either conservatives or liberals. They appeared to use "cold" calculation to reach utilitarian conclusions.” However, the study also found that “libertarians had the most masculine psychological profile which may explain why libertarianism appeals to men more than women.”

I write this partly tongue-in-cheek. Libertarianism in America is a noble ideology focused on fiscal conservatism, civil liberties, and a strict adherence to the original intent of the Constitution. They are an important voice in the political discourse. Their relative small size and minor influence doesn’t dismiss the importance of their message. Maybe all that talk about being oppressed, but enlightened political prisoners in a hostile land is just not appealing to social settings, and so it doesn’t resonate with women.

Political discourse is not about dating, and I apologize to all the women and some of the men who may find this misogynistic, sexist or offensive in any way. But I do maintain that the libertarian movement needs to add some female voices to give it some “flavor” as we say in the “hood.” One young female libertarian writing for Young Americans for Liberty said male libertarians are not just “awkward intellectual white guys whose primary relationships are with books and blogs.” Her advice for attracting female libertarians was too “go forth, absorb some vitamin D, groom thyself, and DO the things you blog/vlog/whine about.”  

I did go out and do a superficial search for female libertarians. It appears that the liberty movement is aware that it needs to attract more female voices. The Ladies of Liberty Alliance’s mission is to “educate and develop liberty-minded women.” They actually produce an instruction guide, “How to Get More Women Involved” on how to encourage and promote female participation in the liberty movement. This of course jumped out at me, because LOLA says it was created to “address the shortage of female leaders in the fight for liberty.” The LOLA guide “considers what policy issues motivate women and how our movement can reach out to women specifically.”

This was fascinating information because libertarians are the first to disregard demographics and challenge any notion of pro-active diversity efforts. They say their ideology stands on its own and there is no need to “divide and separate” or tailor their message for a particular targeted audience. Maybe that is why they are so closely identified with the Republican Party mindset. They are both male, white, non-inclusive, and very similar in demographics, wouldn’t you say?  Women libertarians don’t seem to entirely agree with that decidedly male perspective.

 

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Frank Hagler

I'm just a guy who enjoys a good conversation.

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