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This is a transcription of the Susan Easton’s talk at the ISIL 2013 World Conference.
Transcription edited by Kenli S.
I’m very amused to see I was assigned the Sunday sermon slot, given my degree in theology. So I begin by reading from the gospel of President Ronald Regan and one of his most famous sayings, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help!”
Sometimes, governments do nothing, which from a libertarian standpoint, is not always a bad thing but alas for us, too often governments do something and these things tend to be in forms of invasions of our personal liberties from the cradle to the grave.
I personally remember being enticed by the siren song of feminism back in the seventies and Betty Friedan by that time had written a book which was published in 1963 and it was called The Feminine Mystique. Betty Friedan had done interviews with a couple of hundred women or more, and all of a sudden they were telling her that they were so unhappy being wives and mothers, they were frustrated because they couldn’t have careers and “have it all”, as the phrase became known.
So this movement began and so many women entered the work force in America all at once that several sociologists and commentators said that this was one of the greatest phenomena of the twentieth century in America.
Later on when I did write a book about it, I tried to pitch the title Fem-nomenan. I was told the title was too much like a word you made up to sell a book. Which I thought was interesting.
Twenty years later I did write a book Equal to the Task, I had two cohorts on the project, Joan Mills was a woman who did executive recruiting, she said I spend half my day talking to corporations who think they want to or need to hire women and the other half of the time talking to women who think they want to work for corporations, and there’s something that’s not jiving. So I’m not a writer but I think there’s a book in there so I agreed to write the book with her and she did all the interviews.
We also took the position that men were equal victims of cultural change. Sort of took the Margaret Mead approach. We were kind of shunned by the women in the business world in the San Francisco because we were talking to the enemy, that’s how crazy it was back then. Not sure it’s changed all that much now.
So we made this book proposal up and our agent circulated it in New York and it was purchased within two weeks by Seaview books which then was a solely owned subsidiary of Playboy enterprises and my theory was that they wanted to prove by buying this book that they were interested in all kinds of working women.
Equal rights for women have been a battle cry for woman’s liberation movement and I stress that, Woman’s Liberation. Yet almost as soon as the battle started, events took a very hard bureaucratic turn to the left, so women were not making progress in climbing the corporate ladder fast enough in their minds and there were also problems getting into law schools and medical schools.
Women decided they’d turn to the government for help and they established all these affirmative action programs and equal opportunity programs so quotas were instituted, and because of that a whole group of consulting companies were born, all of which ran to the government and said we will make sure all the corporations follow all your guidelines and hire enough women and minorities. There became this huge kind of symbiotic network of people and of course what happened is the corporations who were trying to make a profit and produce products were suddenly besieged by all these legal requirements to hire enough women and force them in the door.
After the story we just heard, it seems kind of sad to think of all these women back in the seventies and eighties wanting equal rights and they felt their human rights have been unjustly harmed so I call that a faux-human rights campaign that got heavily seasoned with what became known as victimology syndrome.
There was a whole new bureaucracy that had to be formed, the equal opportunities employment commission, and it was of course paid for by the taxpayers. So women were getting jobs to pay taxes to create bureaucracy, bureaucracies were hiring consultants to really make life miserable for corporations and it just was not a very happy situation.
What I think is ironic about that; is that here were women that want to be liberated for the patriarchy to get out from under the system where the men ruled the world. They ended up creating a system where they turn to “big father” government, that’s what I like to call it, that gave the government even more permission to interfere in the lives of women and their families. At this point and time we have so many governments agencies and so many different rules that dictate that it’s grown exponentially and I think it came from the fact that women overtly gave governments permission to run all the parts of their lives.
The question always comes up, why do so many women turn to progressive or statism viewpoints, world views. There have been some studies about that. It’s all pretty obvious, women avoid confrontation on the whole. It’s very rare that women actually confront things and so having a big government take care of you, give you the safety nets, and be your “champion” and do things for you, it is an easier way to get along in the world. Women are sociable creatures, they’re the nesters of the world so they like the idea of socialism. They are also the caregivers of their families, so that’s also a quality of nesting.
That didn’t really work all that well in corporate world. We use to call that hair ribbons in the races. They were trying to get to the top of the corporate ladder but they kept trying to wear the hair ribbons as well and try to be feminine and there were whole debates about fashion and how long you should wear your skirts and all the sexist things that came up; then the hypersensitivity in reporting men for just making a joke, and creating all sorts of problems within the corporations.
