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Individualist feminism

Individualist feminism, sometimes also grouped with libertarian feminism, is a term for feminist ideas which emphasize individualism.[1]


Individualist feminists attempt to change legal systems in order to eliminate class privileges and gender privileges and to ensure that individuals have equal rights, including an equal claim under the law to their own persons and property. Individualist feminism encourages women to take full responsibility for their own lives. It also opposes any government interference into the choices adults make with their own bodies because, it contends, such interference creates a coercive hierarchy (such as patriarchy).[2][3] One central theme of individualist feminism revolves around the Free Love Movement, which indicates that a woman's sexual choices should be made by her and her alone, rather than by government regulations.[4]

Individualist feminism was cast to appeal to "younger women ... of a more conservative generation"[5] and includes concepts from Rene Denfeld and Naomi Wolf, essentially that "feminism should no longer be about communal solutions to communal problems but individual solutions to individual problems",[5] and concepts from Wendy McElroy and especially Joan Kennedy Taylor.

The Association of Libertarian Feminists, founded in 1973 by Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian Party's Vice Presidential nominee in 1972, is one of a number of different kinds of individualist feminist organizations.[6] It takes a strong anti-government and pro-choice stand.[7][8] Other libertarian feminist organizations include Mothers for Liberty, the Mother's Institute, and the Ladies of Liberty Alliance.[citation needed]

Wendy McElroy and Christina Hoff Sommers define individualist feminism in opposition to what they call political or gender feminism.[9][10] Some scholars and critics have commented that the label "feminist" is often used cynically in this context, as a way to co-opt general feminism rather than actually be part of feminism.[11][12] Other scholars note that individualist feminism has a long history that is somewhat different in tone that currently advocated by McElroy and Sommers.[13]

See also




  1. ^ Association of Libertarian Feminists
  2. ^ McElroy, Wendy, ed. (2002). Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st century. Ivan R. Dee, Publisher. ISBN 978-1-56663-435-9. 
  3. ^ Reclaiming the Mainstream: Individualist Feminism Rediscovered (Prometheus, 1992) and What to Do When You Don't Want to Call the Cops: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Sexual Harassment by Joan Kennedy Taylor (New York University Press, 1999)
  4. ^ McElroy, Wendy. "Individualist Feminism: The Lost Tradition". FEE. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Siegel, Deborah, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 1st ed. 2007 (ISBN 978-1-4039-8204-9)), p. 123 and see pp. 122–124 & nn. 32–34 (author Ph.D., writer & consultant on women's issues, & fellow, Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership).
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ [3][dead link]
  9. ^ McElroy, Wendy (2002). Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st century. Ivan R. Dee, Publisher. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-56663-435-9. 
  10. ^ Sommers, Christina Hoff (1995). Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 320. ISBN 0-684-80156-6. 
  11. ^ NPR. Transcripts available here: [4]
  12. ^ The Washington Post "Sommers's book is a work of neither dispassionate social science nor reflective scholarship; it is a conservative polemic. Sommers focuses... on the feminists and cultural liberals against whom she has a long-standing animus... This intemperate book is a hindrance to such conversation."
  13. ^ Reclaiming the Mainstream: Individualist Feminism Rediscovered (Prometheus, 1992) by Joan Kennedy Taylor (New York University Press, 1999)

Further reading

External links