Blogs > Liberty and Power > Reclaiming Libertarian Feminism's Radical Legacy

Jan 11, 2005 3:57 am


Reclaiming Libertarian Feminism's Radical Legacy



[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]

(Apologies to Chris Sciabarra for this post's title.)

The paper that Charles and I presented at the APA is already stirring up controversy -- even among folks who haven't had a chance to read it yet!

But now the latest draft of Libertarian Feminism: Can This Marriage Be Saved? is available online.

"Back to the 19th century!" doesn't sound promising as a feminist slogan; but for those seeking to close the gap that currently exists between feminism and libertarianism, we argue that the 19th century is the place to look. We also argue that, in many ways, the natural complement to libertarianism is not mainstream liberal feminism but the radical feminism often maligned as"gender feminism." Check it out!

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Jeanine Ring - 1/17/2005

Ms. Enright-

"Maybe I am not even saying anything that is not incerdibly obvious."

Please, I for one thank you for the mental effort of grasping these issues. As a transgender woman, I can say that given my background in feminist theory these class analyses are blank staring obvious to me *now*, as a woman, but 'tis also the case that when for many years, as a man and a Randian individualist, I in full intellectual honesty just did not see and did not get anything you've written above, and what seems clear truth to me now wasn't obvious.

Class systems really do create epistemological-social layers in which it's easy to very honesty not see things that may be just daily reality to someone elsewhere in the system. That doesn't that human beings are determined in knowledge by class position- it just mean that it can take more effort, time, imagination, and authenticity to learn to see other peoples' world. One result of this is that when a philosopher does so, respect should be given for that mental effort: so let me do so; thank you.

regards,

Jeanine RIng )(*)(


Mike Enright - 1/17/2005

I must have miswrote something. I agree with you.

I would just suggest that the people with the first project don't seem to think class analysis is good or valid at all (or are not interested in it or whatnot). That is why this issue keeps cropping up. Whenever people think it is overwhelmingly necessary to bring up sexual violence against men it almost seems like they are not seeing or refusing to deal with the class analysis portion. It almost seems as if they are dealing more with a mental analysis of sexism but refusing to see the strong implications of a class analysis. Where as people with a class analysis view of the problem would say that sexual violence against men is there but it overwhelmingly is not the priority. If one thinks of the problem as false ideas, then the point would be to take all the implications and treat them. However, class analys would look not only at the mental constructs of sexism but how it plays out socially. When you look at how it plays out socially, one problem is much bigger than the others. The first option doesn't even seem to get at who is more or less oppressed or bigger and lesser problems. It just looks at false ideas and doesn't take account the social context, which is perhaps what I am accusing some people of doing.

I am just trying to analyze the difference in opinion and why different people seem to weigh the importance of sexual violence against women and men differently. Maybe I am not even saying anything that is not incerdibly obvious.


Roderick T. Long - 1/17/2005

Well, maybe -- but when you describe the two options I feel that I want to resist a stark choice between them. I think there's room for middle ground between the two extremes of "men and women are equally oppressed by patriarchy" on the one hand and "women are the only ones *systematically* oppressed by patriarchy" on the other.
Why not say that men and women are both oppressed, indeed systematically oppressed, by patriarchy, but that women are *more* oppressed by it, and more systematically so? (Or analogously that both men and women are complicit in the maintenance of patriarchy, but men are more so and more systematically so.) We Aristoteleans like the golden mean....


Mike Enright - 1/17/2005

I think that this discussion can be used to point out two very different ways of looking at the feminist project or at least parts thereof.

The first way could be to generally look at gender stereotypes and combat them. In this way, the discussion on rape or sexual violence against men can be illuminating. It would be highly relevant to look at the conceptions of masculinity as they play into prison rape as well as the unfortunate plight of a man who is abused by his partner and how ideas of masculinity and feminity play into the situation.

However, the second way of looking at the feminist program does not center around stereotypes, false assumptions and sexism per se, but incorporates it into a broader class analysis of gender. Under this approach sexism and stereotypes per se are not the issue, class analysis is. In this analysis the importance of male rape declines simply because it is not prevalent. If we accept the class analysis, the issue of sexual violence against men becomes pretty irrelevant as a cultural critique, and it value is only important insofar as dealing with individual male victims and understanding them better--until the point where it can be usefull in class analysis.


Roderick T. Long - 1/14/2005

http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/9590.html


Jeanine Ring - 1/14/2005



I do feel a need to voice worries at a willignness to accept the attributes Dworkin's strain of radical feminism as wholesale those desirous of integration with a libertarian critique. In my view, Dworkin's feminism *is* problematic- not because she is feminist, and not because she is radical, but because her critique duplicates, parallels, and reinforces existing conservative antisexual moralism to which I must take undying exception.

Although I am very greatful for the courageous step both Msrs. Johnson and Long have taken in attempting this synthesis, I am wary of the Dworkin/Mackinnon style critiques which place *sex* as the essential nexus of oppression; I hold with Ellen Willis that *family* is the essential nexus of patriarchy- and am primarily concerned with parential authority, patriarchal morality, gender roles, and sexual repression rather than positive sex as a means of oppression. I think the celebration and liberation of sexual desire as something of worth in its own right is a *sexual revolutionary* critique which I hold just as crucial as a libertarian and a feminist one- and in my own soul all three are the same incarnation of Liberty.

My problem with the Dworkinites is that they divorce a critique of patriarchy from a critique of sexual repression, and thus as they are sometimes willing to invoke power structures of statism in the service of feminism, they are commonly willing to invoke power structures of sexual repression in the service of feminism. Thus their frequent alliances with conservatives on the Christian Right.

Thus, I'm a little leery of seeking common ground with Andrea Dworkin's variety of radical feminism. I have been a harsh critic of the willingess of libertarians willing to give aid and comfort to conservative social atructures of moralism and repression as part of a politics of liberty; I must now say the same thing to libertarians willing to give aid and comfort to *feminist* social structures of moralism and repression- and while I greatly support an alliance between libertarians and radical feminists, I just as greatly oppose an alliance between libertarians and the crypto-conservative moralistic elements *within* radical feminism. I feel it is a good thing for libertrians to read Andrea Dworkin, read her with fairness, and learn from her: but if the result is that libertarians starts reinforcing already present conservative sexual moralism in the libertarian movement with a feminist sexual moralism, then there I cannot go.

And I can gaurantee that this move will alienate precisely those radical feminists most sympathetic to a libertarian critique. And it would be follish given the current flux of the movement; within the Womens' community, the pro-sex forces are definitely on the upswing against the Dworkin-style feminists. And the pro-sex feminists have shown a great ability to incorporate the valuable elements of Dworkinism- such as the serious treatment of rape and phallocentric sexuality- with a celebration rather than suspicion of individual pleasure and a broad acceptance of genuione feminists of all genders and sexual orientations. The same cannot be said for the Dworkinite wing of the movement, which remains as hostile to libertarians outside as it does to nonconformists by principle or nature inside.

Libertarians who specifically make overtures to the Dworkinite strain will find them more inherently authoritarian and will besides begin to swallow elements of moralistic sexual repression that are *not neccesary* to engage with a very radical feminist critique. Again, that does not mean one should not learn from Dworkin or MacKinnon, but they are *not* the sole paradigm within radical feminism and an alliance with a specifically radical feminism does *not* either in theory or in practice have to accept every element of the Dworkinite critique to remain *radical*.

I know personally that pro-sex feminists, particularly sex-worker rights activists, have usually been quite warm to me and don't have a problem with libertarians who are sincere in opposing patriarchy. In the Sex Workers' Outreach Project (the successor to COYOTE), of which I am member, the range of activists goes from socialist to left-anarchist to a minority but more than token presence of libertarians; the woman who intook me to the St. James Infirmary sex workers' clinic here in SF was a libertarian with an enthusiam for Ayn Rand; while Scarlot Harlot (Carol Leigh), one of the more strident voices among pro-sex feminists, is an anarcha-feminist very friendly with libertarians. I've met libertarians attending after-hours classes at the feminist sex toy store good vibrations- and there are actually very good reasons why the typical value systems of pro-sex feminists greatly coincide with libertarian principles- there is a strong sense of a basic social morality as living for one's own enjoyment on the proviso one does not harm others.

I do ask Msrs. Long and Johnson to please consider these issues in their further work, particularly given the existence of a vibrant pro-sex tradition within radical feminism: people such as Ellen Willis, Magaret Cho, Susie Bright, Patrick (formerly Pat) Califia, Carol Queen, Carol Leigh, and the early Carolyn Heilbrun, who are just as radical as the Dworkin/Mackinnon axis, yet both far more open with libertarian ideals and simply far more congruent with an ethic of the celebration of individual happiness. It would be a sad disaster if libertarians finally opened up to radical feminism but started absorbing not the sense of social libertarion but the sense of moralism within feminism- especially given that there are conservatives within libertarianism who would immediately co-opt Dworkinite rhetoric to *strengthen* the conservative wing of libertarianism, just as conservtives on the larger scene of American politics have coopted Dworkinite critiques to strengthen their positions vis a vis liberal social forces in American society. This is the *last* thing an already too socially conservative libertarism needs.

my thoughts, and regards,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/14/2005

Thanks for the info, and the link. And I do agree with what you wrote in the second paragraph.


Charles Johnson - 1/14/2005

"Wendy McElroy had an interesting article on LRC today. Perhaps you could compare it to the survey you mention? In "Domestic Violence Law Fuels Big Government," she brings up the fact that a lot of male rape occurs in prison. I'd like to see more libertarian feminists arguing for the abolition of public prisons and reform of the legal system on this ground. Surely the rape of women by men and the rape of men by men is connected in some way."

The rape of men in prison is a horrible phenomenon, and I personally know many radical feminist activists who are involved in prison-abolition efforts or single-issue groups such as Stop Prisoner Rape. It's been well recognized for many years that the institutionalization of rape and sexualized sadism in prisons is part and parcel of the use of rape as a weapon of men's status; Susan Brownmiller, for one, pointed it out in Against Our Will.

