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How does one justify the rape of Dominique in FH?

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About the quote from the essay dealing with the male/female relationship, just noting again that I don't really personally think that's got much of anything to do with this particular scene even though Rand does have views on masculinity and femininity which involve one party being more dominant over the other. I don't really see this being involved here because the way Roark and Dominique interact here is the result of some conflicts between each other and within Dominique, this isn't an ideal scenario at all. It's like how the first time Dagny and Hank have sex it's pretty darn rough and almost violent then too because Hank is internally conflicted about sex, especially with Dagny at the time while he had made a promise to be loyal to Lillian. Later on as their relationships get more healthy, Roark and Dominique and Hank and Dagny have much less violent sexual encounters. Other cases where things were never a matter of internal struggle for the characters, like when Francisco and Dagny started having sex, things never were characterized by any kind of violence.

As for the "degrading" comment, it doesn't make much sense to me either that it would really be degrading, but I've just figured it is, again, sort of a contradictory product of the kind of double think going on in Dominique, much like thinking pleasedly in the next scene about being "raped." In other words, I don't think it was rape or degrading for her really, she's just trying to tell herself it was rape and degrading to try to dodge any recognition that she wanted to have sex with Roark and that she doesn't even regret this, she got exactly what she was looking for - sex with somebody she's attracted to and a way to deny any accountability. Again though, yeah, being so full of conflicting notions, I really wish there could have been a less foggy and delicate course to accomplish the point of this scene.

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I hate to revisit the word, "appears," but your argument that it appeared to be rape to Roark ignores the parts of the book that put the scene in context. Like I said, I'm not going to debate this at

Roark was seeking a proud woman who was as passionate valuer, aloof and independent, and hard to win. He wanted a woman who was a challenge and Dominique definitely was. Yes, you have the righ

As I recall my previous rapes, it occours to me that when the woman invited me back, the first time was no longer considered rape. . . But seriously folks, we have to remember that Miss Rand wrot

About the quote from the essay dealing with the male/female relationship, just noting again that I don't really personally think that's got much of anything to do with this particular scene even though Rand does have views on masculinity and femininity which involve one party being more dominant over the other.

I quite understand, although I do believe that the masculinity/femininity thing is a factor. (After all, how could it not be? If we grant that Roark was in some way Rand's "ideal man," then how could his sexuality be portrayed without being stamped by her views on masculinity and the relationship of the sexes?)

It's not central to answer the question of rape, which is only a question of Dominique's consent, but it has provided me a possible solution to what I believe is an underlying puzzle: that an advocate of individual rights would portray forced sex as good. I think it also helps to elucidate some of the seeming contradictions that arise from trying to make sense of this scene in the context of the novel, and in light of Rand's notion of "rape by engraved invitation."

I don't really see this being involved here because the way Roark and Dominique interact here is the result of some conflicts between each other and within Dominique, this isn't an ideal scenario at all. It's like how the first time Dagny and Hank have sex it's pretty darn rough and almost violent then too because Hank is internally conflicted about sex, especially with Dagny at the time while he had made a promise to be loyal to Lillian. Later on as their relationships get more healthy, Roark and Dominique and Hank and Dagny have much less violent sexual encounters. Other cases where things were never a matter of internal struggle for the characters, like when Francisco and Dagny started having sex, things never were characterized by any kind of violence.

Just to clarify (as I will have to do again, when I eventually tackle that essay in full), my position has nothing to do with "violent sex" or "rough sex" or "kinky sex" or anything else. I have nothing against those things, of themselves. Neither against "rape fantasy" nor roleplay.

The sex could be as gentle as the morning fog, and I'd still draw my line at consent versus non-consent. The violence of this scene is material only in that it suggests to me that Dominique is being forced to have sex.

As for the "degrading" comment, it doesn't make much sense to me either that it would really be degrading, but I've just figured it is, again, sort of a contradictory product of the kind of double think going on in Dominique, much like thinking pleasedly in the next scene about being "raped." In other words, I don't think it was rape or degrading for her really, she's just trying to tell herself it was rape and degrading to try to dodge any recognition that she wanted to have sex with Roark and that she doesn't even regret this, she got exactly what she was looking for - sex with somebody she's attracted to and a way to deny any accountability.

I know that sounds good. It had occurred to me, too. To be honest, nothing would make me happier at this point than to find the "magic bullet" and honestly reach the conclusion that this wasn't rape. But I can't settle for less than that, as I hope you can understand, and I can't "will myself" to change my mind.

So here's my problem with this. Suppose that this phrase -- "the degradation she had wanted" -- reflects Dominique's appraisal. And we're certainly open to the idea that she might employ "double think," because as what must certainly be one of this thread's running gags, Dominique is a confused lady!

To embrace the idea that this wasn't rape, but was instead "exactly what she was looking for - sex with somebody she's attracted to...", it probably shouldn't actually be "degrading." Right? If it was degrading, I hope we'd both agree that this was more suggestive of rape, because being forced to have sex against one's will might well be degrading, but having sex that you want with an attractive partner is typically one of life's joys.

Okay. Let's now go back to a quote we'd parsed a little while ago:

It was an act that could be performed in tenderness, as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest. It could be the act of a lover or the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman. He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him--and she would have remained cold, untouched by the thing done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted. Then she felt him shaking with the agony of a pleasure unbearable even to him, she knew that she had given that to him, that it came from her, from her body, and she bit her lips and she knew what he had wanted her to know.

How do you read this quote? I take this as having the imprimatur of narrative authority. In other words, this is not simply "Dominique's confused worldview" on display, but a description of things as they are. Note some of the language used to describe their sex: contempt, humiliation, conquest, scorn, defilement, shameful.

I take these as being hand-in-glove with Dominique's reading of the act as "degrading," if "degrading" is meant to demonstrate how she did understand it. And to me, this lends further credibility both to 1) interpreting the act as rape on its own merits, as "good sex they both wanted" does not lead me to "contempt, humiliation, conquest...degradation"; and 2) Dominique's ability to clearly understand the nature of the sex act itself, and her subsequent description of the act as rape, which I think is especially important, given that she would know above anyone else whether she had consented to the sex in the first place.

Again though, yeah, being so full of conflicting notions, I really wish there could have been a less foggy and delicate course to accomplish the point of this scene.

If it had been Rand's clear intention to portray consensual sex, then it boggles my mind that she would include language like "the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman," not in opposition to the deed, but in parallel to it.

This isn't an argument. But. As a (beginning-and-not-very-good-yet-aspiring) writer myself, I try to take some care with my words. Rand, a person way smarter and more accomplished than myself, would not have been careless, I don't think. Hell, my assessment has thus far been that no one is more careful.

I cannot imagine her describing consensual sex in a way that looks so much like rape, has so much rape-charged language ("violate," "rapture," etc.), evokes feelings and actions in one of the participants that is so like rape, is described after the fact as rape by that very participant... and yet somehow not "be" rape.

Again, not an argument on my part. The only "real" arguments are going to be about Dominique's actual consent or lack there-of. However this whole thing strikes me like a jigsaw puzzle where some of the pieces simply don't fit.

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"I quite understand, although I do believe that the masculinity/femininity thing is a factor. (After all, how could it not be? If we grant that Roark was in some way Rand's "ideal man," then how could his sexuality be portrayed without being stamped by her views on masculinity and the relationship of the sexes?)"

I don't think it's a significant part of what goes on here because though Roark may be a very ideal (though fictional of course, in a fictional setting) character, he is in a non-ideal situation. I agree roughness or lack thereof is not what makes something rape or not, just that that which gives this scene such reminiscence of rape here is the very rough nature of it, something which is not there in subsequent sexual encounters between these characters and only seems to happen in Rand's writings when the characters involved are for some reason still struggling internally about and against their sexual desires. Once these characters stop fighting against it within themselves, this element is gone. You don't see there being this kind of thing happening every time Roark and Dominique have sex or even with every pairing of heroes in Rand's writings. If it was the result of Rand's views on how things should be ideally, then I would expect it to be there in every case of the heroic characters having sex.

"To embrace the idea that this wasn't rape, but was instead 'exactly what she was looking for - sex with somebody she's attracted to...', it probably shouldn't actually be 'degrading.' Right? If it was degrading, I hope we'd both agree that this was more suggestive of rape, because being forced to have sex against one's will might well be degrading, but having sex that you want with an attractive partner is typically one of life's joys."

Agreed.

"How do you read this quote? I take this as having the imprimatur of narrative authority. In other words, this is not simply 'Dominique's confused worldview' on display, but a description of things as they are."

This is probably a large part of where our difference in views comes into play then. I do not take this part of the narration as an unbiased, detached, third party narrator type of thing and DO think it is told through the lens of Dominique's thoughts and views on the situation. The kind of narrator this story has is the type that can and does go into the thoughts of the characters, not merely acting as an impartial observer relaying just the unevaluated facts of what is there and what happens. Now, granted just that this is the kind of narrator that can do this kind of telling things from a character's viewpoint does not mean necessarily that it is going on at that moment and that it is specifically from Dominique's views, however I do think this makes more sense within the context of the whole story as what is supposed to be going on in that paragraph than alternative interpretations which lead to a lot of much more bizarre implications that do not fit at all with the rest of the story.

"This isn't an argument. But. As a (beginning-and-not-very-good-yet-aspiring) writer myself, I try to take some care with my words. . . ."

Likewise exactly. Aspiring writer, I try to be very careful with my word choice and I'm sure she was very careful with hers. I don't think she was being sloppy here, just as I've said before, I don't have any idea how one could have achieved what this scene needed to achieve with anything else, especially with anything less convoluted.

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DonAthos-- I think the essay I am going to provide a link to would help you in sorting through this. It deals first with sex in all of Miss Rand's fiction first, then the "rape" scene in The Fountainhead in detail. It is pretty long but very well written and mostly speaks in terms of essentials with actual examples from the storys. A few statements here and there, especially near the end, seem to indicate the writer of the essay is not an Objectivist, but understands it and Romantic Realism very well.

http://www.troynovan...igm-Darkly.html

Hi EC,

I appreciate the link. I've written a little bit of response to McElroy's essay, though not the full treatment of this debate that I'd really like to write... I just don't know when I'll have the time to make it a priority, at the moment. So I'm going to put what thoughts I have here for further dissection, should anyone find that interesting. They're not particularly focused, but I've decided to leave it "rough" rather than let it languish altogether.

It's long, and will have to be broken into two parts. So, apologies for that, but what can I do? (Write less, I know. ;) )

***

I have a problem with Wendy McElroy’s basic approach to the particular scene under discussion. I think that largely what she does is argue that certain sex scenes in Atlas Shrugged are violent-but-not-rape, therefore this is paradigmatic of Ayn Rand (an induction), and then argue deductively that The Fountainhead scene, as an “Ayn Rand sex scene,” is violent-but-not-rape.

I believe that this same sort of reasoning is also reflected in (sometimes implicit) points-of-view such as, “Howard Roark is an ideal man; therefore, he would not violate another’s rights in this way.” Or more generally that, “Ayn Rand would never portray a rape as being heroic or good.”

However, I do not think that this sort of thing can be argued in this deductive manner, nor is it necessary. After all, we have the sex scene itself for consideration. It is its own data point, and must be judged on its own merits and details; we cannot instead massage it into the shape we think it ought to be.

