This post began as a comment on Cory Massimino’s Libertarian Feminism: Rape Culture as a Spontaneous Order (as well as a recent article at Bleeding Heart Libertarians), but as you’ll see, the subject is quite different. If you want a more direct reply to Massimino, Sarah Meyer’s reply is excellent.

My next post will return to the principal thesis of this site. Liberal Archipelago will not become a forum for debates over feminist theory or any masculinist counterpoint, because these issues are not central to my libertarianism at all. I have no fundamental problem with traditional patriarchy or with matriarchy or with the strictest possible gender equality as long as everyone involved consents to these standards. I can even imagine a BDSM community in which every man is the slave of a dominatrix or every member consents to be “raped” by any other member at any time. [Of course, “consensual rape” is an oxymoron, but libertarians will understand me.] A reverence for this diversity is precisely why I am a libertarian.

I’m 52. When I was a child, the overwhelming majority of my authority figures were women. After the age of six or so, most of these women were state employees. A few men existed among the authorities that I encountered directly and routinely, but men like my father, who epitomized for me the patriarchal order supposedly ruling the world around me, were largely absent in my life. They existed in this other, “working” world that I knew more through television than through direct interaction with it, a world I expected to join some day, perhaps after a few years in the military. The military was another mysterious world of men that I knew almost exclusively through television and the like.

That’s not my theory of a spontaneous order hidden by a spontaneous conspiracy to conceal its effects. It’s just how my childhood really was, out in the open for everyone to see, so prosaic and uncontroversial that no one bothers to blog about it.

Now, as an adult, I work for wages far more, with far less leisure time, than most of the women and children around me, including my own three children, their mother the school teacher (from whom I am divorced), my second wife the school teacher and her daughter. All of the children are now adults. They remain someone’s child and certainly remain my dependents, but they’re all in their twenties. My step-daughter’s father never much supported her financially after her parents divorced and certainly supports her less than I do now. I’m not faulting him for this fate, only noting it here.

Collectively, these women and children, including my wife, consume considerably more of my wages than I consume myself, and I have the receipts to prove it. Only my children’s mother does not at this point. She has no spouse, and she also shares her wages with our children with nothing directly from me to offset it. In the past, she received most of my discretionary income for this purpose, but she never received enough from me fully to offset the financial costs of raising our children. She received more than many parents can afford to expend on their children, but I never wanted her to economize in this area, and she didn’t. She did exercise practically all of the authority over these expenditures however. Now, I support my children in their twenties directly with no other authority betwixt us.

My father never divorced, but I have largely followed in his footsteps, in terms of the relative time working for wages and the small proportion of my wages that I personally consume. My mother worked a lot, and my children’s mother does too, only less than my father and I for wages. This account is not my theory of a spontaneous order either, and I’m not saying it’s the result of any conspiracy or even a bad thing, though it doesn’t always make me smile. It’s just how my life really is, and it’s so prosaic and uncontroversial that no one bothers to blog about it, so I thought I’d make the point here at least.

What does all of this have to do with rape culture? Maybe nothing. I have never personally experienced a rape culture. I have never raped anyone or been accused of rape or seen anyone raped or even known a rapist personally, not a rapist who confessed the act to me anyway. I have never experienced murder either. I had a stereo stolen from my car once, but I’ve otherwise never experienced theft personally. I don’t deny that murder and theft exist, and I’m certainly aware of an obsession with heinous crime in popular media, but I don’t imagine a culture, other than a criminal subculture, complicit in murder and theft. Maybe the welfare state is complicit in family disintegration associated with violent crimes, including rape, but this theoretical relationship is not what “rape culture” ordinarily suggests.

I know the rape culture exclusively through media including forums like this one, much as I knew my father’s working world and the military when I was a child. Could a rape culture exist out there, hidden from me somehow by a conspiracy of silence? Yes, I can’t rule out this possibility, but other theories, accounting for the accounts of a rape culture that I read in forums like this one, exist.

On the other hand, a sugar daddy culture is not theoretical to me. I saw it in my childhood, when I was on the receiving end, and I see it in my own life. Of course, many women never find a sugar daddy, and many women are sugar mommas themselves, to their children at least. My twin sister never had children but nonetheless played this role in both of her marriages. Her husbands contributed relatively little to their households in financial terms.

With the possible exception of my sister though, I’m sure I’ve never met a woman, however liberated, who isn’t looking for a sugar daddy to some extent, and plenty of men are still willing to play the role. Culture is certainly a factor. Other men refuse to play the role, but these men are still counter-cultural in my experience. Men also seek sugar mommas, but these men are also counter-cultural. They are “deadbeats” and the like.

A feminist may now accuse me of trivializing the rape culture by comparing it to this sugar daddy culture, but I’m not trivializing rape or any rape culture. I am rather suggesting that women (and children alike) deny a sugar daddy culture in much the way that feminists claim that men (and women) deny a rape culture, and I am suggesting that the sugar daddy culture is more pervasive and certainly more normalized than any rape culture, and I’m also suggesting that many feminist claims of male domination are part of a systematic denial of this culture.

So what? I’m certainly not advocating a Federal program to remedy the problem, but occasionally, the problems we need most to address in our own lives are not the problems we discuss in forums like this one but are the problems we simply take for granted.

If you’re a rapist (in the most common sense of the word) or provide cover to rapists, you should take a hard look at yourself in the mirror and search your soul accordingly, but I doubt that anyone needs to hear this advice from me, because I’ve heard it repeatedly throughout my life, and I doubt that I’m exceptional.

If you’re an able-bodied, adult man or woman habitually consuming the fruits of another person’s labor, particularly while this other person enjoys less leisure time than you, particularly with a sense of entitlement, maybe you should also take a hard look at yourself. This behavior is indisputably a cultural norm, even legally compulsory in some instances. It is far more accepted than rape has ever been in my neck of the woods, and maybe it shouldn’t be.