It's worth stopping to note here, however, that this doesn't challenge the radical feminist analysis of rape in the way that McElroy, for example, seems to think that it does. Rape in prison is still very obviously a reflection of how power is sexualized and gendered: it's overwhelmingly performed by men who are powerful within the internal hierarchy of the prison, and the gender-coding of rape perpetrators and rape-victims is quite explicit, even when it is men who are being raped (men who are subject to systematic rape are referred to as "bitches," "punks," "sissies," etc., i.e., as either directly feminine or at least failed at masculinity). And the cultural attitudes which lead towards the (appalling) flippant and jokey pop culture attitudes towards the rape of men in prison are very clearly connected with the degree to which, for the overwhelming majority of men, suffering rape does not even enter into consciousness as a serious possibility.

Concerning NVAWS: some of the research cited by McElroy is directly responded to in Chapter 5 of the full research report. There are a lot of problems with non-comparability of measurements, and some measurements that I think there are good reasons to consider bogus (e.g. questions based on self-reported likelihood to perpetrate violence rather than on past experiences; bogus notions such as "mutual violence" that assimilate self-defense to two-sided aggression; etc.); some of the resources in the bibliography do not, frankly, support--or even touch on--the claim that McElroy makes about equivalent or near-equivalent rates of violence. Of course, there's no way to do justice to a bibliography of some 155 studies in the space here. But these issues are important and have been discussed elsewhere, including in the NVAWS research report.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/14/2005

"NVAWS statistics are not based on police reports. This is important, since police reports are well-known to provide no accurate reflection whatever of, e.g., sexual violence against women; most rapes go unreported.

The study is based on an anonymous telephone survey of a large national sample of men (N=8,000) and women (N=8,000). The methodology is discussed at length in the Methodology Report (apparently not available online) and in brief in the earlier Research in Brief report. All surveys have their methodological limitations, but I don't see any reason here to claim that a systematic bias toward underreporting by men--at least, no reason that wouldn't be just as good a reason for systematic skepticism towards all empiricial social science research."

Well, I'm prima facie skeptical of all empirical social science research. That said, I won't disagree that male-on-female violence is more prevalent and systematic than female-on-male violence. However, whether it's based on police reports or not, I'm not absolutely convinced that female-on-male violence is accurately reported in the survey in question. But I don't have time to study it in detail, and it isn't terribly important that we agree on it.

Wendy McElroy had an interesting article on LRC today. Perhaps you could compare it to the survey you mention? In "Domestic Violence Law Fuels Big Government," she brings up the fact that a lot of male rape occurs in prison. I'd like to see more libertarian feminists arguing for the abolition of public prisons and reform of the legal system on this ground. Surely the rape of women by men and the rape of men by men is connected in some way.

One thing that feminism can learn from libertarianism is the analysis of the corrupting nature of power. I will not be surprised if coerced rape and sexual harassment of men by women increases as the number of women in positions of power increases.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/14/2005

I don't necessarily disagree that women suffer more from patriarchy than men. I'm mainly arguing that libertarian feminism's goal will be benefited more by explicitly and systematically analyzing the linkages between both sides of the coin. It seems to me that both sides of the coin need to be addressed and that the appearance of one-sidedness can be a hindrance, especially when coupled with the excesses of radical and liberal feminism.


Charles Johnson - 1/14/2005

Geoffrey,

I'm sorry I haven't replied to your questions sooner; I've been occupied pretty heavily here and in other projects, so I've been answering comments in a pretty desultory fashion as I have time to get to them.

I agree with many of Jeanine's comments, and like her, I greatly admire Ellen Willis's work. I agree with you that patriarchy imposes many limitations on men. As an openly bisexual man and as someone who went through grade school without much of a lock on masculine norms, I'm well aware of how painful these restrictions can sometimes be. So are a lot of feminist writers, for that matter, both in the 19th and 20th century. (One example is Andrea Dworkin's discussion of militariams and of men's fear of one another in I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape. Some other good examples that I admire a lot are the essays in John Stoltenberg's _Refusing to be a Man_ and Jackson Katz's documentary _Tough Guise_. Nevertheless, it's extremely important to tread carefully here, and not to translate a discussion of the restrictions that patriarchy imposes on men into an uncritical claim that the restrictions are somehow equivalent, or that "patriarchy oppresses both men and women" (an favorite claim of the first wave of New Left responses to Women's Liberation), or what have you.

What I mean is: you can discuss the restrictions that patriarchy opposes on men; but you also ought to look at the *nature* of those restrictions and the *functions* that they serve. Any class system imposes restrictions on members of the dominant class as well as the oppressed one; think of how whites who fraternized with Blacks, and *especially* white women who fraternized with Black men, were treated under Jim Crow. Statism imposes restrictions on rulers; think of the many restrictions on freedom to contract that politicians must agree to in most modern states, or the way in which politicians' personal lives and business dealings are relentlessly examined for any fodder for attack.

Those restrictions may be abominable in their own right, and well worth discussing, but it needs to be borne in mind that they are not as bad as the systematic and oppressive restrictions imposed on the members of the oppressed class, and that they are *designed* to put members of the dominant class in a position that materially benefits them--e.g., the expectation that men be the main "breadwinner" of the household may be unpleasant for slackers and would-be academics like myself, but if I live up to the expectation, that nets me a lot of money and financial control. For members of the oppressed class, on the other hand, the restrictions are severe, pervasive, and generally inescapable: if you defy them you are attacked and if you comply you are treated like a dormat. Whether a Black person in the Jim Crow South defied white supremacy or acquiesced to it, she or he was still treated as a "nigger." When mothers take a job outside the house they are denounced for abandoning their children and undermining the family; when they decide to stay at home and do housework and/or childcare they are mocked as indolent, treated as if they are not doing real "work", frequently lose control over their own financial lives, etc. I feel like I'm doing a bad job of explaining what I mean here; but I think that "I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape" and Marilyn Frye's fantastic essay, "Oppression," both do an excellent job of acknowledging the painful restrictions that male supremacy imposes on men while pointing out how important it is to pay attention to the ways in which those restrictions are different in nature and effect.

Concerning some of your specific worries:

I discuss male-on-female and female-on-male violence in my discussion of gender violence statistics. It's true that men are discouraged from reporting violence committed against them by their (female) intimate partners because of the way that patriarchy counsels men to "take it like a man." But while that's a problem we should deal with, it's a *consequence* of the violent political order that male violence against women maintains, and for a variety of reasons it looks like the best way to combat it is to undermine the patriarchal attitudes that promote and excuse men's violence against women.

I disagree that there is a serious problem with false rape accusations; the empirical evidence suggests that unfounded accusations of rape are not significantly more common than any other form of violence crime (estimates range from 2%-8% depending on the method of measuring and compiling the data--I cite 2% on my website because there are good reasons for regarding the 2% figure as more credible). But this is a rather extensive can of worms that probably shouldn't be opened here. It's worth discussing, but I'm going to bracket it for the moment because I don't have the time to do the discussion justice in an already longwinded reply.

Custody issues and sexual harassments are both a mixed bag. There are certainly many problems with both the custody law and the bureaucratic "antidiscrimination" legal structure that currently handles complaints of sexual harassment. These are issues that deserve to be addressed, and libertarian feminism probably has some important things to say here in criticism of, e.g., the power given over to institutions like the EEOC. But these are complicated issues, and neither I nor any radical feminist I know of has anything simple to say about them as a whole. We'd have to break it down into individual issues and look at those. (E.G.: the notion that mothers, as such, should be the primary caregivers for children in cases of divorce is false and sexist; and the cultural attitudes behind that practice in custody law not only limit men's desire to participate in parenting but also is a major factor in the feminization of poverty. But many "Father's Rights" who criticize this practices distort the degree to which this situation is already changing, and propose "reform" measures which would also make it much harder to protect children from abusive fathers.) Again, these are issues that I can't do justice here, but I'd be glad to discuss at more length if we can draw out the issues a bit.


Roderick T. Long - 1/14/2005

Argh, I just posted a reply and it vanished into cyberspace. Well, let's try again.

I don't deny or trivialize the existence of female violence against men, or the the societal pressures that make men ashamed to report such violence. I'm inclined to call those pressures "friendly fire" from the patriarchy -- i.e., it's the ethos of male supremacy that puts men in that position. But do some women exploit that fact? Sure.

But compare the libertarian claim that government oppresses ptivate citizens. In saying that, libertarians aren't denying that sometimes private citizens commit unjust aggression against government officials (as when a mugger shoots a police officer, or a Timothy McVeigh blows up a building filled with mostly harmless functionaries). Human beings being what they are, there are miscreants to be found in every subgroup. Nor do I deny that such actions are inexcusable.

But libertarians don't interpret the two-way street of violence between state and citizens as a reason to deny that the *pervasive* and *systematic* aggression is the one that runs from states to citizens and not vice versa. Why shouldn't libertarians say the same thing about the two-way street of violence between men and women. In both cases there's a two-way street; in both cases there's blame to be assigned on both sides; but in acses the traffic is *overwhelmingly* in one direction.


Charles Johnson - 1/14/2005

Again, a dry statistical discussion of horrifyingly ordinary facts.

Kirsten: "Curiously missing is a discussion of the rates of intimate violence committed by women against men. I would like for the authors to comment on the data they found on this and how they suggest that such data be interpreted."

The source we cited in our essay, the CDC / NIJ National Violence Against Women Survey, found that about 7.6% of men had suffered intimate partner violence (defined as rape, attempted rape, or battery committed by a current or former spouse, male or female cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date). The more severe the form of physical assault, the wider the gap between prevalence among women and among men; for example,
women were two to three times more likely
than men to report that an intimate partner threw
something at them that could hurt or pushed,
grabbed, or shoved them, but they were
7 to 14 times more likely to report that an intimate
partner beat them up, choked or tried to
drown them, or threatened them with a gun. About 1 in 13 women reported having been raped by an intimate partner; 0.3% of men surveyed reported having been raped by an intimate partner. See Chapter 5 of the full research report on the NVAWS findings by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes (2000).

(Note that these figures combine violence within both homosexual and heterosexual couples, and unfortunately the research report doesn't offer analysis or discussion based on the gender of the partner. That's an unfortunate failing that's probably due to the fact that the survey authors are mainly interested in gender violence as a public health and safety issue, not in empirically testing the claims of feminist class analysis. That could potentially mean that numbers are skewed if you're trying to use the results to compare men's and women's experiences with violence in heterosexual relationships. But no matter how strong the skew could be, it could not possibly mathematically overcome the statistically significant difference in prevalence or incidence.)

