XY is not a good starting point for judgment.

Remember what I wrote yesterday:

The only thing I know for sure is that when I see the patriarchy in a debate, I stop to question the receptivity of all participants to the complete, objective set of facts informing the debate.

I left the idea of accepting principles implicit in that. At Hit & Run, Kerry Howley nails the problem with respect to prostitution and claims of patriarchy. There is too much goodness to quote any one specific point. Read the whole piece. But I like this:

None of the slut-shaming makes sense unless you assume women live to give themselves to men in their purest possible form.

Some of the comments at the Feministing entry that Ms. Howell discusses are instructive. First, the comment she references in her entry:

Exactly what is “enough” for a woman’s body? I’m politically liberal, openly feminist, and opposed to sex work precisely because of the “patriarchy, heterosexuality, legalization of sex work and the ethical treatment of sex worker” issues. Oh, yeah, and also the issue of pricing the body as a commodity to be sold in the capitalist market (“if we pay them more, then we must really value them” doesn’t make exploitation any more attractive).

To be fair, the commenter’s second paragraph states that sex work should be legal. But the point is clear, even if a woman sells the temporary sexual use of her body to another, it is exploitation. Can a person be exploited in agreement with her expressed will? This is a fancy way of arriving at the same conclusion as slut-shaming. She may do what she wants, but capitalism will ruin her because she’s not strong enough to overcome it. It’s the same circular, illogical journey to “patriarchy”.

Next, this comment:

Selling sex objectifies women and supports the patriarchal view that women are meant to service men. How do we as human beings expect to better ourselves if we can’t move beyond our violent, self serving instincts?

Women can’t sell sex to women. Men can’t sell sex to women. Men can’t sell sex to men. Got it? Only patriarchal men – never feminists – can adhere to a heteronormative, degrading worldview. Got it?

Taking it further, this comment:

But on another level, this story really sickens me, as someone who voted for Spitzer, and begs a bit of a personal question: When can we ever trust the men in our lives? Whether they are elected, or our friends, our lovers, our brothers or brother’s friends…When do we trust them to not rape us, use us, objectify our bodies, patronize our minds or otherwise disrespect us? I struggle with this story, as an example of not just an act of “indiscretion” but as Samhita points out, the larger issue of patriarchy, heterosexism in politics, abuse of power and ultimately a complete disregard for women has human beings.

That’s grotesque.

Like I said, the appearance of patriarchy suggests a narrow approach to whatever topic is being discussed. This is why I’m not a feminist. I’m a libertarian, instead¹, because I believe in equality. I believe that all people are capable of making their own decisions free from, and with understanding of, competing interests for and against their actions. Where there is oppression against free will, root it out. Where there is a poor outcome from free will, let it be². It’s not complicated.

¹ I know feminists who believe in equality of opportunity (i.e. liberty) rather than “equality” of outcome, so I do not seek to disparage feminism or imply that all feminists believe in the latter. But the feminists who do not believe in any equality that produces results different from their preferred outcomes are too off-putting. I’ll stick with my broader philosophy of libertarianism, which is based on principles rather than my subjective tastes and preferences.

² Contrary to what some people believe about libertarians, this does not mean I advocating leaving people who make bad choices to rot in the gutter. It does not meant hat I believe women who choose between selling sex and starving should be left to sell sex. Charity/assistance is not anathema to libertarianism.