Posts tagged Feminism

Re: Fuck. Yes. is run by Roderick, not by me.

For what it’s worth, I certainly agree that our essay should not be the only thing cited in a discussion of libertarian feminism.

The “Libertarian Feminism” essay was not written in ignorance of ALF or the work that y’all have done. It would not be too much to say that if it weren’t for ALF I probably never would have become a libertarian — it was specifically a couple of essays by you, Sharon, and some others by Joan Kennedy Taylor, which really opened me up to the possibilities of radical individualism, and taught me my first and most important lessons on libertarian and market anarchist approaches to social justice. (It’s the libertarian part that I needed convincing on. As a man I am come to feminism with a certain distance that women don’t have — but I’m not exactly writing from the outside looking in, either. While I’ve seen my share of ivory towers, I am not a professional academic, and I actually came to libertarian thought by way of years of prior work within local feminist groups, GLBT groups, and anti-rape/anti-battery activism — work which started for some pretty heavy personal as well as political reasons — and which eventually lead to anarcha-feminist organizing efforts, which lead…..)

It is true that men writing critical assessments of women’s work, including (especially?) in the feminist movement, are necessarily in a tricky position, and we are prone to all kinds of dumb moves and bad faith. No doubt in that essay and elsewhere I’ve neglected a lot that oughtn’t have been neglected and said things that are off-kilter or mistaken. But I don’t think it’s fair to infer from a failure to talk about something in the essay that we are oblivious, or don’t think that it’s important; lots of things we wanted to talk about, we didn’t get the chance to. I don’t think we claimed that no 20th/21st century libertarian feminists ever drew a connection between patriarchy and statism, or that Wendy McElroy is the only voice of “libertarian feminism” out there. Certainly the discussion (in section 2) of a number of common libertarian errors about feminism wasn’t intended to suggest that there aren’t any libertarian feminists who have pointed out and corrected those errors. If what we wrote, or what we neglected to write, does suggest that, then that’s absolutely a mistake, and I’ll publicly retract it.

For whatever it’s worth, in the essay we do allude to ALF and discuss an article by Joan Kennedy Taylor which appeared in the ALF News — but unfortunately, the format of the paper being what it is, we spend much more time (including in that section) talking about the points on which we disagree rather than the points where we agree. Similarly, we hardly canvass the whole range (as if we could!) of non-libertarian radical feminist thought (we only deal at length with one major instance — Catharine MacKinnon’s discussion of formal consent under patriarchy — and briefly mention a handful of other figures); and we hardly talk about any concrete examples of antifeminist libertarians by name (Hans Hoppe is in there, I guess). All I can plead is that the essay was presented live and so subject to limitations of time and the audience’s attention, never intended to be a comprehensive overview of anything, only an elucidation of a few conceptual issues that we see as especially important in finding the most promising strands of thought and action — by doing some totally incomplete and regrettably selective engagements on a handful of points that might help bring those conceptual issues out as clearly as possible. It’s certainly not intended either to be the first or the last thing that anyone reads on the subject of libertarian feminism — if it’s of any use at all, it will only be as something read alongside a lot of other broader, deeper, and more comprehensive material (which absolutely includes a lot of the work by Sharon Presley and other women in ALF, and I’m sorry if anything we said or anything we left out ever suggested otherwise). If the essay has been taken as an attempt at a comprehensive statement rather than a brief attempt to engage in a much, much wider conversation, then I can only say that I’m sorry for that, and the bit about pointing back and onward to the foundational works in the feminist tradition is really seriously meant — and work like “Government is Women’s Enemy” is as foundational as anything else I could mention.

Re: Being Rational Doesn’t Make You a Misogynist

Twisty / Jill of “I Blame the Patriarchy” (a radical feminist who also suffered from breast cancer a few years back) has something of a regular series on the Breast Cancer Awareness/exploitation industry, and on the worthlessness of the Komen Foundation in particular. (Crunch for the Cure, It’s Gratuitous Erotica Month! etc.)

