How Free Are Amish Women?
By Bryan Caplan
By modern American standards, the Amish are extremely poor, and subject to intense social pressure. It’s legal to leave, but few do. The pressure on Amish women is particularly intense. Even their Rumspringa is heavily monitored by their parents, and Amish marital theory and practice are extremely patriarchal.
Question: How free are Amish women compared to other American women? I say they’re just as free. I also say, against Will Wilkinson, that their “formal freedom” is morally significant. If the Amish used threats of violence to keep their women in, it would be a terrible crime. As matters stand, though, the plight of Amish women strikes me as objectionable, but far from awful. I vacation in Pennsylvania Dutch country without losing sleep over it. When an Amish girl marries an Amish boy, she knows what she’s getting into – and her voluntary consent is meaningful despite her Amish upbringing.
Am I wrong? Would it matter if 90% of people were Amish?