With the libertarian dust up over Julie Borowski’s video on why there aren’t more female libertarians, I think the question is important because it addresses a valid question on which good answers might help us spread liberty more among women (and girls and men and boys). Unfortunately Ms. Borowski’s video is a bad attempt at an answer. It might be useful to consider Cosmo in the discussion, for example, but it’s an odd generalization to consider this as a representation of women who are not libertarians.
I don’t know much about Ms. Borowski, but I can figure out that she is more socially conservative than most other libertarians. That’s fine. I’ve written before (somewhere in here) about my personal disapproval of abortion that influences but can’t overrule my understanding of both the philosophical foundation of competing rights and the practical implications of any hypothetical return to greater or complete prohibition. That type of conflict and resolving one’s personal preferences with society-wide policies is where we need to focus. Libertarianism is correct because all personal tastes and preferences are unique.
That’s the basic foundation that I think Ms. Borowski fails to explore for a better answer than declaring that women are more interested in shallow pop culture and are easily overwhelmed by liberal ideas within their sources for that fluff. Women aren’t liberal. Individual women are liberal. And individual women are conservative or libertarian. As long as we pretend that all members of a group share the same beliefs, we’ll miss the answers that might guide us to better education and marketing for our ideas to individual women (and girls and men and boys). We need to address how our set of principles and proposed rules provide room for individual preferences. That’s as important as demanding that people not infringe on the freedoms we want them to respect for ourselves.
From Ms. Borowski’s video, there is nothing wrong with a woman enjoying expensive makeup and handbags, or caring what happens to the latest celebrity obsession. My wife, for example, is interested in fashion and she enjoys the various Real Housewives shows. But why is this somehow related to her political leanings? She is capable of analyzing issues for herself through various political philosophies and drawing conclusions on what she believes. She generally arrives at libertarian answers. She’s not as interested in libertarian ideas or debates as I am as a hobby, but she’s no less libertarian because she spends some of her time on the televised antics of Reza.
For me the answer to the question of why there aren’t more female libertarians probably rests on marketing and personalization for individuals. I get there because, when I wonder what women think on this, I conclude that I don’t know. It’s absurd to lump individuals into one group based on general characteristics. I know that there are individual females who are libertarian, and I can guess that each arrived at libertarianism based on her own personal preferences. They share a common outcome rather than a common starting point. We need to understand individual starting points.
I’m interested in liberty. I believe its appeal is universal, or can be universal. The path to greater support for liberty – among, but not limited to, females – probably rests in clarity on the related-but-distinct aspects of process and goals for those who conflate the two. From a recent contentious example, opposition to ObamaCare doesn’t equate to a belief that poor people should suffer. Nor is opposition to government-mandated coverage for birth control support for limiting or prohibiting access to birth control. We need to separate “this is the goal” from “government force is the best/only way to achieve it”.
I like the way Lucy Steigerwald analyzed the debate surrounding the video, especially her conclusion and its last sentence:
Why can’t freedom be fuzzy and emotional? Why can’t it appeal to all these soft, caring females? The drug war, crony capitalism, two million people in jail in the U.S., war its self, small businesses being crushed by bigger or more favored ones who have government help; taxi cartels, laws against treehouses and gardens in your homes, the racism of the justice system, the death penalty, etc. There are scores of libertarian issues that are more accessible to the average person than the quantitative scribbling on the dismal science or “letting the poor starve.” All of them could get right to the heart of people who, bless them, often do care about fellow humans and about injustices. Libertarian men and women should simply work on countering this idea that government-mandated fairness is kinder or gentler than freedom.
Note: The title of this post comes from her great response in the comments section.