Of course, the notion that criticizing Breast Cancer Awarifying campaigns or the entrenched corporate interests behind them (and Komen is nothing if not a well-run corporation) is “migoynist” is a straightforward result of treating breast cancer awareness as a metonymy for women’s health. Just as governments have succeeded in branding themselves so that anyone opposing the dunderheaded belligerence or parasitism or international mass-murder of, say, the United States government is therefore taken to be “anti-American” (as if the U.S. government were America, rather than a tiny, parasitic minority oppressing and robbing from the country and people of America), so also Komen and the rest of the Pink-Ribbon brigade have managed to brand themselves successfully as being simply identical with women’s health (hey, it’s got lady-parts, and unlike other women-specific health issues — like women’s reproductive healthcare — nobody will get boycotted or firebombed for associating themselves with it), so that only someone who is against women’s healthcare, or indeed against women as such, could think to criticize them or to suggest that there are other, more productive outlets for people’s resources (including the resources of those who would like to do something about pressing women’s health issues) than that particular patriarchally-correct donation-hole.

Re: Should we women be grateful …


I’m sorry if you find the essay disappointing. I certainly didn’t co-write the essay intending to make women “grateful;” I co-wrote it intending to argue for a specific point of view. I am glad where people have found it useful for clarifying or stimulating thoughts; sorry where they haven’t.

I also don’t think the point of the essay was to “rehabilitate” much of anyone, but rather than my trying to guess here, could you let me know who “the woman who destroyed feminism” is?

@Angela: “‘left-libertarian’ is just another name for another hen’s circle of white males.”

Maybe. Most libertarian circles are predominantly white, and predominantly male. To the extent it’s true, I think that’s a problem with the movement. But that’s not an argument against the content of the paper, is it? (And the fact that I know “left-libertarians” who are not white, and left-libertarians who are not male, is not an argument for it, either.)

@Angela: “You either believe in the NAP or you don’t. All these new names for libertarianism are bullshit”

“Libertarianism,” as I understand it, is a new name for “Anarchism.” (When it’s not — e.g. among Bob Barr supporters or Constitution fundamentalists or bomb-the-world Objectivists — “libertarianism” is generally not something I want anything to do with.) I’m not sure that makes a name bullshit; it just means that language evolves and people have shifting purposes in communicating.

In any case, Roderick and I both believe in the NAP, as we wrote in that essay and have said repeatedly all over the place. But he and I also believe in some other things that not all NAP-adherents believe in — for example, about the relationship between the NAP and some other social or political commitments that I have; and about the best strategy for achieving the political goal of a non-aggressive form of society; etc. So when communicating with other NAP-adherents about why I disagree with some of the details of their approach, it’s handy to have a label to help sum up where I’m coming from, and give a quick suggestion about the differences I have with them. Hence the “left-” prefix. I could just say (using the oldest term for our approach) that I am an “individualist anarchist,” like Tucker, Spooner, or de Cleyre). But that doesn’t mean as much to people now as it did in 1892, so sometimes “left-libertarian” is the best way of clarifying what I’m on about.

@Lassiter: “There is a percentage of left-feminists, female and male genders alike, who really, truly, deeply believe that women, by their nature, need government and laws to protect them from themselves.”

It is certainly true that there are statist feminists, and statist feminists often propose statist laws in the attempt to advance their political goals. Fortunately, there are many feminists (including the radical feminists we discuss in the paper) who have provided valuable critiques questioning that approach. Some are Anarchists; others are not. Those that are not haven’t carried their critiques through to consistent anti-statism; but I don’t need for people to be 100% ideologically consistent anti-statists in order to learn something from their writing or example.

In any case: whatever other “left-feminists” may believe, Roderick and I are Anarchists. We reject the claim that statist “protective” laws are necessary, desirable, or legitimate as means to feminist goals. For reasons that we discuss at some length in the paper.

@Tyler: “Why is there something about feminism written by two men?”

Well, why not?

@Tyler: “why would you not include women in the writing process”

Because it was written to advance a specific argument that Roderick and I had already discussed, in the middle of an ongoing conversation in which we represent only two voices. It’s not a manifesto written by committee, or intended (the Good forbid) to try and say everything that there is to say about libertarian feminism, let alone feminism as such.

