(From left to right: Founder Tonie Nathan, Past National Coordinator Joan Kennedy Taylor, Past National Coordinator and now Executive Director Sharon Presley)
The Association of Libertarian Feminists was founded in 1973 by Tonie Nathan, a journalist from Eugene, Oregon, who was the first woman in history to receive an electoral vote.* In 1975 Tonie met with a group of other libertarian feminists at the National Libertarian Party Convention in New York City in 1975, where a national ALF group was formed. An eclectic, nonpartisan organization, ALF has a membership that includes both women and men, straights and gays, anarchists and limited-government advocates, and proponents of the free market and communalists. What all have in common is their opposition to sexism and their belief that "government is women's enemy."
The purpose of ALF is to
ALF activities have included the publication of a newsletter, the distribution of Discussion Papers and other relevant literature, demonstrations, and panels, speeches, seminars, and conferences for both libertarians and the general public.
ALF Discussion Papers (see Resources) are not "position" papers, but instead are, simply what we think are legitimate libertarian approaches to feminist issues. ALF does, however, take a formal stand on the issue of reproductive freedom; it was adopted by the membership on October 20, 1977:
The basic human right to limit one's own reproduction includes the right to all forms of birth control (contraception, including sterilization, and abortion), recognizing the dual responsibility of both sexes. ALF therefore opposes all practices and all governmental actions that restrict access to any of these means of birth control, and advocates the elimination of all laws and practices that would compel any woman to bear a child against her will.
ALF has no other "official" positions at this time. However basic libertarian principles imply opposition to such ideas as protective labor laws, censorship laws, and conscription into the military or national service.
Structurally, ALF has no bylaws and only a handful of organizational guidelines. Although there is a national office and national officers, local ALF groups set their own programs and activities.
ALF is totally independent of any other organization, and is supported entirely by the members' dues and contributions and by money raised through activities like conferences and literature sales. Although ALF is sometimes represented at Libertarian Party events, there is no connection of any kind between ALF and the LP; ALF maintains a neutral position toward the party.
*Nathan was on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1972. She and her running-mate, John Hospers, received one maverick electoral vote from a Virginia Republican elector, Roger MacBride.
Board of Directors
Statement by ALF founder Tonie Nathan
[This article by founder Tonie Nathan was originally published in the Willamette Valley Observer of Eugene, Oregon (c. 1977) and reprinted in On Libertarianism, copyright Tonie Nathan 1981.]
The Association of Libertarian Feminists (ALF) was founded on Ayn Rand's birthday, February 2nd, 1973 in my home in Eugene, Oregon. The first members included men, as well as women. I felt an organization was needed to offer an alternative to other women's groups. It seemed to me that many women who felt unjustly treated by many of our present inequitable laws were being used by leftists and socialists for political purposes. It seemed important to counter this outside the Libertarian Party.
It seemed that many women were seeking a political system that could guarantee their complete economic security and it seemed they were looking for a husband-father substitute. But women who have been subjected to authoritarian restrictions by males ought to realize that Marxist Socialism is simply another form of the male-female power struggle. Male domination or state domination--neither should be tolerated. Neither help women to become free and independent. The following statement was released to the press after our first ALF meeting in Eugene.
There is today a terrible tendency to apply political solutions to what are really psychological and educational problems. The current cry for affirmative action programs is an example of this.
Libertarian feminists resent and reject all legislation which attempts to provide us with special treatment by the law.
We also resent and reject legislation which attempts to "equalize" our social or economic position. Frankly, we don't think there is anyone else in the world quite like us and we object to political attempts to rob us of our uniqueness. However, recognizing that bigotry and unjust legal discrimination do exist presently, we support the efforts of all concerned individuals to change this situation by non-coercive means.
Politically, of course, a person has the right to be a bigot and the state ought take no notice of this flaw. However, more often than not, the state itself promotes bigotry and sponsors legislation which results in unfair discrimination against certain classes of citizens.
We hope the Association of Libertarian Feminists can help correct that situation while recognizing, at the same time, that education is the best long-lasting solution for eliminating prejudice and injustice.
In September, 1975, ALF became a national organization at a meeting held in New York City. In an effort to promote Libertarian views at the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas in 1977, I submitted a proposal for removing all sections of the United States Postal Regulations which restrict the mailing of contraceptive samples andcontraceptive information. Such antiquated postal regulations prevent private agencies and contraceptive manufacturers from dispensing information that would allow women to control their reproduction. Taxpayers are now paying much of public birth control education and abortion costs. I don't think the government should be involved in this nor should persons who object to this type of activity be forced to fund it with their tax dollars.
*Tonie Nathan has been a long-time libertarian activist. As the Libertarian Party vice-presidential candidate in 1972, she was the first women in U.S. history to receive a vote in the Electoral College (from Republican elector Roger McBride). Though an historical event for women, it was scarcely covered by the media and was ignored by Ms. Magazine and many other feminist organizations. Contrary to Joe Lieberman's (and some media) claims at certain times, she is also the first Jewish person nominated on a presidential slate, and thus the first Jew to receive an electoral vote. ( Both her mother and father were Jewish and she identifies as Jewish.)
© Copyright 1975, 2013 by Association of Libertarian Feminists