There are numerous reasons for a libertarian to reject feminism, and I may not get to all of them this month, but one thing that should rub most libertarians the wrong way is the Kafka-like inability of a well-meaning agent to be confident he has behaved justly under the arbitrary and unpredictable (not to mention never-clearly-stated) moral rules of feminism.
If you tell a woman she looks better in dresses than in pants, have you “coerced” her without using physical force? Is this contingent on whether nine out of ten other males told her the same thing? Who the hell knows. You just have to sit there waiting for feminists to pass judgment. I don’t think most people of a libertarian bent would consider even the harshest of wine or theatre critics in any meaningful sense coercive (freedom means experiment and feedback, speech and critical response, as Virginia Postrel says). Yet expressing biologically- or for that matter historically-rooted gender-related aesthetic preferences is somehow akin to truncheon-wielding, surprisingly enough.
Is fashion evil? Cosmetics? Male-dominated sports? They can always get you for something, and you just have to wait and see when the Sword of Damocles descends — and possibly even apologize afterwards for using violent imagery involving swords. Uh, I mean, unless feminists claim this week that “women like swords just as much as men.” (Then again, Swords of Damocles may be considered laughable Freudian castration imagery this week…or, on the other hand, is this one of those weeks when it’s considered laughably paranoid to think people still talk about Freudianism and deconstruction and semiotics? Be careful.)
Similarly, I gather that in these porny, Third-Wave-feminist times, we’re now supposed to think strippers are oppressive when they’re hot, busty blondes but non-oppressive when they’re tattooed lesbians with bisexual friends in the audience who find Weimar kitschy. I’m not joking. I guess the Third Wave-type feminists can send a memo when they decide all this for sure. In the interim, shamed and guilt-wracked, we can only await their verdicts. (Or not. Actually, I’m going with…not.)