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Monday, May 28, 2012

Why I'm a libertarian feminist atheist skeptic

...in four paragraphs:

Libertarian: I mistrust government, a whole lot. I believe that market forces are preferable to legislation when it comes to getting things done, because they are more voluntary (consent is always best) and more easily reversible. I believe that the pursuit of happiness is a personal thing and takes different forms for different people, and the government's main job should be to allow us room to conduct our individual pursuits. It should prevent us trampling on each other in the process and enable those of us who by circumstances of birth or misfortune have been denied the ability, but otherwise stay the hell out of the way. I am a left-libertarian, not a paleoconservative, states' rights, or Ayn-Rand-worshiping libertarian.

Feminist: Sexism is a bigotry that generally takes the form of explicit assertion or implicit suggestion that men must be one thing and women another, and that women exist for men (as ornamentation or care-givers, means of reproduction, and so on) rather than for themselves. I oppose any attempt to institutionalize this idea via law, and argue against the endorsement of it in culture. I am an individualist feminist, not a difference feminist or misandrist.

Atheist: I consider it highly unlikely that our great big messy very old universe came into being via the deliberate machinations of an infinite mind, much less the kind usually asserted to be responsible for doing so. And if the complexity of this universe, and of us specifically, requires explanation by appeal to such agency, then surely the agency itself demands such all the more. I believe that supernatural beings are neither required nor sufficient to supply existence with meaning or morality. I am a "good without gods" atheist, not a "believers are stupid" or "believers are evil" atheist.

Skeptic: Science is a tool for knowing the empirical world-- the best one we have. Considering that, it would be a shame not to use it whenever possible and when we do forget to use it, it's always to our detriment. I view mystery as a door to open and explore beyond rather than to hammer shut with nails marked cultural reverence, tradition, religion, or magic. I believe reality is always more fascinating than the myths we make up to replace it, but imagination is important because it's our ability to wrap our minds around what is really real. I am a "let's find out the truth" skeptic, not a cynic, pessimist, or "You must share my other ideologies or else you're not really a skeptic" skeptic.

Note: This post brought to you by two discussions I've read recently in which at least two of the above were alleged to be incompatible. I am convinced that they are not, or at least don't need to be.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Gretchen,

    I have tried to comment on your blog several times. Your electronic bouncer kept telling me to log in, and I tried to use the same Wordpress login I use at Ed Brayton's blog but somehow there is another "lancifer" registered even though Wordpress allows me log into Dispatches with that username.

    I re-registered as Lancifer666 and logged on here but the preview shows my identity as "anonymous". Oh well.

    I read your manifesto (womanifesto?) and agreed with most of it with one small exception. In your declaration defining your view of feminism you state, "Sexism is a bigotry that generally takes the form of explicit assertion or implicit suggestion that men must be one thing and women another, and that women exist for men (as ornamentation or care-givers, means of reproduction, and so on) rather than for themselves."

    I wholeheartedly share your objection to the idea expressed in the second clause, "...and that women exist for men (as ornamentation or care-givers, means of reproduction, and so on) rather than for themselves." However, I find the first part, "Sexism is a bigotry that generally takes the form of explicit assertion or implicit suggestion that men must be one thing and women another..." to be anti-scientific and objectively incorrect.

    First let me preface my objection by stating that I find the differences between individual humans to be so profound as to render generalizations based on group distinctions to be of extremely limited value, but to deny that male and female humans (or any sexually dimorphic species for that matter) are inherently different is to ignore the obvious fact that X and Y chromosomes exist and are responsible for dramatic and obvious differences between the sexes.

    Where I think we agree is that such chromosomal differences can be used to predict certain phenotypical differences, like the presence of ovaries instead of testes, but are not particularly useful in determining esoteric qualities such as intelligence or leadership ability.

    If I have missed the point I would appreciate a clarification.

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  2. I especially liked this statement about skepticism.

    I am a "let's find out the truth" skeptic, not a cynic, pessimist, or "You must share my other ideologies or else you're not really a skeptic" skeptic.

    Sadly many people have a list of "scientific" ideas that they hold with the same fervor, and lack of intellectual rigor, as the memes fanatically embraced by the religious.

    These touchstones are often used to identify members of their "tribe" rather than as a set of ideas subject to verification and, when facts insist, change.

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  3. Lance,

    I had trouble with the wording there, but the reason I chose to say "must be" rather than "are" was to get at the notion of culturally enforced gender roles. I'm fully aware of the existence of biological male and female and wouldn't deny that they exist and there are differences between the two, however the reality of how men and women behave and think-- and even whether they consider themselves men or women-- must always be taken into account. We can absolutely make valid biological distinctions between male and female, and make general psychological observations about how men and women are different, but that's very different from telling someone how they should think and behave based on your observation of their gender.

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  4. I completely understand your resistance to being told how you should think and behave. I really REALLY hate being told what to think or do. The concept of non-coercion is one of the main reasons I identify as a libertarian.

    I find it ironic that progressives (and other authoritarians) malign libertarian thought on moral grounds. Somehow it is immoral to allow people to make their own choices but perfectly acceptable to tell them what to do or think.

    Authoritarians are all about theshould. They are all too eager to impose consequences on others, up to and including imprisonment, to compel thoughts and behaviors that comport with their goals and values.

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  5. Sorry to ask such a silly immature question, but I am still a student.

    Would you say that your Feminism can be defined as Equalism since you strive for equality between the genders (rather than separate roles in society)

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