So, in approaching McElroy’s essay, I will largely disregard that which concerns Atlas Shrugged as it relates to the question of whether Roark raped Dominique -- because frankly, I do not believe it helps us answer that question at all. I will engage her analysis, however, as it relates to certain broader philosophical themes which might underlay Rand’s decision to present a rape at all.

Now I’ll proceed through the essay. McElroy begins:

Ayn Rand is arguably one of America's most important women novelists, and her heroines are among the strongest and most independent female characters in American literature. Yet modern feminism tends to dismiss Rand's work contemptuously.

[...]

The difference between Rand and such feminists is particularly pronounced in their analysis of the sex scenes of her two major novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It is not uncommon to hear feminist critics bluntly describe these sex scenes as depictions of rape.

Immediately I’m put on guard, as McElroy is responding to “modern feminism.” I do not consider myself a “feminist,” as such, and I’m sure that I don’t share the traits and beliefs that McElroy associates with one. What’s more, I have not dismissed Rand, but have embraced her.

Yet, I do believe that The Fountainhead scene in question is a scene of rape. So I am not certain that my analysis can be labeled (and subsequently dismissed) as “feminist criticism.”

McElroy then uses material from The Fountainhead to show how “feminists” might reach this conclusion:

Rand ([1943] 1971, 217) writes that Dominique "tried to tear herself away from him ... her fists against his shoulders, against his face ... she tore herself free ... she let her teeth sink into his hand." During the ensuing struggle, "she fought like an animal ... she bit his lips" (218).

And yes, that material is telling. But it does not present the case in full, and I find McElroy’s soft playing of the scene also telling. It does not relate, for instance, Dominique’s terror, or that she tries to use a weapon against Roark, or that she seeks -- not just a brief physical respite in “tearing herself away” -- but complete escape from the confrontation.

The details that McElroy quotes could be read as either rape or as rough sex (as McElroy ultimately does). She leaves unmentioned, however, those aspects which would be more difficult to reconcile with her ultimate conclusion.

With these "rough-sex" encounters being so graphically described, it is easy to understand why most feminists, along with many nonfeminists, consider these scenes to be depictions of rape .3 Indeed, my contention that the scenes have no real connection to actual rape is the hypothesis that requires proof.

I appreciate the nod to us “nonfeminists,” and also the recognition that the sex scene itself is written so fully as rape as to shift the burden of proof firmly onto anyone who would contend that it is not. For it is written as a rape.

There follows a lengthy section which I do not consider material to The Fountainhead scene, except for a couple of select passages:

It derives from what Rand conceives to be the key psychological difference between men and women. The true woman worships the true man.

I agree that Rand’s conception of masculinity and femininity greatly informs The Fountainhead scene, and possibly provides the foundation for the apparent contradiction of "rape by engraved invitation."

Second, Rand chooses to delineate the ideal man in fiction, rather than in nonfiction, for which she is also well known. This choice is a key to understanding the sex scenes. It entirely changes the reader's perspective on whether the scenes truly depict rape, because fiction allows the reader to have a godlike panorama of the psychologies of all the acting characters. We can examine their deepest psychological motives and their most subtle desires. This inestimable advantage is not offered by nonfiction.

This is true, with a caveat. Soon thereafter, McElroy states that the question of rape “comes down to a pure question of consent,” which is precisely the case. We must take care then with our understanding of “consent.” For instance, is one’s “deepest psychological motives and most subtle desires” necessarily indicative of one’s “consent”?

Or can one have “subtle desires” for a thing, yet not consent to it?

In every one of Rand's sex scenes, a clear indication of consent is present either in the revealed thoughts of the characters or in their behavior.

And this, relative to The Fountainhead, is precisely what needs to be demonstrated.

First and foremost, in Rand's sex scenes the woman’s consent is often implicit, not explicit, and it is briefly given. On the other hand, the "violence" is extensive and real enough to leave lasting bruises on the heroine's flesh.

All right. I don’t believe that “explicit consent” is required, as versus “implicit consent,” so long as that consent is clearly demonstrated.

For instance. Suppose I wish to kiss a girl. I do not need her to sign a contract, or in any other written or verbal way get her to “agree” to the kiss. It is enough that, when I lean in to her to initiate the kiss, she either lean in as well, or even just not move away. That is consent enough.

However, if she draws back, it begins to be questionable whether she is giving any kind of consent at all; rather, it would seem the opposite. And if she were to start elbowing my throat, as Dominique does to Roark, I would say that she has clearly communicated a “lack of consent.”

In contrast with the almost hidden consent of the woman, the violence of the man is pronounced and often quite graphic.

[...]

But the consent offered by Randian heroines can be remarkably subtle. As with Dagny's silent plea for Rearden to ravish her, the consent can be almost invisible. This subtlety lends an aura of rape to these scenes, which are in fact depictions of passionate consent and of extreme sexual excitement.

I note some of this language, and I am put on guard. I seek and thought I was promised “clear consent,” whether explicit or implicit, and yet McElroy is informing me that it is “almost hidden,” “remarkably subtle,” and “almost invisible.” That there is, in fact, an “aura of rape.”

It almost appears as though McElroy is here apologizing for the weakness of her own case... (and well she might! ;) )

Feminism's discomfort with these depictions may be part of its more general discomfort with the fact that consensual violence (S/M, bondage, mock rape) is a popular way that sex occurs on this planet. Some feminists have been accused of becoming “the new Puritans” of our society, who police the images of graphic sex (e.g. pornography) and the expression of unacceptable sexual choices (e.g. prostitution). Whether or not this accusation is true, much of contemporary feminism definitely draws lines delineating acceptable sexual behavior. And any act with the trappings of violence tends to fall outside those lines.

Right. And here is some misdirected ad hominem. While I wonder what research has led McElroy to conclude that “mock rape...is a popular way that sex occurs on this planet,” it hardly helps us to decide whether Dominique consented to Roark.

Of course, no one wants to be a Puritan (except, presumably, a Puritan). But I will brave this unwarranted, cheap misidentification if it means accurately identifying a rape when it occurs.

And finally, if it needs (repeated) mentioning, I have no problems with “consensual violence,” either as sex or sport, or with pornography, or with prostitution.

McElroy continues dissecting ideological problems within modern feminism, none of which concerns me. She then finally comes around to The Fountainhead scene:

A good litmus test by which to determine whether Rand's sex scenes are depictions of rape is probably the initial encounter between Dominique and Roark. In this passage, the heroine is as thoroughly taken, or ravished, as any woman in the Western literary canon. If this encounter can be shown to be merely rough sex between consenting adults, rather than rape, then all the other less violent scenes should be exempted from the charge of rape as well.

I wholeheartedly disagree with McElroy’s methodology here, in seeking to define a class of “Randian sex scene” and then argue deductively from there, as I’d initially written -- individual scenes must be evaluated individually.

Beyond that, may I make a few potentially unfair observations?

1) Note that McElroy chooses “ravished” to describe Dominique’s encounter. As in “as thoroughly taken, or ravished, as any woman in the Western literary canon.” Well... ravish is a synonym for rape. I suppose that McElroy ultimately can’t get away from that sort of language, because it’s so... fitting.

2) She argues “If this encounter can be shown to be merely rough sex...then all the other less violent scenes should be exempted from the charge of rape as well.”

She means all of Rand’s “less violent scenes,” I know. But because of the context she’d introduced -- the Western literary canon -- we can almost read this as an argument that, “if Dominique was not raped by Roark, then there can be no literary rape whatsoever; it is all ‘merely rough sex.’” And of course that’s not at all what McElroy means, and of course it’s ridiculous, but I believe that misreading still bears some reflection. After all, if The Fountainhead scene is one of the most rape-like (or “ravishing”) scenes in literature... but somehow isn’t rape... then how would rape be more effectively shown?

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(Part II)

***

Anyways, we’re getting to the demonstration of Dominique’s consent. Here it comes:

Yet as long as a week later, Dominique still thinks of the act in exalted terms: "I've been raped .... I've been raped by some redheaded hoodlum from a stone quarry .... Through the fierce sense of humiliation, the words gave her the same kind of pleasure she had felt in his arms" (220).

This passage is a clear indication that Dominique not only consented to, but also reveled in, the rather brutal affections of Howard Roark.

Uh-oh.

This is the “clear indication” that Dominique consented? That she thinks to herself “I’ve been raped,” and feels humiliated?

No, that’s not what McElroy means. She means that Dominique felt “pleasure,” and that she “thinks of the act in exalted terms,” though in what sense humiliation and defilement (which McElroy has also referenced, though unquoted by me) are properly considered “exalted,” I’m not quite certain.

In any event, this is all wrong. We do not determine whether Dominique consented to have sex according to whether she felt pleasure during the act, or whether she takes pleasure in considering the fact of her rape. We determine it alone by whether Dominique chose to engage in sex, or was instead forced to have sex. So if this is McElroy’s case, then it’s DOA.

Ah wait, there’s more. Here is the better argument:

Indeed; as Rand later explains, it was an act Dominique could have ended at any moment: "She had not given him the one answer that would have saved her: an answer of simple revulsion — she had found joy in her revulsion, in her terror and in his strength. That was the degradation she had wanted" (220).

However, we must be careful again on the issue of “consent,” which was supposedly what we were going to be shown. If a person does not do everything within their power to prevent a thing, does that mean that they have consented to it?

For instance, suppose a robber comes into my home and takes some possessions, then seeks to flee. I have a gun. I can prevent him from leaving with my things if I shoot him, but I opt not to shoot him. Does this mean that I have consented to the robbery? (Or, more accurately, that it “wasn’t robbery” at all?)

Dominique also didn’t call for help. And in real life this sometimes happens, let alone in fictional works. Dominique did not do everything in her power to prevent the rape, yet I contend that she did enough to convey a clear lack of consent, which is really the only issue.

Was she prevented from doing “everything in her power,” accounting perhaps to some sort of internal conflict due to a “subtle desire”? Perhaps. But “subtle desire” is not consent, which is a choice.

Beyond that, and relevant to McElroy’s specific argument, I do not believe that the quote provided indicates that “Dominique could have ended the act at any moment.” It says that Dominique “had not” given the answer that would have saved her, but it doesn’t indicate that she could have given that “answer,” in terms of making a conscious choice. The context is Dominique’s emotional reaction to the event, which may not have strictly been under her control. “Simple revulsion” would have done it, apparently (as opposed to the terror and hatred described in the scene itself). Dominique did feel revulsion, of course, but it wasn’t “simple,” for “she had found joy in her revulsion.” This may refer to physical pleasure, or to an emotional joy, or both, but that’s ultimately inconsequential, as it’s not reflective of Dominique’s choosing to have or not have sex, but her non-chosen emotional and/or physical responses to the act. It’s like saying, if I rape a woman and she reaches orgasm -- perhaps a little “joy” mixed in with her revulsion -- then it’s now somehow not rape.

But again: that’s not what makes rape, rape. The issue isn’t one of pleasure, either physical or emotional, during or after the deed, but force versus choice -- it is an issue of consent. And by the by... "saved her"? What in the world would Dominique possibly have needed any "saving" from?