What ended up happening is I think feminism actually a collectivist movement and that of course aligned itself with the progressive or left-wing parties in America.
Also, sadly enough when we talked to women in corporate America, not a whole lot of them understood free market economics. Here they were going into corporations that were trying to produce something and the women just didn’t understand because that was not something they were taught or encouraged to learn.
My father was different. When I was a little girl I firmly remember him telling me that if I didn’t learn about economics I might as well just die. Little on the other side of things but that was dad.
On Thursday, my colleague, Cris Lingle talked about big food production giveaway program in India that was started up before one of the election campaigns. That made me think of all these programs that women became involved in, one of which was called, the government program of The War on Poverty.
Recently a woman named Star Parker wrote a book, and only an African-American woman could have gotten away with this title, “Uncle Sam’s Plantation.” It was her exposé on how the primarily democratic party had continued all these programs and it actually made women more dependent.
Now Star was a drug addicted, welfare recipient herself who turned her life around and started an organisation called CURE, which I will talk a tiny bit about later, but her whole purpose with CURE is to get women off of the addiction to government and welfare dependency.
The problem with welfare dependency has reach epidemic proportions in the last five years. Lyndon Johnson, president after JFK was assassinated, declared this war on poverty and ironically back in the mid 1960’s, the poverty level in the US had fallen a staggering 3.4% just in five years time between 1959-1964. So it was just under 19% poverty level in the US which still is not all that great, but this just goes to prove one of my laws of life, and that is that good news never stops a politician from leaving well enough alone.
As part of the war on poverty, they started something called the food stamp program. Originally they were little paper books that you could tear out when you went to the grocery store, hand them to the clerk at the checkout counter and you would get discounts or some of the food would be subsidised.
At the start of that program, there were 2.8 million families using these food stamps. Now, believe it or not, in 2012 there were 47 million families in America receiving food stamp or supplement cards and that’s one out of every seven households in America that are on food stamps.
Now, obviously this means the war on poverty was a bit of a failure, but that’s nothing new in the political world and it’s gotten even worse, because now the Obama administration has started running television advertisements on Hispanic television stations encouraging people, including illegal aliens, to sign up for the food stamp program. I mean they are actually using our tax dollars to advertise to get more people on welfare. It’s just an amazing concept. When people say “can you do that,” yes you can. Apparently so.
The food stamp program itself is very ironic if you think about it as well. Food stamps can be used not to just by food, which you would hopefully think would be healthy things but no, they can also be used to buy fizzy drinks, sodas, junk food and so on. So Mrs. Obama’s vegetable patch in the White house garden, may be good for her daughters but the rest of the poverty stricken people in American and not so poverty stricken of course like any system, it gets gamed and use the program and take the benefits and enjoy life as much as they can.
So recently one of the conservative politicians decided he wanted to amend the food stamp program so that you can’t use them to buy fizzy drinks and potato chips and he was dumped on big time by the soft drink, cookie and potato chip manufacturers who make billions of dollars every year in their companies by having food stamps cover their products; so now you can see that there is all this unhealthy food being consumed and all these poor people who are having terrible health problems which of course one of the reasons why we need Obamacare. It’s a vicious circle.
There are countless other examples, I didn’t want to be an Amero-centric speaker so I went out and looked at some other cases in other countries of what is happening between governments and women. What I find again and again is saddening.
In the states right now, the democrat or left-wing leading party has to continuously beat this drum that says republicans, or the conservative party wants to have this war on women and mostly they center it around the abortion issue. But every day, I started a Google Alert, “war on women”, I must get three or four articles every day in Google alerts about the republicans have done this in the war and they are always persecuting women. People just don’t really analyse and deconstruct this whole charge and it’s gotten to be absurd.
Here are some of the other things that is happening to women around the world. In Turkey, the government has unveiled, pun intended, tough new prison sentences for women who have abortions. Prime Minister Erdogan is on record as labelling abortion as murder. Despite protests, since abortions have long been allowed early in pregnancies in Turkey, any women now who has an abortion after the tenth week of her pregnancy faces a three year jail term. So when I hear these war on women things here in the states, I look at that, and I think that’s a little bit more of a war on women.
In India, if a woman knows that she is going to have a boy baby, she will receive better natal care during her pregnancy because the Indian government, even though its outlawed tests to determine the gender of the baby realises—and they’ve installed tough penalties for founding out the gender of the baby ahead of time—they don’t have any way of stopping another country from sending gender determining tests into India. So that’s how the parents learn that it’s a boy and the wife will receive better prenatal care.
