Freedom Philosophy: On Sexual Assault

A few years ago I was dating a girl who woke us both up one night when she started screaming from a nightmare she was having. She was evasive over it but when it happened repeatedly she opened up about having been sexually assaulted.

I was dumbfounded, angry, in shock, and vengeful.

I didn’t think that commonly happened. Enough of our common friends heard of the incident and told us of similar stories (mostly women, but a few men as well), and for the most part they weren’t known for grandstanding or fairy tales.

I was then told that we live in a rape culture. I didn’t believe that either. I spent most of my adult life being skeptical of the claim until saw this meme going around libertarian circles:

Evidently, a significant portion within our ranks can’t tell the difference between Miley Cyrus consensually signaling for fans to touch her genitals and Donald Trump not asking for permission to do it.

This is about the time when the alt-right will get triggered and completely miss my point; they’ll tell me Hillary Clinton did far worse. Which, she did – but the fact that her political supporters overlooked her brutality is precisely the attitude that I’m attacking within the alt-right, they overlook Trump’s unannounced inspections of women’s changing rooms on the grounds that it’s not as severe.

I believe it’s severe enough for us to start speaking out against it.

Something has gone terribly wrong when significant portions of our ranks are unable to distinguish between actions with consent and actions without consent.

There are libertarian solutions to the problem at hand.

A criminal justice system that stresses individual responsibility is paramount. Instances like the Brock Turner case, in which the judge diminished his wrongdoing by dismissing it as 20 minutes of action are unacceptable given the nature of the aggression.

Libertarians also believe that women have the right to defend themselves.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that determined self-defense and resistance tactics reduced sexual assault by 50%. There’s no higher gender equality in terms of self-defense than gun ownership.

All of this puts the burden on potential victims rather than aggressors, which amounts to little more than a band-aid solution. I believe the #MeToo campaign is an organic movement, done independently of the state, to raise awareness and alert potential aggressors of the real trauma that can result from their assaults.

Theo Wilson, a Black Lives Matter advocate, recently went undercover as a white supremacist on online forums. What he found was that the white supremacists were upset over the fact feminists and critical race theorists criticizing them for being male and white – not wanting to be hated for their race was something he could relate to and wanted to open up a serious dialogue with them to end the hate.

When those who advocate against sexual violence mockingly use hash tags like #butnotallmen, and blame an entire gender it causes divisions rather than builds bridges.

As from the fact that it’s guilty of the logical and ethical fallacy of saying what’s true of the part is true of the whole, it’s counterproductive.

With our philosophy of individualism, non-aggression, self-defense, and freedom, we can be at the forefront of this conversation, at the forefront of the bridge-building.

Liberty matters and ideas that contravene it are false.

Sexual assault isn’t liberty; we should be engaging with what’s contributing to it.

This post was written by Brandon Kirby.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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Brandon Kirby

Brandon Kirby is a philosopher, financial adviser, a founder of a local investment club, and he hosts regular symposiums in philosophy. He is also a member of Canada’s Libertarian Party.

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