Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary from Your Libertarian Opinionizer
A question that has been hanging around on social media for several years has been “Where are all the libertarian women?” with no real meaningful answers.
A scan of Google searches shows that this was a big question in 2013 or so all the way up to 2017 and then practically disappears from the social media menu.
Other than reporting that Jo Jorgensen is the first woman nominated to run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2020 the question of “Where are all the libertarian women?” seems no longer to be an important question. So does that mean there is now parity or near-parity of male and female libertarians?
Not likely but who knows?
Furthermore, non-libertarians who attempt to answer this question invariably fall back on old cliché-ridden reasons like women are loving, sharing, caring, giving, nurturing and security oriented while libertarianism is based on male values of independence, self-reliance, rationality, personal achievement, business and economic theories.
But other than being sweeping generalizations is any of that really true? Aren’t all individuals pursuing what they choose rather than pursuing some prefab gender stereotype?
Female libertarians have long been involved in and advocating for libertarianism. So maybe the problem has always been that they just haven’t been counted in all those surveys that report them as missing in action.
Maybe it’s time to let them speak for themselves.
Libertarian Women Speak For Themselves
It’s important to understand that there is no single, comprehensive, all-inclusive source for identifying libertarian women any more than there is such a source for identifying all libertarians of any demographic. Libertarians, being an independent, individualist, self-motivated lot, tend not to run in hordes or herds or flocks even though they do voluntarily move in and out of and support various and numerous different libertarian organizations.
Yet, undaunted, the Cato Institute in 2017 attempted to answer the question, not limited to women but to all libertarians, in an article, “How Many Libertarians Are There? The Answer Depends on the Method You Use” by Emily Ekins
Ekins wades through many of the problems, not only what methods are used and what questions are asked and what statistical algorithms are employed but also noting the many different ways libertarianism is defined and the fact that there is no “ideological litmus test” that libertarians can agree on. Ekins herself is clearly a free market advocate but never explicitly identifies as “libertarian.” See the problem?
This, ultimately, is the reason we can only speculate about the true state of the libertarian population and why in this case women libertarians should just speak for themselves. Those who do in this Opinionizer article were tracked down and quoted the old-fashioned way, by Googling “libertarian women” until a few sites popped into plain sight.
Analects of Leading Libertarian Ladies
Wendy McElroy edited Freedom, Feminism and the State, a collection of articles that allows several libertarian women to speak for themselves. Together these articles debunk the modern progressivist socialist collectivist notion that government is the natural supporter of the women's movement. Article 5 in the anthology is about as explicit as it gets: “Government Is Women’s Enemy” by Sharon Presley and Lynn Kinsky.
Presley, in fact, kicked off her own 2014 article “Libertarian Feminism: An Honorable Tradition” on libertarianism.org by reclaiming feminism from the clutches of the left by explicitly stating, “Contrary to what some may think, the first feminist activists were not socialists, they were individualists and libertarians.”
She went on to stress in a 2015 article, “There are many different branches of feminism. Libertarian feminism is distinguished most importantly by its suspicion of the state.”
But these are just a few of the current leading ladies of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. What about “everyday women” who are “woke” to libertarianism in one form or another but don’t necessarily identify as feminist, ifeminist, individualist feminist or libertarian feminist?
Are they included in surveys counting how many libertarian women there are? All people are, after all, individuals pursuing what they choose rather than pursuing prefab gender stereotypes.
Rebekah of Funnybook Farm?
Yes, libertarians have a sense of humor. This first-name-only libertarian Rebekah describes herself on her website as “Mom, Wife, Writer, Chronic Illness Warrior, All Around Badass, Mental Health Advocate, Bullshit Identifier, and Awkward as Hell.”
So how did Awkward as Hell Rebekah become a libertarian? “Honestly, I think most Americans are Libertarian and don’t even realize it,” she writes. As for herself, “I have known since high school where I stood politically, but tended to vote Republican so that my vote ‘counted’.”
But then 2016 happened. Donald Trump captured the Republican Party and Rebekah “couldn’t do it anymore.” She realized that the two-party system was so totally broken that “there was no way I could choose the ‘lesser of two evils’ anymore.”
Since then she has voted Libertarian. But her understanding of libertarianism, likely from being a “Bullshit Identifier,” goes beyond the LP’s longstanding mantra of “More Freedom, Less Government.” She personally prefers “no income tax, no welfare, and no universal healthcare (coming from a person with chronic illness y’all. I’ve thought about this. A lot.)”
Rebekah acknowledges that activities like adult drug use, prostitution, gay marriage, and abortion are personal choices that should be completely decriminalized, reflecting her motto “Just because I would or wouldn’t choose it, doesn’t give me the right to choose for someone else.”
Not so Funnybook after all.
Does she get counted as “libertarian” in surveys?
The Dawn of a Libertarian Lifestyle
Dawn, another one-name-only blogger, is the kind of libertarian few talk, write, think or even know about, and is likely completely missed in “Are you a libertarian” surveys. She’s not into politics or philosophy or economics. As she self-identifies in her blog My Libertarian Lifestyle she’s “a work-from-home executive and stay-at-home mom, blogger, urban gardener, and a libertarian.”
She also simply states, “I am a libertarian, an individualist, a voluntaryist.”
She explains on her blog how her libertarian lifestyle is all about the effective, practical application of libertarian principles to daily life that includes self-reliance and sustainability at home, “gentle parenting methods, ethical shopping, using food as medicine, and holistic, evidence-based wellness solutions for ourselves, our homes, and our communities.”
“This,” she concludes, “is liberty, in theory and in practice.”
The goal of her blogging is to inspire other like-minded individuals with hands-on ways to live free today—and every day—by applying her libertarian lifestyle principles to activities in their daily lives.
