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rameshkaimal

Gender Roles In Sex: A Fresh Perspective

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So then if orgasms were truly not tied to physical stimulation anyway, why worry about vaginal intercourse when procreation isn't the goal? Below you seem to consider it rather unnecessary too.

 

The bolded really doesn't sound sexy at all.

I didn't say they were not tied to physical stimulation. Considering how the anatomy works there's clearly a connection there. Physical stimulation is not necessary for an orgasm though. That, however, does not mean it's unnecessary for the highest pleasure.

 

The point was not to make it sound sexy. The point was to show a clear example of dominance that can lead to an orgasm without any penetration. Whatever anyone otherwise thinks of such practices is irrelevant and completely beside the point.

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The point was not to make it sound sexy. The point was to show a clear example of dominance that can lead to an orgasm without any penetration. Whatever anyone otherwise thinks of such practices is irrelevant and completely beside the point.

I don't think anyone doubted it could cause an orgasm. Rape can and does cause orgasm. I don't know the point of your point.

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I don't think anyone doubted it could cause an orgasm. Rape can and does cause orgasm. I don't know the point of your point.

Rameshkaimal wrote:

 

"Regarding the contention in multiple posts on this topic that the word dominant in the dominant-submissive view means leading or initiating, it's unclear how the leading or initiating will cause the woman to achieve sexual pleasure in a context where she is unable to have an orgasm from penetration alone."

 

I provided him with an explanation and a concrete example.

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No one said that anyway. Please try to understand an argument first, I tried to explain it in different ways. But it seems that you're still stuck on one point as though the concern is only that some women can't orgasm from penetration alone. The concern is over a specific attitude, namely your sort of statement "penetration is fundamental". One consequence of it is making sex less good for women as a whole. Now, of the women who do, well, that doesn't change anything other than what we consider is fundamental. Does it make sense to say anymore that penetration is fundamental to anything? Not unless we want to make sex into something only a minority of women are able to attain! That doesn't make sense either.

 

Yes, he's actually said just that pretty much verbatim. In the post I quoted he just used the word superior instead of dominant.                                                                                                                                    

 

 

"The example with penetration is to highlight the metaphysical differences between men and women - it's not an how-to for sex."

Not a detailed how-to, no, but a metaphysical difference is a sort of difference that informs what you ought to do or how you behave. But we're talking about those differences, we can't assume them as true when we're analyzing them as ideas!

 

I may disagree with Rand, but I understand her well. Presumably you're arguing for her position. It's about a specific psychological-sexual difference between men and women that prescribes certain ways to act in sex. Pleasure is a key aspect of sex, while the pleasure we're able to attain is due to the difference of women being submissive by nature and men being dominant by nature. Dominance of the sort where penetration is a fundamental part of sex makes it so whatever principle you come up with goes back to penetration, and the value of sex is in penetration. Rand doesn't mention penetration really, it's primarily a psychological dynamic of hero-worship and being a hero, but she still is putting sex in terms of a man being superior sexually and where the male is in charge of pleasuring both partners.

It's a metaphysical and psychological difference. The example with penetration, is an example made to illustrate that difference.

Yes, that view puts the man in charge. However, that dynamic does not necessarily mean the woman is completely passive and has no responsibility. Like, my boss at work is in charge and responsible for the product my team delivers, but i'm damn well responsible for the work I put in.

 

The issue I think is we get very few ideas on what makes for pleasure in women, too. And if we looked at what is fundamental to pleasure, we'd probably end up with pretty minor differences. Orgasm is part of it, and I acknowledge some of a difference being there. But psychologically? Doesn't seem to be a lot. Not by nature of being male or female at least. Your own examples don't show a difference that matters, or that any particular view is right. I'm not talking about particular acts, I'm talking about an attitude, which is your terminology.

I have quite a lot of ideas on what makes for pleasure in women, thank you very much. And I daresay the differences are quite big. However, my purpose for responding in this thread is not to tell people what they should or should not do. I'm here attacking the OP's view and arguments, which are really bad. The best argument for my position is meeting lots of women, having lots of sex and observing the dynamics between lots of men and women. Here, I can only hope to show some examples to which you can relate and construct some reasoning as to why it is so.

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I provided him with an explanation and a concrete example.

