Are libertarians rude and repressed on principle or by predisposition? Why aren’t more libertarians women? Why aren’t more women libertarians? At the Libertarian Party’s recent convention, held in Chicago at the Marriott, these questions came up in an unofficial panel discussion called “Women in Libertarianism–Success Stories.” Many of the women who participated wondered if objectivism, the laissez-faire philosophy of libertarian heroine Ayn Rand, was connected with certain personality traits often observed among males of the libertarian persuasion. Gathered in a tenth-floor meeting room, they spoke freely.

“I just discovered I was raised by an objectivist father, and I’m recovering now.”

“I grew up with a father who called politicians cockroaches to their faces.”

“There are gentlemen in the party with higher intelligence, but they are not what you’d call ‘people people.’ ”

A woman busy with needlework in her lap said, “They need us commonsensical types in order to function.” Another said, “I have five children, which is unusual for a libertarian. They’re all libertarians, I’m proud to say. Though my youngest seems to be a totalitarian activist.”

Ayn Rand manifested a left brain/right brain imbalance, according to one woman. “I’d like to see libertarians be more free in their personal lives.”

“I couldn’t help but notice that Ayn Rand is a woman, but almost every libertarian I meet is a man.”

“I didn’t join the party to get a husband–”

“–It just worked out that way,” he interjected.

The discussion had barely started when the delegates were called downstairs to nominate the party’s candidate for vice-president of the United States. The winner was Nancy Lord, a woman, who lost her race for mayor of Washington, D.C., last year.

The topic of women and libertarianism resurfaced in the aftermath of the convention, which had been christened “Liberty Triumphant.” As Marriott workers stacked chairs and coiled microphone cables, another unofficial session began, “The 60s Looks at the 90s.” The panelists were asked by an audience member, a man, “Now that women have been liberated from their womanhood, what are the chances they will be liberated to their womanhood?”

Panelist Timothy Leary, a professed libertarian, asked the fellow to repeat the question. He did. But his wording was the same as the first time. Leary searched for a relevant response. He said he was at a conference in Barcelona when a woman in the audience (he called her a “French neo-Marxist”) scornfully inquired, “Well, Mr. Leary, now that you have given us our freedom, what do you propose we do with it?”

“Anything you fucking want!” he yelled.