Whose Liberty Are We Talking About?


Jean Kazez has a post up about differentiating between the various people who are opposing anti-harassment policies. She tries to make a distinction between real (dare I say, “legitimate”?) misogynists and those with other objections to the policies.

The respectable skeptic may be on board with all substantive feminist goals, but they lean very liberal on sexual issues and libertarian-ish on rules and codes. They may also have distinctive positions on purely empirical matters, like how often harassing incidents occur, and what the impact is of discussing them at blogs. Their views on what will advance the status of women may also be distinctive. It strikes me as inflammatory and distorted to accuse these people of misogyny, or even of being anti-feminists.  Even if some of these people dress their views in provocative clothing, underneath it all they do not have troubling attitudes toward women.

There are a number of moving parts in this paragraph. There’s the implication that those of us who championed anti-harassment policies are not very liberal on sexual issues (see Jean’s comment below for clarification on the kind of “liberal” we’re talking about here). There’s the idea that we haven’t addressed the frequency of harassment in general or within our movement, or the effects of talking about sexual harassment currently or in general, or otherwise backed up our own “distinctive positions” with rather a lot of data and explanation.

That’s not really what I want to talk about, though. I want to address this idea that “underneath it all they do not have troubling attitudes toward women.”

Ophelia has been working her way around the issue for a couple of days now, and one of her posts helped to clarify this issue for me. In it, she mentioned one of these “libertarian-ish” fellows.

I’ve had arguments about this. I had some with James Onen of Freethought Kampala, and (as I think I’ve mentioned) it was kind of a friendship-ender (which I considered unfortunate). He’s adamantly libertarian about when and where it’s ok to ask a woman for sex. I tried to suggest a sufficiently absurd example, but he was consistent – yes, he would simply go up to a woman at a supermarket and ask her to come home with him.

Ok here’s the thing about that: that describes life in places like that neighborhood in Brussels in Sofie Peeters’s short film. It describes my experience in Paris at age 17. It describes life in Cairo. It describes places where women (young desirable women) can’t go out in public without being pestered by men demanding sex. It’s hellish. Absolutely hellish. I pointed that out to James, and he was content with it.

That feels sexist to me. It feels like men saying “what I want is more important than what women might want.”

That is part of it. Though, given that this is one of those things people couldn’t believe was said, plus his hanging out in the slime pit and his heavily elided versions of Elevatorgate, one might argue that Onen really is in the misogynist camp rather than just a dissenting libertarian-ish. For me, it was the reactions to these kinds of statements among the mere dissenters that made the problem obvious.

Modified slightly from a comment at Ophelia’s:

The proof comes when women start going after what they want.

He wants the freedom to hit on me at any time and any place? Fine. Liberty in action. Maybe a little crass, but….

I want the freedom to call him a disgustingly selfish piece of shit? I want the freedom to determine whether I want to deal with him based on whom he treats well and whom he doesn’t? I want the freedom to use tools under my personal control to keep him from interfering in my projects? I want the freedom to gather with people who share my values rather than his?

That’s when I’m abusing my power. That’s when I’m “Talibanesque” or “femistazi” or “Orwellian”.

That’s when the proof comes. This is sexist because it is applied differently to my freedoms and his freedoms. It is sexist because his behavior as a man is individual and free, no matter how many people he gangs up with, and my behavior as a woman is collective and political.

That right there? That’s a troubling attitude toward women.

There is also a weird little trend in this “mere dissent” group to pretend that the costs of the status quo don’t exist. There is a habit of looking at any proposed change and discussing only its costs, not the problems it solves. That isn’t because those of us agitating for change don’t talk about the costs of our participation under the old plan. It isn’t because we don’t acknowledge that change requires…well, change. It isn’t because we act as though we are creating a utopia.

The possibilities are getting pretty narrow. The reason this problematic behavior happens could still simply be a basic tendency toward conservatism, I suppose, despite the liberal self-image of the people we’re talking about here. They might not be working against women or feminists specifically, just against agents of change who happen to be women and feminists. Even that, however, is quite troubling. Even that favors men over women, and when we point this out and nothing changes, that is troubling.

Is it inflammatory to call this behavior misogyny? Hard to say. I’m not even sure what the difference between inflammation (worth speaking out about) and provocation (an apparently acceptable eccentricity) might be.

I wouldn’t have thought that proposing anti-harassment policies would be particularly inflammatory, but here we are. Here we are quite successfully, in fact, having achieved positive change in the midst of the conflagration. I can say I’m not as worried about being inflammatory as I might have been before discovering that I can’t prevent fires by any means except shutting up entirely. That won’t be happening.

I don’t, however, think that calling the pattern of behavior I’ve described here “misogyny” is a distortion. At least, it’s no more a distortion than applying any other label is. Underneath it all, there are some troubling attitudes toward women, even if we have to dig a bit to get there.

Comments

  1. hoary puccoon says

    “*Underneath it all* they do not have troubling attitudes toward women.” ??!?@! UNDERNEATH IT ALL????

    Oh, yeah. And I’m sure UNDERNEATH those white hoods a lot of the KKK really, really like African Americans and Jews, too.

    If a person expresses himself in a way that hurts other people and then turns around and says, “I’m really on your side. You’re just too sensitive,” he is NOT on the side of the people he says that to. He just wants *them* to see *him* as some terrific, warm, wonderful guy instead of a self-impressed, entitled scumbag. As the old saying goes, with friends like that you don’t need enemies.

  2. says

    Stephanie, No, there are no “legitimate” misogynists. Sheesh. Also, we’re using “liberal” in different senses. Here’s what I say about it in the comments to that post, in response to an anonymous person who made your point.

    I’m using the word “liberal” in the narrow sense of “at liberty”–so the more you think people are at liberty to do, the more liberal you are. You’re using it in a different way, so that “liberal” is an honorific and “illiberal” is pejorative.

    All I’m saying is that people vary in their beliefs about how restrained you should be in even requesting sexual encounters (we all agree that consent is required before engaging in them). Some people think practically any requesting is OK, as long as you respect the person’s answer. Others think the sheer asking is sometimes inappropriate.