This practice of getting pregnancy tests to determine the gender is also very common in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China. Now if you add this to the Chinese government’s one child per family policy, you can understand that you have a recipe for demographic disaster. There are too many men and not enough women. So one of the things that is being discussed is whether or not the Chinese government should investigate having a favourable stance on polygamy so that all these women can be married to a single man then you wouldn’t have all these unmarried women running around.
The government of Morocco is probably a good place to start on getting consulting advice, because Morocco is now considering the legitimisation of polygamous marriages.
Also in the Middle East, we all know that educating Muslim women can be hazardous to their health. We have all heard the story Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen year old Muslim girl, Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by members of the Taliban on her way to school. Her miraculous recovery and bravery are becoming a legendary story. She went from bleeding on a school bus to a within a year addressing the United Nations about what was happening to young women in Muslim countries who wanted to be educated. There have been other instances where smoke bombs and other things have been done to the schools that are educating women.
In Saudi Arabia, although they still are not allowed to drive, Saudi women can work under Sharia law. So, the Saudi government decided that because they didn’t want women and men interacting they built an exclusive city, literally an industrial city where women are allowed to work, and they are building a second city right now because this is such a popular system. The name of the group that is in charge of this is the Saudi Industrial Property Authority and the question is were they referring to the property on which the city is built or where they referring to the women as the property?
Anyway, there also has been progressions in freedoms for Muslim women and in other territories that you wouldn’t think of at the top of your heads. Muslim women are now allowed to wear a special kind of nail polish. They had to actually invent a kind of nail polish that followed Sharia law and proscriptions as to what you could put on your body.
On a more serious note, female genital mutilation has declined somewhat in the Middle East and in Africa because there have been groups going around teaching about the dangers of it, the infections, the long term effects on the ability of women to have children. Sadly, London, has now been declared the European capital for female genital mutilation.
Once again the British government realises it can’t do anything, it’s impossible to legislate against it. It’s done kind of in private and within the communities. So they didn’t want to appear to be doing nothing, so what they did was pledged £35 million toward the global eradication of female genitalia mutilation and they are delivering this money through international aid agencies.
The United Kingdom seems to be building up quite a track record in things they cannot fix with legislation. They realise that thousands of young girls are taken out of the country every year. In one city alone, I wrote about a couple years ago 2,500 young women just disappeared from the educational system just in the city of Bradford and most of them have been taken off for arranged marriages.
Once again, as I said, the British government couldn’t do anything about it, you can’t legislate against that cultural practice, but they wanted to try so that so they started something under the government that is called the Forced Marriage Unit and they tried to deal with this problem but there’s not much they can do but go around to the schools and try to have community outreach programs and explain why forced marriages are not really a civilised thing to do to young people if you’re living in the country.
So now the girls themselves have started an underground system of passing along the information. They’ve come up with a way to avoid being taken out of the country. They tell their sisters, put two spoons in your clothing so when you’re at the airport and you go through the metal detectors, they go off and you’re taken aside, you’re separated from your parents and taken into side rooms to be questioned and that’s when you can ask for political asylum. The girls have figured out the spoon system, and it seems to work.
Just to show you how absolutely insane this is, the end of the spectrum insanity for me, Muslim men who apply to enter into British society into the United Kingdom, are allowed if they are already married to them, to bring up to four of their wives and all of them as soon as they arrive are put on to the National Health Service. One of the benefits they are allowed to apply for is if you know you are going to be getting married and it’s very important in the Islamic world to be a virgin when you get married, there is a surgery that can be performed, which actually creates an artificial hymen so that on your wedding night your husband thinks on his wedding night that he is having sex with a virgin and the National Health Service is now actually covering that as one of the procedures. So the taxpayers are paying for artificial hymens.
To see how easily women can still get confused about their role vis-a-vis the government. In the Ukraine, there’s a group called Femen and they take of their clothing and have bare-breasted protests which obviously get a lot of press attention. Soon after they began holding these bare-breasted protests, they started to be assaulted and hit on by men; I mean obviously it seemed like a great invitation to the men. So here are these women, they are protesting against the government, who has filed criminal charges against the group and is trying to put them in jail for unacceptable public behaviour, and when the women start getting harassed by men, they turn to the government to ask to be protected by the government they were protesting against.