@Bryan: “aside from a few questionable/unfortunate comments on homosexuals”

  1. Well, aside from that, I think that Hoppe’s expressed views about immigration are both despicable and anti-libertarian (in the sense that he directly proposes continuing — indeed, escalating — massive government violence against innocent victims, solely on the basis of nationality and socioeconomic class).

  2. While not involving direct proposals for state aggression, I also think that his expressed views on “internal ranks of authority” within the family (as discussed in the LibFem essay), traditional authority and “natural elites” within society, his qualified praise for hereditary monarchy, and his demand that “libertarians must be moral and cultural conservatives of the most uncompromising kind” are all absolute rot.

  3. I think Hoppe’s comments about homosexuality are rather worse than “questionable” or “unfortunate.” I’m not sure what you have in mind here — do you mean his (ridiculous and insulting) comments about homosexuality and time-preference in his UNLV lectures? His bizarre series of sexuality-related personal attacks on Tom Palmer? His frankly totalitarian insistence (in D:TGTF) that “the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered life-styles, such as, for instance … homosexuality … will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order”? I think these are all pretty despicable, and while you might be able to pass off the first two as personal idiocies of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s, which can be passed over in order to get at the core of his theory, the last — the stuff about his “covenant communities” — is part of the core of what his theory is, of what he thinks a free society has to look like in order to be sustainable. (Much the same goes for, e.g., his Know-Nothing views on immigration, which are also attached to the hip to his picture of “covenant communities.”)

For reference, here’s Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God that Failed (p. 218): “In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one’s own tenant-property. … There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They–the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism–will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.

“It should be obvious then that and why libertarians must be moral and cultural conservatives of the most uncompromising kind. The current state of moral degeneration, social disintegration and cultural rot is precisely the result of too much–and above all erroneous and misconceived–tolerance. Rather than having all habitual democrats, communists, and alternative lifestylists quickly isolated, excluded and expelled from civilization in accordance with the principles of the covenant, they were tolerated by society.”

Of course, none of this prevents one from citing Hoppe on those occasions where he is right. But may I just suggest that in a paper intended to discuss a radical form of libertarian feminism, I’ve found those occasions pretty rare?

Privilege and patriarchy

<p>Hey Marja,</p>

<p>Thanks for this. I’m sorry I’m late to the discussion. A couple of halting suggestions.</p>

<blockquote><p>Does patriarchy even exist any more? Men die sooner. Men get imprisoned more often.</p></blockquote>

<p>I guess this depends on what group of phenomena “patriarchy” is supposed to be encompassing. The strand of radical feminism I’ve always identified with has seen patriarchy as rooted primarily in men’s violence against women, and especially the sexualized violence of rape, wife-beating, abortion laws, etc. As much has been done to challenge all of these, they are still everywhere and still largely committed with impunity, and I think as long as, e.g., men are raping 1 out of every 4 women, and this has systemic effects on constraining women’s behavior and gender expression, patriarchy as I understand it is still in place.</p>

<p>It’s true that men get imprisoned more often, but as far as I know that’s always been true, as long as there have been prisons. Prison is oppression, but at present it’s almost exclusively form of oppression that some men inflict on other men. (Maybe that will change as more women become police, prison-guards, and political office-holders, but at present all those are still predominantly the province of states-men.) And I think the major causes of, e.g., men’s shorter life expectancies (labor conditions under state capitalism, violence among men, etc.) are also examples of things men do to other men. But hasn’t patriarchy, as a hierarchical structure, has always included internal hierarchy among the patriarchs, and intersected with cross-cutting forms of oppression?</p>

