Freedom Is a Mindset

I’m Anna Shnaidman, President of Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) Israel. Celebrating the International Women’s Month, I want to share my views on freedom and femininity.

Freedom has always been crucial to me, perhaps because I was born in a Soviet Union unfamiliar with freedom and democracy. Institutional abuse, bullying, silence, lies, antisemitism—these were just part of my first seven years.

It took me decades to form my life’s goal—the pursuit of maximizing freedom. Being a libertarian doesn’t fully cover the three spaces where I fight for freedom.

Libertarianism, or classic liberalism, is the first dimension, a citizen’s battle against the state, advocating for non-aggression. This dimension came to me relatively late. Just as the Soviet regime controlled our lives, I’m ready to fight our state to prevent that. For me, the state, to some extent, is a threat, not by its existence but de facto from what happens when it’s given power. Thus, I’m a libertarian, not an anarchist, believing the state has one crucial role: ensuring citizens’ safety through security and law enforcement.

Women are human beings, and the state must protect them and enforce the law when they are harmed. If it means spending more taxpayer money on preparedness—that’s exactly what taxes are for!

Now, if we achieved a liberal utopia tomorrow, would women be better off?

I don’t think so.

That leads me to the social dimension. Feminism goes where libertarianism doesn’t. Women and men are not the same regarding societal expectations, not because they’re different biologically but because of traditional family expectations.

Women are often disadvantaged in the workforce because of the expectation that they will take on the exclusive role of raising children. When it becomes accepted and expected that parenting is shared equally or at least not trivially determined who takes maternity or paternity leave, we’ll start to see improvement in our ability to get the jobs we want and see vertical job mobility. Women don’t get paid less because employers value them less but because they ask for less. You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate. When hiring for my team, I was shocked to see how many women hesitated about salary expectations and indicated their willingness to negotiate. In contrast, men demanded higher salaries without hesitation, even when they were significantly underqualified. I always wanted to scream, “Why? Demand more, look at your resume—you can ask for more!”

This brings me to the third dimension: personal development.

Freedom is a mindset.

The most crucial dimension for women to advance in society is this internal battle. Ayn Rand, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Deborah the Prophetess, Golda Meir—these women paved their way in a man’s world by fighting the obstacles in their path and, most importantly, forging the path within their minds.

It’s our responsibility as women to develop our awareness, our strengths, and to demand the freedom we deserve. And yes, freedom has a price, and we must pay it, unfortunately, as we live within a social dynamic. We, as women, need to recognize that we are different from one another and acknowledge the different choices each of us makes without judgment. We need to support our sisters as they make their authentic choices from a place of genuine desire without interference and criticism.

My hope is for the days when the price of our freedom decreases: in the choices we make, career or children, in the partnerships we choose, in our ability to go to a bar at night without fear. I pray our children will reach such days.

But understand something, building a mindset of freedom alone as a woman is such a hard, painful, and lonely path. We shouldn’t have to be alone in this. It’s our responsibility as women to strengthen each other without envy but inspiration, without forcefulness but support, without gaslighting but mutual respect, without aggression but inclusive communication. We can do this as mothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, teachers, marketers, celebrities, or influencers. The more young girls and teenagers see more models of femininity at the top of leadership in all fields or in roles traditionally considered masculine, the more they will grow up believing they too can achieve.

I grew up dreaming of being a film director in a reality where no woman had won an Oscar award for directing except for Kathryn Bigelow for directing a “masculine” action film (The Hurt Locker). I had no female director models until I went to film school with a lot of elbowing but ended up broken and not becoming the director I wanted to be. Thankfully, today, there are more and more female directors inspiring girls dreaming of making films. It’s a lifestyle that requires hard choices because of the intensity involved in filmmaking alongside raising a family.

This is why I brought LOLA to Israel and established a community of women with a liberal mindset. We have too few women in the classic liberal community and too much potential and skills to advance a free society. I want to strengthen us from within. To create awareness for more and more women who can speak on stage or be interviewed in a podcast. We have amazing women who can make a significant contribution to society if only given the chance (and maybe some tools). I also understand that I am a woman with abilities and fears, with much to say but also barriers, so I don’t act alone, and I embark on a joint run with other women who are different from me, think differently than me, and most importantly—complement me in the outreach goals: liberal education and social development.

Men, we’re in this together! It’s also your responsibility to help us achieve equality of choices so that you too can be truly free. Free from societal expectations, free to love, free to feel and react, free to do whatever you want without harming others. How will you do this? The answer is long, but communication and respect cover it all.

Dear men, fathers, brothers, partners, our sons, and friends—you are not our enemy. We’re together in the struggle for freedom. Our enemy is the state, which puts obstacles in our wheels due to “well-intentioned” legislation and its unwillingness to protect people from physical and sexual violence.

Our enemy is so-called “feminists” who aim to fight against men for being men and see them as the root of patriarchy. Our enemy is those who physically and emotionally harm us, and those who support them.

Our enemy is the expectations of women and men about how we’re supposed to behave based on gender, or whom we’re supposed to love. Our enemy is people who ask what you wore when you were sexually assaulted.

Our enemy is anyone who seeks to harm our freedom. This is true for all genders.

But our greatest enemy is ourselves. So many fears, barriers, and insecurities prevent us from daring, asking, or setting boundaries.

So go ahead, my sister, know your worth and go demand the salary you want.

Number. POINT.

Disclaimer: It’s essential to note that these are my personal opinions and not representative of LOLA, as each member has their own views on these matters.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Anna Shnaidman

Anna Shnaidman is a Strategy Consultant holding a Master’s Degree in Political Communication. She’s also a dedicated Chapter Leader of the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) in Israel and an alumnus of Students For Liberty (SFL). With a passion for liberty and justice, Anna actively encourages women’s engagement in politics and advocates for social change through her work with LOLA. Her experiences with SFL have further enriched her advocacy for individual rights and personal freedoms, making her a prominent figure in the realm of political communication and activism.

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