Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
d180586

About a Woman President

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

ragnarhedin:

Firstly, don't apologize... if an apology was necessary it wouldn't be accepted.

However, if one reads the quote he gives from "About a Woman President" in context, AR makes it clear that by "inferiority" she means intellectual and moral inferiority. Elsewhere, she talks explicitly of masculine romantic or sexual superiority - based ultimately such things as superior physical strength, which implies that women have inferior strength (which they do).
I agree with this completely and did not state (nor intend to imply) otherwise.

One may agree with her analysis or disagree, but I do sense, in some attempts to explain her view, a tendency to speak in vague, poetic generalities which miss the specificity of AR's views.

This was not my intention, perhaps my statement implied this... but I thought I had been rather clear that the man was the one wanting the woman, and that the man was the one having the woman. In fact, I worded that statement the way I did with the specific intention of making it obvious that the man was the valuer and the possessor in a romantic relationship.

It seems to me that this whole thing has been no more than a misunderstanding, and that, in fact, we agree almost completely about this issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ragnarhedin,

If you remove, “My apologies to Richard Halley, insofar as my reply to him was far too rude.”, from your post is it not apparent that whatever negative event that occurred before is now reconciled? Like Richard said, if an apology was needed he would not have accepted it.

“Well, I don't agree with that as a principle”

Does this have anything to do with who you are talking to? I ask because there are many times when I talk to people who expect an apology for such a silly and clear misunderstanding and it is considered rude if one is not given. You both know that it was a misunderstanding, why should either of you apologize?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had an email correspondance with someone (a prominent Objectivist) who knew Ayn Rand personally. I asked him at one point if she had ever defined "masculinity". As I recall, his answer was that it is "confidence". I assumed (and still do) that means a man is a valuer in all contexts, including sexual. A valuer properly feels that he is capable and worthy of gaining and keeping his values.

The woman, in a romantic context, is the value gained by the man. As such she can't approach the whole thing with the confidence of the valuer. She can try to be attractive to him, but she relies on him to respond in the masculine role.

For the record, and I think someone else may have said this, Rand explicitly said that her view of femininity (and I presume of masculinity also) were not part of philosophy.

My personal view and experience is that this is an area which is exceedingly difficult for people to really understand because each of us has exactly half of the introspective reference points necessary to fully understand it.

For a man, it's extraordinarily difficult to imagine life as a woman, feminine vulnerability, wanting a strong man, wishing to please him, etc. For a woman, it's equally difficult to imagine bearing stress best by being alone, wanting to get a confrontration over with, a desire to protect and cherish, etc.

To each gender, the other sometimes says or does things which are utterly incomprehensible given one's own set of values. Most people, to the extent they're successful in romance, simply act in accordance with their values and principles.

If the man is masculine, and the woman is feminine, it ends up working out. Although this works to a certain degree, it would be better to understand human sexuality better. This way, rather than each party feeling a little bit guilty for not doing what they feel uncomfortable with (and assume the other feels equally uncomfortable with), they both realize what the gender roles are and why.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that everyone under the age of 30 went through feminist indoctrination. If feminity is the desire to look up to man, feminism is the desire to destroy man. It trains young girls to be aggressive and violent, and young boys to be effeminate.

Popular culture is full of movies like "GI Jane" which posits that a woman who "really wants to" can pass the Navy SEALS training, and a number of the latest video games feature women martial artists, swordfighters, and even boxers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Popular culture is full of movies like "GI Jane" which posits that a woman who "really wants to" can pass the Navy SEALS training, and a number of the latest video games feature women martial artists, swordfighters, and even boxers.

Well, I don't know what Navy Seal training involves (though I do plan to watch G.I. Jane soon), but there are female martial artists, swordfighters, and boxers. Of course the best female boxer isn't going to beat the best male boxer, but depending on what martial art or sort of swordfighting you're talking about, the same may not be true there. Insofar as something relies on strength, the woman will be disadvantaged; but if the emphasis is on agility and general control over one's body, I don't see why a woman would be at a disadvantage. If anything, in my experience, men tend to be far more clumsy. (Though perhaps I'm biased by my personal skill at tripping over everything which gets in my way.)

In short: I don't think there's anything particularly insidious about women in video games. The motivation, I think, isn't feminism; it's marketing through sex appeal. As evidence, rent a martial arts game with female characters, and count the number of times you get a "panty shot". It's really pretty absurd.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The most "stunning counter-argument" might be Margret Thatcher.

Ayn Rand did draw a distinction between leaders of lesser countries and the President of the United States. Margaret Thatcher could look up to somebody.

(Although Margaret Thatcher came after Ayn Rand, many, many Objectivists admire her tremendously.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've always thought that a man looks up to a woman in essentially the same way as a woman looks up to a man.