No, you equated sexual pleasure with orgasm (maybe Rameshkaimal did too). The part you quoted is strange to interpret, I'd agree, but the unclear part is how you'd cause a woman to achieve totality of sexual pleasure in a situation where penetration won't result in orgasm. The wording isn't about only producing orgasm. Whether or not someone orgasms is separate from sexual pleasure. If orgasm is missing, it's not total sexual pleasure. Similarly, if orgasm is present, it isn't necessarily total sexual pleasure.

 

Yes, that view puts the man in charge. However, that dynamic does not necessarily mean the woman is completely passive and has no responsibility. Like, my boss at work is in charge and responsible for the product my team delivers, but i'm damn well responsible for the work I put in.

Completely passive and without any responsibility at all, no. But success of the dynamic depends on a man, that no matter how much a woman tries to make for an ideal sexual encounter, it is thanks to exclusively the man that any ideal ultimately happens. The man is in charge of both. Is your boss the one ultimately responsible for your ability to do a good job?

Your metaphor doesn't work to support your view. Your boss is only in charge of his decision to hire you, and he ought to hold no responsibility of your ability to do a good job. You'd only be able to say "a man is only in charge of deciding to have sex, and he ought to hold no responsibility of a woman's ability to have sexual pleasure". If your boss needs to take charge of you, and he needs to take any responsibility at all for you, you'd be an inferior and less virtuous person. It's the same issue in sex. Rand's view is that a man does need to take charge for ideal pleasure, which I say implies women are by nature inferior to men in one of the most important areas of life and are psychological dependents for self-esteem. I'd much rather be with someone I am not responsible for in any regard - sex or otherwise. Better still if I don't need to teach the other person that principle.

 

I have quite a lot of ideas on what makes for pleasure in women, thank you very much.

It might seem like a lot, but that doesn't mean you aren't limiting yourself or not contradicting yourself.

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I didn't say they were not tied to physical stimulation. Considering how the anatomy works there's clearly a connection there. Physical stimulation is not necessary for an orgasm though. That, however, does not mean it's unnecessary for the highest pleasure.

 

The point was not to make it sound sexy. The point was to show a clear example of dominance that can lead to an orgasm without any penetration. Whatever anyone otherwise thinks of such practices is irrelevant and completely beside the point.

And what others are saying is vaginal intercourse is not going to cut it for most females for getting highest pleasure.

 

Not sexy is implying the question of how then you think it will lead to an orgasm.

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The best argument for my position is meeting lots of women, having lots of sex and observing the dynamics between lots of men and women. Here, I can only hope to show some examples to which you can relate and construct some reasoning as to why it is so.

I don't know what good can ever come from arguing with Alfa here.

 

If a bona fide racist showed up and was completely insensible to arguments against his position, because he had "met lots of black people" or whomever was the target of his bigotry, I think it would be plain enough to recognize the situation for what it was.

 

I mean, right?  Suppose I decided to start carrying on about how I believe having dark skin implied certain psychological differences between African-Americans and Caucasians... but I couldn't give any coherent argument for how this operated in reality (or said that I was uninterested in trying to argue for such a thing), just basing my sweeping statements on the people I've supposedly met, "observing the dynamics between the races," and that I was just here to "show some examples to which you can relate."

 

Would that serve any conceivable interest for this forum?  Would it be anything other than a platform for trying to spread racist ideology?*

 

There may well be people who think that there's some fundamental difference between speculating on the supposed differences between races, and genders, but I'm not among them.  I take all such conversation to be commenting directly on my mother and my wife and my daughter, and I find it offensive, and (what is more important) untrue.

 

 

 

_______

 

*Note: There may actually be some use to this forum in a racist who was interested in trying to prove his ideology through argument, who dealt sincerely with criticism, and so-forth... if such a creature exists.  But this approach of "I just have some ideas on race/sex/gender (etc.) based on my personal experiences, and I want to share them, take 'em or leave 'em," I do not think contributes to a reasonable discourse.

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Would that serve any conceivable interest for this forum?  Would it be anything other than a platform for trying to spread racist ideology?*

Well, I don't think endorsing Rand's view is a sexist viewpoint, and I think Alfa and Split aren't saying at all "women are inferior", as it's focused on a sexual dynamic. Instead, I consider Rand's view to be contradictory by attempting to say women are just as able as men to be virtuous, all while trying to say women have different psychological needs by nature. And I believe most of it stems from poor understanding of sex and, maybe, thinking sex can be understood intuitively. Also, Rand's views on sex in general are good, so it's worth seeing in greater depth what that implies about gender norms and egoism, especially with greater knowledge available today as opposed to 40 years ago.

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Well, I don't think endorsing Rand's view is a sexist viewpoint...