Finally, I think it’s interesting that both of these “arguments” -- Dominique’s “exalted” memories -- take place after the sex scene itself, and specifically after Dominique’s epiphany while looking at herself in the mirror. Dominique continues to view the act as rape -- she has no illusions that she has retroactively somehow managed to consent to the sex, and knows that it was forced upon her -- but she is also cognizant that she enjoyed the experience.

But Dominique's musings present the reader with a dilemma. She wants the violent sex with Roark and basks in its memory, yet she herself refers to the act as "rape."

I see no real dilemma. She was raped and she enjoyed it, just like in probably hundreds of thousands of rape erotica stories online.

In Against Our Will, Brownmiller (1976, 349) dwells on such musings of Dominique as evidence of "Ayn Rand's philosophy of rape," rather than as evidence of precisely the opposite — Dominique's clear consent to rough sex.

As an (almost) aside, note the change in McElroy’s language here. Now we’re no longer dealing with “almost invisible” consent with an “aura of rape,” as before, but “clear consent to rough sex.” It is at times like these that I almost manage to feel the scorn for McElroy that Roark felt for Dominique. Strangely, that doesn't inspire me to intimacy... nor do I even wish to violate her like an soldier would an enemy woman.

Indeed, for Brownmiller, the very fact that the sex was rough seems to negate the possibility of healthy, informed consent on the part of the woman. Dominique's pleasure at being taken automatically converts her from a sexually liberated, consenting woman whose choices should be respected by feminists into what Brownmiller sarcastically calls "a superior woman" with "a masochistic wish ... for humiliation at the hands of a superior man" (349-50).

And again we’re back to “rough sex” as the supposed feminist bugbear.

And while I have no idea (nor care) who Brownmiller is, I’m not certain that McElroy has quite tackled the notion of Dominique’s interest in humiliation, or whether that’s masochistic, or whether it fits in at all with her conception of what supposedly took place during this “consensual rough sex.”

Whether my personal experiences matter or no to anyone else’s reckoning, I’ll report that I’ve managed to have rough sex without either feeling humiliated or (so far as I can tell) humiliating my partner. Perhaps I’m not doing it right...?

And now, seemingly as a bone for me (though I'm not a woman either... sigh), there’s this:

But even women who shun the label "feminist" are led to question Rand's sex scenes: Why must sexual ecstasy arise only from angst and struggle? Why not from tenderness and cuddling? The answer lies in the wording of the question.

It’s not a desire for “tenderness and cuddling,” either in real life or in my fiction, and it’s not contra “romantic realism,” or in praise of “naturalism,” that I consider this sex to be rape. It’s in the face of Dominique’s clear rejection of Roark, and subsequently being forced to have sex -- that and that alone.

Through scenes of sex that resemble rape, Rand presents us with the culmination of the ideal male/female relationship.

I agree that this was (in part) Rand’s intention, but not that it was, or is, ideal.

The surrenders of Dominique and of Dagny are a violent, joyful answer to the age-old paradox of what occurs when an immovable object meets an irresistible force. If the immovable object happens to have free will — if she happens to be one of Rand's heroines — then she may choose to move the scant inch it takes to resolve the paradox of which force will prevail.

I disagree that this was what was demonstrated in The Fountainhead’s scene. I think that it was a contest, not of wills, but of physical force. Had Dominique been physically stronger, she would have succeeded in breaking free from Roark and running away. Perhaps she would have broken the lamp over his head.

The essay continues after that, on matters I don’t find strictly relevant. If there are any important matters I’ve glossed over, I would be happy to address them if anyone wishes to raise them here.

In any event, I don’t think that this essay succeeds at demonstrating what it intended to demonstrate. I don’t think it established that Dominique consented to have sex with Roark. Instead, McElroy talks about issues of Dominique’s pleasure and joyful reminiscing after the fact, which are relevant to many things, but not to the simple question of consent. Can we infer that, if a woman takes pleasure in sex, that therefore she must have consented to it? I don’t believe we can, and it’s doubly problematic in fiction where fictional rape victims take fictional pleasure in their fictional rapes all of the time.

Otherwise, McElroy tried to dissect the psychological motives behind those feminists who supposedly conclude that any violent sex is rape, which doesn’t speak at all to me or to my motivations.

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If it was the result of Rand's views on how things should be ideally, then I would expect it to be there in every case of the heroic characters having sex.

In some ways this might take us off topic -- I don't want to do an exhaustive survey of sex in Rand's fiction, and I imagine that you don't either -- but could it be that this violent sort of sex is indicative of the initial "conquest"? Meaning that: once won/broken, a woman doesn't necessarily have to be "taken" in the same way again? (This pattern is typical of some of the rape erotica I've taken to referring to repeatedly... maybe I should get around to actually reading some of that stuff, so that I can incorporate that into my eventual dissertation on this subject. ;) )

This is probably a large part of where our difference in views comes into play then. I do not take this part of the narration as an unbiased, detached, third party narrator type of thing and DO think it is told through the lens of Dominique's thoughts and views on the situation.

In suggesting that the narrative is colored by Dominique's views, representing that this which is actually a response to rational values -- and one of life's joys, as we've agreed -- in consensual sex as "defilement," I believe you're proposing an unreliable narrator. We literally cannot trust what we're being told.

Here's why I prefer my reading to yours:

Consider the language of the original quote, how precise and formal it is. How distanced from the actual action it represents. Whether we're witnessing rape or the "facade of rape," I wouldn't ascribe to Dominique's views anything so cool as "It was an act that could be performed in tenderness, as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest." I do not believe that Dominique is giving herself over to such reflection at that moment.

And later, keeping that same voice, the narrator clearly states what Dominique thinks and feels: "she knew that she had given that to him..."; "Then she understood that she was shaking"; "She thought she must take a bath"; "The need was unbearable, as if she had felt it for a long time."

No. This continues to read to me as a matter-of-fact pronouncement of "the way things are," and I think that there are clear lines between Dominique's thoughts and feelings and the narrative assessment of the situation. It is an act of scorn. It is defilement. We can trust that as much as that Roark is a ginger.

But okay. Suppose for the moment that your reading is the correct one. That this is actually great, consensual sex (if not "ideal") -- not an act of defilement, but an act of love; not the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman, but the act of a soldier coming home from overseas and reuniting with his beloved -- and Dominique just somehow doesn't realize it, because that's how screwed up she is.

Well, what does her being wrong on that count get us? It means she misreads Roark's intentions, perhaps. But if she thinks it's scornful and defiling like rape, and acts as though it were rape, trying to fight him off, trying to get away, then... isn't that evidence that she has not consented? I mean, I've seen it suggested in this thread that Dominique is wrong about a great many things. Can she be wrong about the fact of her own consent, and whether she's granted it? Is that how delusional she is? (At what point do we start to wonder about Roark's attraction to Dominique...?)

The kind of narrator this story has is the type that can and does go into the thoughts of the characters, not merely acting as an impartial observer relaying just the unevaluated facts of what is there and what happens. Now, granted just that this is the kind of narrator that can do this kind of telling things from a character's viewpoint does not mean necessarily that it is going on at that moment and that it is specifically from Dominique's views, however I do think this makes more sense within the context of the whole story as what is supposed to be going on in that paragraph than alternative interpretations which lead to a lot of much more bizarre implications that do not fit at all with the rest of the story.

Lol. I know what you mean about "bizarre implications." :) It is hard to reconcile ideal masculine/feminine pairings (as McElroy suggested in her essay) with scornful, humiliating, defiling sex, which is "like rape," yet somehow not rape, which is like a soldier violating an enemy woman, yet "by engraved invitation," which is terrorizing and hate-filled, yet joyful and "ecstatic."

This is why I said earlier that I feel like I have mismatched jigsaw puzzle pieces. I know that this is my interpretation and not yours (and possibly no one else's), but I think that this really does stem from a fundamental inconsistency in Rand's thought -- the same place from which she apparently concluded that homosexuality was immoral and that a rational woman would not seek the Presidency.

In poking around on those topics, I came across this:

In an authorized article in The Objectivist, psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, Rand's extramarital lover and onetime "intellectual heir," explains Rand's view as the idea that "man experiences the essence of his masculinity in the act of romantic dominance; woman experiences the essence of her femininity in the act of romantic surrender."

And yeah, I can see how the ultimate expression of that might be precisely rape. It doesn't make The Fountainhead's pieces fit -- that's the nature of an inconsistency, after all -- but it at least helps me to understand why they're ill-matched.

I don't think she was being sloppy here, just as I've said before, I don't have any idea how one could have achieved what this scene needed to achieve with anything else, especially with anything less convoluted.

I don't think she was being sloppy either. I think that evoking "violation" and "rapture" and such was quite intentional. I think that those words, along with the general description of the event, and well before Dominique ever uses the word "rape" at all, is all meant to put us fully in the mind of a rape.

Likewise exactly. Aspiring writer...

Well that's exciting! :) Far more than analyzing other peoples' art -- though that's great fun -- I love trying to create it, and for my friends to create it too. I'd love to read something sometime, if you were ever of a mind to share...

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In suggesting that the narrative is colored by Dominique's views, representing that this which is actually a response to rational values -- and one of life's joys, as we've agreed -- in consensual sex as "defilement," I believe you're proposing an unreliable narrator. We literally cannot trust what we're being told.

Actually, a lot of the time I've noticed that Rand doesn't typically go for omniscient third-person narrative in the usual sense of it being unbiased and detached. The narration is clearly aware of all the emotions the character is feeling, but not necessarily revealing what beliefs the character is evading, or all justifications for an emotion. Rand does seem to "get in the head" of characters more often than other authors I've read, and presents the emotion in all its positivity, confusions, or negativity of those characters. That doesn't make the narrator unreliable, it only means that presenting all the emotions of a character doesn't give you all the answers in the same way as saying "Roark is an architect". I'm not really presenting an argument about the scene, I'm primarily pointing out that stylistically speaking, Rand requires you - the reader - to make sense of a character's emotions. And when it comes to a controversial scene like this, it can become tricky to analyze.

I still do stand by saying Rand is primarily portraying a kind of viewpoint of masculinity and femininity and incorporates that into the scene, just as much as she incorporates ethical viewpoints into basically every scene of the book. Being as meticulous a writer as she is, I'd expect Rand would be fully aware and *trying* to get an effective presentation of not only the demands for plot progression of Dominique becoming a rational person, but also of a certain kind of sexual interaction. It was mentioned somewhere I think that Roark was in a non-ideal situation, though it's still important to consider why he took a particular course of action. I still lean away from considering the scene rape, I just think a completely thorough explanation is more complex than is immediately apparent. It seems incomplete without talking about Rand's concept of masculinity.

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What this particular scene (and most of the rest of the novel The Fountainhead) leads me to conclude is that Dominique is a bloody fruit bat. I love the Fountainhead. I may actually like it better than Atlas Shrugged. It's hard to say. But I do not and have never liked Dominique, nor do I understand why a heroic man like Roark would entertain an attraction to such a head case. I also agree with Eiuol that this scene bespeaks Rand's odd gender conceptions. Think about the scene in reverse, with Dominique taking Roark. It doesn't make any sense (though it could be pretty hot if written well!).