<blockquote><p>Is privilege the best way of thinking about it?</p></blockquote>

<p>I’m inclined to doubt it. But I’m increasingly uncertain that “privilege” is the best way of thinking about much of anything; I’m not sure if we have the same reasons for worrying in this case. I’m worried because I’m worried about how far the all-encompassing use of “privilege” to explain has shifted the focus from what oppressors do to what oppressors have. Of course there were reasons for that — unpacking invisible knapsacks and making privileged people aware of the limitations of their own standpoint and all that — but what we have now is a basically epistemological approach (about becoming aware of, and owning, how much “privilege” you do or don’t have) to the micropolitics of one-to-one or one-to-many power-relationships — an approach which provided a handy conceptual tool for the analysis and criticism of individual beliefs, attitudes, conduct, epistemic standpoints, etc. — but which seems to have been wrenched out of that context and awkwardly repurposed into an all-encompassing framework for viewing all forms of oppression, exploitation, bigotry, ignorance, alienation, interpersonal friction, or abusive behavior. I do think that one effect of this is that it has proved really, extremely awkward for any attempt to talk about power relationships that involve more than two sides, and hence also for horizontal, diagonal, or intersectional power (such as the hierarchies of power among men under male supremacy, for example; or the way in which “cis” women, trans women, trans men, gay men, genderqueer folks, children, etc. are all oppressed — but differently oppressed, in different directions, by patriarchal violence).</p>

<p>Everything else is really interesting and important; I just wish I had something more articulate to say about it.</p>

Re: Aliens Among Us

langa: Those on the left are afraid of alienating the radical feminists, many of whom consider porn to be the worst thing in the world.


  1. Antipornography radical feminists generally oppose, and have repeatedly come out against, the kind of nasty remarks and polemical abuse that’s directed against women in pornography from people (mainly men) on the political Left and Right. Whether you think we are right about pornography or not, I don’t think this is an accurate understanding of the position towards women in the pornography industry.

  2. I can find no evidence at all that much of anybody in the mainstream Left is particularly afraid of alienating antipornography radical feminists, or really cares what radical feminists in general think (whether they are antipornography or not). Do you really think that someone like Catharine MacKinnon or Susan Brownmiller has very much influence over what people in common liberal or Leftist discourse, outside of specifically feminist political spaces, think it is or is not acceptable to say?

The idea that people on the male Left really want to object to nasty remarks about the women in pornography, but fear of radical feminist backlash is somehow holding them back, strikes me as bizarre.

Re: Free Sex With Coupon


Well, Aster mentioned the word “pogrom” before you did, so it’s natural you would repeat it. But I asked because I am unsure about what would count as a “pogrom” in your light.

E.g. would a pogrom against women in prostitution have to involve large-scale murders and massacres (which certainly has happened, many times, but is rarer than other forms of mass violence against women in prostitution)? Or would it be enough if large numbers of women in prostitution were being forcibly rounded up, restrained, beaten or tortured, forced out of their homes and livelihoods, and locked away in prison camps for months or years at a time? If the latter sort of dispossession and terrorization counts, then that’s been the official policy and program of countless patriarchal states throughout the world — among them the state of Denmark until the 1999 partial decriminalization.

Re: Aliens Among Us


I think that’s true, but I don’t think it’s funny. (Neither ha-ha, nor particularly strange.)

It’s entirely ordinary for women to be treated like crap by both the official Right and the official Left simultaneously, and especially women who are perceived as being defined by their roles in the system of sex-class (e.g. sex workers and other publicly sexualized women).

There are very few rules when it comes to the girls, and especially not girls who aren’t seen as “nice” according to prevailing male standards. Or I should say that there are a lot of rules: just not rules of courtesy or common decency, but rather rules of Patriarchal Correctness, which are themselves quite rigid in their expectations of who has the right to act like a dickhead, or even has a positive obligation to act like a dickhead, and who ought to be kept in their place.

Re: Against Pseudo-Reform


If you are subsidized, then your insurance policy cannot cover abortions. But that’s how the law has stood since 1976 (see Hyde Amendment). So the new legislation changes nothing.

Of course it does. Specifically, the new legislation (through a combination of subsidies, captive-market mandates, and new regulations on insurance corporations) is designed to corral more women (and men) into government-subsidized plans. That is, last I checked, the point of the “reform.”

Of course, more thoroughly statist options (like, say, putting everyone on Medicare, as some “social democrats” have proposed) would be even worse, in that total conversion of the healthcare industry to political allocation would mean the total subordination of women’s reproductive healthcare to the political mandates of Hyde et al. But this proposal is bad enough. And if your response depends on a claim that government subsidies to one good don’t tend to crowd out substitute goods, then I have to wonder where you would get that notion.


