Note: following is an essay I submitted last semester for my Political Science class
Would I describe myself as a liberal? Yes I would. I would even go as far as to describe myself as a Left-wing liberal feminist socialist. I believe that you should not be restricted by law from doing anything, providing your actions do not cause harm to others. In conjunction with this, I believe that the State should provide support, financial and otherwise, to those who are unable to support themselves through no fault of their own.
A person does not need to come from a particular part of the political spectrum in order to identify as liberal. During the South Carolina Republican Presidential Debate on 5 May 2011, current United States Congressman Ron Paul, while he is Right-wing, made clear his liberal position by stating that the laws against heroin, cocaine, and prostitution should be revoked. “The freedom to use drugs … is equivalent to the freedom of people to ‘practice their religion and say their prayers.’ Liberty must be defended ‘across the board … It is amazing that we want freedom to pick our future in a spiritual way … but not when it comes to our personal habits.’” Paul’s argument is that the majority would still not use cocaine or heroin if they became decriminlised (Gerson, 2011). It is the belief that people are more responsible and able to look after themselves than they are given credit for, mainly because the State takes away the chance for them to prove themselves through making laws and regulations which dictate how people are to live their lives. This is backed by being opposed to ‘Big Government’. People with the same political beliefs and values as Ron Paul are libertarian, or utilitarian liberals.
My own feminist beliefs are very much utilitarian. I have, and should have, the freedom to choose what types of clothes, shoes, and makeup I wear. It is my own happiness that matters, and it is having that freedom of choice that is the point of feminism, something which third wave feminism in particular is very focused on (Jervis, 2004). A woman being told that she is not allowed to wear revealing clothes, high heels, and stay home to raise a family because those things are all anti-feminist is just as oppressive as the patriarchical environment that feminism is supposed to be fighting against. Being a feminist is about having the freedom to be sexually empowered and being free to choose what is right for yourself, above the opinions and claimed rights of others.
On the other end of the the political spectrum, there are people like Sue Bradford. These people, rights liberals, are more in favour of ‘Big Government’, providing the State uses its power through laws and regulations to the benefit of the rights of the people, and therefore increasing the freedom of the people. During Bradford’s time as a Member of Parliament for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand from 1999 to 2009, she passed three Member’s Bills through Parliament for the benefit of the New Zealand people. These were: “… amending s59 of the Crimes Act so that children now receive the same protection in law as do adults; lifting the youth minimun wage to adult rates; and extending the length of time some mothers in prison can keep their babies with them” (Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, n.d.). Through these bills, Bradford increased the freedoms of the, often, neglected and forgotten members of New Zealand society. If a child in New Zealand suffers from child abuse, they are now free to have the offender charged with assault, and the offender cannot claim they used reasonable force. Young adults/the youth employees in New Zealand are now free to be recognised that they are just as capable at their job as an adult employee, and receive the appropriate remuneration for their work. Female prisoners are now free to bond with their baby, potentially creating a stronger relationship between mother and child.
Bradford “… [helped] bring about genuine, positive solutions to the unemployment, poverty, social and environmental problems which plague so many people and their communities in Aotearoa today”, and it is these problems which infringe on people’s ability to be free (Green Party, n.d.). This is where socialism blends in with the principles of rights liberalism. Unfortunately, there are always members within a society that are unable to support and provide for themselves. Where utilitarian liberalism is more focused on the happiness of the majority over the suffering of the minority (where the minority are the unemployed, the sick, and the elderly etc), the blend of socialism and rights liberalism is more about setting up a system which looks after the disaffected minority, who are often struggling against the rest of society through no fault of their own. This goes against utiliarian liberalism because it enables the development of a ‘Welfare State’ and encourages growth of a ‘Big Government’. While I do not favour ‘Big Government’ (especially in terms of who I am allowed to sleep with, what happens in my bedroom, and what I put in my body being regulated and restricted), I also do not favour small government, where people are bascially left to their own devices. I would much rather pay tax which goes to the support of the disaffected minority now, because there is a chance that in the future I may become a member of that affect minority, either through illness, inability to find a job, or some other misfortune, and the tax paid is my insurance that I will also receive help and support.
I am a Left-wing liberal feminist socialist. I believe I should have the freedom to make my own decision about how I live my life, who I live it with, and what I wear while I am living it. If something happens to me which means I am no longer able to properly participate within society, then the State should provide me with support until I am fully functioning again.
Gerson, M. (2011, May 11). Ron Paul favors legalizing heroin: Texas congressman deservers first-tier scrutiny. Retrieved on May 13, 2011, from:
Green Party of Aotearoa NewZealand (n. d.). Sue Bradford. Retrieved on May 13, 2011, from:
Jervis, L. (2004, Winter). The end of feminism’s thirdwave: The cofounder of Bitch magazine says goodbye to the
generational divide. Retrieved on May 13, 2011, from: