“You are not lady like.” — Mexican Marxist and former employer.
“YOU YOU YOU YOU KNOW YOU ARE NOT FEMININE!” — Canadian former child star, drunk, trying to navigate a stick shift while … drunk.
“Why do you work here if you hate men?” — Shit bag and strip club general manager.
“BITCH..BITCH..BITCH” — former LNC chair to colleague of my employer upon hearing my name.
“When I was watching [Maleficent], she totally reminded me of you…” — Economist.
“Look [Antiwar.com] hired you because…they like having an attractive girl around.” — Ex-husband.
I don’t hate men. Not even a little. My masculinity is in admiration for men and the contributions they make to the world. For most of my life, they made the overwhelming majority of friends. As with the #NotAll[fill in the blank], it should not need to be stated but everyone is a member of the goddamn PC police. Everyone. You too.
There are no problems with those quoted above who stated what any fool knows. I am not feminine. Don’t pretend to be. I don’t closely identify with women or as a woman. Not sure I have ever even said, “as a woman…” As for the other comments, that’s a shame.
My ex-husband said things like that all the time. He was very supportive. Without his ability to provide, how could I ever possibly have fed myself? Of course, referring to someone well past 30 as “girl” is awesome. I know because back in the 90s, Christina Hoff Sommers told us so. The kids have rediscovered her. Hopefully, next time they will take up off track betting.
Don’t fret. As with the Mexican Marxist, asshole sexism doesn’t need libertarianism or white men. Back when I was on the social networks, tankie dickweeds, faux-lefties and other cons would regularly explain the problems of the Kochs/Pauls/Libertarian Power Class to me. If only instead of engaging people who contribute nothing but grief, I should have found the gonads to write: “Go mansplain your pinko shit elsewhere, fuck face.”
In early 2013 I committed an outré act: I deleted my Facebook account. I had been an early adopter hence 5,000 “friends” which means 500 friends, co-workers and donors, from every libertarian regardless of sect and a few thousand leftists, hippies, Birchers, hard right nationalists, Burning Man freaks and assorted performing artists, tech geeks, gear heads and strippers. My actual artistic inclinations and hobbies unmentioned, for it was “Angela Keaton” who had the account.
The official reason was the presence of ex-husband and his allies. That allows everyone to nod sympathetically without doubting my sanity. After all, who is one if one is not reduced to an avatar? That is certainly the reason but it oversimplifies the difficulties of growing up, being educated and marrying into a small but influential U.S. based political cult.
When you have spent most of your life in an incestuous cesspool, short of leaving there is no confronting one’s abusers. The worst crime a libertarian woman can commit short of not being a doormat for the leadership is “causing drama.” Besides, I had only seen two extreme examples: One libertarian making it her life’s work to expose what one man did to her and her daughter. Another by all accounts became a recluse.
In 2007, Ron Paul, summoning the ghosts of Karl Hess and Murray Rothbard, made one last stab at the left/right coalition against imperialism, the police state and central banking. While the world didn’t change, libertarianism did. Youth, non-whites, queers, old leftists, and religious minorities empathized with the victims of war, occupation and torture; were tired of being beaten up by cops and had no faith in fiat currency. Inevitably, the make up of the libertarian movement changed within five years. Women, cis and trans, blogged, published, recorded, cop blocked, protested, organized events, ran for office, occupied the State of New Hampshire, innovated and developed digital currency, launched successful nonprofits, took control of their bodies via health freedom, studied Austrian economics, and soon dominated the grassroots of the libertarian movement. There isn’t now a single faction where there aren’t women whose time and talents we all depend upon and take for granted.
The leadership, like in any patriarchal machine, was unprepared for when women started talking about how freedom and liberty would change their lives.
In mid-September of 2012, I found my nads. You can read the previous entries at AngelaKeaton.com to find where they were located and how badly shriveled.
