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I apologize if I have put this in the wrong forum, but I heard today that Ayn Rand is anti-feminist. Is this true? This is sort of a shock to me, because I have always called myself a feminist and I thought I would have caught that she wasn't. I figured she wasn't a bra-burning, man hating extreme feminist, but is this source true? I hope not, I really like her books and I agree with a lot of aspects of objectivism. Can someone help me? Thanks!

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Sorry to restart this old thread. But I just wanted to add that feminism is one of the forms of collectivism I vehemently oppose. I believe feminism is at the root of enslavement of women under social

Would it change anything if she weren't? Or was?

I believe this has been discussed before, so you might want to do a search on it....I'll try and pull it up if I can. I believe the answer is around here somewhere.

I think it would change my opinion about her a little, but I wouldn't go crazy and start ripping up my books or anything. It shocked me a little when I read that, but then again, this was a very unreliable source. I should have searched before I started this topic, but I guess it's too late now.

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Questions of the type: was Ayn Rand anti-"feminist"? anti-"christian"? anti-"libertarian"? often veer off into a discussion about the correct definition of the terms.

So, instead of starting with the term that stands for a set of ideas, I suggest starting with the two or three key ideas (from feminism as you define it) that you think are correct. Let's discuss whether Miss Rand was for or against those ideas. Once we have that done, it'll be easier to see what terms are appropriate.

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Rand used the term "feminist" in a letter to T.A. Robertson of King Features Syndicate, in 1945 where in referring to some wire communication between him and her she reports his text "By all means be completely feminist in doing piece for us" and her statement "Am not a feminist and would be no good at doing article from woman's angle." Otherwise, she says nothing about "feminists". The modern sense of the term "feminist" was not used until the late 70's so she is referring to something totally different. Her views on Women Libbers, qua radical leftist collectivist man-haters, are well stated in "The Age of Envy" which appeared in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. So you are right, she did not accept the various collectivist assumptions of feminism as actually practiced, for example the need for special laws to give females an unearned advantage in the workplace, the right to automatic presumption of guilt in any sexual assault case, government-payed abortions, contraception and gynocological care, the impropriety of desiring a woman sexually, the impropriety of recognising that some female is, in fact, a female. Rand would have repudiated the classical feminist declaration "I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig." Of course, she would have entirely rejected feminism along with all other forms of theory studies and studies studies as just so much contentless post-postmodernist twaddle.

However, she was an early advocate of recognising a woman's right to abortion, also of the right of women to work any job which they are competent to hold and of the moral necessity of paying women what they are worth for their work (see the "trader principle", also note the professional competence of Dagny Taggart in AS). See also her Playboy interview towards the top for some of her views on men and women.

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The modern sense of the term "feminist" was not used until the late 70's so she is referring to something totally different.
Yeah, this needs emphasising; 'feminism' can mean many different things - there is no one 'feminist' position. AR was certainly a "liberal feminist" in the same uncontroversial (in modern terms) sense as (eg) J S Mill - she believed that women should have the same political rights as men. But she rejected the more radical academic forms of feminism, that the word is normally used to refer to today. The strange thing is, she would probably have agreed with some modern feminists on several factual points - that Western society is patriarchal, that women are somewhat subserviant to men, etc etc. But she would have evaluated them in a very different way - she believed that they were generally good things which reflected natural differences between men and women, rather than cultural problems which required fixing.

The main disagreement is the direction in which the arrow of causality points - although everyone agrees that males and females do act and think noticably differently within modern society, they disagree over whether this reflects nature, or whether its a result of the structures of our particular culture.. AR believed that social differences between men and women are a result of natural ('metaphysical') differences between the 2 sexes. However, many modern feminists would claim the opposite - that the idea of men and women being naturally difference is a false narrative which is used to legitimise both the social inequality of women and the oppressive gender roles which we have constructed (similar to how slavery was justified through the narrative that people of slave races were 'naturally different' from the race of slave owners). I think modern feminist study tends to investigate the mechanisms of oppression in general, with the oppression of women really being a specific case (hence the close affinity it tends to have with {eg} Queer studies and various 'race studies'). AR didnt seem to have much time for this sort of thing, since I think she tended to view oppression as being purely something primarilly carried out by the government, rather than seeing it as something that was built into society at all levels, in a 'bottoms-up' sort of way.

Edited by Hal
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AR didnt seem to have much time for this sort of thing, since I think she tended to view oppression as being purely something primarilly carried out by the government, rather than seeing it as something that was built into society at all levels, in a 'bottoms-up' sort of way.

This would be because only the government can force you to do certain things. Other people may refuse to cooperate with you, but if physical force isn't involved in some way you're free to ignore them and go on doing what you've decided to do. It's not oppression if someone doesn't offer me a job for whatever reason; it is, if the government says I can't take the job even if it were offered.

