Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feminism and the Philosophy of Liberty

Feminism has been derided by the socially conservative for as long as anyone can remember. Consequently, the women’s liberation movement and its many goals and names have fallen to the realm of the socialist progressives. The time has come to ask if this monopoly is justified. It is time for libertarians to show how women's rights make sense only in the context of human rights- that is, in the context of the philosophy of Liberty.

Here are some examples:

Women's Suffrage
A woman's right to vote seems to me, a natural corollary to the libertarian principle of republicanism- that our government is properly a representative of its people (which includes women), exists only by the consent of the governed (which includes women), and that its members should therefore be selected by the people (which again, includes women).

Rape
Women own their person and their body. Another way to say this is that each person, male and female, have a supreme claim on themselves and are the supreme arbiter of what is done with their body. So regarding rape, coercing intercourse without sober consent is an act of aggression, and so its condemnation is necessarily predicated on the libertarian premises of non-aggression and self ownership.


Women in the Workplace

Women have an equal right to the property they earn by the value they create. To say that women are better at certain jobs than others and/or should be restricted to certain jobs stands in opposition to the libertarian concepts of self-determination and free association. Each woman is an individual. Consequently, in any area where her ability is equal, a woman’s opportunity ought to be equal as well. Two individuals performing the same task and creating the same value ought to be compensated equally irrespective of gender.

Abortion
Abortion is not philosophically defensible if a fetus is a human being, because while the woman has supreme authority over her body, so too does the human fetus over its body. But if a fetus just a part of the woman's body- not a separate human being, then abortion is her own prerogative. It is for this reason that the abortion controversy is not primarily about women's rights as it is usually framed- it is instead a philosophical question about the nature and classification of a human fetus.



Eric Sharp
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