Once the immediate legal matters were tended to and I had created a new living arrangement for myself, my personality started to come back. This recovery (don’t call it “healing,” that’s psycho-babble. I didn’t have a mental state; I was a crime victim.) was not linear. It moved in fits and starts.
The first of many fits was to come.
When waking up in one of the hazes of deliriously happy post-captivity, libertarian Facebook was blowing up early one January morning the following year.
A pot of earl grey later, I began to examine the wreckage and peeked at the calendar: The quadrennial “Why aren’t there more women in libertarianism?” circle jerk took place. Apparently, some hippyish young woman boldly indifferent to her speech impediment made a video criticizing consumerism and screwing around. Another young woman with a southern accent made a video in response celebrating consumerism and screwing around. In a normal political movement, they’d be praised for taking initiative, speaking on their own behalf and everyone would be grateful for a diversity of women’s points of views.
But we are talking about the libertarians. They can’t imagine one woman having thoughts let alone two different ones having two different thoughts. Like they are individuals or something.
Never mind. Before anyone could figure out what the hell had happened Steve Horwitz planted a cosmo flag in the ancap and Tom Woods took the hippie — guess he didn’t see the menses-centered performance art coming — then hijacked the conversation for the 23,423th debate on whether the right wing jackasses at Cato are better than the right wing jackasses at Mises. Get your priorities straight: There is nothing more important to the future of freedom than knowing where elderly cronies of the deposed Edward Crane and the late Burt Blumert stand on your twat.
My first thought was “Why aren’t there more libertarian women?? Women can’t even be allowed to speak unless such speech is contexualized through some 30 year old feud, given official sanction by movement hall monitors, and the speakers shoved through a witch trial via ‘likes’.”
Ok, that wasn’t my first thought. It was why is George Costanza arguing with himself about hand bags.
I suppose I am a cis woman. The whole woman thing is something of a mystery to me. I think about feminism because my brain works not because I am forced to check a particular box. I unequivocally support the rights of sex workers as only criminals and fascists would dare regulate the most private of bodily and familial matters. Sympathizing with trans women comes naturally because gender feels like a prison, sex a trap and if generalizations are still allowed in public, trans women tend to be non-conformist which in 2016, A.D. is a rare feat.
A thing of great beauty was Caitlyn Jenner when she announced her devotion to Christ and the Constitution. Couldn’t give a flip about Jesus or George Washington but if white liberals in DC are made uneasy by her presence, I salute her and her attempts to bring back wrap dresses.
I was going somewhere with this until Mittelschmerz: It taps just to stage right of my navel. A Morse code demanding that I stop everything and do something about that egg. My maternal instincts have long passed or they have transmogrified into my interest in seeing all the women in the libertarian movement freed not only from the state but the judgment of men who cannot imagine them as independent entities, competent, capable and complete with fully articulated inner lives.
Before I came into my own — an autonomous, evolved, self actualized human — over the past few years, libertarian men kicked me in the face in three ways.
First, by bombarding me with their unwanted sexual attention in exchange for almost nothing; Secondly, lecturing me about “my sexuality” by telegraphing their hatred toward independent women in the movement. Thirdly, when the first two failed, threats and sanctions were made against me and my work.
Let’s examine each of my claims:
Why are you telling me this?
It’s a question I have learned to ask myself about all men who haven’t demonstrated friendship or created some value for me. Nothing personal. I have just have had too many encounters with men posing as friends while they jerked themselves off. Men demanding sex based on nothing more than platonic group encounters. One libertarian visited my Austin apartment on the pretext of buying some furniture of mine. He then sat down and told me he was to “woo thee to be (his) lover.”
If there is anything that makes my crotch dryer than the unironic use of the term lover, it would be Quaker sex talk. (Sound the “Keaton’s bigoted against the Friends Committee” alarm.) When I told our peacenik that he needed to leave, he later told one of my colleagues I was a “cunt.”
There were many men, famous names and not, in the movement who hate me, gossiped about me, and openly resent me for not wishing to take their penis inside of me as if I owe anyone a free fuck.