It's terrible that we live in a society where so many men and women alike are victims of violence--including violence perpetrated by people who profess to love them and whom they thought they could trust. But there is quite clearly no equivalence whatever between the rates of partner violence suffered by men and by women. Women are far more likely to be attacked by an intimate partner than men are; the attacks are more severe; and they include sexual assaults in a way that is almost completely unknown for men. Further, partner violence is the most common form of violence against women, whereas it is one of the least common forms of violence against men. The overwhelming majority of men's experiences with violence are at the hands of a stranger, or secondarily at the hands of an acquaintence, and overwhelmingly at the hands of other men. For women, the relationship is more or less precisely the inverse: those closest to them are the most likely to attack them, and again, the overwhelming majority they suffer is at the hands of men, not at the hands of other women. (See exhibit 27 in the research report if you want the statistical details on relationship of perpetrator to victim.)

The fact that violence against women is overwhelmingly male violence whereas violence against men is overwhelmingly committed by other men lends credence to the radical feminist class analysis. The fact that violence against women is predominantly committed by men in close relationships to them, whereas men mainly have to fear the threat from strangers or acquaintences, lends credence to the further feminist claims that many of our specific societal practices surrounding sex, marriage, family, romance, etc. are tinged by blood and need serious political analysis. (Since libertarianism condemns violations of rights and violent infringements on liberty no matter who commits them--whether state-sponsored criminals or freelancers--libertarianism had better also look at the gender politics of such systematic "private" violence.)

"Should it be interpreted by the same standard in which the male violence data is to be interpreted? That is, if female violence against men were shown to be comparable to male violence against women, should I likewise conclude
-that women who attack men believe that being a woman means you have the authority to control men,"

The counterpart claim about male batterers' and rapists' ideological motives isn't an "interpretation" of the CDC / NIJ data. NVAWS didn't collect any data on perpetrators. The claim about the motives typically behind male battery and rape of women is drawn from the consensus of a lot of psychological and sociological literature over the past 30 years. I guess if you think it needs to be footnoted we can come up with some bibliographic references and footnote it in the essay, but I don't actually think this is a point of much serious contention.

As for whether women's motives would be the same if women were as likely to beat or rape their male partners as vice versa: well, I don't know. If this were an issue of extremely prevalent *gender-neutral* violence in intimate relationships, rather than an issue of extremely prevalent *male violence against women* in intimate relationships, I imagine that the motives that caused the overall pattern would probably be different.

"-that female violence against men is nominally illegal but nevertheless systematic, motivated by the desire for control, culturally excused, and hideously ordinary"

*If* the figures were gender-neutral, then we'd say that female violence against men is nominally illegal but nevertheless systematic and hideously ordinary. Whether or not it was culturally excused and whether or not it was motivated by the desire of control would depend on other questions not addressed by, e.g., the NVAWS survey.

"-that there exists a violent political order working alongside, and independently of, the violent political order of statism (this political order, of course, being female)"

If female violence against men were that systematic, it would probably be accurate to recognize it as a violent political order working alongside, and indpendently of, the violent political order of statism. (Just as it is accurate to recognize, for example, the Mafia as a violent political order working alongside, and independently of, the violent political order of statism in the relevant periods in Sicily or New York or Chicago.) But whether the character of the violent political order was specifically female-over-male, or whether it was accurately analysed as something else, would depend on other factors, as mentioned above.

One way or another, however, all three of these considerations are nothing more than counterfactual speculation; the figures on partner violence and violence broadly are *not* gender neutral in the first place.

Geoffrey: "Whatever the actual statistics though, there remains the problem of whether the statistics accurately represent the reality. There are many reasons why men might not report female violence against them: 1) "male" pride, 2) it isn't taken as seriously by the authorities and feminists, to name just two."

NVAWS statistics are not based on police reports. This is important, since police reports are well-known to provide no accurate reflection whatever of, e.g., sexual violence against women; most rapes go unreported.

The study is based on an anonymous telephone survey of a large national sample of men (N=8,000) and women (N=8,000). The methodology is discussed at length in the Methodology Report (apparently not available online) and in brief in the earlier Research in Brief report. All surveys have their methodological limitations, but I don't see any reason here to claim that a systematic bias toward underreporting by men--at least, no reason that wouldn't be just as good a reason for systematic skepticism towards all empiricial social science research.


Roderick T. Long - 1/13/2005

Ditto -- see my comments here: http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/9561.html. Wendy McElroy has been one of my intellectual heroes for years, and I'm very saddened if anything I've said has given her or anyone else the impression of a desire to discredit her. I urge anyone who has gotten that impression to read the passages in our paper more carefully.


Charles Johnson - 1/13/2005

Like Roderick, I have never seen any evidence of homophobia in either Wendy McElroy or Joan Kennedy Taylor's writings, and I never intended to suggest it was there. My apologies for any confusions that our choice of words may have brought about, and explanation of what was meant, is posted elsewhere.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/13/2005

...particularly radical and liberal feminism.

Let's not forget that radical and liberal feminism are guilty of other distortions as well, such as distorted interpretations of natural and social science research as well as deliberate or subconscious ignoring or dismissal of facts. In this light, the flippant article "She's blinding me with science," is interesting. The distortions, the author notes, are part of the strong sway of political correctness and the liberal agenda over our culture, particularly academia, politics, and the media.

P.S. I don't necessarily agree with the author of the article on every point, but his reaction to (non-libertarian) feminism and analysis of it is indicative of some of its dangers.


Roderick T. Long - 1/13/2005

I have never seen any evidence of homophobia in eitehr Wendy McElroy's or Joan Kennedy Taylor's writings.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/13/2005

I've asked a similar question several times in the past week and would also like to hear some answers. Whatever the actual statistics though, there remains the problem of whether the statistics accurately represent the reality. There are many reasons why men might not report female violence against them: 1) "male" pride, 2) it isn't taken as seriously by the authorities and feminists, to name just two.


Robert L. Campbell - 1/13/2005

Geoffrey,

I've noticed that neither Roderick nor Charles responded to your previous comments.

Some research indicates that there is a lot of female-on-male domestic violence. Anyone who insists that men as a class are violent and women are not is going to have trouble accounting for that. Yes, old-fashioned macho attitudes discourage men from reporting the violence--but would radical feminists be any more inclined to encourage the men to report it?

If you check www.radgeek.com, you'll find Charles insisting that just 2% of rape accusations are false. No one really knows what the rate of false accusations is, but much higher rates have been reported. The 2% figure at least indicates that Charles doesn't subscribe to the doctrine that "women never lie" about being victimized.

With sexual harassment, unlike rape, you have a major preliminary difficulty of sorting out what ought to be illegal and what ought not. I defy anyone to defend the complete package of US sexual harassment law (which, however she voices her misgivings about the "male" State, we largely owe to Catharine MacKinnon...) on libertarian grounds. Roderick and Charles certainly don't try in their essay.

Divorced men are much less likely to get custody of their children than divorced women, and much more likely to be required to pay child support. Historically this pattern seems to reflect one set of rather patriarchal assumptions about who is fit to care for children and who could be counted on to sustain them financially... but how many radical feminists object to it? Some feminist organizations (such as NOW) have become ferocious defenders of keeping custody and child support the way they are now.

Again, there's nothing about child custody or child support in Roderick and Charles' article.

Robert Campbell


Kirsten Tynan - 1/13/2005


"But what feminists have forced into the public eye in the last 30 years is that, in a society where one out of every four women faces rape or battery by an intimate partner,2 and where women are threatened or attacked by men who profess to love them, because the men who attack them believe that being a man means you have the authority to control women, male violence against women is nominally illegal but nevertheless systematic, motivated by the desire for control, culturally excused, and hideously ordinary. For libertarians, this should sound eerily familiar; confronting the full reality of male violence means nothing less than recognizing the existence of a violent political order working alongside, and independently of, the violent political order of statism."

Curiously missing is a discussion of the rates of intimate violence committed by women against men. I would like for the authors to comment on the data they found on this and how they suggest that such data be interpreted. Should it be interpreted by the same standard in which the male violence data is to be interpreted? That is, if female violence against men were shown to be comparable to male violence against women, should I likewise conclude
-that women who attack men believe that being a woman means you have the authority to control men,
-that female violence against men is nominally illegal but nevertheless systematic, motivated by the desire for control, culturally excused, and hideously ordinary
-that there exists a violent political order working alongside, and independently of, the violent political order of statism (this political order, of course, being female)
?


Kirsten Tynan - 1/13/2005

"I don't have much to add here; just that I agree with Roderick (fancy that!), and that the Dworkin quote in question is almost identical in content to Susan Brownmiller's analysis of rape as "a conscious process of intimidation by which *all* men keep *all* women in a state of fear" in Against Our Will, which we explicitly discuss in section 2 of our essay, and which I've discussed elsewhere before."

"Libertarians rightly recognize that legally enacted violence is the means by which all rulers keep all citizens in a state of fear, even though not all government functionaries personally beat, kill, or imprison anybody, and even though not all citizens are beaten, killed, or imprisoned; the same interpretive charity towards the radical feminist analysis of rape is not too much to ask."


My comments:
I reject both notions as ridiculous.

First, all women do not live in a state of fear. I provide a good counterexample. I have spent the majority of my academic and professional careers in the company of men due to my study of and employment in the field of engineering. It was not and is not unusual for me to be the only woman in my classes or meetings. At any given time I can look around from my desk and find no more than two or three women in a 360 degree view. Yet I do not sit at my desk either cowering in fear or even feeling slightly uneasy for any reason. In other words, I am not kept in a state of fear by men.

Likewise, I do not believe that all rulers keep all citizens in a state of fear. I personally have many colleagues and acquantances who do not fear government, but rather embrace it. As long as they believe that they have done nothing wrong, they believe that government will not harm them and, therefore, do not fear it. I am not clear who these libertarians are that you refer to as believing that the citizens are kept in a state of fear. It has not been my experience that such a belief is typical of the libertarians I have interacted with, nor is such a belief correct.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/13/2005

I think we agree, at least in large part on this Jeanine. I just object to radical feminism's excesses, such as the propagandistic exaggeration cited above. I think it is important to note, however that "the set of men (and women)...partially responsible for a climate that makes for a prevalence of rape" still does not account for "all" men and "all" women. The collectivism comes into play with sweeping generalizations from some, a lot, or even most, to all. I don't think everyone contributes to the patriarchal cultural climate; if this were the case, then all of us on this blog, including Long and Johnson, are guilty.


