Fox-Genovese argues that most women, though they support some of the more well-publicized valued of official feminism and are fairly ignorant of what the rest of those values are, disclaim being feminists. Feminism, they say, is irrelevant to their lives.

Now I would call myself a libertarian. Even more, an ideologist of sorts. I am interested in theory and to a certain extent in the goings-on in politics and currents of thought and opinion. But I am pretty sure that the vast majority of people do not consider themselves libertarians. They are vaguely uncomfortable with its radicalism, if they are conservatives; and they think it cold and immoral, if they are liberals. Finally, they are pretty naive about the science behind the ideology. Now I am not at all fazed by this. No one promised me that the reforms I envision will take place. But is it reasonable to argue that just because I am in a small minority, I am ipso facto wrong?

That seems to be the crux of the issue. Feminism may not speak for the majority. Still, it may well be true. Or if we do not want such stark terms, it may be an advance over the previous ideas. Is it? Probably not, but Fox cannot dismiss it by saying that “real” feminists have failed to convince most people of the virtues of their understanding.

There is a caveat. Remember how Mises has justified his libertarianism. Liberalism “presupposes that people prefer life to death, health to sickness, nourishment to starvation, abundance to poverty. It teaches man how to act in accordance with these valuations.” Rothbard called this attempt “curiously bloodless,” but let’s not worry about that. The point is that Mises never tried to tell people what they should want; merely, if they want prosperity, then how they should go about achieving it. Is feminism a system of values (ends) or plans to realize those values (means)? If the former, then that most women do not share the feminist ends is a death knell to feminism. But if the latter, and the ends are understood correctly, then we need to evaluate whether feminism succeeds at attaining the ends that most women do share. Just because women disagree on the path to liberation or whatever does not mean that they cannot be persuaded, given sufficient effort, as long as they, as one, want to be liberated.

Categories: Feminism


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