Political Animal


January 04, 2013 4:43 PM Women and Libertarianism

By Ed Kilgore

The eternal problem of the relative dearth of women in the Libertarian Movement is a classic Friday Afternoon topic: it’s not my problem, so I’m not in danger of getting emotional about it, and it’s likely to produce unintentional hilarity—sort of like a discussion among the characters of The Big Bang Theory (other than Leonard, I suppose) about why women find them tedious.

I’ll avoid the easy temptation of snark here, and won’t answer that libertarianism is highly consistent with male adolescent fantasies, or that it may be an obstacle that the most prominent woman associated with American Libertarianism (not that she’d be happy about that!) was a professed anti-feminist and rape enthusiast.

But some of the explanations and prescriptions for remediation from within libertarian ranks aren’t much more flattering to The Movement. Julie Borowski, a videographer who goes by the handle of TokenLibertarianGirl, has posted a jeremiad that, well, sort of suggests women aren’t libertarians because they are superficial and sex-crazed (albeit because they’ve been brainwashed by the “feminist propaganda” of checkout-line magazines).

This approach to the subject attracted an unhappy post from Steve Horwitz and Sarah Skwire at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, a brave outpost of non-orthodoxy, suggesting that, well: “There aren’t more female libertarians because libertarians say things exactly like this.”

Telling women that they aren’t libertarians because they are too stupid to choose something better for themselves isn’t great advertising for liberty. Claiming that women are passive, easily programmed, and incapable of critical interaction with political and cultural ideas is simply wrong—as centuries of history of women fighting against the state and decades of critiques from the left and the right of women’s magazines and popular culture have shown….
We are convinced that if a bright college-aged woman considering libertarianism saw this video, she’d think “I don’t want to be part of that movement if that’s what libertarians think women are like. And Borowski is one of the women! I can only imagine what libertarian men think…”

Seems a lot of the men think Borowski is right:

Videos like this are yet another “No Girls Allowed” sign on the treehouse of the libertarian movement and the nodding heads and “likes” by libertarians on Facebook and YouTube just add a few exclamation points and a larger font to that sign.

I gotta say, of all the self-appointed tasks in American political discourse, making libertarianism a gender-balanced movement strikes me as one of the most Sisyphean. It would require someone with the grit and charisma of a Howard Roark.


Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mike Hamilton on January 04, 2013 5:08 PM:

    Don't you think it has a lot more to do with the libertarians' "I've got what I've got because I'm the best, dammit! Everyone who doesn't have what I have is a lazy loser." attitude? This appeals really strongly to the 14 year old boy mentality, which seems to stick to a some men who are long past puberty. Women, overall, tend to be more caring and see right through that BS.

  • Cynthia on January 04, 2013 6:40 PM:

    Granting her the same degree of intellectual depth that she displayed in this video, all I can say is: Why is her tongue blue?

  • castanea on January 04, 2013 8:36 PM:


    My mother tended to vote libertarian because she said she didn't like either party, until the teabaggers took hold and now she's a teabagger symp.

    My father worked and my mother stayed at home and didn't do much. Libertarianism appeals to more than males with a 14-year-old boy mentality. The notion that women tend to be more caring is entirely false.

  • T-Rex on January 04, 2013 8:43 PM:

    All you need to know about Ayn Rand's sexually masochistic pathology you can learn by researching her swooning crush on the convicted serial murderer William Edward Hickman. I wish she'd been able to consummate her passion for him before he went to the gallows -- they were perfect for each other.

  • Charles Giacometti on January 04, 2013 9:43 PM:

    I knew some true-blue libertarians back in the day. They were obnoxious little twits, and easy to ignore, but I do know they were intellectually consistent. Today's libertarian combines the toxic selfishness of Saint Ayn with misogyny, racism, and extremist, right-wing positions on nearly every social topic.

  • atlliberal on January 05, 2013 8:31 AM:

    More women don't follow the Libertarian party because while the ideas tend to sound interesting in theory, they are a disaster in practice.

  • Andrew J on January 05, 2013 3:11 PM:

    So those of us who support individual rights, self ownership, property rights, uphold the Non Aggression Principle, want to eliminate violent, coercive government intervention at home and abroad... this is racist, extremist, and misogynistic. Got it. You guys must been truly breathtaking in a debate class.

    Bring on the ad hominem, geniuses.

  • Crissa on January 06, 2013 1:40 AM:

    Andrew, do you have an example where, in the real world, that libertarian principles worked against racism, sexism, or extremism without government intervening first?

    Since the real world has no such examples, you won't.

    Since in the real world, we can sample libertarians and find that they contain sexists, extremists, and racists... And their principles do nothing to fight sexist, extremists, or racists... That they nearly always side with sexists, extremists, and racists.

    So I dunno, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, who cares if it says it's not a duck?

  • beejeez on January 06, 2013 11:27 AM:

    I love it when conservatives think that calling themselves libertarians confers on them a patina of respectable, courageous intellectualism. It makes me laugh.