Meghan Kellison

Meghan`s Musings

More About: Feminism

"Woman, Have Some Couth About Yourself"


“Woman, Have Some Couth about Yourself”*

          In the past couple of days there has been a debate going back and forth between libertarian feminists, other types of feminists, and libertarian men all stemming from this video. The creator of the video, Julie Borowski, has come under fire for espousing her opinions on why there aren’t more female libertarians which include a stronger tendency to conform to social norms and consumption of vacuous magazines geared toward women that are rife with liberal propaganda/consumerist mentality. I found her video funny and entertaining, and though one can hardly address all the reasons there aren’t more female libertarians in a two minute video, I think she made some valid but unpopular points about the tendencies of many (not all) women.
 
A familiar thread I find among many feminists is the refusal to take criticism of women, which I believe is crucial for all people to grow, and instead labeling anyone who disagrees with them a “slut shamer.” This seems to be the go to attack on anyone these days who dares express an opinion outside mainstream liberal feminism, but is a weak, knee jerk reaction that seeks to invalidate all the points of a speaker via ad hominem. I see carelessly throwing around the term “slut shamer” as irresponsibly silencing opposition to some certain sacred cows feminism still foolishly holds on to. While there is of course valid concern that the victimization of women still takes place and is trivialized by several right wing men, Julie has been unfairly thrown into this category by the feminists who fall on the much more socially liberal side, and I find the lack of unity among women on this topic disheartening. As a feminist myself, some of you ladies and men ought to be embarrassed at your emotional attacks.
 
Julie’s main point is that we have to make libertarianism more mainstream, and I think this is a point most libertarians can agree on. She’s right, it’s not cool to be a libertarian when the majority of people around you are statists, and your philosophy is frequently attacked by the mainstream as being too cerebral and not emphatic enough. Julie was appealing to the social conservatives in her video which is a crucial group that must be won over if libertarians wish to be successful at winning hearts and minds, and are indeed the target focus group for many libertarians taking the approach of working within the system. She probably comes from a more socially conservative background, but I don’t see that as an issue because I have never seen her say in any of her videos that people should be banned from certain behaviors because they violate the morality of certain groups. In fact, I have only seen the opposite because that is a truly libertarian position---to be able to disagree with someone’s behavior, but not seek to prohibit them from doing it as long as they do not hurt you or others. However, as a libertarian feminist coming from a very socialist socially liberal background, I see a broader appeal that can be made to the left and found her critiques of women refreshing if uncomfortable to acknowledge.
 
One of the main beefs seems to be with her declaration that casual sex is not empowering. This is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for several years even before I became a libertarian feminist, and I found that I completely agree. I am all for people living their lives the way they choose, free from laws preventing them from doing so, but to try to label a behavior as “empowering” when it is the opposite is misinformed at best and dishonest at worst. A brief breakdown of where I fall morally: I believe all drugs should be legalized, prostitution should be legal, victimless crime laws should be abolished, end involuntary taxation, end the wars, end the Fed, and the list goes on. I am very socially liberal, but do not participate in behaviors I find counter-intuitive or damaging to my health for the most part.
 
Casual sex is not liberating because the consequences weaken a woman’s potentiality. It can result in unwanted pregnancy and STD’s if proper measures are not taken, and relies on using (and sometimes abusing) one’s body for a variety of goals not limited to career advancement, social acceptance, conformity to prevalent social norms, and most often just plain selfishness (nothing wrong with that). Let’s be honest, if you engage in risky sexual behavior, I will not judge you for it, but let’s be real about what it is and not try to make it the crowning achievement of women in the 21st century. If women are struggling to not be seen as objects, then how does objectifying our bodies by giving them away to just any guy crush those stereotypes? Why can’t we use our brains to prove our self-worth, instead of relying on the very thing that has been used against us by male dominated power structures and some would argue even nature for thousands of years---our own bodies?
 
Empowerment is about having the ability to do something freely, but it also comes with a degree of self-responsibility for your actions. Having a child that makes one dependent on the state is not empowering, contracting a disease that makes one dependent on a doctor/medicine is not empowering, demanding the state pay for your contraception and acting like your actions stem from some form of liberation or enlightenment while making you a prisoner of skewed social norms is not empowering. Now all these criticisms do not apply to libertarian feminists, but even some libertarian feminists hold antiquated views of a woman’s self-worth. Some feminists argue that an archaic ideal of purity is what prevents women from being sexually liberated, but we have been sexually “liberated” in this country for decades now. When I say antiquated views, I am referring specifically to the so called liberation of women stemming from the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. In our “liberation,” I have found that many of us have become slaves to the very same meme that was meant to set us free. I think our privilege as women in this country is overlooked and underappreciated, and if you have to be educated in a college about how oppressed you are maybe a perspective shift is in order.
 