You don't find anything sexist about Rand's views, re: gender? For instance, "About a Woman Presidency"?

 

...and I think Alfa and Split aren't saying at all "women are inferior"

 

I think they can speak for themselves (and have done so at some length, and I'm sure will continue to do so).

 

I also think that I didn't attribute any such thing as "women are inferior" to their comments, your (questionable) addition of quotation marks to that phrase notwithstanding.

But besides this, I think it is an open question as to whether or not these sorts of views add up to an implicit claim that women are inferior, in reality.  I may say that women are simply different per their nature, and that their place, per their nature, is in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant*, and that there's nothing "inferior" about this status -- that it's just "different."  I may even claim that this difference I'm talking about is beautiful and wonderful, and that a woman's natural role in the home is to be esteemed as the very height of femininity... yet someone else may well find that this amounts to a viewpoint whereby women are actually inferior, even if I say that's not so.

 

We may say "women are 'equals' to men... but they cannot (rationally) seek the Presidency, per their feminine nature" and I think it fair to say that such a claim is contradictory, as I believe that it is.  I think claiming that women are psychologically unfit to be in charge -- which is how I characterize Rand's essay, though you're welcome to some other reading, if you'd like -- is, yes, a claim of inferiority.

 

I also think it fair, and right, to describe such a viewpoint as being "sexist."

 

 

____

*Not attributing that view to anyone here, just so we're clear.

 

 

as it's focused on a sexual dynamic. Instead, I consider Rand's view to be contradictory by attempting to say women are just as able as men to be virtuous, all while trying to say women have different psychological needs by nature. And I believe most of it stems from poor understanding of sex and, maybe, thinking sex can be understood intuitively. Also, Rand's views on sex in general are good, so it's worth seeing in greater depth what that implies about gender norms and egoism, especially with greater knowledge available today as opposed to 40 years ago.

I do not agree with you that Rand's views on sex in general are good, except insofar as Peikoff reported that Rand said that "sex is good," though a full exploration of such a topic is more than I'd like to pursue at present (and frankly has already been hashed out between us elsewhere).

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You don't find anything sexist about Rand's views, re: gender? For instance, "About a Woman Presidency"?

 

....

I also think it fair, and right, to describe such a viewpoint as being "sexist."

As clarification, then, I'm saying her view is both sexist and not sexist - inherently contradictory. If it were a consistently sexist view, that'd be different.

 

By the way, "sex in general" is referring to Rand's view about the psychological role of sex, and its purpose. Gender roles in sex is a narrower view so I exclude that part in "general'.

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As clarification, then, I'm saying her view is both sexist and not sexist - inherently contradictory. If it were a consistently sexist view, that'd be different.

I believe that the assertion that in terms of psychology men are reliably one way and women are another, dissimilar way, on account of their sex, is sexist, just as the claim that Caucasians and African-Americans must have differing psychologies on account of their skin color would clearly be racist. Insofar as this is Rand's view, I disagree with her.

I agree where Rand argues against racism, however, as here:

 

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry.

[...]

Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control.

 

What are these views on the gendered psychology of dominance/submission, or the claim that women cannot rationally seek the Presidency, on account of having a vagina, and all that this is supposed to imply, if not "that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control"?  Or, rather, a woman's convictions, values and character.

 

So yes, I agree, there is a contradiction among Rand's thoughts.

 

But beyond identifying such a contradiction (which would not alone help us to determine which premise was flawed, edited to add: for after all, perhaps Rand is mistaken in dismissing racism; perhaps it is proper to be racist and/or sexist), there is still no proposed mechanism by which a woman is properly to learn to be submissive, or to worship heroes, or whatever else is claimed, if/when she has no direct knowledge of how a vagina functions in sex during the formative years of her childhood, or even into adolescence.  I suppose it must ultimately be accounted to magic; I see no reasonable alternative on the table, nor even an unreasonable one.  And then there is no accounting that I can see for how a failure to come to value submission, or to worship heroes, or to scorn leadership, works against an individual woman's life, or happiness.  It is all one big "blank out" so far as I can tell -- reliant not upon argument or evidence, but vague hand-waving at detail-less anecdote, familiar stereotypes, and reliance upon Rand as an authority.

 

I argue against all of this, but even in doing so I am struck by how unsubstantial it all is.  There is no "there," there.  No real argument as to how or why men and women are supposed to be this way, or why they should choose it for themselves (or even how they could).  Just a lot of insistence that "this is the way that it is, man; I know; I've had sex!"  It smells like middle school locker room talk.