Next: the hectoring me about my “sexuality” (what a dismal term). Now here is where we tread into the thicket. The first form included comments on the way I dress for formal libertarian events. In contrast to my proud butch identity which I leave at home, my professional wardrobe is adult, appropriate, and conventionally feminine. This wasn’t enough however for those in power for comments felt entirely entitled to make about my breasts (too small, too big, should be hidden, the reason for my success.) Could you imagine a discussion where the penis size of the Austrians (still mostly men) was a matter for “human resources?”
When the breast discussions made no impact whatsoever, leadership in the Libertarian Party, especially in California, would make it an issue that in 2003, I posed for cheese cake shots. Can’t remember all the details other than it was enough for two months rent and the photographer lent me several gay pulp porn novellas. The matter which came into to question is whether I was a serious enough to be in an official party capacity because there were some photos of me in positions that wouldn’t make anyone so much as blush unless they had lived in an isolated lean-to in one of those rural outbacks in West Virginia that aren’t aware the 1850s happened
Not content with such nastiness, they doubled down. Some “allies” began to praise me for my being a pioneer in polyamory and open marriages though I have never in my entire career ever discussed either of those topics in public. What in god’s name makes anyone in the libertarian movement think a women who refused to lose her virginity until she was 23 and married the first man with whom she had sex is a modern on these matters? Jesus Christ, all of you: There is nothing controversial, groundbreaking or daring about believing that people should not be beaten and locked in cages for consensual sexual behavior. That’s the same position that nearly everyone who ever wrote for Lew Rockwell holds. It’s the position that any civilized human being would see as self-evident.
But that isn’t why men said that.
Men have thought it completely appropriate in their professional capacity to refer to well known accomplished women all of whom are openly critics of feminism, both paleo and cosmo as “cunts”, “bitches” and in one case “drama queen” because one had the temerity to object to TSA agents fingering her. I have heard numerous times about the lust a well-regarded author who has a Ph.D in biophysics inspires in men numerous times as being a key factor in why she should have been the nominee for a prominent public office. Not to mention the endless list of libertarian women pronounced as crazy because they do not tolerate the harassment which men consider innocuous.
Why would men in power tell me that?
To make me unambiguously understand, that no matter how deep my right-libertarian-paleo objectivism, if I step out of my place as a twat with opposable thumbs, I too would be reduced to the status of a hole.
That’s when they didn’t directly go to explicit threats. I was told that I had fallen out of favor with the definition of movement mediocrity, Jim Lark. I needed to check myself. It wasn’t just leadership however. The teenybopper who set up the coffee and donuts for the LNC meeting, Austin Petersen was his name, told me I needed to learn to flirt, wink and smile more with the men.
Come here, kid. Listen carefully: I started working with architectural plans when I was six. When I was in my teens I read Maimonides and Aquinas between tennis and piano. I ghost wrote a book on voting rights in exchange for grants at 23 — a year after I graduated law school where I edited a public policy journal. I under no circumstances ever need to prove to my value by winking, Toots.
Cathy Reisenwitz, a southern belle replete with proper hair and when I met her, pearls. Of course, she wears pearls. Though it is others who are clutching them.
Ms. Reisenwitz, who primarily writes on a number of wonkish subjects, occasionally, like so many great men and women artists before her, writes about her sexual adventures. If the movement had people who were even marginally culturally literate, anyone would recognize in her style a wide range of writers from Susie Bright to Erica Jong to Simone de Beauvoir.
Clearly someone who can’t be corralled, she escaped the decaying remains of the Kochtopus to become a force of her own, writing on topics well outside the scope of mere libertarianism.
This is unacceptable to someone in power and many many scores of movement dregs. We know this because of the amount of effort which is expended to demean, mock, and insult her in the most intimate ways one can. Intellectuals are supposed to be wide-ranging (e.g., Murray Rothbard, anyone?) and challenging in their thoughts but don’t let that stop the libertarians from attacking her.
Miss Reisenwitz is not the only target.
