Why is this even a question?
A couple of weeks ago I happened upon a discussion in a libertarian group where I have gotten to know and like quite a few of the people. One man was asserting that women should not be allowed to vote. I sometimes read these types of discussions to get an idea of people’s perspectives. There were quite a few interesting replies, some interesting because they were thoughtful, others interesting because of the assumptions and/or biases.
I don’t usually comment when it seems the original post is more about trying to get a rise out of people. Plus, if he already had such a low opinion of women, why waste my time. However this time I tried to be funny and quipped, “I’d offer my opinion, but I don’t think you’re interested. ” I got a couple laughs from others, but the original poster took exception to that comment and basically challenged me to convince him that he is wrong.
Honestly, I had a hard time getting inspired to write about it because I am pretty convinced that he just wants to argue and humiliate. He has since called all women hedonistic. When he tagged me in another post and I answered that I wasn’t sensitive about an assumption he made, he made comments that were obviously taunting. It is quite possible to recognize taunting for what it is without being emotionally manipulated by it. I simply did not return to the thread as I saw no point. Still, a couple of other people indicated interest in what I might have to say, so for them and for the sake of answering this in general, I write.
And just in case someone misunderstands some of my comparisons, my husband and I have had a good working relationship for nearly 36 years. We decided at the beginning of our marriage to not use humor as an excuse for saying mean or belittling things about each other. When we laugh, we laugh together. When we have misunderstandings, we treat each other like adults.
What are the differences between men and women
The man who stated women should not be allowed to vote openly claims he is sexist, but still libertarian. To give him the benefit of the doubt, his overall intent might be to highlight that men and women are very different. The trouble is that adding -ist to anything is not going to be understood as simply recognizing differences. Instead, it very strongly indicates that the person who is a (fill-in-the-blank)-ist considers another group of people as inferior to the point of not being equally human. Or at least not adult.
There is no doubt that men and women are biologically different. Biologically, there are only two distinct human sexes, apart from rare genetic malformations which show no evidence of furthering the human race. The foundational biological differences limit men in some ways and women in other ways. For instance, men cannot bear children and women have breast tissue where some days it would be handy to have a few more pectoral muscles!
There are other generalizations that are commonly accepted, such as men are more prone to fight for dominance and women are more likely to cry. Unfortunately, when men and women have trouble understanding each other or are having a disagreement, they often complain about each other in terms of men and women instead of actually trying to get along. They conveniently forget that there is plenty of man to man or woman to woman fighting as well.
Is it more logical to shoot everyone?
The gist of the argument that women should not be allowed to vote is that as a group, or statistically, women are not logical or independent enough. It was also claimed that women don’t understand the value of money, are too easily swayed by others, and are less principle based than men. It was stated that if women were no longer allowed to vote socialism (possibly better defined as a central governmental power using violence to obtain certain behavior) would die tomorrow.
You may find it humorous to hear that when I shared this conversation with one of my young adult daughters her first comment was “what kind of women does he hang out with?! He needs to find some different ones!” Another daughter said, “The men can have all the votes if we women can have all the guns. Men seem predisposed to shoot everyone.” Both of these dear young ladies favor anarchy.
For starters, the assertions about how great government would be if women didn’t get to vote seem to be counter to thousands of years of history. I think we can unequivocally say that men (and in this article, when I say men I am referring to people who have that telltale Y chromosome) have caused every kind of imaginable destruction before women ever voted. They ran totalitarian regimes that killed millions of people all for the sake of their egos and money. Men are not angels that were corrupted by women. Men know how to be evil and manipulative all on their own.
That household budget
The claim that women don’t understand money, but men do is laughable on multiple levels. Managing the household budget prudently has historically been a wife’s job. Some do it well and others don’t, just like some men are responsible about bringing money home for the family to live off of and some aren’t. There is nothing genetic about being responsible or money wise.
Men and women often want to buy different sorts of things. From each other’s perspectives, those things can seem unnecessary or ridiculous. Yet, we all have our fun or comfort items. Or our items that are necessary, but we prefer something with more features.
We all have to learn how we are going to handle our budget and the relationships it affects. If you are married, you would do well to express concerns about spending in a way that maintains relationship and does not belittle the other person, man or woman. Just because a fair number of wives complain that their husbands are “just another child to take care of” should we exclude men from household decisions?
If anything, how money is understood and handled has more to do with how children, boys and girls, are taught about money by their parents. Additionally, when children are sent away from home for most hours of the day, they can easily get a distorted perspective of how money is obtained and how it should be spent. If you don’t want a husband or wife who is careless about money, there are ways to vet that before you get married.