    I’m in that second camp, really. I don’t think propositioning a speaker right after a talk is appropriate, for example. A speaker is presenting herself as having ideas worth discussing. If you respond by asking for sex you aren’t recognizing how she’s asking to be regarded. Basically, I think you actually need implicit consent even to proposition someone, and not just consent to have a sexual encounter.

    That’s “non-liberal” of me (in the sense of the word I spelled out), but I wouldn’t say “prudish”. There’s a lot of nuance to human interaction and I think there’s a right way and a wrong way even just to ask for sex, let alone to have it. Nor prudish, just … true!

    Just wanted to clarify. As for the rest, I’ll just “butt out” and let you discuss.

  3. Sally Strange says

    I’m using the word “liberal” in the narrow sense of “at liberty”–so the more you think people are at liberty to do, the more liberal you are. You’re using it in a different way, so that “liberal” is an honorific and “illiberal” is pejorative.

    So, you’re like the European who’s like, “Oh, you thought I meant ‘liberal’ in the sense that I value human rights and equality? No, silly Americans, I meant ‘liberal’ in the sense that we should remove all regulation from financial companies!”

    Yeah, super helpful. Especially when you’re dealing with questions of sex and feminism, and there’s a long-standing anti-feminist smear about feminists hating sex.

  4. says

    Jean, I mean “legitimate” in the Akin sense: that we all agree that this fairly narrow set of behaviors constitutes misogyny, even if we disagree quite vehemently on where the borders of that definition are.

    I appreciate you posting the clarification of “liberal” here. I meant to suggest people read your whole post for the context of that and failed to do so. My comment about conservatism notwithstanding, I also think I am pretty clear in the fact that I’m talking about liberties here and the failure to account for or recognize competing liberties or the fact that we are not all currently enjoying the same degree of liberty.

  5. smhll says

    There’s a lot to chew on in your post. It’s going to keep me thinking for awhile.

    Is it inflammatory to call this behavior misogyny?

    Going back to the Dublin elevator incident: at that time, I think RW just talked about “sexual objectification”. And she mentioned it as an example of creating an atmosphere at conferences that women might not find welcoming. I think she avoided the use of the word “misogyny” at that time, and I’m not sure when it popped into the discussion.

    Anyway, I think quite a few arguers who haven’t dealt with sexual objectification as a near constant part of their own lives had some serious trouble “getting it”.

    Due to elisions, (which I think you posted about), and inaccurate paraphrasing, and sloppy reading comprehension working in tandem, we end up in EGate debate with anti-policy-having people thinking “Men wanting to have sex with women is not misogyny.”

    I think it is difficult to put across the annoyance of sexual objectification, especially to people who desire to have more (positive) sexual attention. I think the idea is well understood by women and people who’ve done a lot of feminist reading, but I’m not sure the last year’s debates were effective at conveying this point to a more general audience.

    I think the preponderance of women first reading the Elevatorgate story put themselves in Rebecca’s shoes. And the preponderance of men, on first hearing, relate fairly strongly to the anonymous guy. When attempting to relate to the female POV in that story, a lot of guys don’t imagine being propositioned by a larger person, or even imagines a history of propositions and sexual comments that were disrespectful, since this particular invitation was respectfully phrased. (A couple of them even commented “I wouldn’t mind being propositioned in an elevator/lift.)Context comes from our lived experiences, I think, and it’s been tough to really put all that background context across successfully online. Absent context, we see people looking at a brief incident and evaluating it in much different ways.

    The toughest nut to crack in this discussion is the man who never propositioned anyone at a conference, but has thought about it a lot and wished to do so. A person who finds getting partnered sex difficult is unlikely to welcome anything that he thinks will make his quest more difficult.

    (Damn, I am sorry to have centered my whole reply on elevator behavior as I think the question of change-resistance and looking only at costs to oneself vs. benefits to another is quite intriguing.)

  6. says

    There is also a weird little trend in this “mere dissent” group to pretend that the costs of the status quo don’t exist.

    Well, that might be partly due to the fact that the cost is paid by other people.

    +++++

    I’m using the word “liberal” in the narrow sense of “at liberty”–so the more you think people are at liberty to do, the more liberal you are.

    So why on earth did you use liberal and libertarian as sort of contrasts then when you basically meant the same by them?

  7. says

    To me, it’s pretty simple. If you’re being sexist, you’re being sexist. Intent isn’t magic, but if you’re open to change then that’s fine, I can cut you some slack. After all, we all have the capacity to be sexist due to our indoctrination and socialisation into this society. But when you double down, refuse to change, or even refuse to admit a problem exists at all (and hyper-sceptically demanding extraordinary evidence is just a form of denial), that’s misogynist. There’s no excuse that doesn’t boil down to “I don’t give a fuck that women are not being treated as human beings with the same rights as men and we should keep things just the way they are.”

  8. says

    Giliell

    Well, that might be partly due to the fact that the cost is paid by other people.

    That’s it in a nutshell, yes. Libertarians generally refuse to acknowledge even the idea of a negative externality or of a systemic problem. Everything is about atomized individual behaviors taken without context. It is also an article of faith for them that each person doing whatever they feel is best for them personally will inevitably lead to the best outcomes for everyone. In the minds of people like James Onen, his propositioning a woman is a totally distinct event which has nothing to do with anyone else’s behavior. If it’s a problem, then either the women are just insufficiently bootstrappy, or the invisible hand of the ‘meat market’ will correct matters by itself without anyone needing to make rules or anything.

  9. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    For me, it all comes back to the statement that your rights end at the border of my body.

    So yeah, you can swing your fist around all you damn well please – but you are not allowed to connect it to my nose.

    Your right to be an asshat ends the second your asshattedness affects me.

