Women-Only Homeless Shelters: The False Promise of Identity Politics

Today’s case stuidentity-politicsdy in illiberal outrage comes from a news story (also this source, and this one) about a small-town homeless shelter in Eastern Kentucky that decided to stop accepting women. Progressives are, of course, disgusted. How could a homeless shelter ban an entire sex? Like, OMG, someone call the firing squad …

Of course, pay no mind to the fact that there are literally hundreds of women-only homeless shelters in the United States (e.g. this, or this, or this). Hell, here is one for women-only in Kentucky itself that has been open for years. And don’t even bother with the fact that the majority (67%) of homeless people are men (also this source) … or that the percentage of men is even higher in the long-term homeless (see chart below). Although you might not know that, since even though Wikipedia breaks out homelessness by nearly every conceivable demographic category (familial status, ethnicity, education) it curiously leaves out gender, hmm …

Such is the false promise of Identity Politics. When we see individuals, their experiences, and their choices only as part of collective groups, we are forced to make choices about the relative importance of those groups. The promise of empowerment of individuals falls by the wayside of group membership. It is the group that matters.

And for those who do not belong to the correct group, well, sorry pal, you are shit out of luck …

Because the doctrine of identity politics is in fact the Doctrine of the Minority. It is a corruption of power. A subtle shift in the rules of the game that allows certain members of society to assign privilege not based on individual merit or experience, but purely based on group membership. If that sounds a lot like bigotry, it is because it is … merely socially-acceptable and/or covert bigotry.

But the real offense heHomeless-men-percentre is that the progressives in their outrage once again reveal their true illiberal nature. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with women-only shelters or men-only shelters. I don’t have a problem with women-only schools or men-only schools either. Because I, as a true classical liberal, don’t play the Group Identity Politics game. If separate spaces for individuals allow those individuals to flourish, then so be it. Individual self-determination, above all, is paramount.

The false promise of Identity Politics is really a trap. One in which, by focusing purely on group identity, we undermine the individualism principle that underlies true liberalism. We are forced to choose one group over another. And besides, people aren’t only a member of a single group … what about black males (both black and male) or lesbians (both homosexual and female) for example? What about my half-white, half-Puerto-Rican rich albino gay male friend who is also an atheist? What group is he? Vapid attempts at “intersectionality” by progressives or feminists or what not merely underscore this point … people are more than the sum of their group membership.

They are, as Liberals long ago realized, individuals … and should be treated as such. The goal should be to figure out how to best incentivize the fulfillment of their individual purpose in life … through free speech, free markets, and self-determination. Even if that necessitates separate spaces at times … cause yes, men and women do distract each other sometimes. If you don’t understand why, I’d suggest you might consider taking a remedial high school biology class …

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2 Responses to Women-Only Homeless Shelters: The False Promise of Identity Politics

  1. Pingback: Lies of Omission – Progressives and the “Wizard behind the Curtain” | The Illiberal Liberal

  2. Pingback: The Failure of Neoliberalism: Groups do not equal Individuals | The Illiberal Liberal

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