Women have made huge leaps, and they came mostly from an intellectual revolution beginning with the first wave feminists. The prevailing social norm that promiscuity is acceptable and even sometimes preferred comes from second wave feminism and is obvious anywhere you turn from television and advertisements to classrooms and social events. Women are increasingly pressured by their peers and advertising to give it up to fit in; to be just as nasty as promiscuous men, and I experienced this pressure early on intensely in both public middle and high school. I was laughed at and ridiculed by girls for wanting to wait to have sex, not even necessarily until marriage, but just until I felt ready. My position came not from some strong social conservative upbringing (ha!), but because I had some respect for myself and wanted to be in control of my body. My intellectual liberation was disparaged as I became stereotyped as a bookish prude…so much for solidarity. Women such as Angelina Jolie, known for seducing another woman’s husband are revered as “liberated” women by the media and feminists, but a woman who has made great strides in the libertarian movement is derided as a “slut shamer” when she dares to speak her opinion that makes some women angry because it provokes self-reflection.
 
The lack of unity among women is distressing, and even implying that women get disrespected by men because of their promiscuous behavior is tantamount to heresy in some feminist circles. I want to see women live up to their true intellectual potential, and not be held down or dismissed because of their behavior. Yes, I understand the double standard between women and men and sex and waahhhh it’s so not fair, but it exists as something we have the power and intellect to overcome. No one group has a monopoly on what feminism consists of or can exclude other women as not being feminist enough because they are different.
 
I always found it ironic that some feminists pride themselves on their crude, boisterous, promiscuous behavior that resembles the men that they find repulsive and oppressive. If brutish, philandering behavior is a criticism of men by feminists, why would a woman want to act like that same boorish man? Shouldn’t we seek to be above that behavior, and retain our self-worth so we can be an effective foil to an immoral, patriarchal society? What about the young girls growing up and experiencing the pressure from their peers and the media to act like a sex symbol? I fail to see how succumbing to the very biological urge feminists criticize men for succumbing to and using to exploit women is somehow honorable. Being edgy is not without merit, but sometimes feminists just end up sounding and acting like fifteen year old boys instead of intelligent ladies. Women are different from men in some very positive ways, and there is a healthy balance between being a prude and a slut. Being free from society’s pressures by finding that balance and being respectful of how we treat our bodies is uplifting and liberating.
 
If libertarians want to gain broader influence, we must target younger generations and be role models for young women. The internet is exposing millions of young people to the ideas of liberty and has created an environment where your actions are under a microscope and anything you’ve ever written or produced can be easily found and possibly used against you. I’m on no moral high horse because I have done my share of foolish things, but if we are to differentiate ourselves from social norms as women, we have to prove that we are intellectually and physically in control over our bodies.
 
From any popular topic that is widely discussed, it is obvious that declining morality is an issue, and I don’t mean that in a right wing Puritanical way. From tacit acceptance of drone strikes to widespread over-sexualization of children, American society is in bad shape, and it is up to people to choose to act morally and influence younger generations to do the same if we are to see a positive change and a blossoming of self-reliance. For women, we need to acknowledge some harsh truths about our nature or perhaps more so how our nature has been manipulated by a morally bankrupt society. Feminists should embrace constructive criticism especially when it comes from other women, and also accept that we are individuals with differing views, but that those views don’t necessarily mean we aren’t on the same team. If you are embarrassed to identify as a libertarian based on one video, maybe you aren’t so libertarian after all. The variety of thinkers in libertarianism should be one of its main selling points, and embraced as such. Does sexism still exist in American society? Yes, and I have experienced poor treatment by misogynists. I am not making a case that we have overcome it, but in some ways we are holding ourselves back from our potential to be movers and shakers when we refuse to face facts. We have to be honest about this to overcome it, and Julie makes another excellent point about magazines directed towards women. Why do some of us consume garbage that tells us in the limited text (between advertisements for products we don’t need) that we are too ugly, too fat, too poor, and this contributes to our terrible sex lives?
 
Woman, you are beautiful and sufficient with the temple you were born with. You are smart enough and do not need the acceptance of your peers to be successful. Quit listening to this anti-woman propaganda that says you have to share your temple with every sucker that comes along after you put on pounds of petroleum products and the most revealing clothes you can find. There’s nothing wrong with looking good, but I think it is more productive to let our brains do the talking and not our bodies lest we fall victim to the objectification so many women are fighting against. All women can be smart, classy, respectable, and free, and when it comes to changing hearts and minds, having “some couth about yourself”* can go a long way.
 
Instead of attacking another woman for not being feminist enough, or anarchist enough, or masculine enough, or feminine enough, let’s consider what we can learn from those we disagree with and recognize that we truly are on the same team and have the same goals. I may disagree with the feminists attacking Julie and even some of her views, but I do not hate them; I want to collaborate with them. There is a lot of room for disagreement in libertarian philosophy because it is founded on freedom, and as long as freedom is the goal more can be gained from working together than infighting.
 
*Quote attributed to fellow feminist and all around classy lady, Rachel Kisner, from a discussion we had on this topic.
 

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Dan Kellison
Entered on:

Very good outlook for my niece to have.  Ever since my own daughters had reached maturity, I tried to impress them about having self respect being more important than 'Lady Purity'.  It wouldn't hurt to tell men to 'Have Some Couth About '..Themselves as well. But most of us Dirty old men want our women to do things, we don't ever want our daughters doing...What a catch 22 that is. 


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