I refused to believe I was a feminist.
Aren’t they those bra-burning, man-hating, ill-dressed women who wanted other people to pay for their birth control? I’m a libertarian, after all. I don’t want no government paying for my bras — let alone anything to do with my lady parts — those are issues that are entirely private to me thank you, and I don’t want any cent of other people’s money going toward my personal life.
But then I discovered libertarian feminism.
Which was heaven sent because by God I am one. I believe that I have equal worth to a man. I believe that I can choose to stay at home and be a mom or stay in the workforce — and that decision shouldn’t be subject to holier-than-thou Lean In proteges or doomsday conservatives who argue women shouldn’t be anywhere but in the kitchen. And while many of my thoughts on privilege and other women’s issues mirror that of mainstream feminism, I believe that shaping society shouldn’t rely on using the state. That is the crux of libertarian feminism.
The examples listed above are only a small sample of what libertarian feminism addresses. To learn more, I strongly suggest you check out these blogs, books, associations, and essays to learn more about the social theory.
Cathy Reisenwitz has certainly made a name for herself on the libertarian scene. Unashamed to speak her mind, Cathy regularly blogs about tough issues like privilege and slut-shaming in addition to state-based problems like violence against prostitutes. While Cathy is now seen writing more frequently about sales in the private sector, her hundreds of prior posts make good fodder for issues of the past, present, and future.
Suzanne Schaefer, who has written for us before, is in charge of this fun, poppy, and lighthearted blog. While great for casual reading, this blog is better for those who are already familiar with libertarian feminist theory and ideas.
Written by Wendy McElroy, iFeminists is dedicated to exploring “new feminism.” The home page acts as a newsfeed for feminist and libertarian issues. The meat of this website is in the editorials section, where McElroy submits her own commentary and also links to pieces published outside the blog.
While not updated as frequently as we would like, Sandra Sanchez (A TOL alumna!) writes witty commentary on the latest issues confronting libertarian women. Her writing tends to wane longer than traditional online fare, but the depth of her commentary substantiates it.
The Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) blog is a fantastic resource on libertarian feminism. Though many of their posts center on LOLA activities, the blog largely focuses on the advocacy side of libertarian feminism. With posts ranging from “How to Talk to Women About Welfare” to movie reviews, the LOLA blog stays current, topical, controversial, and always libertarian feminist.
This list certainly wouldn’t be complete without our own website! While of course Thoughts on Liberty (TOL) is open to all libertarian women regardless as to whether or not they are feminist, TOL has lots of feminist content. Written entirely by female writers, this online magazine provides a women’s-only commentary on the latest political and social issues in the news.
Nadine Strossen, the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, writes about why censorship is fundamentally the worst oppression women can face, even–and especially–in the realm of sex and sexuality.
Ayn Rand is polarizing–libertarians either tend to think of her as a she-God or a nutjob. But this anthology does not dismiss Rand nor graze over her contradictions. For all libertarians out there–Objectivists or not–this book is worth a read.
Is every major libertarian feminist in this book? From showstoppers like Cathy Young to controversial thinkers like Camille Paglia, this collection of essays acts as the ultimate primer for libertarian feminism. This anthology is edited by Wendy McElroy.
Joan Kennedy Taylor, founder of the Association Libertarian Feminists and a renowned journalist and political activist, takes a historical approach to the gains of libertarian feminist thinkers since Mary Wollstonecraft. She argues that the sectarian nature of modern feminism is the result of the collectivist social approaches to women’s issues as seen in the second-wave.
For non-aggression principle and Joan Kennedy Taylor fans alike, this book is a how-to guide to dealing with sexual harassment and assault without the use of the police.
Associations and Non Profits
ALF is largely an ideas-based organization, focused on distributing information pertinent to women in the United States. Membership only costs $12 (which covers two years!), and includes access to the ALF newsletter. ALF is also publishing an anthology soon and has recently started its own blog. But the best place for all the ALF action is on Facebook.
Founded in 2009, LOLA is a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting and developing female leadership in the liberty movement. Membership is entirely free. LOLA sponsors a speakers bureau, facilitates socials, and distributes practical libertarian resources like “How to Promote Liberty within a Political Party” and “Defining Boundaries in the Workplace.” (Full disclosure: in January, TOL editor-in-chief Gina Luttrell was named LOLA of the Month.)
Founded in 2012, this lady libertarian organization aims to educate people within the liberty movement on important female figures that shaped libertarian today–beyond Ayn Rand. Libertia Society largely hosts conferences and participates in historical research.
The National Association of Libertarian Women is formally affiliated with the Libertarian Party. Membership is free and provides access to their exclusive newsletter, private events, and advocacy tools.
Wendy McElroy breaks down what “equality to men” means to individualist feminists — and explains why she forgoes second-wave solutions like affirmative action. This short essay explains why libertarian feminism focuses on equality before the law and why social problems require non-coercive solutions.
In their breakthrough essay, Roderick Long and Charles Johnson reconciles the differences and similarities between mainstream feminism and libertarianism. They advocate that feminism should return to its roots in Voltairine de Cleyre, Angela Heywood, Herbert Spencer, and Benjamin Tucker and “radicalize” current feminist commentary.
This essay centers on the three major female founders of modern American libertarian thought: Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Ayn Rand. These “great popularizers of liberal ideas” were influential no doubt–and this essay explains what they said and why it was important.
America in 1873 was not unlike today. Following the Civil War, Americans bonded together in a new nationalism emphasizing the importance of government and “being American.” In response, Ezra Heywood released an essay on women’s emancipation, and why they must continue to free themselves from the shackles of the state.
Patriarchy and patriotism — both from the same root word, pater (father) — are simply two sides of the same authoritarian coin.
Carol Moore writes that the nation state is “the epitome of male violence.” In this manifesto, Moore argues that the structural violence the state imposes against women is no different than physical violence created by individuals. She advocates for the end of states all together — yes, she was an anarchist — and that “confederated communities” are the only way one can live freely in a society. She lists seven demands (“Increase Choices for Families” and “End Economic Exploitation”) and then concludes that there are actions women can take today to claim a place at the table.
There are obviously essays, articles, books, and associations I haven’t listed here — in addition to interviews, children’s books, and other resources. These are meant to be the best of the best — I’m sure I missed missed a resource that’s equally important as the above-mentioned assets.
If there’s something — or even someone — that you think is worth mentioning, please leave your suggestions in the comments below!