 

By the way, "sex in general" is referring to Rand's view about the psychological role of sex, and its purpose. Gender roles in sex is a narrower view so I exclude that part in "general'.

 

I understand, and I still disagree with some of Rand's views, as for instance with respect to "casual sex."  But as I've said, you and I have argued on that score before, and we might again -- but preferably in a separate thread.

Edited by DonAthos

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I believe that the assertion that in terms of psychology men are reliably one way and women are another, dissimilar way, on account of their sex, is sexist, just as the claim that Caucasians and African-Americans must have differing psychologies on account of their skin color would clearly be racist.

The analogy is right, but it would only be racist because there is no evidence for it, or because it has been shown to be untrue. For instance, it is not racist to say that different racial and ethnic groups (on average) have different physical characteristics. From this, it is plausible to suggest that different abilities are manifested from these different physical characteristics. If someone argues that the super-high proportion of black NBA players has more to do with nature than with nurture, would the person arguing for nature be necessarily be making a racist argument?

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The analogy is right, but it would only be racist because there is no evidence for it, or because it has been shown to be untrue. For instance, it is not racist to say that different racial and ethnic groups (on average) have different physical characteristics. From this, it is plausible to suggest that different abilities are manifested from these different physical characteristics. If someone argues that the super-high proportion of black NBA players has more to do with nature than with nurture, would the person arguing for nature be necessarily be making a racist argument?

The analogy is with psychology though, not physical characteristics. It is still racist actually for your example, as it is collectivistic to see people as different breeds on physical terms, which only works on grounds as a racist argument, no matter how logical and fact-based it appears. It's also collectivistic to orient the differences between sexes on grounds of being them fundamentally different. Often, it is taken for granted that a genotype difference means a phenotype difference, even though people know it's false, i.e. a bigger head doesn't mean there is any psychological difference from people with smaller heads. It depends on and requires being wrong on more than just brute scientific facts. That's where "it's sexist" comes in, because it requires bad premises and a failure to be rational. The only question is if a person is attempting to hold non-sexist beliefs as well, such as men and women are able to be equally virtuous in the same way. It's bad, and has bearing on how people act (sexist practices in academia exist for example), but it's not as bad as someone explicitly saying men are wholly superior to women.

 

A compartmentalized viewpoint may offer some ideas, but I think people like that are persuadable a lot of the time.

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The analogy is with psychology though, not physical characteristics. It is still racist actually for your example, as it is collectivistic to see people as different breeds on physical terms, which only works on grounds as a racist argument, no matter how logical and fact-based it appears.

I agree that psychology is different from a physical characteristic. I don't understand your second point: is it racist to think that some people are black, others have narrow eyes, others have stiff hair that needs special products, etc. and that these physical characteristics are inherited?

 

Are you referring to my specific example, i.e. are you saying saying that someone who thinks there is some inherent physical reason that there are so many black basketball players is racist?

Edited by softwareNerd

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I agree that psychology is different from a physical characteristic. I don't understand your second point: is it racist to think that some people are black, others have narrow eyes, others have stiff hair that needs special products, etc. and that these physical characteristics are inherited?

No, it isn't, because it is simply an observation of some genetic factors with no bearing on an ability in any area of life. It's just a difference of physical appearence. Some traits could, like height, but anyway, "race" is probably the worst way to talk about genetics, just as I've said elsewhere that "gender" is a terrible way to talk about psychological differences. So your example, specifically, would be racist, because there is no inherent reason for performance *based on race*. There can't be, because race isn't a concept that makes a distinction any finer than something like "Japanese" (despite there being large differences between Japanese people). It can't take into account why it is that there are so many black basketball players. That's not about being mistaken for lacking knowledge of genetics, it's about being mistaken on what individuality is.

 

I know the example isn't your belief (I hope), just meant as an example of a belief that is wrong but not racist.

It's getting offtopic already, so if you wanna talk more about it, split the thread at post #86 or 87, and I'll post more there.

Edited by Eiuol

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I agree that psychology is different from a physical characteristic. I don't understand your second point: is it racist to think that some people are black, others have narrow eyes, others have stiff hair that needs special products, etc. and that these physical characteristics are inherited?

 

sN, I don't believe I fully understand your initial response to me, or the back-and-forth with Eiuol which has followed.

