Posted by
Kathy on Mar 18, 2004 at 01:01

(parting thought)

What is "the female perspective", anyway?

First, lest I seem ungracious, I would like to thank each of you who wrote to express good wishes, wish me well, insist that Louis James had tricked me into instigating a coup (he probably could, wily Wyomingite that he is), or otherwise took note of my slipping into the writer's chair for this publication. I hope that I am as interesting and informative as Louis was. For those of you who expressed a desire to get insights into "the feminist view of libertarianism" or a "female perspective on freedom", I'll confess upfront that I'm likely to let you down.

It isn't that I've been crossdressing and fooling everyone for years; I am indeed a female. I'm just not a very typical female. Actually, I don't think I'm a very typical human, but that's beside the point right now.

I grew up being the only left-handed person in my family. My siblings hated to sit beside me, and often fought over who'd get "stuck" sitting to my left. Not only did my parents not make the teasing and fighting into learning opportunities for tolerance, they sometimes teased me themselves. In school, it only got worse, as teachers tried
to force me to write with my right hand, and the other kids relegated me to near-last when choosing teams for baseball or other sports. I also happened to be smart, and a tomboy, and didn't understand the expectation to downplay my enjoyment of things scientific and unfeminine.

No violins or tears, please -- that's not the point of my rambling. As a result of almost always being different from everyone around me, I thought a lot about what it means to be different. I decided that things like race, religion, sex, or ethnicity weren't as important to me as what kind of individual a person showed him- or herself to be to me. If I was treated decently, I'd try to treat the person similarly; if I wasn't, I'd try to leave the other person alone. I didn't think of myself in terms of the groups I belonged to -- I was human, and that's what mattered. The other stuff was incidental for most purposes. I was an individualist, and well on my way to being a libertarian, long before I knew those words.

As a result of my being so atypical, I've never really thought of myself as a feminist, because I've never seen issues in terms of male or female. So, I'm a lousy person for trying to communicate a feminist or female perspective. My perspective is a female one, but it's an admittedly atypical one; and things that are of interest to many other females, even other female libertarians, are not likely to be of much interest to me.

If you'd like to see a more spirited essay I wrote on this topic, please see:

More importantly to me, I learned important lessons about tolerance. Having experienced arbitrary and sometimes very painful intolerance, I tried not to pass it along to others. Growing up, I didn't always succeed; I still don't, but few things still make me sadder than to see intolerance, especially among fellow libertarians. In the endless quest for purity or total agreement, many freedom activists hobble themselves by refusing to see the value in a different perspective.

Every group's effectiveness comes down to individuals making choices. When we choose to make small things matter more than the larger goal of freedom, we as individuals lose. Freedom loses. And freedom takes enough of a beating from the statists as it is. I'm not naive enough to cry out, "Can't we all just get along?" Of course we can't. But we can choose to allow differences to be smaller barriers between us; we can choose to work together in areas where we do agree and be tolerant of areas where we don't agree.

That's this individual's perspective on freedom.

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