It's not the same at all and I have written several (in)famous essays about feminine psychology explaining why. I don't wish to publish them here, but if a forum member e-mails me (mailto:[email protected]) I will be happy to send them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But two persons looking up to each other in essentially the same way isn't really possible, outside of a drawing by Escher. To "look up" in the context of sex does not mean merely "admire," but to admire from the vantage point of inferiority.

Definitely not!

It has nothing to do with inferiority and everything to do with physiology. The man is the one who physically initiates and sustains a sexual relationship.

For a woman to look up to a man is an acknowledgement of the fact that HIS choice creates and maintains the romantic relationship. He chooses. She is chosen. If he doesn't desire her, NOTHING HAPPENS.

The man is the creator and the driving force of a relationship and it is a woman's admiration for a man that allows him to literally win her over. In a rational relationship, this is a tribute to both of them. Ayn Rand described it thusly: "Man is the Conqueror. Woman is something that needs to BE conquered."

I know. I've been married to a Conqueror for 37 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Definitely not!

It has nothing to do with inferiority and everything to do with physiology.

And relative degrees of physical strength - which is what was referred to here, as one relevant factor - is not a matter of physiology?

Ayn Rand did draw a distinction between leaders of lesser countries and the President of the United States. Margaret Thatcher could look up to somebody.

Who? Ronald Reagan? Don't be ridiculous. George Herbert Walker Bush? *She* had to provide him with backbone. ("This is no time to go wobbly.")

And AR did not draw an absolute distinction between POTUS and the leaders of lesser countries. She regarded Golda Meir as a tragic figure for being a woman leading her country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Who? Ronald Reagan? Don't be ridiculous. George Herbert Walker Bush? *She* had to provide him with backbone. ("This is no time to go wobbly.")

She DID look up to the United States in general as the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation, and--given that their political principles were very similar--I suppose she regarded Ronald Reagan as a President worthy of that nation. This is what allowed their relationship to work out so well. The same situation would have looked rather awkward if a woman had been POTUS and a man PMUK, wouldn't it?

I agree about GHWB, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Capitalism Forever:

Yes, you may be right about her view of Ronald Reagan. If so, I hope she got some comfort from it.

As far as I'm concerned, though - although this is really a different issue - he was nothing compared to Margaret Thathcher.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Definitely not!

It has nothing to do with inferiority and everything to do with physiology.  The man is the one who physically initiates and sustains a sexual relationship.

For a woman to look up to a man is an acknowledgement of the fact that HIS choice creates and maintains the romantic relationship.  He chooses.  She is chosen.  If he doesn't desire her, NOTHING HAPPENS.

The man is the creator and the driving force of a relationship and it is a woman's admiration for a man that allows him to literally win her over.  In a rational relationship, this is a tribute to both of them.  Ayn Rand described it thusly: "Man is the Conqueror.  Woman is something that needs to BE conquered."

I know.  I've been married to a Conqueror for 37 years.

Betsy, if this is true, what happens when the woman does not desire to be in the relationship? Shouldn't sexual relations or any sort of relationship be the decision of both parties? Especially if it is to be successful and fulfilling for both?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Betsy, if this is true, what happens when the woman does not desire to be in the relationship? Shouldn't sexual relations or any sort of relationship be the decision of both parties? Especially if it is to be successful and fulfilling for both?

Certainly!

But it is also a fact that it doesn't have to be that way. A woman can be taken by force. That fact gives rise to feminine vulnerability which has important effects on the dynamics of male-female relationships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone ever see those "female martial artists" from popular video games? They're not big "butch" women; rather they're attractive women who can also kick backside. The "femme fatale" is an archetype that's persisted for centuries, and which many men find sexy. And I hope no one will try to tell me there's something wrong with all those men!

Personally, I have to say a demure woman is boring and unappealing. I don't want to date some clingy, weak girl. I want someone whose strength of character is equal to mine. I don't want them to look up to me - I want to have mutual respect. I'd be disgusted if my girlfriend asked me for permission to do something! What is she, a five year old? Quite the opposite - she's a rational, intelligent girl who is capable of making decisions for herself - and that's part of the reason I love her. What's wrong with wanting your female companion to be confident? This doesn't mean she needs to "dominate" you. In my relationship we treat each other completely as equals, and things work perfectly.

The idea that women need to "look up" to men is perpetuates the idea of a "lesser sex" - I know that wasn't Rand's intention AT ALL, but that's the premise such an argument is based on. You cannot look up to an equal. That's a contradiction. "Up" means above, on a higher level. You "look up" to someone superior, and try to emulate them, because you are not yet on their level.