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Actually, a lot of the time I've noticed that Rand doesn't typically go for omniscient third-person narrative in the usual sense of it being unbiased and detached. The narration is clearly aware of all the emotions the character is feeling, but not necessarily revealing what beliefs the character is evading, or all justifications for an emotion. Rand does seem to "get in the head" of characters more often than other authors I've read, and presents the emotion in all its positivity, confusions, or negativity of those characters. That doesn't make the narrator unreliable, it only means that presenting all the emotions of a character doesn't give you all the answers in the same way as saying "Roark is an architect". I'm not really presenting an argument about the scene, I'm primarily pointing out that stylistically speaking, Rand requires you - the reader - to make sense of a character's emotions. And when it comes to a controversial scene like this, it can become tricky to analyze.

I'm totally willing to entertain an argument that the language we're talking about, like contempt, humiliation, and defilement could be reflective of Dominique's point-of-view. But I think that there must ultimately be *some* reading of the scene, and I've hopefully given fair reasons for why I've read it the way that I have.

In the last analysis, someone thinks of these acts in those terms. And even if it's just Dominique, that's still important, in my opinion, because she was the one empowered to give, or withhold, her own consent.

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What this particular scene (and most of the rest of the novel The Fountainhead) leads me to conclude is that Dominique is a bloody fruit bat. [...] But I do not and have never liked Dominique, nor do I understand why a heroic man like Roark would entertain an attraction to such a head case.

I agree. If I had the strength of character of Roark and was in his shoes, then the first time she tried to sabotage what I was trying to accomplish, I would want absolutely nothing to do with her; she would be no more to me than Ellsworth Toohey.

Since I am less of a man than Roark, I personally would ignore them for now, but look forward to dancing on both of their graves, rather than treating them as nothing.

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Roark to Dominique when she marries Keating.

"You'd rather not hear it now? But I want you to hear it. We never need to say anything to each other when we're together. This is--for the time when we won't be together. I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breathe air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I've given you, not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me. If you married me now, I would become your whole existence. But I would not want you then. You would not want yourself--and so you would not love me long. To say 'I love you' one must know first how to say the 'I.' The kind of surrender I could have from you now would give me nothing but an empty hulk. If I demanded it, I'd destroy you. That's why I won't stop you. I'll let you go to your husband. I don't know how I'll live through tonight, but I will. I want you whole, as I am, as you'll remain in the battle you've chosen. A battle is never selfless."

She heard, in the measured tension of his words, that it was harder for him to speak them than for her to listen. So she listened.

"You must learn not to be afraid of the world. Not to be held by it as you are now. Never to be hurt by it as you were in that courtroom. I must let you learn it. I can't help you. You must find your own way. When you have, you'll come back to me. They won't destroy me, Dominique. And they won't destroy you. You'll win, because you've chosen the hardest way of fighting for your freedom from the world. I'll wait for you. I love you. I'm saying this now for all the years we'll have to wait. I love you, Dominique."

Then he kissed her and let her go.

From my notes from Gary Hull's lecture, "Metaphysical Value-Judgements":

Throughout most of The Fountainhead, Roark understands Dominique better than she understands herself. He knows that ONE [not all; not those that gave rise to his love for her] of her metaphysical value-judgements is: Evil is important in life!

Actions are motivated by values, and the more fundamental the value, as with the case of metaphysical value-judgements, then the greater the impact on how a person behaves. You can discover everything important about a person by knowing what he considers to be fundamentally important, by his metaphysical value-judgements.

At the deepest level, an individual is romantically attracted to a person who has the same view of what's fundamentally important, of what is worthy of attention and consideration.

That is why you can tell so much about a person's view of reality by who he sleeps with, and that is why Roark waits so long to take Dominique as his romantic partner.

Edited by Trebor
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That doesn't make the narrator unreliable, it only means that presenting all the emotions of a character doesn't give you all the answers in the same way as saying "Roark is an architect".

Oh -- I wanted to say a little more on the subject of an "unreliable narrator."

The specific passage we're discussing is the description of the act of sex. As a reader, we're using it to picture what's taking place in the scene. Just for a moment, I'd like you to visualize two possible descriptions of a scene of sex. The first reads as follows:

"As a soldier violating an enemy woman..."

The second is:

"As a soldier reuniting with his beloved, having come home from overseas..."

As you picture this lovemaking (though only the second can really be described that way), tell me: do you "see" them differently? I'll imagine that you do. That even though they both describe sex, it isn't -- cannot be -- the same sex, in terms of physical actions, facial expressions, etc.

When we are told of Roark that, "He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement," this helps us to visualize the action taking place. This is one of the ways in which we "rely" on the specific narration we're given.

However, if we agree that this language is Dominique's, and not necessarily "true" (mostly because "Dominique is confused") -- that Roark may have "done it" as an act of love -- then we're not quite sure how to picture it. Our knowledge of the scene is perhaps just reduced to factual matters: well, we know he thrust his hips, and that's about it. And in this way we would regard the narrator as "unreliable." Consider: the narration here could read, "Roark raped Dominique," and yet bluecherry's opinion of the scene -- that it is not rape -- may stand unaltered, because he could judge the term "rape" to be reflective of Dominique's point of view, and not necessarily "true" of the scene. If the narrative tells us that one character rapes another (and I think that the language of this scene actually does just that), but we don't believe that's true, then that's another way we can view the narrator as unreliable.

Actually, a lot of the time I've noticed that Rand doesn't typically go for omniscient third-person narrative in the usual sense of it being unbiased and detached.

It's occurred to me that you might not be reacting to the same thing I'm reacting to, here. When I talk about "a matter-of-fact pronouncement of 'the way things are,'" I don't mean "unbiased," exactly. I don't mean a "camera lens" style of narration, which doesn't offer any evaluation or commentary. Instead it is "biased"... according to the narrator's point of view, which is often all-knowing within the context of the fiction. The question is, when the narrator describes the sex as "an act of scorn," can we trust that this is true? Or are we led to question whether in fact Roark "did it as an act of scorn" at all?

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However, if we agree that this language is Dominique's, and not necessarily "true" (mostly because "Dominique is confused") -- that Roark may have "done it" as an act of love -- then we're not quite sure how to picture it. Our knowledge of the scene is perhaps just reduced to factual matters: well, we know he thrust his hips, and that's about it. And in this way we would regard the narrator as "unreliable." Consider: the narration here could read, "Roark raped Dominique," and yet bluecherry's opinion of the scene -- that it is not rape -- may stand unaltered, because he could judge the term "rape" to be reflective of Dominique's point of view, and not necessarily "true" of the scene. If the narrative tells us that one character rapes another (and I think that the language of this scene actually does just that), but we don't believe that's true, then that's another way we can view the narrator as unreliable.

Consider this one quote that you posted earlier from the book:

"She did not know whether the jolt of terror shook her first and she thrust her elbows at his throat, twisting her body to escape, or whether she lay still in his arms, in the first instant, in the shock of feeling his skin against hers, the thing she had thought about, had expected, had never known to be like this, could not have known, because this was not part of living, but a thing one could not bear longer than a second."

This shows that Dominque wasn't even quite sure of the course of events in her own mind. Not only that, but she can't make up her mind if the experience is positive or negative. All we're getting from the narration here is what's going on in her head. All the narration tells us is the way Dominique felt her emotions, but those emotions don't necessarily provide many facts. Dominique wasn't wholly thinking negative thoughts, which would be thoughts of rape. To an extent, there is hyperbole in her thought process. That's perhaps indicative of mental instability. Note that at no time was it stated "Dominique was raped." Determining if she was raped is entirely up to the reader, unlike how it is not up to the reader if Roark really was an architect.

The narrator is completely reliable in describing emotions, but even then, emotions don't indicate how things "really" are. If I describe the emotions of a character feeling as though the world is out to get them (I've done this actually) that doesn't mean the world *is* out to get them. I'm not sure if I conveyed what I wanted effectively, but I'm careful to use words like "Jane thought..." to distinguish emotions from descriptive facts, such as "Jane smiled at the kitten". Metaphor takes that to a whole new level, where the reader gets a more complete understanding of a characters emotion. Metaphor can be used for descriptive facts too, of course. You can trust Rand's narration to be absolutely true, but that doesn't mean any metaphors or descriptions of emotions automatically translate into facts of (fictional) reality. When the narrator describes sex as "an act of scorn," you'd have to figure out from what perspective. Is the act of scorn a description of a character's interpretation of events, or a description of the event itself? Whether or not that works depends on how effectively the author makes a distinction possible. When I first read the scene-under-question, I recall it being quite clear that I was being given Dominque's perspective primarily, with some of the descriptive facts, like her biting Roark's hand.

However the scene is interpreted, Dominique clearly doesn't have her head on straight.

Edited by Eiuol
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This is why I said earlier that I feel like I have mismatched jigsaw puzzle pieces. I know that this is my interpretation and not yours (and possibly no one else's), but I think that this really does stem from a fundamental inconsistency in Rand's thought -- the same place from which she apparently concluded that homosexuality was immoral and that a rational woman would not seek the Presidency.

I agree with this but don't think it's an inconsistency at all, it just comes from viewing the world completely different then most. This is hard to explain but I need to find the right words here eventually. I think it is a sense of life type of thing where it gives you a radically different view of masculinity and femininity. I need to think for awhile on the best way to phrase and describe what I mean.

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Actually, this can be covered pretty quickly fortunately. The first time Kira and Leo have sex it isn't violent and likewise for the first time Dagny has sex with Francisco. Also, the first time Dangy has sex with Galt and the first time Kira has sex with Andre it is not characterized with any kind of violence either even though these characters are still kind of on opposing sides of some issues. I think the characters need to not just be in conflict with each other but at least one of them has to be internally conflicted about the sex for this violent manner of things to come about.

"In suggesting that the narrative is colored by Dominique's views, representing that this which is actually a response to rational values -- and one of life's joys, as we've agreed -- in consensual sex as "defilement," I believe you're proposing an unreliable narrator. We literally cannot trust what we're being told."

I'm a little unsure of what you are trying to say here. I'm trying to say not that the narrator is unreliable in the sense that they are a liar or something like that or that they are uninformed et cetera. I mean the narrator is given an accurate reporting of how things appear to Dominique. It's just that Dominique is, as has been said plenty before in this thread, pretty conflicted and screwy at the time on this subject.The narrator is not themselves unreliable, it's just like . . . suppose we think of the narrator as a reporter and Dominique as a source the reporter is quoting. The reporter may be leaving nothing out, putting nothing out of context, exaggerated or anything like that, but the source was, say, drunk at the time of the incident perhaps and thus a perfectly competent and honest reporter is broadcasting the bizarre claim that, according to a source there at the time of the incident, the culprit who robbed the local liquor store was an alien. You are not expected to actually believe the store was robbed by an alien though because it was already established that this source was drunk at the time. (Translated back to the scene at hand, the narrator is telling us the views of a character who we already have been informed has some very mixed up, screwy ideas about how to handle good things in her life, so when you hear her thinking thing like, "This is debasing," and combine that with positive responses happening at the time and later too, you can take that "debasement" stuff with a HUGE amount of salt.)

