Of course, this is no big secret. Anyone who has ever spent two seconds on a libertarian forum or at a conference notices that men tend to greatly outnumber women.
Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum guesses that it is because “hard core libertarianism is a fantasy.” I’m not going to waste time in this post explaining to Drum on why it isn’t a fantasy. So, let’s just follow his logic a bit here. Is he saying that women lack imagination? That we aren’t prone to dreaming? Women are huge consumers of fantasy literature so I’m going to say that his theory is bogus.
I’ve also heard, time and time again, that it’s because chicks are super emotional/irrational and want big daddy government to take care of them. While there may be some truth to that in how we are socialized, I actually think that theory is overstated. The conservative conferences I’ve been to have had a more equal ratio of men to women and they’re not fans of the welfare state, either.
I have my own theory about the libertarian gender ratio and I’ll probably get in “trouble” again for saying it. But, oh well because I think it’s true.
Libertarianism is still a marginal philosophy. It’s growing in popularity due in huge part to Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns. However, it’s still an outside-of-the-mainstream movement.
Marginal movements tend to attract certain types of people.
Look at the individuals in the libertarian movement. I joke that it’s full of nerds and rebels. Neither of these types of people really care what other people think about them. They are true to themselves and aren’t afraid to take interest in things that “normal people” might consider weird. “Screw ’em.”
This is why I think that men are more likely to be attracted to libertarianism as long as it is a more marginal philosophy. Men tend to place a lower importance on social interaction than women. (Yes, there are exceptions!) Therefore, the threat of social ostracism isn’t as big of a deal to them.
I’m more in the nerd category, honestly. When I became heavily invested into libertarian ideas and politics in college, I experienced some social ostracism from my peers–especially female ones. They thought it was strange that I spent so much time researching “nerdy political things” rather than partying or doing “normal” college activities. But it was nothing that I couldn’t handle because I’m an introvert, anyways. I just need a couple of people who think I’m alright and I’m good.
Most libertarian women that I have met are very different than your “average woman.” I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t intimidated by a lot of them. They’re strong and independent. They don’t give a *beep* what you think about them. Mess with them and they’ll kick your butt. Basically, they do what they want.
In order to speak out about “unpopular/marginal” ideas, you need to have that kind of personality. If you have a great desire to be liked, ha, don’t get involved in libertarianism. Or at least hide your views. If you post about it on Facebook, get ready to get defriended or uninvited to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
As a vocal libertarian woman online, I’m used to the nasty insults by now. I’ll be honest, though. I still dread every time an acquaintance asks me, “so, what do you do for a living?” Because “I’m a libertarian commentator” tends to derail friendly casual conversation. (If you try to keep it broad, they will dig further!)
The good news is that libertarianism is becoming more mainstream. As it becomes more popular, it will attract new kinds of people, including more women. It won’t be just for nerds and rebels, anymore.