(Also, isn't there a contradiction between the fact that a woman looks up to a man, but can't become like him, because that would render her "psychologically unworthy"? As I said, the term "look up to" means that you want to emulate a certain person. Children look up to role models. If a woman looks up to a man but is psychologically forbidden to strive for and attain his strength and confidence, then she has posited an unattainable ideal - rather like the objectivist view that altruism posits an impossible moral ideal of total self-sacrifice.)

My take on this issue is: I think Rand must have been uncomfortable being in a leadership position within the Objectivist movement, and with being the breadwinner in her marriage. That led her to develop this psychological theory, based on her experience and emotions. However, while this may have been true of her, I don't think it applies to all women. If I love a woman and she becomes president of the United States, why do I need to let that affect my self-esteem? If anything, it'd have a positive affect on me - I'd be happy for her. But on the whole, shouldn't my self-esteem be based on my own achievements? The idea that a person's self-esteem is based on the way others view him or her is contradictory to Objectivist ideals, is it not?

Psychology is too complex and individual to be explained in simple catch-all concepts. Yes, women like physically strong men, and guys don't like women to be stronger than them, but that doesn't mean one sex is superior and one looks up to the other. Doesn't anyone see that human relationships are far more complex than that? That no two people relate to each other in precisely the same way? Didn't Rand herself caution against "psychologizing"? Trying to say what goes on within every "proper" and "improper" woman's head is not only impossible, it's degrading to women and contrary to the doctrine of individualism.

In short, this theory of women as solely "hero-worshippers" just doesn't resonate with the rest of Objectivism, and I don't think it can be taken as part of the philosophy (or as philosophy, period). It's Rand's opinion, based on her own feelings. Nothing more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Skywalker, you should e-mail Betsy and ask her for her articles on the matter... they might clear this whole thing up for you.

In any case, I think you are correct in saying that this is not a philosophical matter primarily, but a psychological (and physiological?) one, and so, is not to be lumped in with Objectivism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The idea that women need to "look up" to men is perpetuates the idea of a "lesser sex" - I know that wasn't Rand's intention AT ALL, but that's the premise such an argument is based on.

Actually, it is not an issue of equality nor of superiority and inferiority. It is an issue of difference.

Men and women are different. Those differences are important, delightful, unavoidable, and make a romantic sexual relationship possible. I oppose those in today's culture who dislike and distrust the opposite sex and seek to erase those wonderful differences by making the opposite sex more like their own. That is a BIG mistake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Certainly!

A woman can be taken by force.  That fact gives rise to feminine vulnerability which has important effects on the dynamics of male-female relationships.

Taking a woman by force, i.e. against her will? In a sexual sense, is that not rape?

Also, when you quoted Rand as saying that a woman should be conquered..Does it mean a man should conquer her with his rationality and reason? I was unclear of this point and wanted to know if you could expand on it for me.

thanks !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Taking a woman by force,  i.e. against her will? In a sexual sense, is that not rape?

It sure is. And when did you last hear of men being cautious because there was a female rapist on the loose in the neighborhood?

Also, when you quoted Rand as saying that a woman should be conquered..Does it mean a man should conquer her with his rationality and reason? I was unclear of this point and wanted to know if you could expand on it for me.

That's part of it. What conquers me, and most of the women that share my standards, is a man's self-confidence and his ability to deal with reality and master it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But don't you have the same ability to deal with reality, and sense of self-confidence, Betsy? Basically I'm just not seeing how the man is "superior" to the woman in any sense except that he is literally the "penetrator" during traditional intercourse. Men and women should admire each other's virtues, and that kind of mutual respect precludes one exclusively looking up to the other. Are you guys mainly talking about physical/sexual roles when you speak of male superiority? Also, are men capable of "hero-worship"? You'll have to excuse my confusion - I've read the woman president article and never been able to make sense of it. It's always seemed like a tangent to me, and I'd like to try to understand where you all are coming from..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Skywalker-

It appears I'm in the same boat as you-- I've read the article in question several times at this point, and the same questions keep bugging me. If Rand said that the "essence of femininity is hero worship," then I don't understand what she could have meant, other than... looking up to men is that which makes women womanly, which I don't buy for a number of reasons, *least* of which is that it sounds appallingly archaic. In other words, assuming women are not inferior to men, there's got to be something more to being a woman than just admiring your man, and whatever that something is, it's got to be primary, coming before the looking-up-to-men thing. The way I see it now, to suggest anything less is to imply, if not state absolutely, inequality of gender/character.

To further confuse matters, many of the words being used to describe these gender roles (words like "conqueror") have clear and precise definitions that don't seem to leave much room for equality. "Conquerer," for example, has to involve defeating, overcoming, subduing, etc. I can't possibly imagine how women being on the receiving end of all that can possibly make them "equal." By their definitions, an inferior is not equal to a superior, and unless somehow I'm wrong, inferiors don't go around defeating (conquering, overcoming) their superiors too often (else the terms would have to be switched).

