An Overview of the Association of Libertarian Feminists

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 often "government is women's enemy."

The purpose of ALF is to

  • encourage women to become economically self-sufficient
  • encourage women to be psychologically independent
  • publicize and promote realistic attitudes toward female competence achievement, and potential
  • oppose the abridgement of individual rights by any government on the basis of gender
  • work toward changing sexist attitudes and behavior exhibited by individuals
  • provide a libertarian alternative to those aspects of the women's movement that foster political dependence and collectivism
  • 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.

    Links to information about the history and organization of ALF

    Copyright by Association of Libertarian Feminists