 

But these straightforward questions allow for a straightforward answer: no, it's not racist "to think that some people are black, others have narrow eyes," etc., or to think that "these physical characteristics are inherited."  However, statements ascribing personality traits, or as Rand has it (and I quoted), "a man’s convictions, values and character" to a given race, are racist.  It is not racist to observe that Jewish populations are statistically susceptible to sickle-cell anemia.  It is racist to claim that Jewish people are, by nature, miserly.  (Edited to add: Or that any individual is miserly on account of his being biologically Jewish.)

 

Observing that women have vaginas is not sexist.  Maintaining that women are "submissive," by nature, and are therefore somehow unfit for certain jobs, is sexist.

 

And please note, it is not the case that the dividing line is between "that which has evidence," or even what one believes to be correct.  A racist or sexist point of view does not cease to be racist/sexist because one thinks he has evidence supporting his claims.  It is what it is.  Again:

 

Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control.

 

When we're speaking of the color of one's skin, the shape of one's genitalia, the slant of one's eyes, the texture of one's hair, etc., we're speaking in terms of "physical apparatuses."  That is the realm of genetics and inheritance, and it is outside of moral evaluation.  A person cannot help the shape of the eyes he was born with.  When we're speaking of an individual's convictions, values, and character, however, we're speaking of "the content of the mind," for which an individual is responsible, and which includes his relationship to such things as "hero worship," dominance/submission, and the psychological ability to assume a leadership position.  One's "nature" with respect to these sorts of things can be evaluated morally, and Rand, for instance, has made the claim that "a rational woman" could not seek the Presidency; that a woman seeking the Presidency "is psychologically unworthy of the job."

 

That is a sexist viewpoint, irrespective of whether or not anyone believes it to be true.  Does that make sense?

Edited by DonAthos

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Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control.

 

I think that the claim about gender and psychology here is not one of content, of there being innate or determined "convictions, values, and character" (all of which would Rand would say have to be formed, volitionally, and can be chosen correctly or incorrectly, in accordance with one's nature or in opposition to it). Rather, it is exactly the deeper kind of claim about the "cognitive apparatus" itself differing (in certain respects) between men and women.

Certainly this could still be wrong; you may violently disagree with such an idea, but it would put it in a different category than racism, according to her classification.

Having "the desire to look up to man” was something she identified about her psychology, and things like making hero-worship an important part of her character, M/F in romance, and personal disinterest in the Presidency, would be rational conclusions that took that observation of her nature into account.

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I think that the claim about gender and psychology here is not one of content, of there being innate or determined "convictions, values, and character" (all of which would Rand would say have to be formed, volitionally, and can be chosen correctly or incorrectly, in accordance with one's nature or in opposition to it). Rather, it is exactly the deeper kind of claim about the "cognitive apparatus" itself differing (in certain respects) between men and women.

I agree with this part regarding the claims we're discussing.

 

But that's exactly the type of reasoning of racism, though. It is based on a poorly defined division established by intuition. Even a racist can do that, claiming that a Jew by nature has psychological needs of certain kinds, therefore chooses to be miserly, and any choice besides being miserly is violating his nature. Parallel to gender, well, it's the same thing! Sexism is a subtle thing and tends to appear so mild that it's not "really" sexist, but it's just so subtle that it seems normal. It's not blatant. I engage though because I think people would acknowledge contradictions they hold in time.

And by the way, a different cognitive apparatus available means different standards of virtue. Rand bases virtue on a cognitive apparatus that's core to all people. But then violates it when stating her M/F views, in a subtle way. She doesn't follow through with the ideas to note the division means differing virtue. Real observations are needed, and detailing I've seen besides is linguistic analysis, i.e. we analyze verbs like "penetrate" to determine philosophy. It gets us no where. And then sometimes by observing, people forget to check if what they observe is a pervasive arbitrary norm that people follow. I was pointing that out earlier by saying the "traditional" view of sex is a recent development so even those observations are only semi-useful.

"Having "the desire to look up to man” was something she identified about her psychology, and things like making hero-worship an important part of her character"

That's Rand's own weakness of her personal psychology if it's true. She knew better than to explain psychology of half the world based on her psychological experience alone. ITOE uses introspective evidence, too, but Rand is careful there to stick with distinctions that exist in perception and cognition as opposed to complete principles of gender psychology. Frankly, I don't recall her explaining her observations anyway. It comes from no where that she has stated. Her personality isn't even the sort described by her theory. Nor did she live submissive to any extent. In bed maybe, but I doubt even that.