At one point, I thought my misunderstandings on this issue were all a matter of semantics, but the more I read, the less sure of this I become.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To follow up on my post above: I discovered a series of essays online this afternoon, at least one of which attempts to address, in part, some of the questions I had about this whole "essence of femininity" thing. An excerpt:

"It is important to bear in mind that masculinity and femininity are sexual concepts: they apply solely to the relationships between the sexes, not to men and women as human beings: that is, not to men and women in their relationship to reality. Both men and women are primarily human beings: their essence is neither masculinity nor femininity, but rationality (both in the sense of having the power of reason, and in the sense that living rationally with its concomitant virtues are desirable for and achievable by either sex)."
(bold emphasis mine)

Perhaps I'd been thinking of the terms "masculine" and "feminine" in much broader contexts than they deserve. If so, that would definitely clear up some of the confusion I've been dealing with on this subject.

In any case, here's a link to the essay I quoted above: Link. From what I could briefly gather, the author is not specifically a self-described Objectivist, nor is the site the home of explicitly official Objectivist ideas, though Rand is quoted often, and the main page of the site has links to Objectivist resources. Interesting reading.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A really cool set of articles on this issue would be:

"Women and the evolution of world politics" from Foreign Affairs (September/October of 1998) by Francis Fukuyama

and "The Myth of Women's Pacifism" by Mary Caprioli which can be found in Taking Sides:

Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in World Politics 11th Edition by John T. Rourke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing:

To further confuse matters, many of the words being used to describe these gender roles (words like "conqueror") have clear and precise definitions that don't seem to leave much room for equality. "Conquerer," for example, has to involve defeating, overcoming, subduing, etc. I can't possibly imagine how women being on the receiving end of all that can possibly make them "equal."

It isn't like a rape...which is a crime of power over those are unwilling and unable to physically resist you.

I believe Rand had a view that what was ideal was if a woman and a man had equal values. What made the sex act equal was that a woman chose to submit before the man. Just as the man ultimately CHOSE the woman as being valuable. Both choices are equal in the fact that they are made by rational actors. The sex act is just an expression.

You can't really have TWO agressors of equal strength at the same time. One is going to be more dominant even if it is only a matter of degrees. You kind of have to get the job done at some point.... (not to be crude or offensive). You also have some serious desire. Because sex IS mutual....that might mean taking matters into your own hands and adjusting your partner so it feels better. That is an example of a lot of things such as knowledge, communication about what feels good, assertiveness, and openness.

Roles can switch during the act of sex, obviously. A woman might indicate desire by intiating foreplay and end up totally sexually dominated (just one example).

There are some really strong women who could lay the smack down (and moreover would not hestitate in the least) who still want to be conquered. It doesn't mean that they want to kick in the man's testicles if he is forcefully sexual (as that would seriously kill the mood).

If a woman and a man have equal values and both have consented on a conceptual level (to a sexual relationship) then the physical level will be proportionally forceful to the degree of passion involved.

It isn't matter of one being "weaker." If you are going after the old and the infirm (the weaker) because you aren't good enough to pull down the young and strong...you are a predator.

Rand doesn't advocate predation as it is a form of being second hander-ish.

I believe Rand advocates that both partners are equal in their values, their rationality, and their dedication to those actions in tangible action.

You don't have to be equal in the physical sense to have a meaningful sexual relationship.

This is my interpretation of it...someone correct me if I'm wrong on any of these areas.

I AM quite new to Objectivism myself.

sorry for the double post :dough:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But don't you have the same ability to deal with reality, and sense of self-confidence, Betsy?

Oh yes. I'm definitely a woman who has to BE conquered.

Basically I'm just not seeing how the man is "superior" to the woman in any sense except that he is literally the "penetrator" during traditional intercourse. Men and women should admire each other's virtues, and that kind of mutual respect precludes one exclusively looking up to the other.
I hope not. Understanding a woman's point of view requires understanding the concept of a woman's sexual surrender (NOT submission!).

Are you guys mainly talking about physical/sexual roles when you speak of male superiority?

Primarily, but as an integral part of personal identity, sexual identity has a delightful way of spilling over into non-romantic contexts. One minute I'm giving orders to someone at work and the next minute he's holding a door open for me.

Also, are men capable of "hero-worship"?
Not in the same, "I trust you completely, take my body and soul" sense that women are.

You'll have to excuse my confusion - I've read the woman president article and never been able to make sense of it. It's always seemed like a tangent to me, and I'd like to try to understand where you all are coming from.

That's understandable because a woman's sexual motivation is so different from a man's. Ask for my Femininity Essays (mailto:[email protected]) and maybe that will help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...