How do women vote versus how men vote
If statistics can be believed, (because no one every distorted or lied about statistics, right?), then women vote slightly more Democratic than Republican as a whole group. Women categorized as white vote predominantly Republican. Men tend to vote slightly more Republican as a group. The thing is, they are ALL usually voting for more intrusive government in our lives and more confiscation of our money for pet issues.
Even libertarian men are a drop in the bucket when it comes to American voting. It would make just as much sense (and be a fatal political mistake) to say don’t let people who live in certain places vote or don’t let people of African or Mexican descent vote.
We might as well take it a step further. Why not tell women who they have to marry? And whose idea was it to leave them in charge of raising the children, anyway? If women can’t be allowed to vote, they certainly can’t be trusted with teaching children anything.
At what point are women adult enough for certain men? And who gets to decide? One young man I know compared it to the idiocy of sending young men off to die in wars at age 18, but making laws it is illegal to drink until they are 21.
Will the most unique person please stand up!
One thing I was disappointed in in the thread of comments on the original post was a couple of women agreeing with him and saying that they didn’t fit in with other women. I wish I had a dollar for every person who said he or she is not like everyone else! After talking with many people over the years, it is clear to me that most people feel like the odd person at least part of their lives, especially the younger they are.
People both love and hate feeling this way. They like feeling unique, but they don’t like feeling like they are not accepted. We are all unique in that there is only one of each of us, but we are all equally human. To say “I am unique” makes it easier to make excuses for discounting others. It is easier to claim others are stupid or shallow. It is a step in dehumanizing others and feeling justified in treating them poorly.
A voting system set up to create conflict
Treating others as stupid and not able to care for themselves is the crux of politics. The reasons are always presented as practical and in the best interest of those who will be subject to violence if they do not cooperate. The only thing that is really practical about it is that use of force is an easy way to intimidate others.
Our politicians are fond of presenting issues to us as polar opposites and anyone who disagrees is a criminal. This is a flaw of our voting system, which is set up to pit groups against each other. In the case at hand, men versus women. Trying to gain the upper hand in politics brings out the worst in most men and women.
Many libertarians avoid voting unless it is defensive. They will vote against taxes and against wars, but not for policies that favor some people over others. Sometimes a candidate gives some hope that he or she might roll back some aspects of government, so voting for him or her might be a defensive move. Every adult has a right to self- defense.
What ever happened to consensus?
Whether or not we have a government with a monopoly on violence or we get to come together as individuals to make decisions, we need to think of reaching a consensus as much as possible. Any practical way we govern ourselves should be about finding ways to communicate that truly bring conflict resolution. The pattern of generations tell us this will never be easy, but it is the only real and practical path for treating others like we would like to be treated.
Doing anything to remove people from communicating with each other is a step backward. Telling women they should not be allowed to vote is a step backward. Trying to dress it in terms of taking care of them is what the slave holders did about slaves.
Is it worth telling women about libertarian thought?
It has been suggested that women are not willing or possible not able to be persuaded about libertarian ideas. I have to guess that someone approaching women from the sexist approach discussed would have dismal failure at conversing with women.
The story of two men complaining about their wives was offered to prove that women are hedonistic children. The sad part is that it is one thing to share stories with the goal of encouraging one another and healing relationships. It is quite another to aide in the destruction of another man’s marriage.
I decided to do a little experimenting of my own about how women might respond to rational discussions about libertarianism. I chose someone that I chat with off and on, but am not close to. We had never discussed politics.
I asked her if I could test a hypothesis with her. She was intrigued and agreed. I gave her a very brief, possibly two minute summary of the position I was responding to. Then, I took about 20 minutes to explain what it means to be libertarian. I even talked about negative and positive rights toward the end. She was floored. She exclaimed, “I am a libertarian and I didn’t even know it!” She said that a couple others times as we were parting ways.
As a follow up, I asked her about her ideas of political involvement and voting. She says she has voted, but doesn’t really see it making a difference. To further summarize, it was seen as a bunch of people arguing about who gets to be in charge. From now on, though, she will be evaluating all the political rhetoric with more insight.
People are not statistics
My anecdote doesn’t prove anything statistically any more than the sexist’s anecdote about his interaction proves anything statistically. But, really, who cares about statistics? What if we just talk to people, men and women, like they are individuals. What if we leave what we think we know about groups and stereotypes behind when another individual honors us with an opportunity to interact with them?
Also, what if we approach the conversations with both men and women not like we know everything and they are stupid, but like we might actually learn something if we tried to understand their concerns? It is easy to stroke our own pride and make excuses for how we want to subjugate others to our preferences. That’s what politics is all about. Libertarians need to be better than that if they want people of either sex to even consider that they are not just another version of political violence.