Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why do women hate freedom? They don't.

I've been turning over the latest controversial article from Thoughts on Liberty, trying to figure out what bothers me about it.

The essay is rooted in truth. As a few people have pointed out (or, sigh, demonstrated) being told that we're over-sensitive or biologically predisposed to oppose liberty is something that really happens to women exploring and advocating the ideas of liberty. If you don't think that has an effect on the margins then I really don't know what to say. Being flippant or dismissive of anyone's concerns is not a recipe for bringing them into the discussion.

But something about the essay is off.

When we look at room after room split 70-30 or 60-40 men-women, there is room for improvement, but why skip over the fact that this is a huge improvement? Looking at the gap as only a snapshot in time is, I think, a mistake. Especially since most rooms will include people who are coming from a time with a much more severe split - we don't get to start from scratch.

Something that libertarians are doing is working, but there's no mention of it in the article. As the passion for liberty spreads, the solid basis for our ideas that's been built in science and academia act as a launching pad for those who specialize in communicating what those ideas mean. We're getting better at talking about real world outcomes without all the jargon. At the same time, and as a result of the implementation of many of our ideas, women are becoming more prominent in different roles in society. Out of this comes a more balanced group with an interest in liberty.

These improvements will, I believe, snowball. As more women take part in our discussions and more people come to the ideas in different ways I think it will become easier to stand firm when someone tells us that what we want to talk about (not just women's issues!) is squishy or silly. It's up to everyone who sees that it's important to change this to take that stand. Our ideas are good, they can withstand the discussion. So let's have it!

And why not emphasize the role of women who have been standing their ground on these issues for so long? Let's celebrate their contributions, too - they're such that if you're well-informed about the history of liberty it's harder to overlook them than to include them, and in doing so you just might create a passion in those new to the movement for discovering its roots for themselves.

I think what bothers me about the essay is that it critiques libertarians who make sweeping generalizations about women, but makes sweeping generalizations about libertarians* (If it is meant to be about only a select few, this seems poorly articulated.) and it leaves opportunities to help correct the problems it identifies on the table. It has strength in that it is rooted in truth, but from there it fails to build anything but accusations. And that's a shame.

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*h/t Rachel for that line. 

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