One of my cultural heroines is a professor, author, essayist an avowed libertarian (and lesbian), Camille Paglia and a few days ago, I came across a quote that she made, “I’m a Feminist, now what?” The interviewer said, how do you feel about feminism? She said, “Feminism, is it still alive? Thanks for the tip.” It sure is invisible accept for the random whining of some male educated products of the elite schools who found plush jobs in glossy magazines.
The leadership vacuum among women is alarming, it’s very distressing. For example, the atrocities against women in India, the shocking series of gang rapes which never seem to end, have not been aggressively condemned in a sustained way by any feminist organisations in the US. “I want to hear”, she said, “someone going crazy about it in the media and not letting up, day after day, week after week. The true mission of feminism today is not to harp about the woes of the fluent western career women, but to turn the spotlight on the life and death issues, affecting the women in the third world, particularly in rural areas where they have little protection against exploitation and injustice.”
I couldn’t agree more. On our first day here together, Professor Lark asked us to look at how we talked about how we looked at libertarian beliefs and views to other people and I wanted to focus just on how to talk to women about being libertarians and get them to realise that they are libertarians.
When I moved to San Francisco in 1975 as Christian said, I joined a group of twelve; I was the 13th member of women entrepreneurs. I was asked by our landlady who said, “I joined a group of women entrepreneurs, there are twelve of us and if you join and vote for me, I’ll be elected the group’s first president.” I said the technical problem is I don’t really own a business. She said, give me five hundred dollars and you can run the mail-order division of my gift shop.
So I gave her a check for five hundred dollars and went to the first meeting, became a member of Women Entrepreneurs. We held the election, she lost and quit the organisation and never came back. I stayed in the group; I was new in town, thought having twelve friends was better than nothing. I started the groups newsletter which was called Perspectives which I printed the copies myself, I handed them out to the members and I said I want you all to go out into the community, find other women business owners hand out these newsletters and we’ll see how well we can do in increasing the membership.
By the end of that year we had 70 members, so we went from 13 to 70 in twelve months and at that point I was elected the group’s second president, which really ticked off the landlady, so we had to move. By the end of my first term in office we had 370 members. We became statistically the largest group of women business owners in the United States.
It was an amazing adventure and by that time I did so well making a little newsletter for a little group maybe I should do a national newsletter. So I did my research and discovered there already was one. It was called Enterprising Women. It was based in New York and I thought shucks the New York business woman would be very hard-hearted and very tough to deal with but it turned out that Eva was so welcoming and said “I knew you were out there somewhere” and we became fast friends and she said “I think I want you to be my west coast business partner and manage Enterprising Women out west. We’re having Women in Business Week in New York. I had this vision of it and it starts in two weeks so get on an airplane and come to New York.”
So I got off the plane on a Sunday night, got dressed and went to the hotel where the first events were being held and met Eva. We shook hands, we hugged and said hello and I turned around and there was the Mayor at the time, Abe Beam and Eva said “Mayor Beam, this is my west coast business partner, Sue Easton.” Oh hi! It was just an amazing week.
We did actually get off the ground awfully quickly at that point because President Carter started a task force on womens business ownership. He actually did a good thing and that might have been the only one. And why was he focused on that? Because in 1976, for the first time, the US Census Bureau reported on the number of women business owners in America and the number so staggered the New York Times ran the story on the front page of the Sunday New York Times, right in the center. 250,000 women own business in America. This is mind blowing to the general public apparently. And last year, when they took the same count, there were 8 million women-owned business in America.
Now I mention this because if there is ever an audience that should be receptive to libertarianism, women entrepreneurs should be number one on the list and the reason of course is that because they understand the insanity of taxation and applying for licenses and having to follow all the crazy regulations that governments can throw up in your path.
Now that they have Obamacare to deal with, a lot of companies are reducing the amount of hours an employee can work to thirty, because after thirty hours per week a different section of Obamacare kicks in. So now they have all these women that are trying to make a living being employees and their having their hours reduced and therefore their salaries reduced because another government program is being put in place.
My advice to any of you is when you go out and have a conference like this one or any other, try to find as many women business owners as you can and invite them to come and understand what libertarianism is about, because I guarantee you, those three hundred and seventy women in the group when I was running it, Women Entrepreneurs, became libertarians largely.
Jim Elwood probably knows because he lives in San Francisco. They’re all over the place and we had outreach programs and we mentored one another. Was really an amazing process.
I love this slide, “never underestimate the power of an extremely pissed off woman.”
There are so many women I’ve also met along the way who decided not to go the corporate route, not to own their own business but to face the problems that they saw in society and they created all kinds of independent institutes, one of them is called The Independent Institute, Mary Theroux and her husband David co-founded that one, it’s in Oakland, California.