  10. MountainTiger says

    I don’t see how Onen’s hypothetical supermarket proposition has any libertarian content at all. Were the question, “should it be legal to proposition women in supermarkets?” he would have a libertarian claim. Unless I misunderstand something, that was not the question. Furthermore, the proper libertarian answer would seem to be “the supermarket owner may freely set policies about what behavior will be tolerated from customers.” Which seems to be exactly what is happening with harassment policies: voluntary gatherings are articulating policies about how participants ought to behave. “Libertarian objection” my ass.

  11. smhll says

    So yeah, you can swing your fist around all you damn well please – but you are not allowed to connect it to my nose.

    I think the metaphor breaks down when we apply it to verbal solicitations. A lot of men have been alleging that just asking for sex or for a trip to one’s room to have a beverage or handing out a card with a naked picture on it isn’t harmful, or specifically that it causes no physical harm. A lot of women have been arguing back that in context, in a world where men sometimes yell and mime violence when rejected, in a world where men follow women for blocks, unwanted and completely unencouraged or unsupported surprise offers of sex are intimidating and often very unpleasant.

  12. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    Right, smhll, that is true.

    So I’d point out that your right to yell at me ends when the sound waves coming from your throat hit my ear drums.

    *shrug* But then, I’m one of those bizarre radfems.

  13. 'Tis Himself says

    Mountain Tiger #12

    I don’t see how Onen’s hypothetical supermarket proposition has any libertarian content at all.

    I think the libertarian content comes from Onen’s refusal to see how doing something he wants to do should be considered unsuitable by anyone else. The woman propositioned in the supermarket might not want Onen’s personal preferences to supersede hers. The vast majority of women do not want to be propositioned by complete strangers, but Onen feels that’s acceptable behavior because it’s what he wants to do.

    Libertarianism is based on “I can do what I want as long as it doesn’t harm you.” Many men, and Onen appears to be one of them, don’t see propositioning a woman to be harmful to the woman. After all, it’s just words and she can say no.

  14. sezit says

    I think a good analogy to the request for 4:30 am coffee on an elevator with just the two of you would be the same situation (elevator, alone, 4:30 am) except with a smaller guy who is approached by a larger guy of a race or ethnicity or nationality (say, one is an irish catholic and the other protestant)that has had violent interactions, who says “You have some interesting things to say – wanna take it outside?” Youch! You have no idea which way that might go, but it could be very bad, and I cannot imagine anyone in that situation who would not be immediately very uncomfortable.

  15. Josh says

    I recall a friend of mine having a similar view to Onen. Of course he didn’t see it as a problem because he would have personally loved women to proposition him (so he said).

    The funny thing is that one evening he was sitting at a bus-stop that happened to be outside a gay-bar and got hit on by a man in a way that made him very uncomfortable. A couple of weeks later the same thing happened. He found these incidents so terrible and shocking he would bring it up in coversation after conversation (always mentioning how each of the men were bigger than him and he felt intimidated). He wasn’t happy when I pointed out that he thought this behavior was fine if men were doing it to women but, to his credit, it changed his mind on the issue.

    But thats the point; a lot of people, like my friend, can’t conceive how these situations could be intimidating, coercive or scary. They are making calls from their own perspective which is a position of power (in the real physical sense) and of privilege.

  16. says

    I would like to point out that some of the descriptions about libertarians and the libertarian philosophy in this thread might be incomplete. So let me begin by stating up front that there are people who loudly proclaim that they are libertarian and are also bigoted and misogynistic. I know one such person who fits that description and since I have not been able to get him to change his views I now avoid social situations where I know he will be present. This person is also an ardent atheist and skeptic. Now I suspect that this person is exactly the kind of person the Atheist+ movement would not want around. I can see why. Just as Atheists would not want this person to be considered as indicative of the entirety of the atheist movement it might be a good idea to not assume that this person and persons like him are indicative of the entirety of the libertarian movement.

    Let me describe something which happened this year and I am going to somewhat vague just for reasons of confidentiality. There was a young man over 21 but still living at home in a city in southern California. The car he used was in the father’s name. The father was also a minister in a fundamentalist church. The father found out the son is gay and threw the son out of the house just the cloths on his back. In the city there is an organisation to help LGBTQ youth however the young man had real concerns about even staying in the same city as his father. This LGBTQ youth organisation got in touch with some libertarians who live in Arizona and who have a Facebook page for Libertarians concerned about LGBTQ issues. The Arizona libertarians said yes they would help and that they had a spare room in which the young man could sleep. The Arizona libertarians would normally have driven to Southern California to pick up the young man and drive him back to Arizona however their vehicle needed repairs and they were short of cash (not all libertarians are rich). So late in the evening the Arizona libertarians put on their Facebook page that some money was needed quickly and why. The next day the young man was on a bus heading to Arizona. The reason I am aware of this is that I was one of the libertarians who used PayPal to donate the money for the transportation. Also money was raised to buy the young man some clothing because remember the father had thrown him out of the house without even a suitcase.

    I bring this case up because as far as I know it has not been mentioned in any of the skeptic or freethought or atheist blogs. So just as we might ask the religious to not vilify all atheists by only considering the worst Atheist they hear about it might be a good idea to not vilify all libertarians or any other group without doing some research. Perhaps even asking if there are any libertarians reading the blog.

    It should be noted that within the some parts of the libertarian blogosphere a similar discussion has been simmering. Much of the discussion has revolved around “thin or narrow” libertarianism which only focuses on a narrow application of the libertarian philosophy and “thick or wide” libertarianism which takes in a broader perspective to include other concerns such as LGBTQ, gender and race issues. These are not easy topics but they are issues well worth considering. The Libertarian movement has many splits, factions, divisions and schisms as do most human movements over time. I suspect that there be splits, factions, divisions and schisms continuing within the skeptic/freethought/atheist communities however I think it would be preferable that the splits be done with as little vitriol and with as much understanding as possible.

  17. M Groesbeck says

    @moulton —

    All I particularly care about Libertarians (use a fucking capital letter when you’re using an appropriated term to describe the opposite of its original sense, if you have the least bit of decency) in terms of LGBT rights/liberation/existence is that it’s pretty much a Libertarian article of faith that only groups of people calling themselves “the government” should be actively prevented from interfering with people’s lives.

