Women have had a consistently anti-liberty track record since they have been allowed to participate in politics. In the first installment of the Women’s Movements series, we examine the most well-known women’s movement: the Temperance Movement.
For the uninitiated, this was the movement to prohibit alcohol. It is one of many movements that were well-intenioned, ill-advised, popular with women, and still affect us to this day.
The Prohibition Movement was chiefly motivated by theocrats trying to legislate their religion. However, it came to be very popular with women, who found the movement to be an ideal platform to engage in professional victimhood and be insufferable busybodies.1
Christian theocrats trying to unconstitutionally legislate their religion argued that drinking is haram. Women, on the other hand, played damsel-in-distress, seeking to control their husbands through the state, inverting the natural order of the sexes. This unholy alliance – which we see manifesting again today in the United States and Europe, where feminism and, this time, Islam are collaborating to destroy the West – succeeded, with disastrous consequences.
Aside from the obvious of alcohol having been prohibited, several other ill effects were achieved:
- Women learned to agitate politically. They won their first gold medal in the victimhood Olympics, and would continue competing for decades to come.
- Women discovered state power. Men had authority over their wives in the home, but the state could be used to exert authority over men. Women are not and have never been willing servants; men today should take note lest we repeat this mistake.
- Women found out that they can play hooky while their husbands are out working. Husbands couldn’t stay home from work to make sure their wives were upholding their end of the bargain, so a wife couldn’t be held to her obligations.
These three lessons women took from the Prohibition Movement were far more insidious than alcohol prohibition itself, as we will see in this series’ later installments.
Alcohol prohibition had many unintended consequences which led to its repeal:
- Bootlegging – the smuggling of alcohol – became a highly profitable enterprise. The mafia noticed. The mafia became a large, wealthy, and powerful organization in America. Something similar happened in Finland, as well2.
- The consumption of hard liquor became more commonplace and many cocktail recipes were invented to make it palatable. Hard liquor, being more potent, was better-suited to smuggling than beer or wine.
- Moonshining also became more profitable. Since prohibition outlawed manufacturing alcohol, competent breweries had to shut down their operations, leaving a wide hole in the market for incompetent moonshiners.
The fruits of this movement affect us to this day, generally through legal inertia:
- Blue laws prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol on Sundays persist in some jurisdictions.
- Mandatory closing times for bars and liquor stores persist in most jurisdictions.
- Alcohol monopoly laws in some states, a business-hostile policy meant to shut down liquor stores, have never been repealed.
Of course, these are only the legislative fruits of this movement; its true legacy is the women’s movements that followed.