That is, at bottom, the whole reason why libertarians want a free, voluntaryist, individualist, laissez-faire society—to live their lives as they choose, not as others dictate.
“For me,” says she, “libertarianism is not just a political philosophy—it's a peaceful and prosperous way of life.” Dawn sums up her libertarian lifestyle choice on her website header this way:
“Peaceful ∙ Connected ∙ Holistic ∙ Ecological ∙ Compassionate”
Doesn’t every libertarian wish they woke up to that kind of Dawn?
Does she get counted as “libertarian” in surveys?
Mom and Daughter Libertarians
Some people become libertarian by proxy.
Sydney Allard, a Dartmouth College student, had her political world turned inside out when, as her recent article in The Dartmouth student newspaper was titled, “The Summer My Mom Turned Libertarian.”
Sydney was a Democrat for the simple reason that her Mother was. As Mom explained it to her, “Republicans are motivated by self-interest, and Democrats are concerned about what’s good for others.”
But Mom was shocked when Trump was elected President. Still, rather than assuming voters didn’t know what was best for others she began questioning herself. In Sydney’s own words, “After the election, my mom began reading Camille Paglia in addition to Gloria Steinem. Articles by Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman littered our kitchen island. That summer, my mom turned Libertarian.”
She hadn’t changed her liberal values, just her political affiliation.
Following in her Mother’s intellectual footsteps Sydney expanded her own horizons and began considering Libertarian as well as Democratic and Republican political positions. Like her mother her own goals didn’t change, she just found new and better ways in libertarianism to achieve them.
“As my Libertarian mother would put it,” she concludes, “a freer marketplace for ideas can’t be a bad thing. We still get to choose the best ones and dismiss the bad ones, but we ought to consider all, or at least more, of them.”
Do both mom and daughter get counted as “libertarian” in surveys?
From Poverty to Libertarianism
Gina Luttrell claims she didn’t become a libertarian through rational reflection from reading books but through her own life experiences. “I’ve been a libertarian for as long as I can remember” She says in her Thoughts on Liberty article, “Why I’m a Libertarian,” and further admits that she “always had a problem with authority.”
She grew up poor, living in mobile homes and having to do without. “The girls across the street from me were prostitutes—and they were minors. Several people I knew dealt drugs.”
“I am a libertarian,” she insists, “because of these things, not in spite of them. There is a stereotype that libertarians are all rich white men, and I stand as an example against this.” Her goal is to show why one can believe that less government is in the best interest of the poor.
As a libertarian Gina wants people to rise out of the conditions that she grew up in. She understands that the struggles and problems she went through were either governmentally created or that government otherwise stood in the way of real solutions to those problems.
Gina is a libertarian because she wants to see an end to systemic poverty, to see people free to choose how to live their lives, because she believes “those policies are what will yield the best society for everyone.”
She first became aware of the word “libertarian” when her older brother read Ayn Rand and decided to form a libertarian club at their school. When he explained what a libertarian was to her Gina simply said “that makes sense” and adopted it.
“But I was a libertarian before that moment, else I wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. I chose it because it made sense, because of who I was, where I had come from, and where I hoped to go. Just like everyone else.”
Does she and her brother get counted as “libertarian” in surveys?
So How Do We count Libertarians?
It’s very difficult to get a meaningful count on libertarians in general, not just female libertarians. There appear to be far more non-LP libertarians than LP members for example. How are these non-party members counted in surveys? Many libertarians don’t directly identify as “libertarian” because they disagree on various policies or approaches and call themselves voluntaryists, individualists, agorists, ancaps, anarchists, minarchists, Objectivists, post-statists and the like. How are these “other name” libertarians counted in surveys?
What is “ifeminism?” According to their website FAQ page “It is sometimes called libertarian feminism.” How are they counted in surveys? Ever more college libertarians, many young women included, are active in their campus “Liberty Movement” groups. How are the libertarians in those groups who are neither conservative nor liberal counted in surveys?
Too many people make too much out of the demographic makeup of libertarians. Too many white rich upper middle class men? Not enough poor people, or lower class people, or non-white people, or female people, or poor lower class non-white female people? So what? It sounds more like a desperate attempt at misdirection—“Pay no attention to that libertarian woman behind the curtain”—than to actually acknowledge and give serious consideration to libertarian women’s contributions to the Modern American Libertarian Movement.
Libertarians are people committed to the non-aggression principle against coercion, intimidation and fraud while championing free markets in a free individualist voluntary post-statist society. No matter how each personally identifies.
So viva la libertarian femme, no matter how few or how many they may be. All libertarians of all kinds and types and categories and descriptions are on the same journey of personal emancipation. They may walk different paths at different speeds but their destination is ultimately the same.
References and Links
Where are all the libertarian women? They’re here, just for starters…
Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF) They advocate for freedom and equality but “we do not think using the coercive power of government is the way to do it.” Founded in 1975 the ALF Facebook page boasts nearly 8,000 followers at this writing.
Feminists for Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grassroots organization promoting equality, anti-sexism, anti-statism, pro-markets and pro-choice—in everything. At this writing they have close to 3,700 Facebook followers.
Thoughts on Liberty Some 2,400 people follow this FB page of “Women Writing for a Free World.” They know libertarian men outnumber women. They want to change that. How? They are a team of ladies writing about freedom. “Are you ready?”
LOLA: The Ladies of Liberty Alliance is a network of independent libertarian women leaders who spread the ideas of individual liberty and free markets in “21 countries with over 55 Chapters reaching over 1500 women.”
Women Voters for Jo Jorgensen In May Ms. Jorgensen was nominated as the LP’s Presidential candidate. The request-to-join this Facebook public group was created in June and already has 1500+ members at this writing.
Woke Black Female Libertarian
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.