Now, to be clear here in case there has been such a confusion, I do not think the narration is quoting Dominique's thoughts in the moment verbatim. I think this is the narrator sort of paraphrasing things, distilling them and such. This is told from her angle with her point of view, but it is not like she is speaking or having her thoughts read off to us word for word. The narrator can and does offer us a condensed and essentialized version like what she may have come up with upon reflection afterward, but which she would have been too distracted to articulate so cohesively at the time. Kind of like having a good translator working for you who cuts out repetition and such when conveying your message for you.

". . . and Dominique just somehow doesn't realize it, because that's how screwed up she is."

(Aside from the fact that the "homecoming" comparison doesn't work given that they don't have such an established history to be returning to and they are not yet on the same side and the struggle isn't over,) I don't even think the issue is that Dominique doesn't realize it at all so much as that she is actively trying to avoid such an understanding of things (things being sex with Roark) as being something she wants, though of course, one cannot at once feel something like wanting and be unaware of it entirely (the doublethink thing.) If she truly had no idea, the language would be much more consistently one tone as opposed to alternatingly pointing in one direction and then the other, back and forth. If she had no awareness of anything like that at all, it would be a much simpler, plainer, wholly unambiguous rape scene. It would contain no positive elements in her mind, not except maybe at the far outside chance some eventual noting that once it stopped hurting, it felt nice.

The issue of whether this is or is not rape is, of course, not about what Roark does or does not intend. What he intends is moot. The question hangs on Dominique and her thoughts and actions. In short, I contend that she is putting on a mighty fine show of resistance to try to tell *herself* she was not into things while simultaneously she didn't do what actually could have stopped things and (if I recall correctly) didn't even say no because in spite of being frightened by the significance of getting into a sexual relationship with somebody she was attracted to, she wanted this. She thinks good is doomed, but she still wants to be wrong about this and hopes so. She's trying to not let herself get too attached and get her hopes up too high when she thinks they'll just get dashed. Sex with Roak is like a guilty pleasure for her, something she wants but thinks she is foolish for wanting, that she shouldn't want it, so she tries to pursue it and not pursue it at once and thus chaos ensues.

". . . the same place from which she apparently concluded that homosexuality was immoral and that a rational woman would not seek the Presidency."

Just in case you haven't been around when I've discussed these kinds of things before, I generally don't think Rand's stuff on things related to gender hold water beyond maybe reflecting her own feelings on things and perhaps some prevalent views at the time. They are some of the things she has the least non-fiction addressing and in what little non-fiction she does have related to it, it only seems to state the content of her conclusions, not the supporting material for how she got there. As I've said earlier though, I don't think these things are behind the "rape" scene being discussed since this is not typical of the sexual interactions between the protagonists and I think a combination of the errors in Dominique's thinking and the extremely high level of sort of intuitive grasp of her that Roark has to keep this story moving along provide a better explanation given that it isn't always like this for the heroes.

"I'd love to read something sometime, if you were ever of a mind to share..."

Sure. If you're interested I have a short story or two that I show interested parties sometimes. They aren't extremely recent though and the older of the two has one small section I've edited a million times and never quite been satisfied with. I don't have more recent work to show though because I mostly tend toward really long works and because I haven't been able to write for a little while now due to an issue which makes it hard for me to concentrate and stay motivated on these things (it's long text that this issue is especially bad about, hence why I haven't been able to read much lately either. It's a temporary issue, I just don't know how long it will be before it lets up. This is also a heads up though that I would probably not be able to read anything by you right now, though I may be interested in the future. I have a huge backlog as it is of stuff I told people I would read that they wrote, but have been unable to finish even though some of it has been rather good. ^^; )

Edited by bluecherry
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However the scene is interpreted, Dominique clearly doesn't have her head on straight.

You'll get no argument from me on that score. :)

I agree with this but don't think it's an inconsistency at all, it just comes from viewing the world completely different then most. This is hard to explain but I need to find the right words here eventually. I think it is a sense of life type of thing where it gives you a radically different view of masculinity and femininity. I need to think for awhile on the best way to phrase and describe what I mean.

I'm open to whatever you have to say, and I appreciate your taking the time to find the best way to communicate what you have in mind.

I'm a little unsure of what you are trying to say here. I'm trying to say not that the narrator is unreliable in the sense that they are a liar or something like that or that they are uninformed et cetera. I mean the narrator is given an accurate reporting of how things appear to Dominique. It's just that Dominique is, as has been said plenty before in this thread, pretty conflicted and screwy at the time on this subject.The narrator is not themselves unreliable, it's just like . . . suppose we think of the narrator as a reporter and Dominique as a source the reporter is quoting.

Hmm... I may have to let the idea of an "unreliable narrator" go, because I don't think I've accurately conveyed what I mean. And... I don't know ultimately how relevant it will prove.

Suffice it to say, there's a difference between an "unreliable author" and an "unreliable narrator." :) If the narrator is giving us an accurate reporting of things as they appear to Dominique, and if Dominique is "unreliable" (in that she doesn't see/understand things as they actually are), then that is precisely what I mean by an "unreliable narrator."

Please note that there's also a difference between a reporting of things "as they appear to Dominique" and a reporting of "how things appear to Dominique." To exemplify what I mean by this seemingly picky distinction, consider the difference between the following:

"Dominique looked at Roark. He was angry."

"It appeared to Dominique that Roark was angry."

The first quote could be Dominique's point of view, or it could be a distinct narrative voice. Traditionally, a narrator who isn't also a character is never unreliable (though I've seen at least one case where there was an unreliable omniscient third narrator). So if it is an omniscient third person narrator, when it says that "[Roark] was angry," we may believe this without question -- and in fact must do so, if we wish to understand the narrative.

If it's third person, but Dominique's point of view (and this is a possibility), then "[Roark] was angry" might be right or wrong. It depends on Dominique, and whether we trust her judgement. If she's confused -- and our girl is always confused -- then we cannot trust what we're being told. Roark might actually be happy. In that way, it would be an "unreliable narrative."

With the second sentence, however, we may again believe what we're being told. While we may ultimately agree or disagree with Dominique's assessment, the narrator is truthful and reliable.

And I believe that the scene we've been dissecting is an example of this second type of sentence. (As well as the first type of sentence, but from a narrative voice not Dominique's.) I believe we can trust the narrator.

But I said I was letting this go, right...? Heh. I have the hardest time letting things go...

I don't even think the issue is that Dominique doesn't realize it at all so much as that she is actively trying to avoid such an understanding of things (things being sex with Roark) as being something she wants, though of course, one cannot at once feel something like wanting and be unaware of it entirely (the doublethink thing.)

Okay, let's agree on this. Because I do agree with you -- I believe that Dominique is actively trying to avoid understand certain things about her own nature, and how she responds to Roark, and etc.

But do we also agree that the question of rape comes down to a question of consent?

Because I think that Dominique's desires for Roark are operating on a subconscious level, and that consciously she's pushing him away (which gets translated into actual, physical shoves). I think that Roark forcing himself onto Dominique simultaneously forces her into awareness of her own situation, or as EC said earlier:

The "rape" scene was the beginning of the dismantling of her contradictions. It had to be "forced" on her because it was also a metaphorical device that equated with her eyes being forced to see reality (and a man) as it (and he) really is.

The difference (I believe) between EC and myself is that he concludes that, "therefore this is not rape." And I don't agree with that. I think that forcing this awakening on her via sex is the very thing which makes it rape. Rape for the best, in this case. Healing, soothing, medicinal rape. Rape in service of a metaphorical or thematic purpose, perhaps. But still rape, because her conscious will is to repress her desire for him, reject him sexually, and thereby she withholds her consent. I think that explains her struggles to fight him off and get away, not that she was just engaging in "rough sex foreplay."

Just in case you haven't been around when I've discussed these kinds of things before, I generally don't think Rand's stuff on things related to gender hold water beyond maybe reflecting her own feelings on things and perhaps some prevalent views at the time.

I'm still new here (though I apparently signed up a decade ago, I somehow never participated until recently)... so I don't know who thinks what quite yet. :) But I'm learning...

As I've said earlier though, I don't think these things are behind the "rape" scene being discussed since this is not typical of the sexual interactions between the protagonists and I think a combination of the errors in Dominique's thinking and the extremely high level of sort of intuitive grasp of her that Roark has to keep this story moving along provide a better explanation given that it isn't always like this for the heroes.

I understand what you're saying. I think that the description I'd provided earlier, equating masculinity to "romantic dominance" and femininity to "romantic surrender" seems so descriptive of this scene, however, that I just can't see them as unrelated. And when I ask myself, "why would a sex scene that 'looks so much like rape' be desirable at all?" I find that this view of masculinity/femininity provides a possible answer. Doesn't mean that we *need* to talk about it, you and I, but that's why I find it relevant.

Sure. If you're interested I have a short story or two that I show interested parties sometimes.

Color me interested. Send whatever you feel comfortable sharing.

This is also a heads up though that I would probably not be able to read anything by you right now, though I may be interested in the future. I have a huge backlog as it is of stuff I told people I would read that they wrote, but have been unable to finish even though some of it has been rather good. ^^; )

No worries. I've taken to writing enough in these forums lately as to satisfy anyone's cravings for what I have to say. :)

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See, I don't think that Dominique's conscious and subconscious desires are where the conflict is for her. I think it is all occurring on the conscious level. She's trying to push certain parts of it out of her conscious mind, to tell herself she actually wants and believes something else, but is far from completely successful. That is why the thoughts and actions are so contradictory in appearance and why I think she can be both physically struggling against him and consenting. Consent is indeed conscious, not subconscious, no objection there.

This is kind of getting off topic, but I am not really sure rape would work as far as the female submitting thing goes actually anyway even if I did think that was involved in the explanation of this scene. Submission is something somebody does while rape is something that just happens to somebody. There's not really any element of participation from the one being raped while females submitting is supposed to be a form of participation. One may give up resistance when they think they would be worse off if they didn't in a rape and perhaps even become compliant, but this is not the same thing as acceptance, being welcoming and encouraging of things. It's like the difference between being robbed and giving a gift.

I'm still waking up and about to go get breakfast, but I'll send one later today then. :)

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See, I don't think that Dominique's conscious and subconscious desires are where the conflict is for her. I think it is all occurring on the conscious level.

All right. If the conflict were on the conscious level, I'd personally expect more ambivalence in her actions.... When people are confused in that sense -- warring with themselves, consciously, over whether they want to do something or not -- I find that usually they don't take strong action in any way. Or maybe that's wrong on my part? But that's how I'd see that. Imagine, for instance, a woman approached sexually who neither responds with passion nor seeks to get away, but simply permits the activity, looking uncertain, hesitant. I would read that as a portrait of a woman with a conscious conflict over whether or not to have sex. (And on the issue of consent, I'd say that it would be sufficient to press one's seduction, provided the woman doesn't take a clearer stand against, by retreating or pushing away or similar.)

Dominique, by contrast, takes very strong action, ostensibly to terminate her encounter with Roark, or at least prevent their having sex. To me, that indicates that her conscious choice is on the one side, anti-, though we're agreed that there is another force which is pro-, which I believe is largely subconscious. We also cannot dismiss her feelings, as they're relayed to us, which include terror and hatred. Finally, even if it's "only" defilement to her (and I do not agree that this is so -- I believe that it is defilement, by narrative fiat), that's also meaningful. Since we've agreed that defilement and et cetera signify rape, as opposed to consensual rough sex, it indicates that at the least Dominique considers this particular sex to be rape (a conclusion she keeps even after she decides that she enjoyed it).