The underlying women hate goes deeper for only in metaphorical Libertopia would a woman who reaches conservatives with her videos against the death penalty, takes on under-reported reductions on freedom like breed-specific legislation, a recognition of her own marginalization (“TokenLibertarianGirl,”) and utter disregard for vanity and decorum while deploying slapstick against ideological tropes would be considered a reactionary. Julie Borowski has opinions and preferences for which she asked no one’s permission. Burn this witch.
I clenched my jaw whenever Ms. Borowski, a former policy analyst with Freedom Works, was described as awkward when she is clearly confident and poised; her slight impediment mocked as if the American public hadn’t tolerated William F. Buckley stuttering his rationalizations for fascism for five decades; and written off as a prude for wishing not to be subjected to sexualization without her consent.
The recent dismissing of her substantial concerns about being reduced to masturbatory fantasies, the endless judgments by strangers about her physical appearance as if is had any bearing on her ideas and her fears that her she is not seen as a an individual are what all women who dare not know their place, face.
“Being a woman in the liberty movement is weird.” — Julie Borowski
I’m well aware, lady. I have an entire blog about it.
The ability to manage ambiguity and anxiety is the lot of an artist. Though the juggling act is more complicated when sex is thrown into the mix. In a different time in my life, at this start of this blog in 2004, I would have been annoyed at the stream of “Libertarian It Girls” spouting breasts and bromides without substance to back it up. I didn’t like to mix stripping with my scholarly pursuits and rarely made it a point to discuss that work with anyone outside the business. That was what was best for me as an individual. I have no idea yet what that means if anything for other women. Twelve years later, I have the benefit of not merely surviving but thriving and creating my own sphere of influence despite of any obstacles and at a time before anyone discussed “intersectionality” or frank public debates about sexual harassment without the jargon that weighed them down in the 90s.
My thinking on these topics has both deepened and broadened to understand what feminism means independently of both libertarianism and the movement. Which is why I refuse to allow my feminism to be bogged down in sectarianism or factions fights or be employed to pit women against each other.
People who recognize and respect individuality can see the virtues and talents of both Reisenwitz and Borowski. That means the ability to see women as human beings. For those who wish it to be a cat fight, a foul term, it doesn’t matter whether they favor one or the other for at the worst estimations is how they see all women. No one hounds Gary North, Ron Paul, Bryan Caplan, Jordan Page or Ben Swann over the clear evidence of their fecundity; No one concern trolls Starchild over his promiscuity. No one makes Gary Johnson’s “fuckability” a factor of whether he should be the LP presidential nominee.
Two different sub cultures shrug when Brian Doherty uses his creepy uncle appeal to summon Aleister Crowley. Bob Murphy made an entire video with his breasts displayed in their full glory without any doubting his ability to critique Obama Care. Justin Raimondo can josh about his internet hookups without the sanctity of his near twenty year relationship with his younger live-in boyfriend questioned. It’s a lovable movement gag that Jeff Berwick passes his penis around like the pipe at the Antiwar.com compound and still be asked his opinion on world markets.
Tibor Machan wrote an entire memoir about his dick.
Of course he did, he’s a man.
People looking for trouble will take my words out of context. Steve Horwitz and Tom Woods provide more value to the movement every day than I do in a month. They don’t need my respect but they have it — that debate three years ago wasn’t about them and their framing of it made it impossible for women who experience the harassment and shame to get a word in edgewise and damned both Reisenwitz and Borowski to be viewed as objects to be scrutinized by those less gifted.
At midlife, I don’t give a damn what men think about women. I know what they think. And they think it about all the women in the movement regardless of faction or whether she identifies as feminist or not.
The Madonna/Whore dichotomy doesn’t exist for the benefit of women. For no matter how sexually chaste I was, it was never enough for the misogynists. My forays into topless dancing only convinced the obtuse that I was open to their overtures. It’s game I can’t win. So I just stopped playing.
Proofing by D.S., Photos by Judd Weiss, Meme by CC.