Saturday, 16 January 2016

Types of Feminism - Libertarian and Egalitarian

EgaFem the Enterprise Series:
Campaign Stakeholders:

Types of Feminism:
Libertarian and Egalitarian Feminism: This article
Liberal and Marxist Feminism:
Radical and Socialist Feminism:
Intersectional Feminism:
Transnational Feminism:
Other Types of Feminism:

Author: Blaise Wilson

Types of Feminists
Feminism is a hugely diverse set of different groups. As part of EgaFem's Stakeholder analysis key feminist groups will be investigated.

Name: Libertarian Feminism
Alternative names: Choice, Individualist, First Wave, Freedom, Equity, Opportunity

Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminism dominated the First Wave of feminism.

They believe in a very personal interpretation of empowerment, which is the ability to choose as an individual, and take responsibility for the consequences without interference, including from the state. [1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10].

They concentrate on legal changes to promote equality of opportunity, including to the right to their own property and body, individual autonomy, rights, liberty, independence and diversity for men and women to pursue happiness as they choose (so long as it does not harm others), while simultaneously opposing any forced legal action that promotes inequality [2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14]. However, due to the biological influences outcome equality is not expected as a result [12, 14].

Libertarian feminism encourages “women to become economically self-sufficient; encouraging them to be psychologically independent; publicizing and promoting realistic attitudes toward female competence, achievement, and potential, as well as opposing the abridgement of individual rights by any government on the basis of gender; working toward changing sexist attitudes and behaviors exhibited by individuals” [10] With heavy links to egalitarianism, Christina Hoff Sommers said that Libertarian Feminism has “an aversion to prescribed gender roles: Women should be free to defect from the stereotypes of femininity if they so choose. At the same time, however, it respects the choices of free and self-determining women—when they choose to embrace conventional feminine roles” [12].

Definition of Equality:

Equality of opportunity for the individual.

Gender is not purely a social construct, but is influenced by biology.

Root cause of problems:
Legal changes to promote equality of opportunity for men and women. According to the Association of Libertarian Feminists believe that “government is women’s enemy.” [10]

From the 1830s

Wendy McElroy

Christina Hoff Sommers

Deborah Siegel

Tonie Nathan

The Association of Libertarian Feminist (ALF)

Women fought for the freedom of the black slaves in the US, contributing to all people of colour gaining freedom through the 14th Amendment [17], and with men of colour gaining the right to vote in 1870 in the and 15th Amendment [18]. After seeing the similarities with how women were treated in the late 1800’s to the slaves, the women hoped to be included in the amendment. However, women did not gain the right to vote for another 50 years after the 19th Amendment in 1920. Thus, First Wave Feminism in the US was born out of the abolition of slavery [9].

Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminism has been criticised by other types of feminism as being too focused on the individuals ability to make choices. They often make the claim that because some choices are harder than others, it isn’t really a choice at all, implying that women will always take the easy option, especially when faced with a choice that defies current social conventions [1, 3, 4, 5].

Anita Sarkeesian went so far as to say the “individual notion of “empowerment”… erases the reality that some choices that women make have an enormous negative impact on other women’s lives” [5].

Others say it promotes a concept of victim blaming by making individuals face the consequences of their own choices [2].

Due to its long history, this kind of feminism has changed over time. This has caused some scholars to point out that the modern incarnation is somewhat different in tone than its earlier routes [7].

An important criticism of the early form of this type of feminism, is was too tame. This might have contributed to the separation of more extreme versions of feminism, and individual feminists, who felt the state were not taking them seriously or moving quickly enough to address their demands [9].

Allies and enemies:
Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminism has many who oppose their ideology, but also some surprising allies.

Due to the ideological differences First Wave feminism is often at odds with Second and Third Wave Feminists such as Political/ Gender/ Radical, Social, Marxist, and Intersectional varieties of feminism [7, 9, 10, 13]. The root cause of this conflict stems from the interpretation of the term ‘equality’ [15] in which the two factions could be split into 1st Wave’s Individual ‘Opportunity Feminism,’ and 2nd and 3rd Wave’s Collective ‘Outcome Feminism.’ These two concepts are mutually exclusive and thus diametrically opposed to each other.

Due to this conflict and the concept that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ First Wave Feminist finds itself unconventionally allied with Anti-Feminists (who object to 2nd and 3rd Wave Feminist ideology). This is where the 2nd and 3rd Wave arguments of Not All Feminist’s Are Like That (NAFALT), and ‘if you believe in equality you are a feminist’ arise [0]. Many Anti-Feminists share ideology with 1st Wave Feminism, and could call themselves Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminists without any change to their beliefs if they chose too [0].

As First Wave Feminism fights for equality of the genders, and fights against inequality of either sex being disadvantage, Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) often find themselves campaigning for similar legal changes [0].

These allies conflate the 2nd and 3rd Wave Feminists to claim that 1st Wave Feminist is not ‘true’ feminism [0].

Name: Egalitarian Feminism (that’s us!)
Alternative names: EgaFem

Egalitarian Feminism has huge links with Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminism, agreeing with all the beliefs stated above, and accepting the same criticism.

However, what makes Egalitarian Feminism different is the belief that patriarchy (that men hold most of the resources and power) stems from the inequality of the value of the genders. EgaFem believes that male and female’s lives should be equally sacrosanct. Counter intuitively, legal and social changes need to be made to increase the value of men’s lives (reducing their disposability) to the same level of women.

EgaFem believes this will socially encourages women, empowering them to take increased risks, and gain the rewards (and failures) they currently don’t achieve. Thus, smashing the concept of patriarchy in which men earn the majority of the power and resources through risk taking.

Definition of Equality:

Equality of opportunity for the individual.

Gender is not purely a social construct, but is influenced by biology.

Root cause of problems:
The legal and social inequality of the value of male and female lives, which discourages women from taking risks and earning the rewards.


Blaise Wilson

Drew Roan

Egalitarian Feminism was created as a direct backlash to Radical and Intersectional Feminism’s attempts to silence their opposition through legal changes, such as the EU’s Framework for the Promotion of Tolerance [16], which names Anti-Feminism as illegal. The initial idea was born from the realisation that ‘equality’ had multiple definitions, and that 1st Wave Feminism can not only fight against 2nd and 3rd Wave Feminism, but also actively helps victims.

See Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminism.

An additional criticism of EgaFem is they appear to fight more for men’s rights than women’s and thus is not a women’s equality movement [0].

Allies and enemies:
See Libertarian/ Choice/ Individualist/ Freedom/ Equality Feminism.


[0] Author’s assertion.


  1. Your entire body of work doesn't include Anarcho feminism, which as an anarchist disappoints me, I can recommend starting with Emma Goldman on Wikipedia, specially her criticism of first wave feminism should be included in this article.

    Anarchism has been a heavy driving undercurrent of modern feminist tactics (direct democracy - protesting, sex worker unions; early proponents of contraception).

    Thanks for reading Blaise, keep up the good work.

    1. There are covered on this page, I hope I did it justice:

    2. Sorry for the late reply, almost didn't notice you had moved it to the "other" section, might be worth noting that they were somewhat apathetically opposed to the woman's suffrage movement, as most anarchist think voting is pretty futile endeavour to begin with.

      Thanks for adding a section though!