Wendy McElroy - 1/13/2005

I wish to add my personal request that the above question be addressed by Long and Johnson. I take the step of speaking on Joan Kennedy Taylor's behalf as she has been *extremely* ill of late and may be unable to defend herself. Please demonstrate my homophobia and hers. If it is so marked as to allow you to categorize our whole careers as "Lavender menacing" then it should be a simple matter for you to produce some homophobic rants from our writings. If you cannot, please issue a public apology to both Joan and me. Otherwise I must assume you are engaging in malicious character assassination in place of argumentation. Which usually means you have no arguments.

Wendy McElroy


Jeanine Ring - 1/13/2005

Msr. Plauche-

My apologies; I truly managed to answer your questions here earlier, but it just slipped through... a busy spirit and all that...

Anyway,
well, you might try this article, "How Now, Iron Johns" by the radical feminist Ellen Willis:

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=19991213&;s=willis

Willis is a Reichian radical Freudian whose feminism in grounded in a celebration and hope for completion of the 1960s Counterculture. She is a maverick leftist; a libertarian socialist (essentiaally a minarchist left-anarchist) who has been critical of both market libertarianism and the left, including cultural and Mackinnonite feminism; she has written for Dissent, village Voice, and the Nation. Her works include "Don't Think, Smile: Notes on a Decade of Denial" and "No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays". You can find a number of her essays, particularly recent ones, on the Nation's website.

That said, I do agree that feminism is usually one-sided. having been a man, I strongly concur that patriarchy is a system that makes men very unhappy, though what it does do is make them relative to women *powerful*. Since I don;t think that power is an enjoyable thing ans think the access to happiness social power can bring is more than balance by guilt, repression, and psychological armoring so long as one accepts the morality of the system, I think patriarchy benefits men in an ultimate philosophical sense.

However, given that most people do accept the basic views of their society, and granting that patriarchy does give men social power over women so that most men end up pushing around women's lives, it is quite appropriate for feminism to focus on the class deprived of social power, rather than granted it. Libertarians, after all, generally recognized that event the beneficiaries of socialist or corporatist states are worse off and more restricted than they would be under a free society. Nevertheless, libertarians spend most of their time talking about the affect of statism on those who are the historical objects and nto subjects of social power. The military officer, the narcotics agent, the vice cop, the bureaucrat, the public school reacher, and the prison guard- and their families and dependents- are harmed by the state, but no one blames libertarians for focusing on the harm done to those occupied, imprisoned, harassed, regulated, regimented, and surveyed by the state. Remember that most people in the above cases are decent, conscientious people who think they are only doing what they think is good by a system they trust even blissfully unaware of 'statism', and they really fo think what they are doing is not oppressive but part of the obvious courts of things.

So too does patriarchy work.

my regards,

Jeanine Ring
)(*)(


Jeanine Ring - 1/13/2005

Msr. Plauche-

I do agree that Brownmiller's critique had its collectivist aspect, and its unjustly broad: and although I identify myself as a radical feminist, I would feel more comfortable to idenitify with a different tradition within radical feminism not so prone to dissolve individuals into classes, but still radically demanding an end to a social order known as partirachy. My primary inspiration here is Ellen Willis, not Dworkin or Brownmiller- although I think that the latter have uncovered valuable and even critical truths and we should learn from them.

To echo, Msr. Long's rhetorical style, let me say that I disagree with the thesis that rape in a means by which all men keep all women in subordination, but that I would support a closely related thesis: that rape has a systematic function in a patriarchal culture which keeps men as a class is a position of realtive dominance over women as a class.

This does not imply that all men are rapists: however, the set of men (and women) I would set as partially responsible for a climate that makes for a prevelance of rape is not those who themselves do or would commit rape, but those who share or act thoughtlessly in accordance with the set of beliefs and social instiutions that maintains a patriarchal system of oppression. And unfortunately because we all live in a system which shapes our choices, information, experience, and practical conditions of our lives, that probably to some degree includes all of us, myself included. But only in one aspect: it leaves open the possibility to the degree we are consciously aware of the system and/or consistently act on an alternative vision, we can affect change in the system by creating a different climate of ideas and human relations and by our words and lives create a different world.

And as it's better to live as a free, authentic individual than either a controlling, duty bound patriarch or a woman resigned to patriarchal reality (or any of other possible conservative responses), I think 'tis in our interest to widen our sense of ourselves as free-spirits by breakig free of the 'mind-forged manacles' of patriarchy as well as statism. That said, I'm no militatnt, and realize the commplicated pursuit of our own happiness amidst the struggling demands of especially a repressive social world means that it's not anyone's duty, in soul or practice, to dedicate themselves to rooting out evil. First we must live, especially as I think often the benevolence that results from real joy is worth a hundred truths of philosophy. Nevertheless, let us be aware of the power structures of the system as we can.

regards,

Jeanine ring )(*)(


Kirsten Tynan - 1/13/2005

I would be interested in the authors' response to Wendy McElroy's post above regarding their characterization of her and Joan Kennedy Taylor as tending toward Lavendar Menace politics. Do the authors have any justification for suggesting that these ladies are in any way anti-gay, or will an public apology and retraction of the label be forthcoming, or what exactly?


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/13/2005

This is my third time posting this (second time on this particular thread). It is probably due to poor strategic placement on my part that it has received zero comment, but I would like to hear the thoughts of others on what I have to say below:

"It seems I will still have to wait, however, for feminist literature that systematically explores not only the negative effects of patriarchy on women but also the negative effects it has on men, especially when wedded with radical and liberal feminism. What I mean by this is that a patriarchal society harms both men and women in more ways than I have yet seen feminists analyze. For instance, I have read (though I can't at this point name any specific sources) that women-on-men domestic violence and verbal abuse is much more prevalent than reported and that for typically "male" reasons it goes unreported. There are also the problems of false accusations of rape or sexual harassment against men, and the overuse of sexual harassment lawsuits. Then there is the problem of sexual harassment and rape of men by women in positions of power; certainly this is less often through physical force than through coercion in the broad sense of that term. Men are less likely to be given custody of their children after a divorce merely because they are men. And there are also the myriad ways that men are burdened with responsibilities that they either do not want (or never question) and/or are harmed by: financially, emotionally, intellectually, etc. A patiarchal culture hinders the full actualization of the individual human potentiality of men just as it does of women. In short, one of the shortcomings I see in feminism, in my admittedly limited experience with it, is that it typically offers only a one-sided analysis. 19th century feminism might deal with some of this, I don't know, but some of it at least are more modern phenomena."

The harm done to men described above may be less aggregious in some cases (or one might argue in all) than the harm done to women, but it is nevertheless something that needs to be looked at. A fuller, more balanced, analysis of this sort may go a long way to persuading defensive anti-feminists over to the arguments of feminists. It also avoids making women out to be the sole victims and men the guilty, since both men and women are shown to be victims of unhealthy social practices.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/13/2005

Johnson: "Susan Brownmiller's analysis of rape as "a conscious process of intimidation by which *all* men keep *all* women in a state of fear""

This I have to disagree with as, and here I'm agreeing with Aeon Skoble, collectivist. It is not the case that "all" men keep "all" women in a state of fear even subconsciously, much less through a conscious process of intimidation through rape. Some men do, maybe even a lot of men do, but not by any stretch of the imagination do all men. I certainly don't, and I assume Johnson and Long don't either. And it certainly isn't the case that "all" women are perpetually in a state of fear that any and every man they meet might rape them.

The quoted passage doesn't even pass the laugh test for being intellectually or factually credible. This is one of the main problems I have with radical feminists. They may have some valuable things to say, but in many cases either they are just plain wrong or they are lying (stretching the truth to breaking) for propaganda purposes. I find the latter intellectually dishonest and the former to be what it is:wrong. By all means, identify the ills of society and those who embody those ills, but please be more careful about sweeping flawed generalizations like this one. I hope that sweeping flawed generalizations such as this aren't the "radical legacy" of libertarian feminism that we are urged to embrace.


Charles Johnson - 1/12/2005

Kevin,

I agree with you that the argument given by Hoppe and other paleos is hardly dealt with in our essay in its full weight. I think this is a matter of what we had time and space to emphasize more than anything, but you are probably right that at least some clarificatory comments in a footnote would be worthwhile.

I agree with both you and Hoppe that there are historical cases in which father-right and State prerogatives come into conflict with one another, and with you that part of what needs to be said to Hoppe is that just because patriarchy in the family has, in some historical instances come into conflict with State power, does not mean that it is either a good state of affairs or conducive to liberty. (If you accept, as we do the essay, the radical feminist analysis of patriarchy as, among other things, a *violent* political order autonomous from the violent political order of statism, that makes for good reasons to say that it's not even *consistent* with liberty.)

Fair enough; but I think it's also important to mention (as we do, if with relatively little argument, in the essay) that there are good reasons to think that Hoppe et al. *drastically overestimate* the degree to which father-right and State prerogatives come into conflict with each other. It's true that there are notable cases where they've come into conflict with one another in certain respects--e.g., revolutionary state socialist movements have typically included critiques of patriarchy in the family, and Bolshevik governments have made direct efforts of various sorts to undermine it. But that's mostly a fairly new feature on the scene, and the **vast bulk** of lawmaking for the vast majority of recorded history, insofar as it touched on the matter, has been directed at recognizing, strengthening, and perpetuating men's power over women through coverture, protection of marital rape and battery, power over children, "protective" legislation banning women from specific fields of work, etc. (Some of these are now--mainly thanks to concerted feminist activism--gone; others remain. And many things that are nominally illegal are still widely enforced de facto, more or less with impunity.)

(Similar remarks could be made in the opposite direction, i.e., the patriarchal family's traditional wholesale allegiance to the state. It's no accident that the most statist wings of the Right in the U.S. today are also the people most keen on a culture of strict discipline within the family, "traditional" father-dominated households, etc. Nor is it an accident that the Princes and potentates of history have so often adopted the language of fatherhood and family in order to explain the nature of their own authority over their victims.)

