Libertarianism: Do What You Want!
After becoming famous on her Disney television show, “Hannah Montana,” Miley Cyrus became a role model for many young ladies. After the show ended, she “grew up,” but instead of seeking to remain a positive role model, she chose to flaunt her sexuality and promote indecent values in rebellion against her previous “good girl” image. In her new “We Can’t Stop” video, Miley Cyrus is shown dancing provocatively while scantily clad. Throughout the song, she repeats, “We can do what we want.” Part of the lyrics include phrases such as, “To my homegirls here with the big butts,” and “Shaking it like we at a strip club,” make it clear that Miley Cyrus is degrading herself and promoting sexual objectification of women.
While Miley Cyrus purports to be advocating individual liberty–the ability to do what you want as long as it does not harm another person–she is actually encouraging a hedonistic lifestyle in which the purpose of life is merely to seek pleasure. This greatly skews moral values and neglects the spiritual aspects of life, which are a vital part of living a decent, morally sound life. Regardless of which religion (if any) someone follows or how they define their spirituality, those who do not live hedonistic lifestyles are more balanced and mature, understanding that “do what you want” is often only an excuse to abuse one’s body and accept sexual objectification.
In fact, “do what you want” is the perfect excuse for many bad behaviors. It encourages individuals to act irresponsibly, with nothing more than the present pleasurable experience in mind. “It’s my cup, I can drink what I want to” is part of Miley Cyrus’ song; in this “do what you want” mindset, alcohol and drug use become acceptable, as do many other damaging behaviors. Her argument is that she has the individual right to consume any legal substance (and perhaps illegal substances, too). This is at the heart of libertarian political philosophy which stresses so-called individual freedoms and the right to choose. When certain things are causing widespread social problems the state has an obligation to step in. Though many see this as an infringement of their individual rights, what the libertarian “do what you want” culture fails to recognize is that when you neglect spirituality in favor of hedonism, many problems result. Many college students who party and “get wasted” risk their health and safety. Though society is largely in favor of alcohol consumption, even though alcohol is a drug as it affects one’s brain, and an overdose can be lethal. If cannabis, can be illegal, then certainly alcohol should also be prohibited. As a result of alcohol consumption, we see widespread deaths related to drinking and driving. Drugs are also potentially lethal, and both alcohol and drugs can make it easier for men to take advantage of women.
I support the prohibition of alcohol. Women are often sexually assaulted while under the influence of alcohol, and 90% of all college campus rapes involve alcohol, making alcohol use one of the strongest predictors of a college woman being raped. “Date rape” drugs, which are secretly slipped into someone’s drink, are sometimes used by men to make it easier for them to take advantage of women.
Many radical feminists see the solution to the rape culture as the eradication of the patriarchy( which they argue is often instilled by religion), and religion is heavily scrutinized within much of secular feminist literature. As Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early feminist, stated, “The church is a terrible engine of oppression, especially as concerns women.”
In “Feminism for Everybody,” Bridget Fitzsimons writes, “Feminism is the belief that equality should exist between the genders.” How often have we heard that everyone is naturally equal and must have equal rights? Where does this belief come from? Well, biologically speaking, we are not all equal; indeed, every human being on this earth has different levels of intelligence, strength, and talents.
This concept, as many feminists who are against religion may not want to admit, comes from the Judea-Christian (and Islamic) concept that all souls of human beings are equal in the eyes of God, and we should therefore treat each other as we would treat ourselves. It’s a concept borrowed from religion. In the declaration of Independence it was written that ,”All men are created equal.” Of significance is the ‘created’. Thomas Jefferson was a deist but his ideological influence was John Locke who was a devout Christian. It is only from the idea that the souls of all human beings are equal before God did the concept of human equality emerge. Though I am not opposed to secularists borrowing from religious ideals, one should give credit where credit is due. The irony is that radical feminism, which purports to oppose religious ideals, is based upon religious concepts such as human equality. In fact, many secular extremist movement who seek to remove the ‘under God’ from the pledge of allegiance and the ten commandment from court rooms. When the belief in God is the only foundation for human equality.