She's trying to push certain parts of it out of her conscious mind, to tell herself she actually wants and believes something else, but is far from completely successful.

Hmmm... I dunno how "far" she is from success -- apparently it takes a rape to break through, which strikes me as extreme therapy (Howard Roark, therapist... Howard Roark, the rapist! My best argument yet?! ;) ) -- but I agree that she's pushing things out of her conscious mind. To employ jargon I probably would best avoid, she's "repressing." And as I understand it, those things which are pushed from our conscious mind don't simply disappear, but they form part of our subconscious mind... which is, to be honest, what I think I've been saying.

But yeah, you're right: she's "trying" to do this. That's the choice she's made, and part of that effort is pushing Roark away. Is it a healthy choice? Perhaps not. But it's the choice she's made.

And can she be 100% completely successful? No, I don't believe we can be completely successful in denying reality (which is another way of looking at this). I think that repression, or evasion, or whatever psychological misfortune we believe we're looking at, isn't healthy, and will potentially lead a person to Dominique-level confusions or similar psychological malady.

That is why the thoughts and actions are so contradictory in appearance and why I think she can be both physically struggling against him and consenting.

And here's where we disagree. Even though I agree that Dominique isn't -- and cannot be -- completely successful in denying her subconscious desires here, I do not agree that she is "physically struggling against him and consenting." I don't think she's consenting. (By the way, can we at least put to bed the interpretation that others have -- including McElroy -- that Dominique's physical actions are no more than her participating in "rough sex"? As in, "Dominique is into rough sex, and Roark knew to give it to her"?)

Something I've brought up a few times, but been unable to draw conversation about, has been the infamous "take a bath sequence." We all know that Dominique decides not to take a bath, which some have construed as being strong evidence against rape... and yet immediately prior to that, Dominique felt an "unbearable" need to bathe, almost as though she'd just been raped.

And between those two opposite stances, Dominique appears to have an epiphany:

It was not the sight, but the sudden flash of knowledge.

We're left to infer the nature of that epiphany, somewhat. We know that now she doesn't want to bathe, but that also has "implications" for her. And those implications...? I'd suggest that this is part of the "forcing open of her eyes," to which EC had referred. It's her starting to come to understand the nature of the subconscious desires which she had been repressing. It's her coming to terms with the fact that, although she had not wanted to have sex with Roark and had actively tried to prevent it, she still enjoyed it. And beyond mere physical pleasure, it answered a "want" which had been "deeper down" than that which she had been heretofore aware of consciously.

This is kind of getting off topic, but I am not really sure rape would work as far as the female submitting thing goes actually anyway even if I did think that was involved in the explanation of this scene. Submission is something somebody does while rape is something that just happens to somebody. There's not really any element of participation from the one being raped while females submitting is supposed to be a form of participation. One may give up resistance when they think they would be worse off if they didn't in a rape and perhaps even become compliant, but this is not the same thing as acceptance, being welcoming and encouraging of things. It's like the difference between being robbed and giving a gift.

Hmm... I see where you're coming from, and I agree that this is one sense in which we could discuss "submission." After all, since we're talking about sex generally, that's what we typically mean by "sub/dom"; the "submissive" partner is no less willing than the "dominant."

On the other hand, there is also "submission" in the face of force. It is ultimately compliant in some ways, true, but not consensual. For instance, if a police officer aims his weapon at you, you may well "submit" to his authority. In mixed martial arts, if someone has your arm twisted behind your back, you are encouraged to "submit." In looking up "submission" at Merriam-Webster, I found this example sentence: "The prisoners were beaten into submission." When we "submit" to something, it is not necessarily indicative of our will free from force.

For instance, consider again the passage we've been poring over. I'll end it on... the word "submit":

It was an act that could be performed in tenderness, as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest. It could be the act of a lover or the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman. He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit.

I submit (heh -- a third sense!) this as "romantic submission" in the sense of the ideal of femininity, in the face of Roark's masculine "romantic dominance." Specifically he uses force -- as a soldier would when violating (which means: raping; which means: forcing) an enemy woman -- and she submits to it.

Her breakthrough in the mirror? Is her recognition that a true woman responds in a certain way to a true man, of their natures. The man dominates her, and she submits. The man penetrates, the woman is penetrated. He does, and she is done to. The joy she takes during their non-consensual sex? Read it again:

Then she felt him shaking with the agony of a pleasure unbearable even to him, she knew that she had given that to him, that it came from her, from her body, and she bit her lips and she knew what he had wanted her to know.

Note how it is "what he had wanted her to know." I think this scene is inextricable from Rand's conception of sexuality, which is bound up in her ideas of the feminine and the masculine. The man takes. And in taking, gives the woman what she "wants." (In this case whether she realizes that she wants it or not. :) )

Consider Trebor's earlier (though since disavowed) metaphor of lions. It is true of the way that beasts mate that the man simply takes. Consider how Rand described this scene, even as she was saying that this wasn't rape:

What Dominique liked about Roark was the fact that he took the responsibility for their romance and for his own actions. Most men nowadays, like Peter Keating, expect to seduce a woman, or rather they let her seduce them and thus shift the responsibility to her. That is what a truly feminine woman would despise. The lesson in the Roark-Dominique romance is one of spiritual strength and self-confidence, not of physical violence.

Had this seduction come from Dominique at all -- had she initiated it, even weakly through mere consenting such that Roark could understand it -- it wouldn't have the relationship of masculine-to-feminine that I believe Rand saw as ideal. For Roark to have full "responsibility," Dominique couldn't have initially wanted it. She had to be made to enjoy it. She had to have her eyes and (if you'll forgive my crudeness) other body parts forced open. It was a physical contest, a struggle of force, and Roark -- as the man -- won out. He dominated and she was made to submit. As it "should be."

I'm still waking up and about to go get breakfast, but I'll send one later today then. :)

I'll look forward to it.

Edited by DonAthos
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No content to respond to, but this made me laugh:

Hmmm... I dunno how "far" she is from success -- apparently it takes a rape to break through, which strikes me as extreme therapy (Howard Roark, therapist... Howard Roark, the rapist! My best argument yet?! ;) )

We're approaching psychoanalytic literary criticism! =P

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Dominique wasn't taking very strong actions prior to Roark showing up uninvited to her place. When she was left to take the lead, not much happened. She was very noncommittal. Once Roark had started taking the initiative though, being just wishy washy ceased to be an option. Dominique would have to give some kind of strong response. However, reluctant to take one clear stance still, I think she was taking strong actions both in the directions of for and against things as the closest she could get to staying wishy washy. The physical struggling of course is strong in opposition, however I regard not doing what could easily actually make it stop, among other things, as very strong support of the whole ordeal. She can't really just be very non-reactive about sex with Roark here. Why? This isn't a situation where she's not settled about if she does or does not want it, like, "Gee, that car looks really nice and has a good price, but the insurance and gas costs would pile up for it really quickly. I've been looking around for a while as it is, but maybe I could find a better deal still. Hmm . . ." Instead, this is a case where she definitely does want it, just she thinks she shouldn't want it. She's mistaken about what makes her think she should not want it though and hoping she may be mistaken. It's kind of more like, "I really like that car and can afford it easily, but it's made in a foreign country and uses lots of gas and that's supposed to be bad for the economy and the weather . . . they've got these chart things about it . . ." Roark showing up would be like being told she just won the car as part of a contest she hadn't even realized she was entered into. It's pretty much a done deal, she doesn't really have to even try any more to get it, it was even easier than she thought to get it. She could technically still try to send the car back or send it to the junk yard for, you know, the economy and the weather, those things being important and all . . . but lets not be too hasty now, we can take it for a test ride first and do some more research before then, make extra sure, that's just being smart, right, it isn't giving up on the economy and the weather. Having sex with Roark, physically struggling, but not actually doing things to really stop it = "This is just a test ride! Nothing more! Bad, bad gas guzzling foreign car! I'm going to go show why you belong in the scrap heap just as soon as I get home . . . from this really awesome ride . . . which *ahem* nobody should be having because they hurt the . . . economy and . . . oh, hey, is that a sunroof it comes with too? Like I could be talked into supporting foreigners stealing our jobs by a seductively evil sunroof and its view of -- whoa, did they hire somebody to skywrite me a congratulation? That's so cool . . . and using more gas . . . but so cool . . . but there's charts . . . but . . . "

I don't think she really believes the sex is defiling though. She's just telling herself, "This is defiling. Bad, bad Roark!" because, again, she's trying to tell herself she believes one thing, which she thinks is what she should believe and feel based on the idea that good is doomed, though she has more hopes and doubts about this good being doomed thing than she would like to admit.

(Whoa, off topic, but I just realized now at almost 1PM that I never finished this after I started it at about midnight last night.)

"Hmmm... I dunno how "far" she is from success -- apparently it takes a rape to break through . . ."

See, I don't regard the "rape" as doing any kind of "bringing thoughts to the surface" type thing because I don't think they were ever buried in the subconscious. She's trying to ignore them, to push them to the back of her mind, but they really aren't going away, they keep popping back to the foreground at which point she tries again, still not very successfully, to push them back. Roark showing up for sex makes it so she has to do something more decisive than what she has been doing thus far which would then require her to probably have to come down more solidly on one side or the other about how she regards him, but this is all a matter of what was already on the conscious level. Had he just asked her though it still wouldn't have resulted in any kind of change in her course of action or thoughts - she'd keep just being dodgy about the whole thing, avoiding any direct acknowledgment of what was going on, probably pretend like she had no idea where this was coming from with him while still also subtly hinting at that not REALLY being the case even though she had no intent to do anything one way or the other. Him going ahead with things is just removing a lot of the room for her to keep stalling and avoiding any direct addressing of the issue, though she still does the best she can to not completely come down in favor or opposition of him to herself even though there is no more simply avoiding the question.

I think we're really getting stuck butting heads over the question of whether or not Dominique's attempts to lie to herself ever managed to push her desires for Roark actually down out of the conscious level and onto the subconscious. You think she did, and hence you think no consent and therefore rape. I however do not think it ever really left the conscious level for her, much as she may have wished it would have. Desire is a feeling. One can't have subconscious feelings. Subconscious is something one is not aware of. One can't feel something and not be aware of it at the same time. She was trying to ignore and deny the feeling, she tried to tell herself she didn't want him even though she did, but just like telling myself I'm not hungry or tired doesn't make me stop stop feeling hungry or tired or push that down to the subconscious, she still was conscious of this. So, she's got a conscious desire for him and lies she is consciously trying to tell herself to the contrary and now he's made it such that he can't try to just distract herself and ignore the issue, so both of them are coming into play to be acted on at the same time, hard as it is to act on both of these opposing things at once. Hence, she does some things which say she doesn't want it and some things which say she does and it is fictional extremely good grasp of this girl's inner workings that lets Roark know not to get too worried about certain actions unless certain other ones come up because those ones would mean no for real.