There are also some points I'd like to make about your comments on comparisons between statism and patriarchy as class systems, but I'll leave those for another post after I've thought about it a bit more.

In any case, you're definitely right that this material deserves more discussion. Possibly in a footnote, possibly in expansion within the text. How exactly to handle it depends in part on where we decide to take the material we have, in terms of expansion, re-arrangement, etc.


Charles Johnson - 1/12/2005

Jeanine--points well taken. (They apply elsewhere in public life, too; one of my favorite responses, when people started going on some aimless tear about, say, Hillary Rodham Clinton's appearance, was to ask whether they could think of anyone uglier than Jesse Helms or Strom Thurmond.)

On exceptions:

"Catherine MacKinnon, for instance, is a beautiful woman by conventional Western feminine standards."

This is true--it's also been said of, e.g., Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf. But if anything these are actually used as grounds to *dismiss* feminist conventionally attractive feminist thinkers--"Naomi Wolf wrote a book about the corrosive effects of gendered beauty standards, but she is herself conventionally beautiful!" If some man is supposed to find a particular feminist unattractive, then she's attacked as ugly and resentful; if some man is supposed to find her attractive, then she's dismissed as a bimbo and accused of exploiting the patriarchal standards she criticizes. As usual, it seems, the standards of criticism for feminist writers seem to be that if you want to be taken seriously by certain people, you had best not say anything about feminism at all.


Jeanine Ring - 1/12/2005

Y'know, I was justy looking at Roderick Long's personal blog, where he has photographs of Andrea Dworkin and Herbert Spencer inside a red heart... something which I find absolutely hilarious, BTW. (though our modern valentine hearts are upside-down)

But anyway, I was thinking: how come nobody ever asks about Herbert Spencer's personal appearance? Now granted, I for one, as an aspiring courtesan, do tend to fall all over the place for that distinguished Victorian look, but I notice that no one ever starts impugning the implicit character of male intellectuals for their appearance in life.

Let's consider a partial list of seriously ugly philosophers: Socrates, St. Thomas Aquinas, George Berkeley, David Hume, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Leo Strauss, and for fairness I'll throw in Ayn Rand. Now, of course if we add in their genius and character, they suddenly can become startlingly attractive. Sartre was actually quite a lady killer, wandering eye and all.

But that's the point: people regularly attack Simone de Beauviour, or Andrea Dworkin, or Gayle Rubin, or Susan Brownmiller for their appearance as if it reflects some deep spiritual evil, *without* allowing any exposure to their spirit or strength into the picture. And people seldom mention the opposite cases: Catherine MacKinnon, for instance, is a beautiful woman by conventional Western feminine standards.

I'm waiting for those who talk about ugly, man-hating lesbian feminists to start talking about ugly male philosophers of various sexualities who usually had their particulat faults in hatred: one can find bigotry in Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche- to name the five greatest systematic philosophers in the West- equal to that of radical feminism.

I call for a single standard.

my regards,

Jeanine Ring
)(*)(


Steven Horwitz - 1/12/2005

Well, I read the whole paper last night and I think it's stunningly good. I am very persuaded by the analogies you two draw between the way in which libetarians talk about "consent" and "citizenship" in the world of the state and feminism's discussion of "consent" in a world of male power.

But I find even more interesting and important your attempt to break apart "public" and "private" forms of coercion. If libertarians continue to focus almost exclusively on the coercion that comes from the state or in other public forms and ignores the coercion (both in the narrow and broad senses) that take place between and among individuals, especially within the private spheres of the family and romantic/sexual relationships, we will ignoring an important battleground for freedom.

As you two cogently argue, taking this position neither requires of one that state intervention be seen as the solution to problems of private coercion, nor does it entail that one accept all of the arguments of radical feminism. Ignoring those non-statal forms of coercion is, however, untrue to the legacy of libertarianism as it was understood in the late 19th century.

An interesting question of intellectual history is what factors in the early and mid 20th century have led contemporary libertarians to be so exclusively focused on the state. The obvious answer, of course, is socialism and other forms of statism that grew so important in the last century. If so, then with their demise, a call to focus on other kinds of coercion seems timely, even if it means a significant rethinking and reorganization of the libertarian intellectual landscape. You two have shown us a path to that result.

I have some more particular comments, but I want to digest the paper some more and will send those via email.

Congrats on what I think is, even in its current form, a major contribution to libertarian intellectual thought.


Charles Johnson - 1/12/2005

Yikes! Good luck, Aeon. It'll be a pleasure to see you back again.


M.D. Fulwiler - 1/12/2005

I don't know about any other people here, but rape and discrimination against women have netted me a $32,250 a year job, no net worth, and rather shabby accomodations in expensive San Francisco. I'm really living it up on the backs of women, I can tell you! And every night before I go to sleep I think about how happy women being raped makes me.


M.D. Fulwiler - 1/12/2005

I heard Dworkin was banned by the International Witches Association from practicing witchcraft. Even witches have their standards. :-)


Jonathan Dresner - 1/12/2005

Haven't had it done myself (ergonomic keyboards are my favorite new peripheral technology of the last 20 years) but know plenty of people who have. It's not pleasant, but the relief should be real. Best of luck.


K D Vallier - 1/11/2005

Roderick,

Re: "ludicrous hyperbole" - I took the comment to imply a sort of equivalence. But comparability isn't terribly objectionable. I suppose I continue to have the concern that a great deal of these statistics are exaggerated. But even if they aren't, there is no equivalence - nearly everyone is the victim of state violence in some fashion or another; this is not true of violence against women, unless you want to use the word "affect" much more loosely in this context than the context of state violence.

Re: The Hoppe Point - You didn't *deny* that patriarchy and statism could fight one another, but that was never my point. You just dismissed the idea so flippantly in your paper that you appeared to imply that the point had no merit. Why not just go back and add a footnote in order to be more charitable? That's all I was suggesting.


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

Much as I've been enjoying this discussion, I'll be withdrawing for the next day or so-- I'm having wrist surgery for carpal tunnel relief tomorrow morning, so e-communications will be pretty light for the rest of the week.


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

Thank you, Msr. Johnson.

As for Roderick, Msr. has already written me and consented broadly to such usage.

(and thank you both very much again for writing this... if you've no objections I'd like to post links to various libertarian websites I'm on)

regards,

Jeanine Ring
)(*)(


Charles Johnson - 1/11/2005

Jeanine,

Well, since it's a co-authored piece it's up to Roderick as well as to me. For my part, I'd be glad for you to refer your salonistas to it--although, just given the length of the piece, it'd probably be best to forward a link with a paragraph or two of explanation, rather than reproducing the whole thing.


Charles Johnson - 1/11/2005

I don't have much to add here; just that I agree with Roderick (fancy that!), and that the Dworkin quote in question is almost identical in content to Susan Brownmiller's analysis of rape as "a conscious process of intimidation by which *all* men keep *all* women in a state of fear" in Against Our Will, which we explicitly discuss in section 2 of our essay, and which I've discussed elsewhere before.


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

Msr. Skoble-

This only applies if a woman even goes to trial- and plenty of women who are not prostitutes do not do so.

I don't think it's that our society approves of rapists; I think that our society just treats rapists as vicious antisocial others, and is more leery to apply the term 'rapist' the more respectable the venue is- particularly within marriage. Besdies, the structural economic realties that leave women poorer and more dependant- but the locus of sexual value- will inevitably devalue the ability of women to refuse consent. And I think our society's disapproval of sexual active women is enough that rape *victims* are too ashamed or worried about being dragged through the mud to bring charges. Rape shield laws aren't the entire point- our society's morals are such that women fear to come out to their friends, families, coworkers, or even themselves at having been raped or at any kind of public sexual disclosure.

Besides, the fact that rape shield laws are needed is *itself* a sign of the problem; we don't have "theft shield laws" or "murder shield laws", because there isn;t a prior social propensity to blame the victim and assign her an inferior moral status. And consiodering that rape shield laws are themselves problematic from a freedom of information and open government standpoint, it seems to me crucial to remove the rape stigma lest we be left with the devil's choice of dangerous statist precedents and morally humiliated victims. I think we should make it a point to overcome the irrational value systems that make having been raped a moral stigma instead of patching the legal code.

Yes, culture is changing... or at least has changes, and that is a good thing. But it's not complete by a long shot. Here in liberal San Francisco, I know women who have been raped and who give a cynical shrug at the idea of reporting it, and my closest female friend has told me that she wouldn't call the police if raped either, which whould just make her pain worse for the dubious possible of convicting a stranger. When this is the case in California, and it's infinitely worse in the South where I previously lived, a serious social evil exists.

As for repeal of the prostitution laws, I am of course glad to you and other libertarians for support on this, and this would certainly greatly help. But I would add that unless the culture of the police force and our general social concepts about women's sexuality being a matter of proprietry and not of choice, the effect on prostitutes who are rape victims would be limited. Just as its fully possible for rape of women in general, or lynching of African-Americans, to be very illegal and yet not seriously prosecutable, legal protections for prostitutes would only be a first step in getting society to regards prostitutes as equal human beings and not sinners, victims, manipulators, or sluts who 'asked for it'. But this can only be done by changing society's general attitude towards womens' sexuality and towards sexuality in general. As for those who think feminist modernity is winning, there's some truth to this, but check the results of the last election. And if abortion is outlawed, all of the old terrors and insistence on female will come back very quickly.

my regards,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

Msr. Long-

"And of course it's not an all-or-nothing thing; one of the things feminist analysis argues for is that men often exploit such power without fully realizing or intending it."

I agree. One of the things that I had to deal with in transitioning to be a woman is how much, to my shame, I colloborated in the same systems of oppression whcih I now so vocally oppose. I think very little oppression takes place in men's expolitation or consciously taking advantage of women; the majority of oppression is felt by men is simply tkaen to be part of their masculine idenity which is sometimes not even distinguished from their individual idenity, in the context of women whose acceptance of oppression is taken as part of their female existence which is sometimes not even distinguished from their individual existence. This is a real problem for libertarians whose individualism is driven by a desire to be culpless in any of their own noncoercive actions, and who as a result act out masculine identities whose self of themselves is built into oppressive social relations, and then proclaim it not only their legal right but sacred selfhood to be pushy, repressive, moralistic, exist, or patriarchal.