If that’s not Left-Libertarian enough, I hope this is. Charles suggested it. Please click the red ‘Recommend’ button at the bottom if you like.

Although I certainly do support grassroots-organized community free clinics (on the model of the Panther clinics or the feminist women’s health center / women’s self-help clinic movement), I certainly do not favor having goverment “create” community health care centers. And while I very much appreciate the notions of (1) divorcing the idea of “universal health care” from “government health care”; and (2) doing so through voluntary grassroots alternatives to corporate health insurance, I will say that I strongly doubt that any one big voluntary plan for everyone everywhere is going to cut it. What I want to see is a thousand mutual aid societies blooming, and a thousand different approaches to the problem — not for there to be some one network that everyone signs onto, but rather that every one have some network that she individually can sign on to.


The point is that while theoretically libertarians decide these things on individualist principle, in practice the judgment calls on policy options get made according to conservative and patriarchal priorities. This doesn’t have to be the case, but is.

Maybe so, but I may I suggest that MBH’s position on government health care reform is, well, idiosyncratic among self-identified libertarians? And so that the argumentative moves he makes may not be indicative of how most of us would handle the issue?

Re: This is What a Feminist Army Looks Like, II

Feminist Majority’s material on Afghanistan has been pretty uniformly confused-to-awful since December 2001. It doesn’t even have much to do with the Obama administration; their basic tone was established as soon as U.S. troops entered Kandahar, and hasn’t changed much if at all since Obama was elected. I think it has more to do with FMF’s politicos not wanting to set themselves squarely against the warfare state when they think that they might somehow be able to leverage it.

However, Alex Jones notwithstanding, I think that lumping Code Pink in with FMF on Afghanistan is awfully unfair to Code Pink. They’re one of the few major national antiwar coalitions that’s still staging regular protest actions at all, and opposition to the occupation of Afghanistan has been their central campaign since about November 2008. (Code Pink has also promoted RAWA, as an organization, in their anti-occupation campaigns; see for example how just this past month they promoted, and sponsored the Southern California stop for, an anti-occupation speaking tour by a representative from RAWA. They also run one of the few national campaigns against the bombing of Pakistan.) Does this reportback / action alert from the recent Afghan delegation really read like a group that’s just forgotten about the effects of war and occupation on women in the warzone?

Re: Bartlett’s Quotation


And yes, I agree Keith overstepped the bounds with his counter. But again, I’ll ask you whether you think you’d be piling onto (and making offhanded jokes and jibes about) a woman who over-reacted to being ‘pantsed’ in public by permanently crippling her attacker.

While we’re playing the analogy game, I wonder what you would say about a woman who overreacted to being “pantsed” in public by grabbing a crowbar and beating the shit out of not only her attacker, but also everyone else in the room, regardless of whether or not they had ever done anything to her?

I ask because that’s actually more like the situation that’s going on when Keith replies to Aster calling him names by going on a tirade about “cock-ringed queers,” “pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hair,” “homosexualists” (?), and “persons of one or another surgically altered ‘gender identity,'” inter alia, and generally a bunch of other people who aren’t Aster.

This is not, actually, a two-person feud in which a bunch of bystanders have just inexplicably (or all-too-explicably, or whatever) picked on one side — the side you consider to have been the instigator — to pile on against. What happened was that Aster repeatedly insulted Keith and has in the past attributed positions to him that he claims not to hold, based on insufficient evidence; Keith in response has not only returned the insults; he has also, in the process, launched the most vicious sorts of broadsides against all sorts of people who have absolutely nothing to do with the purely personal aspects of the feud.

Perhaps this might just help explain why a number of folks who have mostly opted out of trying to intervene in the interpersonal sniping, have had something to say about Keith’s recent sorties of rhetorical saturation-bombing.

I don’t need to investigate or comment on the history of the fight in order to justify getting pissed off at Keith for punching me in the face, even if somebody other than Keith started the fight that got him swinging. If he doesn’t want to get piled on, he should start by fighting in a way that doesn’t involve bashing a lot of people other than his putative target.