Edited by Eiuol

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I think that the claim about gender and psychology here is not one of content, of there being innate or determined "convictions, values, and character" (all of which would Rand would say have to be formed, volitionally, and can be chosen correctly or incorrectly, in accordance with one's nature or in opposition to it). Rather, it is exactly the deeper kind of claim about the "cognitive apparatus" itself differing (in certain respects) between men and women.

Certainly this could still be wrong; you may violently disagree with such an idea, but it would put it in a different category than racism, according to her classification.

I think I can see the distinction you're trying to draw... though I'm not sure.  But if I'm on the right track at all, is it possibly a "distinction without a difference"?

 

I mean, would you say that it is racist to claim that black men are predisposed to criminality by nature (through unspecified means), but not racist to claim that dark skin, being some separate "apparatus," leads to criminality (through some sort of psychological operation, to be determined later)?

 

It's true that all individuals have distinguishing physical characteristics.  And any group that we sensibly recognize as being a group have some physical traits in common, be it a gender or a race.  Do you think it follows that every such group has some particular psychology, accounting to their shared physical features?  Ought there be distinct fields of East Asian psychology, and African psychology, and Semitic psychology, and so forth, each depending on whatever traits we imagine might issue forth from typical physical features for those groups?  Or is it only gender-specific physical differences that have the effect of creating recognizably distinct psychologies?  (I'm open to "yes" as an answer to that question, though I'll warn that I would find it somewhat convenient.)

 

And if we reach the point of saying that different racial groups each have a distinct psychology (leading to conclusions that some groups may be fit for leadership, perhaps, or other defined roles, and others not so much)... well, then isn't racism conceded for all practical purposes?

 

Anyways, I'm unsure if I'm getting your point.  To the extent that I am, if I am at all, I don't see what is gained... except an attempt to end-around Rand's writing, for the purpose of justifying conclusions which are indistinguishable from sexism or racism.  Or maybe that is the point.

 

Having "the desire to look up to man” was something she identified about her psychology, and things like making hero-worship an important part of her character, M/F in romance, and personal disinterest in the Presidency, would be rational conclusions that took that observation of her nature into account.

I don't mean to quibble whether Rand had any personal interest in the Presidency, or so forth, but it's another thing altogether to say that no rational woman may have such an interest; that an interest like this in a woman is itself evidence of psychological dysfunction... or immorality.

 

I find it valuable to try to understand my own psychology and interests, but I don't know at what point -- or through what means -- I would decide that other people should share my psychology and interests, because we share the same kind of genitalia, or skin color, or etc.

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So, all of this is getting to seeming like a pointless discussion of statistics at best to me. We deal with individuals, not statistics in the real world. No matter how many people of genital type whatever want something or don't want something for whatever reason, there are people among them that don't share that desire for whatever reason too. People have to live according to their own nature, not that of other people they have some commonalities with. We also have to deal with actual existents that come along which are not assured to be like most of their type in every way. This means we do ourselves no favors by just going ahead treating people on sex-based assumptions rather than checking if somebody does fit that assumption first.

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We deal with individuals, not statistics in the real world. 

True. So, even if we mostly grant Rand's premise and say (for a moment) that: "masculinity" within a romantic relationship is a value to most women and that it has a biological basis, this does not mean it is true of all. In other words, we can still reject her notion that there is something wrong with a woman who is different. When it comes to something like voting for a woman president, I think her argument does not even stand on its own premises: given the number of factors involved, and her quaint, and flawed, conception of the president as military leader.

 

However, does the opposite follow: if a man says he is attracted by "femininity" or if a woman says she is attracted by "masculinity" [by which they both mean the bundle of traits typically culturally ascribed to those terms] does it follow that that man or woman is irrational: in the sense of having accepted an invalid, arbitrary, and culturally-defined viewpoint, rather than an objective one?

Edited by softwareNerd

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Did Rand or Branden mention orgasms as part of the basis for their view, or are you assuming they mean orgasms? [sorry if you've already quoted something relevant, but I haven't read all the posts in this thread.]

 

From what I can recall, neither Ayn Rand nor Nathaniel Branden have specified orgasms as part of the basis for their view.

 

But in the quote I gave in Post #47 from Branden's article: Self-Esteem & Romantic Love (not sure if it's Part II or III) in the February 1969 issue of The Objectivist, Branden says the following:

 

"Sexually, his is the more active and dominant role; he has the greater measure of control over his own pleasure and that of his partner; it is he who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated (with everything this entails, physically and psychologically)."