That said, it unfortunately is very difficult to untangle these things, since most men's basic framework of sexual desire and conception of romance is built around the model of male pursuit and female receptiveness, and their basic sense of self-esteem is built around accomplishment in a specific pride in being a 'man' which doesn't vanish just because one defends the feeling as individualistic rather than masculine ruggedness. The problem is, these things can take years to change that most people don;t have time for, and giventhe difficulty of changing values learned in forgotten early childhood may not even be practically changeable.

And worse, an individual seeking real happiness may be economically far more rational to realize the emotions they already have absorbed from the existing structure, especially in a society already structured along the lines of those patterns. A person seeking happiness will unfortunately often find that playing by the existing rules makes more sense to be a voice crying in the wilderness, even *after* they have decided that society is unjust and actively oppose it. I am an anti-determinist and don't believe biology is destiny, and I'm a social radical who doesn't believe society should be destiny, but I know very personally that emotions that have been fueled one's entire life may be prohibitively difficult to change, and in the meantimes one wants to enjoy life.

~Sigh.~ Unfortunately social liberation isn't as simple as writing a libertarian 'things the state should not do' list (though libertarians are right; the state shouldn't do any of those things). I consider myself to be a radical feminist, but it is also the case that my own sexual psychology, at least in regards to men, is very deeply and passionately wired to sexual receptivity and submissiveness (I am in fact in training as a pro-sub), and when I'm out a professional date, I would not likely be pegged as a radical feminist... to put it mildly. Undoubtedly the same is true for many men, whose sexual dominance (or reactive submissiveness- more common than most think) is often something not feasible to change.

I think the best think one can do is to treat people as individuals, both making a point to counter socially conventional treatments regardless of gender but also treating individuals according to who they are and not whom they would be in some Platonic heaven. That, and do the best to make a better world for the next generation where sexual development can become more of s conscious process and less a socialization to an existing dominator sexuality.

I would also add that disentangling desire from socio-sexual power structures requires a philosophical understanding of desire. This is a project I have definite opinions are which I won't state here, but it is my opinion that the best understanding regarding eroticism implies conclusions which won't make *anybody* happy... well, except maybe humanist literatuers and overeducated prostitutes.

my regards,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

"one of the things feminist analysis argues for is that men often exploit such power without fully realizing or intending it"

How exactly have I (or you) been exploiting our enhanced power? You'd think I'd have a better paying job, or would have had more dates in college, if this were true. Actualy, as the parent of two daughters, there is zero benefit accruing to me by the presence of rapists. This analysis is wrong all the way down.


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

"Our society only actively prosecutes or socially dissaproves of the rape of 'virtuous' women."

At the risk of sounding naive, while this was once the case, it no longer is. The "rape shield" laws make it difficult to use any evidence pertaining to the victim's character. To the extent that prostitues who are rape victims have trouble getting legal remedy, that's more evidence in favor of legalizing prostituion, but doesn't change the way the rape shield laws work in general. Rapists can no longer expect to get any mileage out of the "she was dressed slutty" defense. Which is a good thing, but this gets us away from the main point I was making: state oppression is legal and socially approved, whereas male violence against women is neither.


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

"No. Here's the collective-guilt thing again. The fact that some men commit rapes proves nothing about whether I am likely to commit rape, or you. The truth is, women have reason to fear _someone_, but not you and not me. Of course it's also true that you and I also have reason to fear _someone_, but who is it, and what follows from that?"

(replying to Msr. Skoble)

Forgive me, but I think this has a serious conceptual error. If you asked me on a date (professionally or otherwise), I wouldn't know whether you were one sort of person or the other- rapist's don't do around wearing badges of the Rapist's Fraternity Lodge- they look, and, act, much like everyone else, particularly as the kind of posessiveness and sexual 'pushiness' that one might look is unfortunately part of the language our culture teaches men about sex and also part of the male 'role' in sexual encounters- a role that in fairness quite just men often take on because in a culture where females are socialized to be sexually passive, men have little choice.

Aside, the point is that women have to- and are typically taught to- regard everyone they don't as someone they have to be careful with, in a way that men simply don't have to. As a transgender woman, I am not conscious of myself and my presentation just going outside in a way I never was in my previous life, and I have a sense of vulnerability that has a serious influence on my acrions. I now pay attention to whether I'm alone in a room, or how crowded street is, and feel much better when I'm 'with someone' I can trust- meaning I have a protector. And this is for someone who *didn't* have female socialization compounding practical adaptions with learned morality and a lifetime of warnings from mother- though I have had both transgender and genetic females take me aside to 'explain the facts of life' on more than one occassion as I was socially accepted as a women.

It's not that I'm particularly worried or fearful, though I think I am consciously aware of this is many ways precisely because I didn't have to take this for granted my whole life. But seriosuly, consider the psychological consequences of a society in which women take for granted being more social, more careful, more cloistered, more dependant on protectors than men- especially given than most women are socialized into this and take it for granted as part of social and sexual relations, and are specifically taught that being 'careless', i.e., acting like they have as much access to public space as individuals alone as men, is dangerous- and so is any kind of sexual explicitness. And not only are women habituated to 'playing it safe', but most women expect to live their lives with a husband as the most natural person to protect them around. The differences between the condition of women and that of feudalism begin to blur.

Of course, women are taught to fear rape by strangers, in a society that continuously treats a rapist as an evil 'other' who is nothing like the good upstanding men of our society. But the truth is that the home is the most dangerous place for violence, especially is a society that considers (listen to Republican speeches), considers 'the family' as a social unit. In a society where women have fewer choices, 'the family', much like 'the people', in a collective euphamism that often allows some to appropraite the resources- and the bodies- of others.

Consider the number of women who live in cities. Take my ex-girlfriend. We're the same age, of similar social background, current social position, and visible style and 'sense of life'. The difference is that she is a respectable girl (well, relatively), while I am a prostitute who started working as a streetwalker. When I've gone out, I've deliberately worn provocative hooker gear, and expect to be propositioned and am very alert on watching out for myself- one consciously stules one's walk, one's pose, one's gesture- there are particular ways to stand, etc. And of course, I went armed and looking for trouble, with specific arrangements made for mutual protection with friends. This is of course dangerous, but I also learned quickly how to handle myself, and more importantly on a certain level chose and accepted the danger- I may not have chosen the unjust conditions of state persecution and social marginalization that makes prostitution so dangerous, but I was well aware those dangers existed before I turned out, and consdiered it a worthehile trade for social freedom.

Anyway, now consider my ex-girlfriend. She, like me, is a 26-year old woman, a pro-sex feminist, sexually active and not adverse to going out and about or expressing herself as a sexual being. But unlike me, she's not a prostitute.

The trouble is, prostitutes- even street prostitutes- don't (...always, there are ways to signal these things) go around with 'whore' lit up on their foreheads, and although career prostitutes working outside are often fairly distinctive, many street prostitutes are simply women who have fallen on bad times or who are in bad economic straits, and just wear their skimpier outifits to work. The trouble is, my ex isn't a prostitute- but *everyone doesn't know that*. The result is, with absolutely no provocation or invitation (I know her, she's a fairly unpreposessing person), she claims that she is propositions an average of once every time she goes out late at night- even though she doesn;t spend much time on the street as she's mildly arthritic and takes busses everywhere she can.

Now just consider for a moment the effect this has- if you are a woman, you are constantly faced with a choice where the precise degree you express yourself sexually is the precise degree, if you live in a city, where you edge yourself towards the same dangerous situations as a prostitute. The point is that you have little choice to either make sure you present yourself as 'upright' according to the virgin/whore dichotomy, or become 'savvy' and learn to handle yourself in a way that approaches the kind of self-protection prostitutes teach each other. Either that, or go out in groups or with a protector and assume a certain collectivism as taken for granted in your life. What would this do to the instincts of an individualist *man* if he had to deal with this as a basic fact of social reality?

I would also add that the situation I find myself in is far less clearly distinct from the situation of 'respectable' women than mostwould be comfortable to think. I suspect one reason that most people find the '1 in 4' rape statistic extraordinary is that most of this discussion occurs in among middle class academics who are socially isolated whom sexually active women. And I know that here in San Francisco (partially due to liberal economic fubars wrecking the economy), the percentage of young women I know, who usually show up in the city with little economic resources, who turn to prostituion for a short time in their lives, is truly alarming, especially among LBT women (and gay men). I say 'alarming' not because prostituion is horrible, but because it is not safe unless you know what you are doing and not a choice that anyone should have to make lightly. I know more than a couple of cases of women who got sexually assaulted in such cases, and the chances are nearly 100% that these assaults went unreported. (Of course these cases never turn up in the official statistics. I hear about them, because people don't mind talking to me since the know it's basic professional code that I would never mention names without asking to anyone- but these same girls would never tell current boyfriends or husbands the same thing, and so the social perception of the prevelance of rape is skewed downwards. And I expect that libertarians especially, which their tendency to say 'it's your own fault' on all sorts of social questions, would be the last person a rape victim would be likely to confide in. I would bet plenty of libertarians have friends and acquaintences who have been raped who who would never hear of it.)

such my thoughts,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

"But rape is not merely _technically_ illegal, it's actively prosecuted, and socially disapproved."

Our society only actively prosecutes or socially dissaproves of the rape of 'virtuous' women. A woman who rpeortys a rape is liekly to be discounted is she is sexually active, or has a had a realtionship with the rapist, or only reports the rape later because she may be dependent on the rapist economically. Our jurisprudence not only takes no account of these social realities, it actively reinforces them by grilling defendants about their sexual history and requiring them to effectively establish their sexual 'unvailability', not just their particular nonconsent. Our rape law was constructed in a time when a woman's sexually was seen as a husbands property, and has been translated in out formally equal society as treating rape as a crime against the woman;s propriety. The rape of a woman who doesn't have any 'property interest' to protect is considered negligible harm. I know myself that I've been told numerous times in so many words that for me, rape would just be not getting paid, a clear example that my *social status*, not my *choice*, is considered the primary issue. The same principle applies to all women who don;t guard their virtue, and a good part of the social function of a society which condones rape- not rapists, but the social prevalance of a woman;s fear of rape- is to make sure women conform to the respectable lives of wife and mother and don;t challenge to status quo by being expressive with their sexuality.