    I mean, seriously — you want cookies for taking a gay kid into a state where he can, completely in accordance with Libertarian opinions of how the law should be, be fired, denied equal pay, etc. for being gay

    Fuck that shit. (Oh, and I’d also like to keep my consumer and worker protections, thanks.)

  18. says

    I keep hearing about these egalitarians—even feminists!—who have these unnamed but legitimate criticisms of feminists who oppose harassment. Many members of group 2 even insisted they were of this group. So I concocted a test that I think is a really good way to figure out who is group 1 and who is group 2.

    If you’re in group 1, you should be able to produce two things:

    1) A specific accusation against the atheist feminists. This should be detailed explanation of what you disagree with them on, why you do, and how this disagreement isn’t traditional misogyny. “I get to hit on whoever I want no matter how miserable it makes her,” doesn’t count, because that’s a violation of basic politeness, even if gender isn’t in play.

    2) Evidence backing up your assertion that the feminists you criticize actually say the things you criticize.

    I put this request out to the over 16,000 followers I have on Twitter. Repeatedly. So far, I have no takers.

    I’m beginning to believe, based on empirical evidence, that group 1 simply doesn’t exist.

  19. says

    Let me be clear about the example I won’t take: “I can hit on whoever I want under any circumstances I want, even if it’s obviously threatening, creepy, and she’s signaling strongly that she isn’t into it. I can continue to pester her for sex even after I’ve been rejected, either overtly or through commonly read and easy to understand signals such as trying to escape the conversation.” That’s just rudeness, even if you disagree with the notion of “sexual harassment”.

  20. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #16, ‘Tis Himself says:

    Libertarianism is based on “I can do what I want as long as it doesn’t harm you.” Many men, and Onen appears to be one of them, don’t see propositioning a woman to be harmful to the woman. After all, it’s just words and she can say no.

    Which, aside from tone is a reasonable description of part of libertarianism, the other part is voluntary association. Between non-agression and voluntarism it is not particularly difficult to come to the conclusion that libertarian views are compatible with feminist goals.

    So, when ‘Tis Himself says:

    I think the libertarian content comes from Onen’s refusal to see how doing something he wants to do should be considered unsuitable by anyone else.

    I would point out that if Onen does not respect others right to decide they do not want to associate with him based on his behaviors (which I think the original blog does point out) makes him inconsistently libertarian. Both axioms are required for libertarianism to be something other than conservatives who want lax drug policy (and gay marriage rights).

  21. says

    @MGroesbeck

    You seem to be upset based on a misconception; you wrote:
    “a Libertarian article of faith that only groups of people calling themselves “the government” should be actively prevented from interfering with people’s lives.”

    Actually the “article of faith” as you call is the Non-Aggression Principle. Actually it is more complicated than that but I do not want to turn this thread into a discussion of political philosophy.

    We all realize that Arizona is not a perfect place however the young man did not want to stay in his Southern California location. Arizona was where the spare room was located. I mean seriously; a bunch of people voluntarily help out someone in a bad situation and the reaction is as if something terrible was done to him. The terrible thing was the young man getting thrown out of his house by his father; the good thing is that people gave a helping hand; gave him a room and bought him clothes. I thought that people being helpful was one of the Atheist+ behaviors we wanted to promote.

    In the long run I suspect that the skeptic/freethought/atheist movement will be better if we have less vitriol and more calm and rational discussion.

  22. says

    While it’s nice that this libertarian group did this, it means nothing in the larger scheme of things. There are plenty of groups of religious that do similar things, and that’s laudable, but it doesn’t make their belief system any better, more functional or more connected to reality.

    Actually the “article of faith” as you call is the Non-Aggression Principle.

    The definition of aggression used by libertarians ignores economic and social aggression. Further, it allows for direct physical aggression as a means of backing up economic aggression, and defines that as ‘non-aggression.’ Like the Christian apologists, you appear to assume that no one here has any knowledge of your ideology/that we don’t understand it. Neither of these is correct:many posters here have a great deal of knowledge of libertarianism, including former libertarians. We understand the practical ramifications and outcomes of libertarian philosophy, and they are unacceptable. No amount of explaining it will change these facts, you would need to provide empirical evidence that libertarianism brings about the things it claims to, when implemented. The available empirical evidence shows the contrary, though, so you’ll have a hard slog on that front.

  23. says

    Actually the “article of faith” as you call is the Non-Aggression Principle.

    where “aggression” has been redefined to include such non-violent things as theft and loitering, but excluded structural violence and harm as well as economic and status-based aggression.

    IOW, it’s a perfect principle for those who own lots of shit and want the right to kill (directly or indirectly) in defense of the shit they have, as well as the right to extort more shit out of less wealthy people.

    bah.

  24. says

    @19 Is that conversation going to lead anywhere, or is it just going to simmer in perpetuity?

    I called myself a bleeding heart libertarian for about two years. Half of what made me a liberal was the BHL blog itself. Go ahead, click the link. Search for “lgbt” and tell me if you think it’s indicitive of anything that in nearly two years of operation, searching for “lgbt” on a blog that’s dedicated to exploring issues of social justice brings up one result.

    I’m not suggesting that lgbt issues are the only social justice issues in the world, but this is rather tone deaf. Frankly Kerry Howley was the best you ever had, and she dropped off the face of the earth, and even Will Wilkinson quit and started calling himself a Liberal. Who’s left, Radgeek?

    Yeah, there are a lot of Libertarians in feminist/glbt/etc spaces. I’d wager most of the people who run those blogs are aware of it, but lets be honest; they’re here because these conversations doesn’t happen anywhere other than liberal circles and if Libertarians had something to contribute to them they wouldn’t be so invisible in the first place.

