Interview: Julie Borowski on blogging, free speech, German food and libertarian women
Julie Borowski is a US-based libertarian blogger and YouTuber, whose videos reach tens of thousands of people. Our co-editor Bill Wirtz had the chance to sit down with her during the Regional Conference in Heidelberg, Germany, for which she was invited on a panel about free speech.
Julie, you’re very popular in the liberty movement with both your blog posts and most of all your YouTube videos. For those who don’t know you, explain your daily work and how it came about.
In 2011 I started a YouTube-channel while I was campaigning for Ron Paul, who I really supported. I just decided one day to put myself out there online and talk about Ron Paul and libertarian politics. I was involved in the movement since 2007 so I really wasn’t a newbie to libertarian philosophy, but a newbie to YouTube. As time went on I realised that libertarians don’t do very good videos: a lot of them are very boring and dry and merely cater to a libertarian audience. What I tried was to make my content more funny and entertaining, combining that with informative points. So for example, some people know me for my costumes (laughs).
What would you recommend to people who are trying to start out with blogging or making videos?
When I started I didn’t know anyone who would help me out, I barely knew how to make a video. I would say, my advice is: just start. You know I get a lot of messages with people asking ‘how do I start a YouTube channel?‘ or ‘how do I start a blog?‘ but then they just never do it. The first and the hardest step is the first one. My first video was really bad and awkward, but that’s the learning process you need to figure out how to go about it. Definitely listen to constructive criticism about it, change things around. Once you have an audience, through social media, the opportunities actually come to you. So yeah, just start!
How has your trip to Germany been so far?
I have been to Frankfurt for a few days, that was pretty cool. Then I went to Worms, where my ancestors actually were from, which was quite something. Heidelberg [where the conference took place] is a beautiful city. I see so much history here in the old town and the castle, all going back to the 13th century! I love Germany, good food and beautiful sights.
You also started a fundraiser for this trip.
Yes! I have a really nice audience online who helped me raise money to get here and to pay for my stay. This is a student-run organisation, everyone here is a volunteer, so this how we made things work.
Are libertarians any different here than in the US?
I wouldn’t say so. We libertarians get labelled as being all the same bunch: white males who all care about the same issue, but we’re a very diverse group. I travel to a lot of conferences, and there’s all kind of people: you get conspiracy theorists, the anarchists, the minarchists and those who just test the waters and see what libertarianism is about. Today on the panel I talked about free speech. In America we have some issues regarding free speech, but when I compare to the testimonies I got from Turkey, then I must say that we have it pretty good. That’s something I definitely take away from here.
At the Regional Conference in Paris there was a presentation by Women for Liberty, during which your blogpost came up, which dealt with the question why there are so few women in this movement. You purported the idea the women have more of a problem to be part of a minority group, a premise that the panel in Paris rejected.
I think a lot of people misunderstood what I said. I said it in a funny way, it was supposed to be over the top. But basically, what I have noticed is that in all kinds of nerd culture, comic book culture, anime culture, you name it, there tends to be way more males than females. Part of the issue is that it’s outside of the mainstream. What I have also noticed is that libertarian women are a different breed of women, where they just don’t really care about what people think them. They are very strong and independent, and I think you need to have that kind of personality to be a libertarian. I think as a woman sometimes, when you speak out on something controversial, you do take a big social hit. I myself have taken such a hit among female friends by being a libertarian. So yes, I think you have to be the person that doesn’t care, and I think men are more likely to take views outside the mainstream than women.
Do you think you helped attract more women to the movement? Also, do you think you would have had the same success if you were not a woman?
Yes it helped me, it would be stupid for me to suggest it didn’t. It’s a rare thing: I’m pretty sure I’m getting more speaking engagements because of that, as well as more views on YouTube. At the same time, I think I have something to back it up, otherwise people wouldn’t listen to me. On many conferences I had women come up to me and tell me that I have inspired them to speak out or to get more involved.
Sometimes it takes someone to be like you to inspire you.
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