As for active prosecution, let me quote an email I recieved from a sex worker activist list just in the last couple of weeks:

"Five east Fort Myers men charged with kidnapping and gang-rape were sentenced on reduced charges after evidence showed their victim is a prostitute who still works the streets.

The men were arrested after the 27-year-old woman told investigators from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office she was abducted from the parking lot of an apartment complex off Van Buren Street on April 11 and attacked by the men, who took turns raping her.

Charged with kidnapping and sexual battery were Gregorio Chivalan, 20; Juan Francisco, 23; Lorenzo Gomez, 32, Diego Tum-Yat, 42; and Miguel Tum-Yat, 22.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against each man to felony battery and each was sentenced Monday to a year in jail.

According Miguel Tum-Yat’s court-appointed attorney, John D. Mills of Fort Myers, the men denied raping the woman. They said the woman had sex with them consensually and accused them of rape and kidnapping when they couldn’t pay her as much money as she wanted.

Mills said prosecutors reduced the charges after the defense brought forth evidence showing the woman is a prostitute who continues to work the streets.

Mills added that the woman failed to show up to provide sworn statements to attorneys involved in the case.

“I’m glad the truth finally rose to the surface and her lack of credibility was exposed,” Mills said.

State attorney’s office spokeswoman Chere Avery said the woman also failed to attend hearings in which the defense challenged her testimony.

'The reason the charges were reduced is it was in the best interest of the state to do so because of the evidence that was available,' Avery said.

According to Mills, the men have been in jail the past eight months awaiting trial, so they should be released in about two months."

Do you think this woman is likely to report a rape in the future? Do you think *I* would be likely to, knowing that my social status automatically lowers the 'credibility' of my testimony? And yet it's not just prostitutes but all exually active women or women who are raped in a family or relationship setting who are treated seriously. I have known one woman raped by her husband and one raped by a boyfriend- neither reported it.

Rape intimidation does not work exactly the same as lynchings did, but the scale is not so dissimilar. And rape victimizes *far* more women- we are talking tens of millions in the United States.

When a group of people has marginal legal protection against physical assault unless they 'behave'- and if they do behave by living a 'moral' life, have little recourse and risk poverty and retribution against their own husbands, and essentailly depend on keeping the patronage of 'good' men rather than 'bad' ones, I call that second class citizenship. The fact that we take it largely for granted, and that also in fairness such oppressive social conditions are nto as severe as they once were, doesn't change any of this.

regards,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(


Roderick T. Long - 1/11/2005

Well, I agree actually, but this gets us to the distinction between the philosophical and ordinary-language senses of "benefit" I mentioned earlier. I reckon there's an analogous distinction between philosophical and ordinary-language senses of power. If a good man's ability to get away with doing bad things is increased by what evil men do, then in that sense the good man is "empowered" -- though it's a power the good man won't be interested in.

And of course it's not an all-or-nothing thing; one of the things feminist analysis argues for is that men often exploit such power without fully realizing or intending it.


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

"I believe Msr. Long's parallel to lynch law in the segregationist South is quite accurate. Lynching was quite illegal but Blacks under segregation were not in a social position to put any trust in white legal institutions."

The analogy here is weak, because even though lynching was technically illegal, it was fully condoned by the majority, rarely if ever prosecuted, and enjoyed the complicity of local authorities: that's why the federal government's intervention was seen as necessary. But rape is not merely _technically_ illegal, it's actively prosecuted, and socially disapproved.


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

"The fact that one man's power is enhanced by the fact that another man rapes doesn't make the first man guilty of anything."

Fact? That's where we disagree. I deny that an evil man's criminality enhances an honest man's power. Indeed, the presence of evil men weakens the power of good men.


Charles Johnson - 1/11/2005

"Might not one argue that one reason, if not the reason, that the State attempts to undermine the family is that it is one patriarchal institution competing with another?"

Geoffrey, I think this is an excellent point. I think that paleolibertarians (for example) drastically overestimate the degree to which father-right and State prerogative come into conflict with one another, but I think this is incisive remark on why they do where they do. It's worth thinking about this in light of, for example, the rape ritual of the so-called jus primae noctis in feudal Europe.


Charles Johnson - 1/11/2005

Aeon, of course I can speak only for myself and not for Roderick, but if he's citing the statistic that appears in our essay (which seems likely), the figure comes from the CDC / NIJ National Violence Against Women Survey, whose results are reported on at length by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes (2000) at <http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf>;. The full Methodology Report is apparently available only in print, but there is a discussion of the methodology on pp. 13-15 of the research brief at <http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles/172837.pdf>;.

The report is horrible stuff; what's more horrible is that the experiences tha I have learned about from my friends don't even leave me with cognitive dissonance about its truth; the survey methodology is solid but I can also believe the numbers because they have been proven true in my life. Which is a horrible thing to realize.

That said, here's a dry and abstract discussion of the figures that we know.

Section 5 of the report discusses "Intimate Partner" Violence (including a survey of the past literature), and reports that NVAWS found (p. 38, exhibit 9):

- 24.8% of women surveyed had suffered, at the hands of an intimate partner, rape, attempted rape, or physical assault, in their lifetime.

- 25.5% of women surveyed had suffered, at the hands of an intimate partner, rape, attempted rape, physical assault, or stalking, in their lifetime.

"Intimate partners" are current and former spouses, male or female cohabiting partners, boyfriends or girlfriends, and dates. (Figures elsewhere demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of the intimate partner violence against women reported in the survey is committed by male partners. Although findings of widespread violence against women in lesbian relationships would hardly be reassuring, either, from a feminist standpoint.)

"Rape" and "attempted rape" are defined quite conservatively--that is, the categories include significantly fewer activities than would be prosecutable under existing sexual assault laws. The screening questions can be found on p. 13 of the research brief. Part of the reasons for the narrowness of the screening questions is, I think, to avoid the controversy around Mary Koss's findings (controversy which I happen to think is unwarranted and which I know in some cases -- Katie Roiphe's and Christina Hoff Sommers' attacks, for example -- to be based on mischaracterizations, but which is beside the point here).

"Physical assault" was screened using the Conflict Tactics Scale, with assaults ranging from slapping or hitting to using a knife or gun. (Abuse was usually repeated: women who reported being physically assaulted by a partner in the past 12 months had been assaulted, on average, about 3-4 times that year.)

As we mention in the footnotes to the essay, a full discussion of the validity of common statistics on violence against women was beyond the scope of our essay; our effort was to make some progress on the philosophical issue of how radical feminist class analysis and libertarianism can be reconciled, and to mostly bracket the empirical question of whether the evidence and arguments commonly given to support feminist class analysis are cogent. Of course, that's an awfully important issue, but we ran long on talk as it was, and for myself I think it's an issue that is already thoroughly discussed in the existing feminist literature.

That said, it is an important issue for the claims made in our paper, even if it's one we bracketed at the time, and I'd be glad to discuss it further here as you like.


Roderick T. Long - 1/11/2005


> Roderick, what's your source on
> this factoid? Last I checked, this
> number included such things as
> "unwelcome looks.

The source is the CDC study; we discuss it in the paper here. If we leave out battery and confine it stictly to rape, then yes, I believe the number is 1 in 6, not 1 in 4. Still pretty high, I should think. (If 1 in 6 men were going to be attacked by a tiger, I reckon we'd think tiger attacks were a pervasive feature of ordinary life.)

> No. Here's the collective-guilt thing again.

I don't see anything to do with *guilt* here. The fact that one man's power is enhanced by the fact that another man rapes doesn't make the first man guilty of anything. (It depends whetehr he exploits that power.) Class analysis is not about guilt.

> The fact that some men commit rapes proves
> nothing about whether I am likely to commit
> rape, or you. The truth is, women have reason
> to fear _someone_, but not you and not me

I don't see how this contradicts or is even relevant to the claim in question. The claim that all men gain enhanced power vis-a-vis women as a result of the existing practice of rape is not a claim that all men are objectively likely to rape.


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

I have known many women who were victims of rape, including one who endured an awful situation of dependence on a rapist husband until it simply destroyed her soul. And this is before I joined this industry of ours. None of them chose to go to the police. I find the 1 in 4 figure quite believable.

I believe Msr. Long's parallel to lynch law in the segregationist South is quite accurate. Lynching was quite illegal but Blacks under segregation were not in a social position to put any trust in white legal institutions. I think rape is less systematic that that and that modern patriarchy is not *as* oppressive (but not ridicilously less), but the social powerlessness in the face of extrastatist coercion in all too similar- especially given the social prejudice towards family cohesion and authority, at the expeense of (especially female) individuals.

regards,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/11/2005

Might not one argue that one reason, if not the reason, that the State attempts to undermine the family is that it is one patriarchal institution competing with another? Although, I would think that even if the family wasn't a patriarchal institution, and it certainly isn't in all cases, that the State would still try to undermine it since it is a competing social institution.


Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 1/11/2005

I remember the paper well, Steve, and I have quite enjoyed reading not only Roderick and Charles' essay here, but all the dialogue that has been posted on the various threads at L&P. My, my... we are one lively group, eh?

I have to confess that aside from an essay or two, I've never read Dworkin extensively, so I'm just not in a position to really comment one way or the other. As a co-editor, with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, of Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, I do believe that much is to be gained by the engagement of feminist and libertarian thinkers, especially insofar as both might share of that radical, dialectical legacy that needs reclaiming by friends of freedom everywhere.


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

"I don't get what the "ludicrous hyperbole" is; can you explain? Isn't a situation where 1 out of 4 women will be the victim of rape or other male violence -- usually *not* by a stranger -- comparable to state oppression?"

Again with the dubious statistic. But in any case, the difference is that rape is _illegal_, meaning a perpetrator will be punished, but state oppression is _legal_. There's a remedy for one, and not for the other. There's social disapproval for one, and not for the other.


Aeon J. Skoble - 1/11/2005

"Given that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of rape or other male violence, isn't it true that rape is "ubiquitous.""

Roderick, what's your source on this factoid? Last I checked, this number included such things as "unwelcome looks." Is it actually the case that 1 in 4 women are raped? Not last time I looked. If you add a vaguely defined disjunct, I'm sure it's true, but then it won't prove what Dworkin says.

"Isn't it true that this fact influences power relations between men and women?"