  25. says

    anyway, I do not care what someone feels “in their heart of hearts”, nor do I care that some libertarians are perfectly polite and personable individuals. What I care about is effects, and the effects of libertarian policies are the worsening of oppression (especially class-connected oppression, which in the US includes racism and sexism) by declaring democratic power “aggressive”, but allowing for money-based power

  26. says

    for money-based, prejudice-based, status-based, etc. power. in fact, officially political power is the only kind of power libertarians seem to oppose (in effect; don’t care what they imagine themselves to oppose)

  27. says

    Between non-agression and voluntarism it is not particularly difficult to come to the conclusion that libertarian views are compatible with feminist goals.

    only if you don’t understand that in libertarianism, “voluntary” doesn’t actually mean “free of all coercive and choice-limiting forces”, and “non-aggression” really only means “touching my stuff is as aggressive as violation of bodily integrity, but giving you the choice of starvation or unnecessarily dangerous work is not aggressive at all””

  28. says

    @Dalillama
    “While it’s nice that this libertarian group did this, it means nothing in the larger scheme of things.”

    Actually it does mean something in the larger scheme of things. It does provide at least one counter example to the old falsehood that libertarians only care about themselves.

    As for your statement that I “appear to assume that no one here has any knowledge of your ideology/that we don’t understand it”. That is not correct; I made no such assumption. My point is that often people think they have a complete and total understanding of libertarian philosophy when actually their understanding might need a bit of an upgrade.

    I do not want to overload this thread so I will just close with the observation that I expect we agree on more things than the number of things on which we disagree.

  29. says

    I give up. for some reason my response to moulton’s “but I’m a nice person, I can’t be responsible for bad things” whining is being eaten either by the spam-filter or by a technical glitch. which makes me unhappy, cuz it had a citation about the “libertarians only care about themselves” thing

    :-(

  30. says

    I expect we agree on more things than the number of things on which we disagree.

    if you subscribe to the libertarian non-aggression principle, that’s extremely unlikely.

  31. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    In comment 30, Jadehawk says:

    only if you don’t understand that in libertarianism, “voluntary” doesn’t actually mean “free of all coercive and choice-limiting forces”, and “non-aggression” really only means “touching my stuff is as aggressive as violation of bodily integrity, but giving you the choice of starvation or unnecessarily dangerous work is not aggressive at all””

    About coercion/ non-agression: I do not think that ‘touching my stuff’ is grounds to do anyone physical harm (though perhaps it is grounds to cause economic harm) within the NAP. Further, I suspect you understand that the NAP is a bit more nuanced than you have put forth, but are being disingenuous in your argument.

    About voluntarism: It is certainly true that libertarianism is not is not a political ideology or world view which removes all coercive and choice-limiting forces. I am not stating otherwise. Those it leaves in are economic coercion (for example: paying workers/not paying workers, buying things/not buying things) and association (for example: not wanting to work for X, not wanting to buy from X, not wanting to live in place Y).

    I do not think I misconstrued these things in my previous post. I pointed out that the desires of free association and to not cause harm except in defense (which are the core of libertarianism, right, left, and anarchist) are completely compatible with the goals of gender equality. They do not of force compliance in ways other than economic pressure, which is where I think we disagree over methods (which I think is the point of the post by Jean Kazez linked to by Stephanie Zvan in her post here).

  32. says

    (for example: not wanting to work for X, not wanting to buy from X, not wanting to live in place Y).

    yep. like not wanting to serve blacks, or house gays, or employ women.

    like I said. there’s nothing feminist about libertarianism.

    They do not of force compliance in ways other than economic pressure

    that’s of course not true, but even if it were, that alone would be incompatible with feminism, considering the feminization of poverty

  33. says

    Further, I suspect you understand that the NAP is a bit more nuanced than you have put forth, but are being disingenuous in your argument.

    nuanced it is, but not in ways that erase the fact that it’s basically a propertarian racket.

  34. says

    to not cause harm except in defense (which are the core of libertarianism, right, left, and anarchist)

    nice lie by omission. harm to what in defense of what? only when you leave out that rather important bit do you get to say something as inane as that the left or anarchists would ever agree with you on this.

  35. says

    seriously, a non-aggression principle that states that the social contract is aggression, but economic oppression isn’t is harmful BS, no matter how many pretty words you wanna hang on it.

  36. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    A reply to several of Jadehawk’s recent comments:

    (for example: not wanting to work for X, not wanting to buy from X, not wanting to live in place Y).

    yep. like not wanting to serve blacks, or house gays, or employ women.

    This is different from now in what way? Oh right, the guys with the guns saying “you must associate with those people, we do not care that do not want to.” That causes swift social change and no resentment, backlash, or retaliation at all…

    Would you rather someone forced the association for their (your) own good? For example, if knowing (personally) someone of a marginalized group is the best way to have a person change their mind about the other groups rights or marginalization (and I do not think this is disputed as the most effective method), shouldn’t we force members of the groups you have given as examples to associate with the people who hate them the most? That is what your argument sounds like to a libertarian. Now, I am not claiming they are equal situations (because of some very real dangers to the marginalized by this association), but the principle underlying them is the one which is in disagreement.

    like I said. there’s nothing feminist about libertarianism.

    Other than the whole equality thing, sure.

    They do not of force compliance in ways other than economic pressure

    that’s of course not true, but even if it were, that alone would be incompatible with feminism, considering the feminization of poverty

    Well, for starters it is true that libertarians acting on the two principles I discussed do not force compliance of people except through economic pressure (this hinges somewhat on the libertarian inclusion of social choice as an economic action, and that is a valid point of potential disagreement). This again has nothing to do with feminism, and while poverty might be “feminized” (by which I presume you mean that more people without a penis are poor than people with a penis, which I think is an odd metric but whatever) has very little (tending towards nothing) to do with the ideas of voluntary association and voluntary action. Let alone aggression.

    Further, I suspect you understand that the NAP is a bit more nuanced than you have put forth, but are being disingenuous in your argument.

    nuanced it is, but not in ways that erase the fact that it’s basically a propertarian racket.

    I do not intend to turn this into a debate over personal property, but I would like to say that believing in personal property and bodily autonomy (on which the personal property rights are built) leads necessarily to abortion and healthcare access rights.

    to not cause harm except in defense (which are the core of libertarianism, right, left, and anarchist)

    nice lie by omission. harm to what in defense of what? only when you leave out that rather important bit do you get to say something as inane as that the left or anarchists would ever agree with you on this.

