This week, new website “Libertyviral,” run by libertarian publication powerhouse Austin Petersen, produced a list of the “20 Hottest Women Libertarians Alive.” The list has generated some controversy, with many feminists and women saying the list is sexist, objectifying, and belittling, exemplary of how female libertarians are treated in the movement. Others have defended the list (note: link is pointing to the discussion thread, not the commentary on the original post), saying that it’s just for fun and not meant to be taken seriously. Some of the women who are on the list have given their input as well. Needless to say, it’s a divisive topic.

Obviously, how women are treated in the liberty movement is something that TOLers care a lot about, so many of us have something to say about this. Hot libertarian lady lists: Friend or Foe?

Gina Luttrell

I actually have a lot of thoughts on this. Ultimately, it’s not as atrocious as it could have been. Austin kinda plays fast and loose with the definition of libertarian (ironically, what he claims the conservative post does) and throws in women he kinda thinks are libertarians, rather than picking from a slew of libertarian women with tons of demonstrable street cred. Additionally, more than a few of the entries only focus on the woman’s looks, rather than her accomplishments, and that kinda sucks. Austin didn’t seem to talk to the women before making the post, making this fall into the realm of creepertarianism a bit as well. All that being said, he does talk about the work that those women do at least some of the time, and I think that certainly counts for something. Austin also attempts some body positivity with his inclusion of a (token?) larger woman. Finally, the way that he talks about the women’s looks is respectful, not vulgar. I also sympathize a lot with Austin’s position as a content-producer. You have to make crap that sells, and sex appeal + controversy is a guaranteed formula for win. And Austin’s goals aren’t feminist, so it seems odd to apply feminist standards to him.

On the whole, it’s a mixed bag for me. Does it objectify the women of the list? I think so. Should he have done it without their permission? No (even if none are upset by it). But the creation of such a list, in general, can be done well, and Austin has some elements of that in here. It is a cruel reality that women are judged for our looks before our successes, but, sadly, it is the world we live in. As such, a list like this can be done well—using women’s beauty to sell liberty—but Austin hasn’t quite hit that bar yet.

Kelli Gulite

This was a silly stupid fun fluff piece that I take no more seriously than a Buzzfeed “Which Orange is the New Black Character’s Outfit Would You Wear?” quiz. I didn’t read anything egregiously sexist. And, I think it was a sufficient way to promote these few female libertarians, even if their accomplishments weren’t discussed at length. I would have been more interested to read “20 Cutting Edge Libertarians” or “20 Fascinating Libertarians You Never Heard Of” than to see the black and white photo of yet another “Libertarian Girl.” Spice it up. Julie Borowski gets enough air time as it is. #sojelly

Rachel Burger

I have no problem featuring the outstanding number of gorgeous libertarian women. Congrats to those included. You are all so gorgeous. But the problem with this list is that it highlights beauty first, and accomplishments rarely. They don’t mention Julie’s great work at FreedomWorks or her outstanding YouTube series–just how cute she looks in person. They failed to mention that Lindsey Bolton ran for Virginia State Legislature–she’s more than a “Southern Belle [who] will break your heart with her sly charm and cunning linguistics.” Those last two words. Ugh.

Patricia Simpson and Maureen Fallon don’t even have bios.

We’ve frequently wondered out loud why there aren’t more women in the libertarian movement. Here is one glaring example why. For the women who do join, we’re subjected to a high school-like beauty and popularity contest regularly. Our thoughts and accomplishments come second to how many sexy pictures we have up on Facebook. Would this be a community that you would want to join?

Gina O’Neill-Santiago

The list sparks conversations worth having and questions that should be asked– specifically, “where the libertarian women at?” Well, you can find a select few on that list. And some are here writing for this blog. Like editor Gina before me, I think the presentation of the women is tame and pretty tasteful. It is laudable that Austin gives a synopsis of their contributions–even those who are libertarian-lite. Of course, the eye-candy factor is supposed to draw in the clicks. But there is nothing inherently wrong or degrading about showcasing beauty and brains (even if the beauty comes first). Some of us know better than to demerit someone or assume lesser intelligence just because they are comely. And there is nothing stopping us from generating a list of the most influential libertarian women– the eye-candy factor  being merely incidental. So let’s make one.

Caroline K. Gorman

File this one under “could have been a lot worse.” Austin’s presentation is mostly inoffensive, although that assumes a list of hot libertarian women was somehow necessary or inevitable. I do pity these women for the unsolicited (and, in my experience, relentless) approaches they will doubtlessly receive. This is probably a good chance for a public service announcement: Just because a woman is attractive and shares some of your political beliefs, does not mean she is Meant For You. Please don’t contact these women and hit on them. It’s not amusing after the first dozen times.

Addie Hollis

It’s a way to get people to click but also get people to see that libertarian women (and their achievements) do exist. A lot of the ladies are very pretty — and smart. Awesome. On the flipside, the majority (all?) of the women are white. This either shows the lack of non-white representation in libertarianism, or (and this is my guess) the lack of prominent non-white libertarian women. Although on the brighter side, it’s nice there is a new list for men because now that it’s balanced in objectifying people — I must say, a couple of the guys are hooootttt.

Crissy Brown

I’m a bit confused as to why these lists are getting so much attention. It seems clear that this was more an attempt for Austin Peterson to showcase his gorgeous friends than anything meant to be taken seriously. The bios given lack depth, and honestly embellish quite a bit in a few cases; but I don’t find any of the content to be inherently sexist. Now, he did include what Gina Luttrell referred to as “a (token?) larger woman” who is every bit as sexy as all the others listed, but the first sentence of her given bio literally says “Before you open that big stupid mouth of yours about her weight or something you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Ummmm…. way to make her inclusion totally about her weight. Huge fail.  This was the only cause for offense from these silly lists. 

If you ask me, the  fact that so much time and energy has been spent discussing and fixating on these lists by those in the libertarian tent is a bit more disconcerting than the lists themselves. 

What do you think? Are lists of “hot” women demeaning or helpful? Does the exposure to women’s work lessen any bad affects that might come with such lists?