No. Here's the collective-guilt thing again. The fact that some men commit rapes proves nothing about whether I am likely to commit rape, or you. The truth is, women have reason to fear _someone_, but not you and not me. Of course it's also true that you and I also have reason to fear _someone_, but who is it, and what follows from that?


Roderick T. Long - 1/11/2005

Hi Kevin. I don't get what the "ludicrous hyperbole" is; can you explain? Isn't a situation where 1 out of 4 women will be the victim of rape or other male violence -- usually *not* by a stranger -- comparable to state oppression? What am I missing?

Also, given that we say "whether father-right is, at a given moment in history, mostly in league with or somewhat at odds with state prerogatives," I'm a bit puzzled that you think we're denying that there can be conflict between patriarchy and the state. (But I do think the relation is something like that between church and state in the Middle Ages. Was that a mutually reinforcing or an adversarial relationship? Well, surely both. Any power bloc can benefit from allying itself with another power bloc, but each one wants to be the dominant partner and will sometimes try to slap down the other too.)


Steven Horwitz - 1/11/2005

Gents,

A quick scan of the paper suggests the praise others have heaped on it is well-deserved. I will give it a full read in the next few days. I would, however, alert you and L&P readers to my own attempt, a decade ago, to get Austrian economists and feminist economists talking to one another.

“Feminist Economics: An Austrian Perspective,” Journal of Economic Methodology, 2 (2), December 1995, pp. 259-279.

Unfortunately, it's not available online, but I will try to scan a copy and get it on my website this week as well.

I would also suggest that L&P readers interested in gender issues take a look at my working papers page, which includes two papers on the family (the first two listed) as well as my forthcoming piece in JARS that also addresses family issues.

http://it.stlawu.edu/shor/Papers/wpmain.htm

Libertarian academics need to be doing more of just this sort of work that puts us in conversation with others from whom we can both learn and teach.


Roderick T. Long - 1/11/2005

Well, the passage that you quote --

"All men benefit from rape, because all men benefit from the fact that women are not free in this society; that women cower; that women are afraid; that women cannot assert the rights that we have, limited as those rights are, because of the ubiquitous presence of rape..."

-- strikes me as one of the *good* passages. I'm not sure what is supposed to be wrong with it. Given that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of rape or other male violence, isn't it true that rape is "ubiquitous." Isn't it true that this fact influences power relations between men and women?

Do I think that all men benefit from these facts? In the strict sense of "benefit," no, because as an Aristotelean I have a fancy philosophical conception of benefit -- such that I don't think rulers "benefit" from taxing and regulating us either. But what Dworkin means is that rape contributes to a power differential between men and women that to some extent increases any man's power vis-a-vis women regardless of whether he personally rapes or not. So in the ordinary-langauge sense of benefit, yes, I think the quote is true.

Is it the *whole* truth? Maybe not. I can see why someone could complain that passages like this slight the ability of women to achieve independence even under conditions of patriarchy. But remember that Dworkin is tyring to express, in evocative and provocative form, the side of the truth that has gone unexpressed. Libertarians do the same thing when we say that we are all slaves of the government; one could object that such descriptions slight the citizen's ability to attain a fair degree of autonomy even under the state. Well, sure, but when everyone already thinks this is a free country and we're all free, stressing the otehr aspect of the truth can be what's needed.


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/11/2005

Indeed. I must agree with Jeanine that this is an excellent piece. I'm not sure that I'll have the time to give it a thorough critique and voice any disagreements I may have. I'm currently busy preparing to teach my first political theory course.

It seems I will still have to wait, however, for feminist literature that systematically explores not only the negative effects of patriarchy on women but also the negative effects it has on men, especially when wedded with radical and liberal feminism. What I mean by this is that a patriarchal society harms both men and women in more ways than I have yet seen feminists analyze. For instance, I have read (though I can't at this point name any specific sources) that women-on-men domestic violence and verbal abuse is more prevalent than reported and that for typically "male" reasons it goes unreported. There are also the problems of false accusations of rape or sexual harassment against men, and the overuse of sexual harassment lawsuits. Then there is the problem of sexual harassment and rape of men by women in positions of power; certainly this is less often through physical force than through coercion in the broad sense of that term. And there are also the myriad ways that men are burdened with responsibilities that they either do not want (or never question) and/or are harmed by: financially, emotionally, etc. In short, one of the shortcomings I see in feminism, in my admittedly limited experience with it, is that it typically offers only a one-sided analysis. 19th century feminism might deal with some of this, I don't know, but some of it at least are more modern phenomena.


K D Vallier - 1/11/2005

Roderick and Charles,

I thought you might be interested in a few criticisms.

By and large I enjoyed the paper, but here are some worries.

“Hans Hermann Hoppe, for example, goes so far as to indulge in the conservative fantasy that the traditional ‘internal layers and ranks of authority’ in the family are actually bulwarks of ‘resistance vis-a-vis the state’ (Secession, the State, and the Immigration Problem § IV). The ‘ranks of authority’ in the family, of course, means the pater familias, and whether father-right is, at a given moment in history, mostly in league with or somewhat at odds with state prerogatives, the fact that it is so widely enforced by the threat or practice of male violence means that trying to enlist it in the struggle against statism is much like enlisting Stalin in order to fight Hitler—no matter who wins, we all lose.”

First of all, I think this is rather *ludicrous* hyperbole. Stalin to Hitler is not as male extra-state violence is to inter-state violence. Are you really ready to defend an equivalence of these two? Maybe the last sentence should be toned down. It only encourages feminists to downplay state violence, and will only put off libertarians.

It isn’t obvious to me that this point of Hoppe’s is a mere fantasy. Its echoed by conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet in "The Twilight of Authority" and I think he makes the point well – the state wouldn’t attempt to destroy these institutions if they weren’t a challenge to its power. Traditional forms of authority are concentrations of power that the state needs to fight.

That being said, patriarchy can be criticized justly without denying that patriarchy is a bulwark against the state. Of course, matriarchy could be as well.

Hoppe’s error (and those like him) is to think that if something is a bulwark against state power, then it is a good thing. You don’t need to deny that patriarchy is a bulwark against state power in order to think it is a good, as you appear to imply.

“Despotism in the state is necessarily associated with despotism in the family.”

This is from one of the Spencer quotes. If this is true, then why were so many of left-wing revolutionaries social revolutionaries as well? You should consider Mises’ comments in the beginning of Socialism where he comments that the attack on the bourgeois family structure has always come part and parcel with Socialism.

What you might say is this: “Of course the state attacks institutions of power outside of the state, of which patriarchy is often one. But it is mostly a coincidence that Socialism attacked these institutions, as they were the dominant extra-state concentration of power. However, were a different system to have existed, then Socialists would have been forced to attack it as well. We have to separate what socialists attack, why they attack them, and whether those things are good or not.”

I would be sympathetic to such a point. I think you might address it in a footnote. Your paper should include at least a brief discussion of such thinking amongst 20th century libertarians in relation to this point.

What I’m attempting to do is to say that we needn’t dismiss the conservative-libertarian point that traditional familial institutions provide protection against the state. We should not respond to them by denying this fact, but rather we should accept this claim while realize that the point is limited and cannot *alone* justify patriarchy in any fashion. You would do well not to simply dismiss this point so often made by libertarians; it deserves a bit more charity.


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

Oh, and BTW, Andrea Dworkin is an atheist, not a Wiccan, and unlikely to practice with a coven.

Jeanie


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

Blessed be,

Msr. Fulwiler.


Jeanine Ring - 1/11/2005

Msrs. Long and Johnson-

I wish I had more time to respond at present, but for now let me just say: this is so much what of what I have wanted to say, in places I didn't know how to say it. Given Msr. Johnson's permissions, I's wish to post this piece to my own online Salon-
( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Salon_Total_Freedom/ ) where I'd love to have you both as guests, BTW. I do hope this is widely read, as I cannot imagine anything that would have a better effect on the libertarian movement. I'd personally love to see a similar piece presenting a similar case but directed to a feminist more than libertarian audience.

I do have a couple of realtively minor objections: I think what you call 'radical feminism' is more divided into distinct ideologies than you present- I would especially call attention to the 'pro-sex' movement within radical feminism that has challenged Dworkin, etc. on feminist and sexual revolutionary grounds; I would a;sp naturally argue for a less ambiguous stance on prostitution, though let me say, and I mean this as a compliment, that you force me to rethink my own uncharacteristically atomic stance towards my own choices and circumstances.

I may have a chance to detail these points later, but I think they are minor issues. Otherwise, this is simply beautiful work; quite honestly some of the most important work within libertarianism in this decade.

*Thank you.*

regards,

Jeanine Ring )(*)(

"Free *from* what? As if that mattered to Zarathustra! But your eyes should tell me brightly: free *for* what!" - Nietzsche


Geoffrey Allan Plauche - 1/11/2005

I'm in the middle of section three, but I wanted to make a quick comment before I forgot... I find it interesting that in Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, the main character, Michael Valentine Smith, a human raised by the single sex (or asexual?) Martians, identified humanity's two sexes as perhaps the major underlying factor driving much of human society.


M.D. Fulwiler - 1/11/2005

Well Mr. Roderick Long, I never thought a libertarian could possibly be so favorably inclined towards Andrea Dworkin, but you've done an interesting job of pulling out bits and pieces of her thought and giving it a libertarian spin. Unfortunately, you fail to really convince. Here's the Dworkin I know and hate:

"All men benefit from rape, because all men benefit from the fact that women are not free in this society; that women cower; that women are afraid; that women cannot assert the rights that we have, limited as those rights are, because of the ubiquitous presence of rape..."

I think perhaps there are two Andrea Dworkins---the brilliant insightful thinker you quote and the whack job I quote. More likely this is one woman so confused that her head must be spinning at all times. That must pose complications for the poor thing when she tries to coordinate book burnings, pow wows with the religious right, libel and slander marathons against the male sex, trips to Krispy Kreme donut shops, excursions to lesbian seperatist conventions and attending witch's covens.

Alas, I have no time for a lengthy rebuttal, and I've already made enemies by calling Miss Dworkin all sorts of nasty names. Perhaps Wendy Mc Elroy, a much brighter and nicer person than I am, will have a better response for you.

Subscribe to our mailing list