    I have told no lies, by omission or otherwise. The libertarian-left and the anarcho-capitalists, minarchists, agorists, and various other sub-factions with anarchist leanings are also built upon voluntarism and the NAP do in fact agree with my statement. None of those factions are distinctly pacifists. Violence against humans in defense of inanimate objects (stuff) is considered moral within this framework in defense (and in the current non-libertarian dominant culture). You can disagree with that, I do not care, but it has nothing to do with the actual discussion going on here. Unless I missed something, this is not the ‘Problems with capitalism’ or ‘debate the moral underpinnings of property rights’ thread, and I do not intend to turn it into one of those.

    seriously, a non-aggression principle that states that the social contract is aggression, but economic oppression isn’t is harmful BS, no matter how many pretty words you wanna hang on it.

    I have already discussed this. Unless the topic shifts to a critique of capitalism I do not think this is the forum for further discussion of why the distinction is made.

  37. says

    They do not of force compliance in ways other than economic pressure,

    I mean, nodobdy forced those people to work in mines or mills that killed and poisoned them, or to send their kids there to work, they could just starve, what’s the harm in that. But forcing mine and mill-owners to guarantee work-safety and to forbid child-labour, not that’s practically agressive.
    That’s why people call bullshit on libertarianism: We’ve seen it work, we didn’t like it.

    moulton
    Please spare us the charity-stick. It’s just a way for people with economic means to feel good about themselves and to allow them to exercise some more power over the poor, because if they don’t behave nicely you can stop, unlike with those annoying taxes where they don’t ask for your personal approval of whether it’s OK to feed or house person X.
    Actually, I’m against charity. Charity shouldn’t be necessary. People should not have to beg to have their basic needs like food, clothing, housing, medical care and education met.

  38. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #40 Giliell says:

    I mean, nodobdy forced those people to work in mines or mills that killed and poisoned them, or to send their kids there to work, they could just starve, what’s the harm in that. But forcing mine and mill-owners to guarantee work-safety and to forbid child-labour, not that’s practically agressive.

    If you do not like economic force, fine. Don’t use it. You will be giving up a great tool, and any hope of non-violent persuasion. Economic coercion is still coercion, it’s true. Is it different in nature to the other ways to coerce behavior? I think it is, but you are free to try and argue otherwise and change my mind, or just ignore what I and others have said (and again this is probably not the right place for that as a full discussion). That’s fine, I do not think your objection has any bearing on the original post, or my contribution towards that discussion. I also do not claim we need to agree about which political views are great or terrible. I would like to point out, again, that it is a false claim that libertarian philosophy is inherently non-feminist, that it is inherently racist, or any of the other often repeated pejoratives it routinely gets in progressive circles.

  39. Konradius says

    I don’t think the ‘respectable skeptics’ group as described by Jean is a stable group.

    This group grows whenever an uninformed person encounters any discussion about these topics. Because of personal experience more women are informed, but even there some women fall in cat1 for a while (Paula Kirby at the Dublin conference of 2011 comes to mind)

    After this either the person gets informed and goes out of the categories altogether; or he/she decides against all the information that’s out there and goes into cat2. (Paula Kirby with her skepchick free avatar comes to mind)

    Because if you view any of the discussions on either ‘side’ and at the same time stay undecided you will have to develop the view that large numbers of women are lying. Or that MRA’s are reasonable. Or something equally unlikely.

    A reasonable skeptic considers the evidence and then decides. And thus they are not long on the misogynist side, nor are they on long the big foot side. Nor are they long on the theist side.

    How do I know this? I’d expect better arguments on the other sides if they were true.

  40. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    It isn’t that economic coercion isn’t in some circumstances appropriate and a useful tool. It is that it isn’t enough. It is that there are situations where it isn’t the appropriate tool.

  41. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    It isn’t that economic coercion isn’t in some circumstances appropriate and a useful tool. It is that it isn’t enough. It is that there are situations where it isn’t the appropriate tool.

    The other methods of coercion are within the libertarian framework immoral.

  42. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    The other methods of coercion are within the libertarian framework immoral.

    I am aware of that – and that’s why I’m not a libertarian and do not agree with libertarianism.

  43. Forbidden Snowflake says

    For example, if knowing (personally) someone of a marginalized group is the best way to have a person change their mind about the other groups rights or marginalization (and I do not think this is disputed as the most effective method), shouldn’t we force members of the groups you have given as examples to associate with the people who hate them the most?

    The claim that laws prohibiting discrimination are akin to forcing marginalized people to associate with those bigoted against them is extremely stupid and dishonest. You are pretending that anti-discrimination laws place a burden on the marginalized, when what they actually do is remove some of the means of causing harm that bigots have at their disposal.
    Laws against racial discrimination don’t require black people to eat at diners with racist owners, you know.

  44. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    I am aware of that – and that’s why I’m not a libertarian and do not agree with libertarianism.

    That’s fine, I am not here trying to convert anyone to being a libertarian.

  45. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #46 Forbidden Snowflake… You might notice I said I was specifically *not* claiming they were the same. I was making a different point (one about how terrible the argument from the greater good is).

  46. says

    TwoPiDeltaJ, if the only way you can make a point about how bad an argument is is to draw a conclusion from that argument that no one else has, chances are very, very good that you don’t understand the argument.

  47. says

    “Ok here’s the thing about that: that describes life in places like that neighborhood in Brussels in Sofie Peeters’s short film. It describes my experience in Paris at age 17. It describes life in Cairo. It describes places where women (young desirable women) can’t go out in public without being pestered by men demanding sex. It’s hellish. Absolutely hellish. I pointed that out to James, and he was content with it.”

    So, to draw an analogy, his position would correspondingly be that spam e-mails are covered under individual liberties, but spam-blockers aren’t?

  48. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    The proof comes when women start going after what they want.

    He wants the freedom to hit on me at any time and any place? Fine. Liberty in action. Maybe a little crass, but….