About the "sudden flash of knowledge" line -- again, if I'm recalling that part correctly, I just figured the knowledge that flashed through her mind was simply along the lines of, "I'm not really going to go through with this bath after all, am I? Nope, I am not." The significance isn't that she had no conscious feeling of desire for him before and she just suddenly had it come to consciousness, just that she's having to at that point face up to a choice where she really can't well explain things away. She's been going about things playing along like she's just a helpless victim, that's the line she's feeding herself because that doesn't have to mean she actually wants or is pursuing him, but not going through with that bath just doesn't line up with her victim narrative. I don't think the epiphany is about bringing desires to consciousness but about realizing she's hit something she can't go through with doing what would be needed to keep up her charade she's been putting on for herself. She's sort of catching herself in her lie, even though she doesn't give it up entirely still because of that.

As for the use of the word "submit" in this section of The Fountainhead, whether that instance of the word can act as an example of "submission" in how Rand means a female would ideally and in response to a rape depends both on if this is a rape and on if this instance is using the word "submit" the same way Rand means it in discussing gender. While I do think in that instance that it is how she meant the word when discussing gender, since I do not think this was a rape, I can't just concede here that rape victims work for how Rand thinks females should behave or whatever. I think in that case that when it says Dominique was submitting that going along with it actually was an act of her will, not an act of the loss of her will.

Oh, yeah, I never personally was advocating that Dominique was just kinky. I wouldn't be surprised if at least early on one way her issues manifested themselves was in being a little unusual in her sexual preferences, but I have never thought that was what the scene being discussed was about.

"Had this seduction come from Dominique at all -- had she initiated it, even weakly through mere consenting such that Roark could understand it -- it wouldn't have the relationship of masculine-to-feminine that I believe Rand saw as ideal."

Atlas Shrugged has the first time Dagny and Galt have sex with each other start with Dagny leading the way, convinced that even though they still are on opposing sides of a big issue, he will follow and she knows exactly what they're going to do. Not only is the scene where Roark and Dominique first have sex the only one where things are actually physically forceful and not just rough, but this scene with Dagny and Galt has the female character taking initiative in sex. Dagny has also been commented on by some things said by Rand as being a more ideal heroine than Dominique too I think. So, I think you really are just chasing something that isn't there with the idea that Rand would actually consider rape the ideal male/female sexual relationship even based on just her fiction alone.

Edited by bluecherry
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However, reluctant to take one clear stance still, I think she was taking strong actions both in the directions of for and against things as the closest she could get to staying wishy washy.

Your reading of the scene is that Dominique is acting in a wishy-washy manner? She fights "like an animal." I don't think these actions could be presented in any other scene or context and we'd find them "wishy-washy."

The physical struggling of course is strong in opposition, however I regard not doing what could easily actually make it stop, among other things, as very strong support of the whole ordeal.

We're talking about Dominique's having "found joy in her revulsion," as opposed to "an answer of simple revulsion"? Is this her display of "very strong support of the whole ordeal"?

If so, I'll reiterate that this is the description of her reaction to the sex. It's not clear (to me, at any rate) that this was under her conscious control, and thus I don't believe it's proper to characterize this as her having "supported" the sex. Are you able to select your precise mixture of emotional reactions to an event? Especially something frenetic and immediate and violent, like the scene we're discussing? That quote reads that she'd found "joy in her revulsion, in her terror and in his strength." I take that as true. But note the construction -- she found this. It was something she learned about herself, of her terror, of Roark's strength (read: dominance). She hadn't known it before. She hadn't chosen it. But she discovered it.

Actually, I think this is an argument I've rejected a number of times, so if we're actually disagreed on this point, I would like that to be clear. Here's my stance: whether Dominique enjoyed the sex or not has no bearing on whether or not she had consented to it. If a woman is raped and yet experiences pleasure, that does not change the fact of rape. Do you disagree?

She can't really just be very non-reactive about sex with Roark here.

I wasn't suggesting that she should be. Only that if your understanding of the scene were true -- if Dominique were consciously conflicted over whether she wanted Roark -- the scene would read much differently.

Instead, Dominique's actions say clearly (again, to me) that she has consciously decided against having sex with Roark, whatever her repressed/rejected/subconscious/deepdown/feminine desires might be.

Instead, this is a case where she definitely does want it, just she thinks she shouldn't want it. She's mistaken about what makes her think she should not want it though and hoping she may be mistaken. It's kind of more like, "I really like that car and can afford it easily, but it's made in a foreign country and uses lots of gas and that's supposed to be bad for the economy and the weather . . . they've got these chart things about it . . ." Roark showing up would be like being told she just won the car as part of a contest she hadn't even realized she was entered into. It's pretty much a done deal, she doesn't really have to even try any more to get it, it was even easier than she thought to get it. She could technically still try to send the car back or send it to the junk yard for, you know, the economy and the weather, those things being important and all . . . but lets not be too hasty now, we can take it for a test ride first and do some more research before then, make extra sure, that's just being smart, right, it isn't giving up on the economy and the weather. Having sex with Roark, physically struggling, but not actually doing things to really stop it = "This is just a test ride! Nothing more! Bad, bad gas guzzling foreign car! I'm going to go show why you belong in the scrap heap just as soon as I get home . . . from this really awesome ride . . . which *ahem* nobody should be having because they hurt the . . . economy and . . . oh, hey, is that a sunroof it comes with too? Like I could be talked into supporting foreigners stealing our jobs by a seductively evil sunroof and its view of -- whoa, did they hire somebody to skywrite me a congratulation? That's so cool . . . and using more gas . . . but so cool . . . but there's charts . . . but . . . "

I appreciate your position and your patience in explaining it, but I disagree that this is the scene we're discussing. We may be at simple loggerheads here, because I just don't see it the same way (and don't really know how to convince you otherwise :) ).

This scene just does not read to me at all with the character you're suggesting. It does not seem to me like Dominique just won an awesome car, but is conflicted with her "better judgment." Even in ultimately concluding that this was an ideal masculine/feminine thing (which I'm glad to believe that we both find wrongheaded), McElroy "concedes" that this reads like a rape. And I think that's where we have to start, because it is on that basis that this conversation exists at all. After all, we're privvy to Dominique's internal state, which reads at times like this: "...she felt the blood beating in her throat, in her eyes, the hatred, the helpless terror in her blood." She's feeling "hatred" and "terror" ("helpless terror" to be precise, to emphasize that events are out of her control; which is choice; which is consent). Your scenario, where the person is loving the "seductively evil sunroof" and half-heartedly trying to argue themselves out of it does not evince such hatred or terror, or the seemingly passionate and earnest attempts of Dominique to prevent the thing from happening at all.

But even if your scenario captured all that, there'd be the central issue of consent to engage in the act in the first place, which is the question of rape, and I don't think your scenario speaks to that, either. We're not discussing Dominique's refusal or acceptance of Roark after having taken a "test ride" -- again, this is not about whether she enjoyed it; we're talking about her taking or not taking that ride to begin with, prior to noting the sunroof, etc. There's nothing during the sex itself that reads to me like Dominique is thinking "lets not be too hasty now, we can take it for a test ride first and do some more research." You know when I think she starts to think like that? Afterwards. In the mirror. (Not precisely, of course, but I think it's closer in meaning.)

I don't think she really believes the sex is defiling though. She's just telling herself, "This is defiling. Bad, bad Roark!" because, again, she's trying to tell herself she believes one thing, which she thinks is what she should believe and feel based on the idea that good is doomed, though she has more hopes and doubts about this good being doomed thing than she would like to admit.

So we have it for the thousandth time ;), here's the quote:

He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement.

So... these stark, clear statements... you think are neither a narrative pronouncement, nor reflective of Dominique's "true" beliefs? You think it says that "[Roark] did it as an act of scorn" and "defilement," but that nobody "really believes" that to be true?

This puts me at an utter loss, because it seems to me like we're literally throwing out "evidence" which doesn't coincide with your interpretation of these events. That "evidence" being: the text. But of course my case is based on the text, so I don't know where to argue from without it (or even that I should). If I can't take it as true that "[h]e did it as an act of scorn," then I concede, on this basis: if things happened as described in the scene, then Roark raped Dominique. If things did not actually happen that way (e.g., it says that it was "defilement," but it was not), then it is inconclusive, and Roark may not have raped her. (Though I think in that case the text would be equally incapable of establishing that with any certainty. Maybe when it says that "simple revulsion" would have "saved" her -- why "saved" again? who needs "saving" against consensual, wanted sex? -- maybe that's just confused Dominique's opinion and completely untrue.)

You know, a few posts back I referred to mismatched jigsaw puzzle pieces. Honestly (and I hope this doesn't come across as offensive, because that's not how I intend it, but I know it might sound that way), I think you're ditching the puzzle pieces that don't fit the picture you'd like to see. Which I can understand, as a puzzle with mismatched pieces is awfully frustrating, but not support. This sex was defiling. Even if the narrator doesn't think so (but I think she does), Dominique must at least. However we ultimately view this, we must take that into proper account. And your account -- that this is reflective of things that Dominique "tells herself," but have no truth otherwise -- does not match either the tenor or the language of the actual quote on the page.

See, I don't regard the "rape" as doing any kind of "bringing thoughts to the surface" type thing because I don't think they were ever buried in the subconscious. She's trying to ignore them, to push them to the back of her mind, but they really aren't going away, they keep popping back to the foreground at which point she tries again, still not very successfully, to push them back.

We can recognize that the place she's trying to "push them back" to is the subconscious, right? (Or rather, she's hoping to push them into oblivion, but that's precisely what she can't do.) And the "foreground" to which "they keep popping back" is her consciousness, in the form of emotion, and possibly snatches of thought.

And "not very successfully"? She's successful enough to provide a "facade of a rape," which I believe was your language. The person in your car-test-drive example was not very successful in talking themselves out of their interest in the car; Dominique has her elbows to Roark's throat, seeks to run past him and out of the room, tries to snatch up a weapon to use against him, and experiences terror and hatred. If desire to have sex with Roark represents those desires against which Dominique was fighting, I'd say she did a pretty good job of pushing them away -- sufficiently so as to "appear" not to want it to happen at all. And by "appear" I don't just mean in terms of action, but in terms of emotional experience as well. Remember, if there was "joy in her revulsion," there was still "revulsion." So I'd say she was fairly convincing.

(For instance, if the scene had been written with the tenor with which you'd presented your car's test ride, I wouldn't be here arguing this. ;) It's not that I can't understand a person's faux, half-hearted resistance against something they know they actually want; it's that this isn't what that is.)

Roark showing up for sex makes it so she has to do something more decisive than what she has been doing thus far which would then require her to probably have to come down more solidly on one side or the other about how she regards him, but this is all a matter of what was already on the conscious level. Had he just asked her though it still wouldn't have resulted in any kind of change in her course of action or thoughts - she'd keep just being dodgy about the whole thing, avoiding any direct acknowledgment of what was going on, probably pretend like she had no idea where this was coming from with him while still also subtly hinting at that not REALLY being the case even though she had no intent to do anything one way or the other. Him going ahead with things is just removing a lot of the room for her to keep stalling and avoiding any direct addressing of the issue, though she still does the best she can to not completely come down in favor or opposition of him to herself even though there is no more simply avoiding the question.

Well... I know I promised that I wasn't a feminist and all, but I think it bears saying in this discussion that if a woman is "being dodgy" about whether or not she wants to have sex, that may suck, but it's still well within the realm of her rights and consent. "Being dodgy" is still something a person can choose, albeit not necessarily something they should choose, and they should remain free from force as they make up their mind.