 

From the above, Branden is implying that it's the act of the man penetrating the woman, which makes it possible for the man to have the greater measure of control over his own sexual pleasure, and over the woman's sexual pleasure.

 

Since an orgasm is a basic pleasurable sensation that a man and a woman usually get during sex, even though Branden is not explicitly saying that the man, by penetrating the woman, is making possible his own orgasm and the woman's orgasm too, thereby causing the sexual pleasure of both (which is what I first said in Post #1 in paragraph #7), it's somewhat implicit in what he chooses to mention in the above quote, namely: it's the man who has the more active and dominant role since he has the greater measure of control over his own sexual pleasure and over the sexual pleasure of the woman by virtue of being the one who penetrates the woman.

Edited by rameshkaimal

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However, does the opposite follow: if a man says he is attracted by "femininity" or if a woman says she is attracted by "masculinity" [by which they both mean the bundle of traits typically culturally ascribed to those terms] does it follow that that man or woman is irrational: in the sense of having accepted an invalid, arbitrary, and culturally-defined viewpoint, rather than an objective one?

 

By no means is a man attracted to "femininity" or a woman attracted to "masculinity" necessarily irrational (and neither a man attracted to masculinity or a woman attracted to femininity, for what that's worth).

 

That said, and insofar as any person simply accepts some prefabricated viewpoint... I mean, I don't mean to lay out a full thesis for attraction here (and wouldn't trust myself to pull it off if I tried)... but I believe that attraction is a highly personal and individual matter.  Perhaps there are people who learn from the culture or society what it means to be a man/woman, or masculine/feminine, and somehow buy into that package whole, without taking the time to critically examine all that they're accepting -- and no, I don't think that would ultimately be a very rational or self-serving thing to do.  But any individual's honest attraction, be it to the masculine or the feminine or some particular blend of gendered traits, I don't think that such an attraction, in and of itself, would necessarily be irrational.

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I have not read the original, but I assume Branden's hypothesis is an attempt to find a reason for male-female psychology within biology (and therefore evolution), as opposed to finding it within culture alone.  If so, I don't think one can assume he means to make a hypothesis about orgasm. 

 

Since an orgasm is a basic pleasurable sensation that a man and a woman usually get during sex, even though Branden is not explicitly saying that the man, by penetrating the woman, is making possible his own orgasm and the woman's orgasm too, thereby causing the sexual pleasure of both ...

Pain-pleasure is the way we characterize the drive behind various actions of higher animals: eating, fighting, fleeing, and also mating. We hypothesize that there is some pleasurable sensation about mating that encourages the higher animals to mate. I assume all male mammals ejaculate, but though female mammals can probably have orgasms, it is unclear if most do during sex. It is quite likely that whatever pain-pleasure mechanism is at work, is positive even in the absence of orgasm. One might say that humans, with our smarts, can be more assured of orgasms, but -- from what we know of human history -- that unlikely to be an evolutionary reason (i.e. much more modern).

 

Even if we drop the link with orgasm, Branden's hypothesis is extremely speculative: more at the stage of science fiction than science (not that there's anything wrong with science fiction as a starting point). Typical mammal mating is that the male gets a hard-on and penetrates the female. So, some people speculate that the evolved female sexual role of the female is to be attractive to the male, so that he gets a hard on; but even this much is on shaky ground because animals are known to stimulate each other physically, so the female has a theoretical option of being dominant, stimulating a male, and leaving him with little biological/animal options but to pursue the pleasure mechanism that has been triggered.

 

If we are going to fall back on evolution, we don't even need to base our hypothesis on the sexual act. One could simply tie it to roles that the different sexes have played. Since animals of different sexes exhibit some difference in non-sexual behavior, we could hypothesize that there are some aspects of non-sexual behavior where males and females have different propensities. One alternative hypothesis could be that evolution has made men more physically martial, even in matriarchal cultures (and despite the exceptions where women went to war in higher than normal proportions). From this hypothesis, we can claim that when it comes to physical relationships, men seek to protect and women seek to be protected. [bTW, not saying this is true, just that it is just as good a speculation.] From this, it is a small step toward saying that in a romantic/physical relationship, women prefer men to display a degree of physical dominance.

 

Come to think of it, using this alternative hypothesis, Rand could better justify her anti-President ideas. Of course she is wrong to see the president as a Joan-of-Arc, physically leading men into battle. But, if we accept that image, we can more easily use the "martial-man hypothesis" to claim that a woman would not mind being boss in any field, except that she would not get personal pleasure leading men in battle.