    I want the freedom to call him a disgustingly selfish piece of shit? I want the freedom to determine whether I want to deal with him based on whom he treats well and whom he doesn’t? I want the freedom to use tools under my personal control to keep him from interfering in my projects? I want the freedom to gather with people who share my values rather than his?

    That’s when I’m abusing my power. That’s when I’m “Talibanesque” or “femistazi” or “Orwellian”.

    This is perfectly stated. Perfect explaination of the selfish, self-centered hypocrisy of male supremacists and libertarians.

  49. says

    Is it different in nature to the other ways to coerce behavior?

    It is not. There is not meaningful difference between ‘do what I say or I’ll shoot you’ and ‘do what I say or you’ll starve in the street.

  50. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    And the difference between “do what I say or I’ll shoot you” and “do what I say or I’ll tell the world that you and everyone like you is worthless and deserves to die” is also pretty damn small.

    The only real difference is that the speaker gets to keep their hands “clean.”

  51. screechy monkey says

    I want the freedom to call him a disgustingly selfish piece of shit? . . . . That’s when I’m abusing my power

    Oh, you don’t even need to go that far: just look at all the outrage that erupts when someone (most recently that I recall, John Scalzi and Dr. Nerdlove) uses the term “creepy.”

  52. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    Stephanie Zvan: The form of the argument I used against the greater good is not an unusual one in libertarian and An-Cap circles. I freely admit that it is an unequal comparison to anti-discrimination laws (which I have now said three times). In short, I do not think I misunderstood, but I do think we have fairly different world-views which color our reading of the same thing and I made the mistake of not thinking about how my audience would understand my writing.

    Dalillama: Libertarians actually do distinguish between the scenarios you mentioned, it is why many people do not like their standard answer to the trolley problem.

  53. says

    TwoPiDeltaIJ: She’s referring to the Gilded Age and history before regulation in the US (and presumably everywhere else.)

  54. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #56 mouthyb,

    She’s referring to the Gilded Age and history before regulation in the US (and presumably everywhere else.)

    Who do you mean, because I think Stephanie specifically referenced my absurd construction of a use of the greater good not outweighing the harm it causes to a few individuals. If you mean Jadehawk, whose gender I do not know (or care to know), certainly that was the reference. It does not mean that those societies were libertarian. Lack of regulation is not the only indicator of a society which is libertarian. Though again, this has very little to do with the OP.

  55. says

    Yes, TwoPiDeltaIJ, I am aware that libertarians make an arbitrary distinction between them. That is one of the flaws I was talking about, in fact. What libertarians are not able to do, however, is justify that distinction.

  56. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #58 Dalillama,

    Yes, TwoPiDeltaIJ, I am aware that libertarians make an arbitrary distinction between them. That is one of the flaws I was talking about, in fact. What libertarians are not able to do, however, is justify that distinction.

    You are free to consider it a flaw (though I do not see this list of flaws to which you allude), no one is saying you must be a libertarian.

  57. says

    That causes swift social change a

    as a matter of fact it does. that you do not know how social change happens is really, truly, not my problem, and certainly doesn’t make a valid argument.

    Would you rather someone forced the association for their (your) own good?

    of course. being able to live somewhere even though you landlord doesn’t like you is better than being homeless.

    if knowing (personally) someone of a marginalized group is the best way to have a person change their mind about the other groups rights or marginalization (and I do not think this is disputed as the most effective method), shouldn’t we force members of the groups you have given as examples to associate with the people who hate them the most? That is what your argument sounds like to a libertarian.

    then libertarians are idiots. do you think minorities would be fighting for these protections if it would mean they’d be “forced” to interact with bigots where previously they weren’t?

    but the principle underlying them is the one which is in disagreement.

    no, it really isn’t. things that cause suffering and death are not the same as things that make bigots grumpy. not even “in principle”, unless you’ve got really fucked up and unrealistic principles.

    Other than the whole equality thing, sure.

    libertarianism does not promote equality; it promotes the continuance and expansion of currently existing social hierarchies, with the exception on one based purely on political power.

    Well, for starters it is true that libertarians acting on the two principles I discussed do not force compliance of people except through economic pressure (this hinges somewhat on the libertarian inclusion of social choice as an economic action, and that is a valid point of potential disagreement). This again has nothing to do with feminism, and while poverty might be “feminized” (by which I presume you mean that more people without a penis are poor than people with a penis, which I think is an odd metric but whatever) has very little (tending towards nothing) to do with the ideas of voluntary association and voluntary action.

    only a libertarian would be capable of thinking that economic oppression had nothing to do with voluntary action or voluntary association

    Violence against humans in defense of inanimate objects (stuff) is considered moral within this framework in defense (and in the current non-libertarian dominant culture).

    you’re an idiot if you think that for example anarcho-syndicalists agree that you have the right to hurt people over property.

    If you do not like economic force, fine. Don’t use it. You will be giving up a great tool, and any hope of non-violent persuasion.

    there’s nothing non-violent about economic oppression that leads to bodily harm. but that’s libertarianism for ya. vile.

    Is it different in nature to the other ways to coerce behavior? I think it is,

    of course you do. but death and suffering are death and suffering, and loss of freedom is loss of freedom, whether you accomplish it with the genteel means of economic oppression of with brute force.

  58. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    Another response to Jadehawk:

    that you do not know how social change happens is really, truly, not my problem, and certainly doesn’t make a valid argument.

    I was simply making an observation, which I admit is anecdotal, and was not the core of my argument.

    of course. being able to live somewhere even though you landlord doesn’t like you is better than being homeless.

    That is probably true, but I doubt that all or even most landlords are in the business of liking or disliking their tenants.

    then libertarians are idiots. do you think minorities would be fighting for these protections if it would mean they’d be “forced” to interact with bigots where previously they weren’t?

    Kindly see my other discussions of this part of my previous response to you.

    no, it really isn’t. things that cause suffering and death are not the same as things that make bigots grumpy. not even “in principle”, unless you’ve got really fucked up and unrealistic principles.

