I often get asked about the lack of women in the libertarian movement.
There have been countless articles written lately on why our movement has failed to attract large numbers of women. Caitlyn Bates believes that it’s because we have not focused enough on social issues like gay rights. James Padilioni Jr. thinks that we need more empathy in our arguments for liberty. Kelly Barber writes that it’s because women have been historically oppressed. And Kevin Boyd blames the creepertarians (creepy libertarian men who inappropriately hit on women.)
All of these articles make good points and perhaps there are numerous reasons that men far outnumber women in the liberty movement.
But I believe the main reason is simpler and possibly politically incorrect: libertarianism isn’t exactly considered mainstream (yet.)
Compared to men, women tend to be more social and care more about what people think about them. They are usually very concerned about being socially accepted and fitting in with their peers. Most women do not want to be associated with something that is considered “weird.” And let’s face it: libertarianism is still considered “weird” to mainstream society (though that has started to change.)
I often get strange looks from people when I tell them that I am a libertarian. Some people have heard of the term, some people have not. But most people have no idea what it means to be a libertarian. They really only know about the two “normal” political viewpoints: liberal and conservative. Libertarians don’t fit into neat little boxes.
Men tend to be less social and care less about what people think of them. They don’t care if society doesn’t view them as “normal.” Their interests tend to be more obscure. Compared to women, more men have “nerdy” interests like video games, comic books, computers and sci fi. They are also more likely to dabble in “alternative” religions and political philosophies.
I assume most people found out about libertarianism on the Internet. Women are more likely to visit popular culture websites and connect with their peers on social media. Men are more likely to look at “nerdy” websites that discuss views that are outside of the mainstream like libertarianism.
If we want to increase the number of libertarian women, we need to make liberty mainstream. Make it part of popular culture. Make it— well, not weird. We can do that without changing our beliefs. We need more libertarian musicians, filmmakers, authors, actors, artists, etc.
Over the past couple of years, libertarianism has become more normal. We are becoming less of a fringe movement. I’ve noticed a growing number of libertarian women since 2007. This trend should continue as long as we keep spreading the message and expand into popular culture.
*Of course, everyone is an individual and they do not always conform to gender stereotypes.