But now I'm arguing against rape (which I'd otherwise hope was a given), but more central to our discussion is that this elides over the central question. Roark does not merely "show up for sex," you know? He forces Dominique onto the bed and wrenches her arms behind her and prevents her from running away. It's not detailed, but I imagine that she struggles unsuccessfully to keep her legs together, too. I mean, you're right that Roark's actions force Dominique into "something more decisive," and sure enough her actions seem to follow suit. She tries to fend him off. Seems decisive. It's just that her decision carries no weight in the face of Roark's force.

If your suggestion is that, had he asked her -- which means to appeal to her mind -- she would have dithered and not acquiesced... then... doesn't that demonstrate Roark's need to force this on Dominique, to make this happen? He couldn't approach her as a trader. Reason wouldn't have worked. It had to be force (for Dominique's own good). And in the context of sex -- and as clearly demonstrated in this scene -- force is rape.

I think we're really getting stuck butting heads over the question of whether or not Dominique's attempts to lie to herself ever managed to push her desires for Roark actually down out of the conscious level and onto the subconscious. You think she did, and hence you think no consent and therefore rape. I however do not think it ever really left the conscious level for her, much as she may have wished it would have. Desire is a feeling. One can't have subconscious feelings. Subconscious is something one is not aware of. One can't feel something and not be aware of it at the same time.

Well... one can't have conscious awareness, true; that's what it means to know something consciously. :) I don't know how detailed we can be about the conscious versus the subconscious -- I don't know how well I understand it, myself. But if we're considering something like denial, or evasion, there must be some level upon which a person recognizes the thing that they're denying or evading in order to know to deny it or evade it. Is a person therefore aware of that which they deny or evade? I don't think in the same sense, i.e. consciously; I fear we may be equivocating.

And as for feelings, it's one thing to experience a feeling and be "aware" of it in that sense, and it's another to know what that feeling signifies or means or portends. I may experience disquiet in a certain situation, but not know why. It's possibly reflective of some kind of subconscious understanding that I have -- and I can examine my feeling via introspection (with more or less success, depending on a host of factors) -- but that I experience the feeling doesn't carry with it the automatic knowledge of everything the feeling means for me, or of me.

I submit that Dominique was experiencing a complex blend of emotions, the sum of which she herself did not understand (when we say that "Dominique was confused," this is a lot of what I mean by it). I'm not sure that "desire" is mentioned by name in the sex scene, though I've noted that terror and hatred are. So whatever "desire" existed, it was not unvarnished, nor did it appear to be her overriding experience. But let's say that "desire" was there, too; I don't think that this means that Dominique had any clear or conscious understanding of what her emotions meant, or their precise origins, or etc. I don't believe she had a conscious awareness of wanting Roark, and especially not in that manner, at that time. It does not read like she did. I think that things became clearer for her in the mirror, if not altogether clear.

She was trying to ignore and deny the feeling, she tried to tell herself she didn't want him even though she did, but just like telling myself I'm not hungry or tired doesn't make me stop stop feeling hungry or tired or push that down to the subconscious, she still was conscious of this.

I'm not honestly sure whether it's possible to will away hunger or exhaustion from one's conscious awareness... but I suspect it might be possible to some degree. You think that's not so?

So, she's got a conscious desire for him and lies she is consciously trying to tell herself to the contrary and now he's made it such that he can't try to just distract herself and ignore the issue, so both of them are coming into play to be acted on at the same time, hard as it is to act on both of these opposing things at once. Hence, she does some things which say she doesn't want it and some things which say she does and it is fictional extremely good grasp of this girl's inner workings that lets Roark know not to get too worried about certain actions unless certain other ones come up because those ones would mean no for real.

Beyond the issue of "conscious desire" (where "awareness of desire," which I dunno that I concede, also means knowledge of that for what one desires; confused people are confused for a reason), suppose there exists a person who is hungry. More than that, they are hungry for chocolate cake. But they are consciously conflicted, and think that to eat the cake will make them fat, so they have decided that they will not eat a particular piece of cake.

Suppose you think their reasoning nonsense, and like your example of the person who won the car, you think that they should be made to eat the cake, because when they do, they will love it! So you pinch their nose so that they must open their mouth to breathe, then you take a big slice of cake and cram it down their throat.

Is this a display of force, or is it otherwise because we can say that "the cake-desirer desired cake" (which seems obvious enough)? What is the relationship of your actions to the cake-desirer's choice, or consent? Does having a "desire" for a thing mean that that thing cannot be forced upon you, and against your consent?

Further, on the issue of consent and desire it seems like we're dropping the idea that "Dominique is confused." We're now supposing that she knew exactly what she wanted, and (in terms of consent) chose to have this sex with Roark. She also chose to put up a pretense of fighting against it... for some reason. (To trick herself into thinking she wasn't attracted to Roark... although we're supposing that her "decision" to have sex with Roark was predicated upon her conscious awarness of her own desire, and decision for him...? So she's consciously lying to herself and consciously aware of the truth? Huh?) So she's confused when "she thinks of it" as defilement. She's confused when she considers it rape. But she's not confused about her clear desire for Roark, though that desire is represented in the text as terror and hatred.

It seems as though Dominique is "confused" when it's convenient for this particular interpretation, but not confused otherwise. Is it going too far to suggest that we seek to eat our chocolate cake (or have it crammed down our throats) and have it, too?

About the "sudden flash of knowledge" line -- again, if I'm recalling that part correctly, I just figured the knowledge that flashed through her mind was simply along the lines of, "I'm not really going to go through with this bath after all, am I? Nope, I am not."

You're underselling it. Prior to this insight, Dominique experienced an "unbearable need" for the bath. Unless the narrative is wrong again. :) But I don't think the narrative is wrong. She experiences that need, and then it changes, through her epiphany, into a desire to remain unbathed, to keep the feeling of Roark with her. This seems signifcant. And it has "implications."

I think it can only be a recognition of things which had been present, but subconscious. Not recognized, not named. Things that Dominique had been consciously unaware of, prior to Roark's actions... and actually, prior to this epiphany. (Which is fitting, since that's sort of what "epiphany" is all about.)

It's not just a decision against bathing. It's a significant shift.

The significance isn't that she had no conscious feeling of desire for him before and she just suddenly had it come to consciousness, just that she's having to at that point face up to a choice where she really can't well explain things away. She's been going about things playing along like she's just a helpless victim, that's the line she's feeding herself because that doesn't have to mean she actually wants or is pursuing him, but not going through with that bath just doesn't line up with her victim narrative. I don't think the epiphany is about bringing desires to consciousness but about realizing she's hit something she can't go through with doing what would be needed to keep up her charade she's been putting on for herself. She's sort of catching herself in her lie, even though she doesn't give it up entirely still because of that.

But doesn't the very idea of "catching herself in her lie" lend credence to the idea that this truth against which she'd been struggling had been subconscious? Or if you're suggesting that she'd been "lying to herself," but that it had been done with simultaneous conscious awareness of the fact of lying...? I just don't understand that.

I'm resigned to the idea that no interpretation will explain everything, unfortunately, and I attribute that fact to a belief in masculinity/femininity which implies a display of dominance and submission that I believe ultimately runs roughshod over individual consent. In other words, I think there's an inconsistency on display. But Dominique still does not consent, so far as I can tell, and so I still categorize this as rape, which I also think explains far more (and raises far fewer unanswerable questions) than the idea of consensual sex.

But perhaps we must agree to disagree on this point. For myself, I thank you for expressing your position so fully as you have, and I hope that my efforts to do likewise have been useful (or at least interesting :) ).

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*looks up*

O_O Dang, what kind of massive undertaking have I gotten myself into?

"Your reading of the scene is that Dominique is acting in a wishy-washy manner?"

Nope, please check again. I stated this was the closest thing she could get to being wishy-washy, not that it WAS wishy-washy. Wishy-washy, as in no strong action, wasn't an option, so instead she took strong yet conflicting action in order to try to keep dodging facing her internal conflict head on. The action in opposition to the situation is the showier action here as that is the choice she wants to project supporting, but the things on which she is silent speak volumes too. It's like if you ask somebody a question and they say no while nodding their head and winking, there are distinct yet conflicting signals here leaving the issue still unclear almost as much as if they just hadn't answered at all, but not quite. Generally, the nodding and winking here is meant to be understood as the real answer and the verbal denial just superficial.

"We're talking about Dominique's having 'found joy in her revulsion,' as opposed to 'an answer of simple revulsion'? Is this her display of 'very strong support of the whole ordeal'?"

One can do much more to control their display of emotion though and it had to have be evident she was taking joy in this too because i it wasn't, Roark would have stopped, so the narrator tells us is his stance. Admittedly though, we have established in this story here that Roark and Dominique are unusually perceptive of each other, so it may be harder for them to present just one emotional reaction when they are experiencing more. However, she also didn't even say no and that was very clearly under her control. Heck, if she seriously wanted this to not happen, tell him she'll call the cops on him if he tries anything. It wasn't like she didn't know what was up with him too, that she didn't know what the intent was when he showed up or that she believed he would try to hurt her (not counting the pain that comes with loss of virginity for a female.) I know a lot of people don't report rapes, but that is when it is after the act and they lack proof and/or they are in fear for their safety. Nothing had happened to Dominique yet and she wasn't worried about getting shot or stabbed or something. I do agree that liking it or not is not the criteria for if something is or is not rape. I think it was things she did and did not do, not simply what she did or did not feel, that are why it wasn't actually rape.

"I wasn't suggesting that she should be."

I know, you mean to say that she would, not that she should. I said that that is not how it would go because that is not possible in the current situation.

I will come back and answer more of this later, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. I just wanted to get at least some of this responded to now since I have not said anything in a couple days and don't want you to think I abandoned this.

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Maybe one thing to bear in mind is that it hasn't been so long ago that rape was found to be an act of violence, predominantly, and carried out by men with sociopathic tendencies.

Perceptions and legal aspects have shifted to fit this new reality.

I am certain that in all innocence, AR viewed and portrayed the scene as sexual, primarily - even animalistic.

Doubtless, by today's standards, it WAS rape.

By the standards of the one person who would know - the author - it was rape "by engraved invitation".

Whether she illustrated it well, or not, that was her intent.

Without rationalising it, I believe, for me the case rests. I take her word for it.

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By the standards of the one person who would know - the author - it was rape "by engraved invitation".

Whether she illustrated it well, or not, that was her intent.

Without rationalising it, I believe, for me the case rests. I take her word for it.

Finally. Thank you. I couldn't have said it better myself.

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By the standards of the one person who would know - the author - it was rape "by engraved invitation".

Whether she illustrated it well, or not, that was her intent.

Without rationalising it, I believe, for me the case rests. I take her word for it.

Finally. Thank you. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tony, is that 'rape "by engraved invitation"' or "rape by engraved invitation"?

The former implies that Miss Rand meant to illustrate an actual rape that was "invited," which is a contradiction (rape is not consensual), the later implies that Miss Rand meant to illustrate something that perhaps appeared to be a rape, on some level, but was not an actual rape, because it was in fact invited or consented to.

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