On Friday, I was called a privileged white male who couldn’t possibly understand issues of race and gender discrimination. This from a “friend,” who was getting a bit off-topic after I rebutted a meme praising President Obama’s economic record. The meme is another topic (heh…), but I have written about the blanket “check your privilege” dismissal before. In this case, I responded to my critic, a woman, that Libertarians like me give women full credit for their strength and ability to compete. And they do compete: the gender pay gap in the U.S. is largely a fiction, though propaganda to the contrary still circulates.
On the issue of gender politics, what bothers me about today’s radical feminists is that they all but encourage a mentality of victimhood: women have been put-upon by privileged white males, made to submit socially, economically, and yes … sexually; forced to accept employment at below-market wages, locked out of many occupations like IT, firefighting or demolition work.
No doubt there has been discrimination against women in the past, before and during their integration into the labor force. Today, there may be vestiges of discrimination, but in a liberal, market economy, men and women are both empowered to seek the kind of education and career they wish to pursue. There is no guarantee that they’ll find employment in a particular field, however. Free individuals, men and women who want to work, participate voluntarily in a labor market with the objective of entering into mutually beneficial employment contracts at market-clearing wages. Yet liberal feminists often advocate for aggressive government intervention on behalf of women — see here and here, for example. From the latter:
“[Anne] Alstott and others argue that the state must ensure that the socially essential work of providing care to dependents does not unreasonably interfere with the personal autonomy of caregivers. Policies proposed to ensure sufficient personal autonomy for caregivers include parental leave, state subsidized, high quality day care, and flexible work schedules. Some recommend financial support for caregivers, others suggest guaranteeing a non-wage-earning spouse one half of her wage-earning spouse’s paycheck.”
Those proposals qualify as a set of highly aggressive state interventions. They would require redistribution of resources on a massive scale and would lead to dislocations and market failures. At a minimum, to accept such a costly platform, one must buy into the narrative of ongoing victimhood promoted by radical feminists, as well state control of economic life rather than individual initiative. Not all women agree, for example, the brilliant Virginia Postrel and Cathy Young.
The victimhood narrative, and the strong preference for relying on state action rather than individual decisions, extends to the recent push for an “affirmative consent” law in California. I leave it to Dr. Helen Smith to destroy this idiotic legal doctrine.
But back to my new designation as a “privileged white male.” As I tried to explain to this mudslinging individual, I find the accusation insulting on (at least) two counts: first, it implies that any success I’ve earned in life is less than fully deserved, but more importantly, it is a transparent attempt to disqualify me from debate. This “friend” hurled more insults, both petty and elitist, in an attempt to denigrate my career (as if she had any clue about what I do for a living, or what I earn). She also called my opinions “scary,” another weak effort to disqualify me. This is what weasels are made of. I told her she needed a good night’s sleep, and I really think she did! She repeated a refrain several times: “Sad,” without elaboration. She also “unfriended” me, which is fairly typical of leftists who engage in on-line debate. And I am sad for her, but I must move on!