 

I don't see how one would prove or disprove these types of hypothesis. So, what purpose does it serve? Practically, it serves little beyond assuring someone who feels sexually submissive or dominant that there could be a biological reason. The debate is parallel to the one about homosexuality: nurture or nature. But, what if there is no nature-based reason? What if sexuality can be tied back to a mix of culture and personal experience? As long as these sexual roles are "used" only in a sexual context, by consenting adults, then there is no real need for a justification, as curious as we may be. Instead, they can feel "this is how I am, and it is okay".

 

On the other hand, even if there is a biological pre-disposition, as humans we often use reason to make it irrelevant. For instance, some controversial but establishment studies (e.g. Minnesota twin study) find some correlation between biology and IQ/personality traits. However, even if the correlations are near 100% (which they aren't) it still does not mean that is the most important factor in IQ/personality. The same for Don's example of misers. Some people speculate that there is a genetic reason why people react differently to dopamine, and that this correlates with risk-taking. One could take the next speculative step to relate this to higher-than-normal saving. But, again, as human beings with reason, we are not slaves to our propensities. Even a 100% correlation between dopamine reaction and miserliness would not imply that biology is the most important driver.

 

So, a biological reason does not justify blind following -- lesson: feel free to experiment. However, a purely cultural/experiential basis does not imply irrationality: but,it does suggest that one ought to experiment.   ;)

 

Finally, there's Alfa, and I see his argument as not being about the sources, but about "this is how things are", ... and therefore how to act in that context.

 

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I don't see how one would prove or disprove these types of hypothesis. So, what purpose does it serve? Practically, it serves little beyond assuring someone who feels sexually submissive or dominant that there could be a biological reason.

I think at times that some people also enjoy the experience of believing that the things that they feel are "correct," not just for themselves in their individual context, but for all men.  For instance: "it's not only the case, say, that I prefer vanilla to chocolate -- but vanilla is the *right* flavor to enjoy."  In my experience this is often accompanied by "...and all those who prefer chocolate (or say that they do) are wrong."

 

I think these kinds of "hypotheses" sometimes serve that purpose, to provide emotional satisfaction to those who wish to see themselves, or portray themselves, as superior to the people around them.  Thus, to bring it back, such a person might claim that it is right for a woman to be submissive sexually and irrational to be otherwise... because they are submissive sexually; or that heterosexuality is correct and homosexuality is irrational and immoral, due to their own proclivities (which I have heard is another conclusion Rand reached, and I believe it to be related).

 

Of course there are some choices and preferences that we can (and should) evaluate morally -- but to avoid the above error, as I believe it is an error, I think it necessary to remind ourselves that the proper standard of value is life.

 

Rand said:

 

The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

 

[...]

 

“Man’s survival qua man” means the terms, methods, conditions and goals required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan—in all those aspects of existence which are open to his choice.

 

So what's really needed to support or defend a proposition like this is not some contrived explanation/"unprovable hypothesis," trying to source one's desires or interests in supposed biology or evolution, but a reasoned explanation as to how a woman desiring or taking a dominant role in the bedroom will work against "the survival of a rational being through the whole of [her] lifespan," and further whether it is "open to [her] choice."  Then the person making this argument, ideally, and especially in a forum such as this, ought to be willing to defend it against critical examination.

 

For instance, I have asked proponents of this Rand/Branden theory about how a young girl, who does not necessarily understand how a penis and vagina function together in sex, is to develop a properly submissive personality.  Perhaps there is someone who supports these kinds of gender dichotomies who believes he has the answer (or an answer) to my question, but if so, I haven't yet encountered it.  If someone does propose to have the answer, I'd appreciate the opportunity to hash it out.  Again, that's the value I find in a forum such as this.

 

Finally, there's Alfa, and I see his argument as not being about the sources, but about "this is how things are", ... and therefore how to act in that context.

Yes, but then it is relevant when women show up to these threads and say, "these things that you claim are true about 'women' are not true about me," or men say, "these things that you claim are true about 'women' are not true about the women that I know, or have met."

 

In light of the fact that different people seem to have different experiences with respect to these kinds of claims, unless we hold them to be lying or deluded, it seems questionable to me to continue to insist that some group conforms to one's belief and anecdotal "evidence" about "how women are"; just as I would balk at someone who sought to describe "how Jews are," and therefore "how to treat a Jew," because all of the Jews he has met he has found to be miserly.

Edited by DonAthos

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