Much has been made about the idea of Christian feminism and Islamic feminism. Do feminists intend to imply that Christianity and Islam are somehow insufficient and need the secular feminist ideology to complement them? The reality is that the opposite is true: secularism, though it has a similar belief in human equality, is missing the spiritual aspect that an ideology should have. One aspect of radical feminism that clearly shows the importance of spirituality—and what happens when one neglects it entirely—is “sex-positive” radical feminists who see pornography as a means of feminist expression and a crucial part in achieving women’s freedom. Essentially, these women want to “do what they want,” just like in Miley Cyrus’ provocative song. Rather than respecting themselves and their bodies, they are merely changing one aspect of objectification: instead of being unwillingly viewed as sex objects by men, they are willingly objectifying themselves, as if the problem were only a lack of consent. In contrast, anti-pornography feminists (who I am in agreement with, I support the prohibition of pornography) view pornography as a dangerous medium which facilitates rape culture.
Judea-Christian theology actually challenged the objectification of women. Concerning this, Jesus in the Bible stated, “You have heard it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In America, 3 of 4 men report sexual thoughts about their female co-workers.  Sometimes, men do not keep their thoughts to themselves and make sexual jokes and passes at female co-workers. This often times makes the experience for female employees hostile. Men have no control over their sexual desires nor do they have any incentive to in libertarian philosophy because its all about, “Doing what you want.” Immodest and provocative styles of clothing which encourages sexual objectification are all about a “woman’s right to choose”.
In contrast, spiritual traditions have always laid down laws governing the sexes to tackle this issue of sexual objectification and harassment. It traditionally mandated sex only within the confides of marriage, This means, men would not show up to work, “lookin’ to get laid’ as they call it. In Islamic Traditions, unmarried women will not frequently intermingle men unless they have serious business to discuss. Modest styles of dress for both men and women are mandated. Also, fasting is prescribed as a means to control sexual desires. The frequent touching, hugging, between members of the opposite of sex that we see in western cultures are taboo in Islamic traditions. Such barriers that once existed in America as a result of Judeo Christian culture have been eroded by libertarian philosophy stating, “do what you want.” Now we see the sexual harassment , rape culture, and objectification of women which can be prevented by following spiritual traditions.
Another aspect of the libertarian philosophy was the normalization of sex outside of marriage. All that society cares about, for the most part, is that the couple are consenting adults; apart from that, the attitude is “do what you want.” This promiscuity brings many problems into society. Children born to teenage mothers are significantly more likely to end up in prison, and there are many other problems that are inherent to raising a child when one is a still only a teenager in jr. high or high school. Another major issue is abortion. Though abortion is billed as a women’s rights issue, people overlook the fact that abortions actually encourage men to be sexually irresponsible, as they absolve them of any emotional or financial responsibility and nobody ever has to know that they fathered a child.
The problem with libertarian political philosophy is that they want all the vices- alcohol, drugs, fornication, but without all the problems resulting from this . Clearly, the “do what you want” mantra that is intrinsic to libertarianism has contributed to the objectification of women and to rape culture. We should replace this with returning to divine spiritual values. We all have a duty to look within our own spiritual traditions to submit to a higher power and purpose not “Doing what you want’ and succumbing to lowly desires.
Info on Sexual Assault and Abuse, http://www.uic.edu/depts/owa/sa_rape_support.html
http://www.universityobserver.ie/2012/10/31/op-ed-feminism-is-for-everybody-bridget-fitzsimons/, Op-Ed: Feminism is for everybody – Bridget Fitzsimons
Karen Armstrong: The Prophet Muhammad’s Compassion, Karen Armstrong: The Prophet Muhammad’s Compassion
Infidelity statistics, http://www.womansavers.com/infidelity-statistics.asp