In my experience as a libertarian feminist talking to other libertarians, I’ve learned that some of them don’t want to acknowledge that barriers such as sexism exist. And I wondered why? When I call out sexism as an obstacle for women, I automatically get accused of pushing for government interference.
Why is this always the response to point out sexism?
It must stem back to the fact that people have knee jerk reactions to things, and some of those knee jerk reactions make people seek paternal solutions. We saw this with 9/11, which created a fearful desire for national security, the Boston Bombings with immigration reform, and Newtown and Aurora with stricter gun control. More relevant, mainstream feminists are known for wanting more government interference. So coming from that standpoint, I can’t be too annoyed when someone accuses me of wanting the state to fix these problems.
But here’s the truth: Simply because I call out sexism doesn’t mean that I want government interference. There are multiple issues that affect women because of institutionalized sexism, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing it out and wanting to find a solution that doesn’t involve the state.
For example, the wage gap. Many people want to dismiss the fact that women and men act differently in the marketplace and want to attribute it merely to choice. Studies show that women are less likely to negotiate for a higher salary and are less aggressive. We can maybe look at the socialization of boys and girls and how that affects their perceived interests in the job market, or how they go about pursuing their careers.
Another example is female sexuality and rape culture. It seems as if some people easily dismiss rape culture and myths about female sexuality because, for some reason, they believe that calling out sexism is a statist view. But there’s nothing wrong with pointing out rape apologists, rape myths, and just overall rape culture. Especially when it can create a dialogue and education to eradicate such culture.
We should acknowledge sexism because it will spark a dialogue that produces potential solutions to these problems—ones that don’t involve the state. By accusing those who call out sexism of turning to the state to right every wrong, we end up shutting down a very real discussion we ought to be having regarding sexism in our society and the hurdles it creates for women. As a feminist that does not want the government to fix these problems, we need to educate people on what sexism is, why something is sexist, and how it affects both men and women in their public and private lives.
Professor Steve Horwitz said it best,
“Acknowledging the existence of sexism doesn’t ipso facto commit you to any particular way of dealing with it.”
The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging it, then we can move forward with solutions, minus government interference.