Child attacked the very idea that one man could own another and in so doing enunciated the heart of libertarianism. “The personal liberty of one man can never be the property of another,” she wrote. “In slavery there is no mutual agreement; for in that case, it would not be slavery. The negro has no voice in the matter—no alternative presented to him—no bargain is made. The beginning of his bondage is the triumph of power over weakness…One man may as well claim an exclusive right to the air another man breathes, as to the possession of his limbs and faculties. Personal freedom is the birthright of every human being.”
These are the words of Lydia Maria Childs, as remembered in a nice article by those folk at The Skeptical Libertarian.
There has been something of a kerfuffle recently – over at the Bleeding Heart Libertarians site – about the role, or perhaps lack of involvement of – women in what can be loosely called the libertarian movement. On one level, this strikes me as a bit misplaced in terms of a concern, since I don’t really think that the circle of libertarians that I have moved in to have been particularly male dominated. And in general, the history of classical liberal thought in the 19th and 20th centuries has its prominent women figures such as Ayn Rand (even if she rejected the term); Rose Wilder Lane, Isobel Paterson, and more recently, Wendy McElroy and Virginia Postrel.
And given how women continue to be oppressed in parts of the world – such as in Saudi Arabia, to take one extreme example – I would argue that pro-liberty views ought to be particularly appealing to women, all things considered.