They are now considered one of the top fifty think tanks in the US and whenever they have programs on—recently as they did on spying and invasions of our privacy—it was covered by a national television network called CSPAN, which is all government programming. Also on weekends they have BookTV and they interview a lot of libertarian authors, CSPAN also came as it always does to Freedom Fest in July, in Las Vegas, where there were 2,500 attendees this time around and they covered a lot of the sessions and interviewed a lot of the libertarian authors.
Another one that I just learned about, I met Christi Hegranes, she runs the Global Press Institute. She went out to women in 26 countries, mostly developing countries, and she has come up with a program to encourage women to be reporters on the ground in their own communities.
She’s developing her own flock of foreign correspondents on the ground but they’re not foreign they’re actually living in the countries they’re reporting on. She’s created a separate platform so they get paid. She’s got syndication in place now, so here are all these women who didn’t think of themselves as journalists, learning how to write articles, turning them over to Christi and she distributes them through her syndication platform and they make money. So she’s actually empowered all these women to be reporters.
She’s also based in San Francisco. I mean we are the world’s largest outdoor lunatic asylum, but there are lots of interesting people you can meet there. I mentioned earlier, CURE, Star Parker’s group, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, and her goal is to create public policy to fight poverty and she advocates for social policies to get women especially away from government dependency.
Here in Europe, we have the Hayek Institute, in Germany; Barbara Kolm is the general secretary. It’s an Austrian Economics organisation. Over the summer months, Barbara organises what she calls the Free Market Road show. She gets a whole bunch of economists together and they travel from country to country, especially in former communist blah countries, and literally holds free market seminars. They are very popular and they get a lot of good press so our message of libertarianism is getting spread.
My brief conclusions are, feminism was supposed to be a movement of woman towards liberation, but ended up being co-opted by leftist/progressive elites. They do little to speak out against the problem of government dependency, because mostly their running the programs that create it. They don’t have great sensitivity, I mean, women are suppose to be the sensitive ones, they don’t seem to have the sensitivity to dreams and goals of women who really want to be liberated.
Governments themselves have created such diverse intrusive policies that it’s getting really crazy. They are getting so into micromanaging. I don’t know if you know, in New York, the current mayor in New York City, Mr. Bloomberg, and his giant empire, he’s just doing all sorts of crazy things. He’s limited the size of soda’s you can get at McDonalds to 16oz. He’s had people take salt and pepper shakers off the tables in restaurants. You have to ask for them because everyone knows salt is bad for you. He’s going after hospitals that give information or free samples of milk/formula to mothers of newborns because everybody knows they should be breastfed. So he actually has people going around to hospitals looking for those who are giving away free formula.
On a greater scale we have this environmental movement that has gotten these eco friendly light bulbs that look like whipped cream and they have mercury in them so if you’re a mother and you’ve got little kids and one of them knocks over a lamp and one of these light bulbs gets broken because of the mercury, it takes a half an hour, the equivalent of a half hour of hazmat cleanup to get all the pieces cleaned up so that your kids aren’t contaminated with mercury.
Of course, before these light bulbs were literally forced on people, they are taking all the incandescent bulbs off the market, and people been stock piling light bulbs in their garages now for a couple years as they phased out all over the country. One of things I’ve learned is that pretty much the same time that these hazmat light bulbs were put up for sale, somebody in just about every city put out a contract to do collection of the light bulbs so another government bureaucracy create the need for another crony capitalist system to clean up the light bulbs and dispose of them properly.
Libertarians should take every opportunity to remind governments, or rather government dependent women, who are also regulatory oppressed, that when “big father” makes unsustainable promises, economies collapse and the social order begins to fray and splinter and women are usually the ones that bear the brunt of the disintegration.
Without economic freedom, women have little hope of achieving self sufficiency and individual liberty. Progressive politicians continue to enact policies which are not free-market oriented and this continues to foster ever bigger government. Women entrepreneurs are most likely again to join the libertarian reformation because they understand how governments create these unnecessary obstacles to progress and growth.
So finally, I want everybody whether you’re a man or a woman to go forth especially after my title of Unprotected Government Intercourse, I found this t-shirt, which pardon the language says “I don’t need sex, the government f*cks me every day.” This is the libertarian battle cry now for women.
See more videos from the Lausanne Conference
This is a transcription of the Susan Easton’s talk at the ISIL 2013 World Conference.
Transcription edited by Kenli S.