    My principles effect my behaviors and are not contingent on the person I am interacting with, nor am I demanding you adhere to them. The idea that the greater good outweighs the liberties of a smaller group is not acceptable to me, and thus I will not choose to act like it is acceptable. You feel differently, OK.

    libertarianism does not promote equality; it promotes the continuance and expansion of currently existing social hierarchies, with the exception on one based purely on political power.

    Libertarianism is congruent with the continuation of a capitalist hierarchy ( by which I mean non-uniform distributions of wealth), are you suggesting we should completely do away with that?

    only a libertarian would be capable of thinking that economic oppression had nothing to do with voluntary action or voluntary association

    If it is simply inequality of wealth, then yes that does have something to do with voluntary action and association, but again I am not sure I said otherwise.

    you’re an idiot if you think that for example anarcho-syndicalists agree that you have the right to hurt people over property.

    I have not said that people who do not ascribe to the two tenets I listed would agree with me. Since voluntarism is essentially the opposite of collectivism, I think I am still correct.

    there’s nothing non-violent about economic oppression that leads to bodily harm. but that’s libertarianism for ya. vile.

    I have not advocated for oppression, but since we are on the topic; you have said you would prefer that force was used to compel people to obeying your moral code. Vile.

    of course you do. but death and suffering are death and suffering, and loss of freedom is loss of freedom, whether you accomplish it with the genteel means of economic oppression of with brute force.

    Freedom to choose what you want and what you do not want leads immediately to economic coercion since people want different things in different amounts and resources are finite. Direct physical violence as coercion I hope we can both agree is an immoral way to get what you want (and with the exception of defense, the limits of which are open to reasonable debate, is generally accepted as an unacceptable means to an end). Lying as a form of coercion is still fraud even in a libertarian world (this includes both misrepresentation and threats of violence). So, let us pretend you have something I want. If you did not lie, use violence, or the credible threat of violence, and what you have is acceptable to me; if what I offer in return satisfies you, and my offer obeys the same caveats as yours did, then I do not see that a third person has the right to tell us not to go ahead with whatever our transaction happens to be (with the exceptions of paying for proof of having committed criminal acts or something else which fall under having violated the NAP in a broad sense and could be the prevue of a government or DRO).

    ————
    tl;dr: Libertarians are completely for gay marriage rights (in as much as they are for marriage rights at all). Libertarians do not believe it is ethical or moral for a person to systematically treat marginalized peoples differently from anyone else but, they will not use violence to stop said person unless it is to defend against violence. Libertarians are for dismantling many of the institutions which are used to oppress minorities in the US (for example the drug war). So I will say again, that libertarianism is compatible with many social-justice goals.

  59. JJMMWGDuPree says

    I think this discussion might be sharpened by making a distinction between what might be called the “European” definition of freedom and the “American” definition. This is an oversimplification, but the European definition of freedom can be characterised as “freedom from…” whereas the American (libertarian) version can be characterised as “freedom to…”

    Freedom is supposedly a right, but I’d remind readers of the dreadfully unfashionable axiom that for every right there is a duty. In the case of “freedom” I’d suggest that “freedom from” and “freedom to” are the right/duty pair (in either direction). In exercising my “freedom to” my duty is to respect other people’s right to “freedom from”.

    In the context of this thread, the right of a man to ask a woman for sex anywhere anytime is not absolute, because it does not consider that she has a right to be free from unwanted advances. The libertarian claim of “freedom to…” is indefensible if it does not take cognisance of other people’s rights to “freedom from…”.

    This argument can easily be sidetracked from the main concept that for every right there is a duty, for example, by wondering if “freedom from” invariably includes such matters as not having one’s religious beliefs offended by noisy atheists, etc. In the case of this thread, I really think it comes down to another old-fashioned concept: good manners recognises that other people have rights too. Empathy should trump freedom of speech, at least as a default position.

    If I may be sexist for a moment, I’d exemplify good manners in this context by saying “a woman wishes to be wooed before she is won.” I’d add she is allowed not to want to be wooed, and wooing doesn’t guarantee winning.

    In fairness to libertarians, I’d also suggest that – as an approach to the world – “freedom to” is more productive than “freedom from”. “Can do” arises more readily from “freedom to” than from “freedom from”.

  60. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #62 JJMMWGDuPree,

    This argument can easily be sidetracked from the main concept that for every right there is a duty, for example, by wondering if “freedom from” invariably includes such matters as not having one’s religious beliefs offended by noisy atheists, etc. In the case of this thread, I really think it comes down to another old-fashioned concept: good manners recognises that other people have rights too. Empathy should trump freedom of speech, at least as a default position.

    I think that a libertarian arguing that freedom of speech is absolute often loses the audience before they get to the part where they talk about empathy possibly restricting what is said. To that end, I think free speech is absolute, and that the usual answer to free speech you do not like is not to silence it, but more speech. You certainly make a good point though, being polite is frequently a worthwhile goal but I would hate to have it imposed upon me or anyone else by force.

    If I may be sexist for a moment, I’d exemplify good manners in this context by saying “a woman wishes to be wooed before she is won.” I’d add she is allowed not to want to be wooed, and wooing doesn’t guarantee winning.

    I do not think anyone here is disagreeing with this in general, but the point of contention (at least from a libertarian view) that what one person does is not another person’s fault (with the obvious and trivial exceptions), and that for a pertinent example each new person who makes an unwanted advance to another person (or group of people) pays some of the cost of the previous unwanted advances in the level of vitriol in the response (on occasion). I freely admit that this is a bad argument from a libertarian. If you are going to break the implicit social rules enough to gamble with a proposition you do not get to complain when you lose and the social cost was more than you intended. This is freedom of speech in action.

  61. says

    TwoPiDeltaIJ
    If you’d like to take the discussion somewhere that won’t derail this thread, I’ve written a more detailed critique of the NAP at my blog, in my sig.

  62. TwoPiDeltaIJ says

    #64 Dalillama,
    I am composing a response. I am not sure I will give it at your blog or link you to one I create, when I decide I will let you know at your blog.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>