Julie Borowski, who goes by Token Libertarian Girl on YouTube, makes some good videos and is a smart libertarian. The other day, though, she ran afoul of the Libertarian Thought Police, Humorless P.C. Automaton division.
Julie made a video exploring why the libertarian movement attracts so few women. It is a two-minute video describing some of her anecdotal impressions, not a peer-reviewed journal article. She gave an incorrect answer, according to the Banishers. The correct answer, evidently, is that libertarians are mean and say mean things, and that this general libertarian perversity keeps women away. The possibility that any kind of difference between men and women might at least be partially responsible for the disparity is not even raised, needless to say.
Julie was thus subjected to the kind of stern ideological correction one would expect from leftists who have had their p.c. pieties challenged. This is no surprise, since these folks’ criticism of other libertarians is that we don’t embrace leftism with sufficient gusto.
I won’t go through the whole dreary, predictable thing, which you can read for yourself.
Among other things, Julie’s critics say she “slut shames women who engage in casual sex.” (Shows how sheltered I am: evidently there are people in the world who use the phrase “slut shames.”) Doesn’t Julie know that such behavior, far from being a “cause for shame,” is just one of the “complex choices that smart, thoughtful women can and do make”?
And while of course the author of a blog post is not responsible for the comments readers leave, I found this one revealing: “Why does she [Borowski] rail against other women’s choices? Surely a core libertarian value is neutrality between different conceptions of the good?”
Actually, no. I replied: “The core libertarian value is nonaggression. ‘Neutrality between different conceptions of the good’ has nothing to do with libertarianism. If you were truly neutral between different conceptions of the good, you wouldn’t be arguing against Julie’s conception of the good.”
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking dominates a certain wing of the libertarian movement, which congratulates itself for its “thick” libertarianism, as opposed to the (I guess) thin kind embraced by the rest of us. Yes, yes, they concede, nonaggression is the key thing, but if you really want to promote liberty you can’t just oppose the state. You have to oppose “the patriarchy,” embrace countercultural values, etc.
Then, once libertarianism has been made to seem as freakish and anti-bourgeois as possible, these same people turn around and blame the rest of us for why the idea isn’t more popular.
Physician, heal thyself.
Incidentally, by the reasoning of Julie’s critics, one would be led to the equally patronizing conclusion that the reason there are so few female chess champions is that women can’t succeed, or won’t even try, unless everything is just so. Since male/female differences are ruled out, what other explanation is left? Not enough “role models” for women? Then how did anyone, anywhere, ever start doing anything?
GMU professor Bryan Caplan has also weighed in, suggesting that there may indeed be differences between men and women that might account for the discrepancy within libertarianism. (I can hardly wait for the shrill cries of “sexist” to overcome us all, though for various reasons I suspect Bryan will be allowed a pass.) Caplan writes:
My study of personality psychology makes me one of the doubters. On the popular Myers-Briggs personality test, there is a huge Thinking-Feeling gap between men and women. For men, the breakdown is roughly 60% Thinking, 40% Feeling. For women, the breakdown is roughly 30% Thinking, 70% Feeling.
This Thinking/Feeling disparity explains a lot about gender gaps in college major and occupation. There’s every reason to think that this disparity can help explain gender gaps in political and social views.
To make a long story short: Thinking people tend to have “hard heads” and “hard hearts,” while Feeling people have “soft heads” and “soft hearts.” Unsurprisingly, then, Feeling people tend to hold more anti-market views. I’ve similarly found strong evidence that males “think more like economists.” This gender belief gap increases with education, consistent with a simple model where male and female students gradually learn more about whatever their personalities incline them to study….
Libertarians can and should better market their ideas to women (and people, for that matter). But marketing can only do so much. Women really are more Feeling than men, and selling libertarianism to people with Feeling personalities is inherently difficult.
Julie’s critics can’t conclude their attack without unbosoming the lasting trauma of the whole episode for them: today, because of Julie’s video, they’re “a little embarrassed to admit” they’re libertarians. Poor babies. To my knowledge, they have not expressed any embarrassment when libertarians have (for example) gratuitously insulted the religious beliefs of tens of millions of Americans in crude and ignorant ways. I suppose that’s designed to bring people into the fold?
Obviously, what matters to these critics is not what will bring people to libertarianism or keep them out; if it did, the overall weirdness and reflexively anti-bourgeois posture of some of the loudest libertarians would be their first targets. What appears to matter is that on issues involving men and women (and other subjects, too, no doubt), the uttering of anything other than an exquisitely p.c. opinion is to be shunned as oh-so-embarrassing to libertarianism.
To my mind, this is the most interesting and revealing part of the whole episode — the double standard, the highly selective nature of the “outrage” on display. Violate p.c. decorum and you’ll get a ponderous, humorless reprimand. Gratuitously trample on basic decency, making libertarians seem like anti-social losers, and…nothing.
I say hooray for Julie Borowski, who through sheer hard work has made herself an increasingly accomplished and significant figure among young libertarians. Subscribe to her YouTube channel — and, while you’re at it, mine too.
UPDATE: I have slightly edited the text to clarify my point.