It’s common for feminists to identify as Left-leaning. The idea of challenging the existing power structure is a traditionally Left one, and many of the tools that feminists use – such as protest – were born out of the Left.
But the aim of feminism is a libertarian aim.
Women should be free to dress as they like, work as they like, form relationships and families as they like, without fear of harassment, violence, or death. In short, women should be free as men are free: liberty for all. A libertarian who denies their natural affinity with feminism isn’t a libertarian.
And there are times, too, when the tools of feminism are the tools of libertarianism. Take the consent movement: feminists everywhere calling out rape culture when they see it, giving it a name, drawing attention to it, explaining again and again why it’s harmful. These are actions designed to change individual people’s hearts and minds. They aren’t legislative actions; they’re libertarian actions.
Think about it. No one calls for a ban on novels or other cultural products that perpetuate rape culture. Instead, we talk and write about them to help readers become informed. No one’s tried to legislate against rape jokes. Instead, we call out friends and colleagues who make them. No one asks the government to encourage, by subsidy, reporting of sexual assault. Instead we form support groups so that those who want to report can do so without feeling alone. We work by ourselves, for ourselves, without much hope of institutional support: libertarian.
Rape culture is in people’s hearts and minds, so actions to change hearts and minds are the only actions against rape culture. But rape culture is also in the system – the police, courts and government. Our institutions are rape culture, so we can’t trust our institutions to help in the fight against rape culture.
We can’t trust our institutions. Sound familiar? Libertarian.