I've been noticing that it doesn't really matter one way or the other whether the divide between the sexes is natural or manufactured; I think some kind of "divide" is necessary in order for you to develop your sexuality, although what that divide constitutes appears to be optional. Wildly theorizing, perhaps homosexuals (and pedophiles, ick), simply have internalized a different sort of divide.

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I could be mistaken as I cant seem to remember(or find) which book it was in but I do remember Rand describing herself as an antifeminist or something to that effect. If memory serves correct it was in a questiion and answer period during a speech possibly with regard to "hero worship". I'll keep looking though.

Best regards

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This would be because only the government can force you to do certain things. Other people may refuse to cooperate with you, but if physical force isn't involved in some way you're free to ignore them and go on doing what you've decided to do. It's not oppression if someone doesn't offer me a job for whatever reason; it is, if the government says I can't take the job even if it were offered.

Well, the idea is that government policies normally reflect social opinion and the structure of society - oppressive laws are primarilly a symptom, rather than a cause. For instance, no Western country is going to pass a law tomorrow that discriminates against people with green eyes, because there isnt a feeling in our culture that green-eyed people are somehow 'different'. But there has historically been a feeling that women/blacks/etc are inferior, and this has manifested itself in law. Therefore, campaigning to change the law somehow misses the point - the real changes need to be made in our everyday attitudes, and then the law will fix itself.

For instance, look at the way attitudes towards homosexuality have changed over the last 20 years. People are generally more accepting of gays than they used to be, and this has the result that legal discrimination against gays has largely vanished (outside America anyway). This wasnt primarilly achieved through legal campaigning, but rather by successfully shifting the way that the public perceived homosexuals. The laws here were a consequence of common atittudes (although laws probably do reenforce attitudes to some degree), and changing the attitudes changed the law.

I think this is the main reason why feminists try to focus on what they see as oppression in day-to-day life - for instance, in language. Again, theres a cause/effect issue - does having a sexist language help produce social sexism, or is a sexist language simply another manifestation of the historical oppression of women? (for those who think the debate over language is irrelevant, read this). Theres also the idea that popular conceptions of women can result in people still tending to perceive women in certain ways (eg as being primarilly housewives), with the result that women in business are viewed and treated differently than men, and so on. All these things probably do add up, although I'm not entirely sure what it is they add up to.

edit: I would also argue that it _is_ oppression if, for example, the majority of people in a country arent prepared to employ black people. You could have a legal system which treated people of all races equally, but this wouldnt be much help to someone if most of society was actively against them. Politics (and oppression) goes deeper than government policy alone - laissez faire capitalism is necessary for a truly free society, that doesnt mean it's sufficient. I wouldnt be prepared to describe a country where a signficant minority of people were being actively discriminated against in everyday life as being 'free', regardless of what political/economic system it had.

(sadly, most modern feminists tend to be extremely left wing, but thats another issue)

I've been noticing that it doesn't really matter one way or the other whether the divide between the sexes is natural or manufactured; I think some kind of "divide" is necessary in order for you to develop your sexuality, although what that divide constitutes appears to be optional. Wildly theorizing, perhaps homosexuals (and pedophiles, ick), simply have internalized a different sort of divide.
Well, it depends on the type of divide. I think there's an unfortunate tendancy within modern feminism to view every single social difference between men and women as being oppressive, even when this is absurd. The fact that women and men are treated different in some situation doesnt imply that women are being victimised - it could actually be that the men are being disadvantaged. For example, its possible to complain that the myth of women as being caring and nurturing is oppressive, since it tends to cast them in a particular 'motherhood' social role. And while there is certainly a sense in this is true, the same idea also has the consequence that men tend to be discriminated against in legal battles over child custody - the perception of the 'mother figure' as being more important than the 'father figure' is often a factor in deciding custody issues. From what I've seen of modern feminism, this sort of thing is fairly rampant, and imo it undermines their main points by making them appear obviously biased (the "feminists hate men" idea isnt _entirely_ a strawman). Edited by Hal
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You have great tastes in literature, Nastasya. I suppose Rand was anti-feminist against the idea of women having special (as opposed to equal) rights. And certainly against any man-hating derived idea. That leaves a lot of feminist stuff that she wasn't against, I suppose.

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Okay, it's what I thought. Me and AR are definetly on the same page when it comes to the rights of the sexes. I have never believed that women deserve special treatment, but that they deserve the same that men get. It's Wikipedia that I read this off of, and they misused alot of quotes! Like they said she said "a woman should look up to man", but I remember AR saying "a man should look up to a woman too". Is there any way we can get this false, misused, exaggrated information changed?

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I think one can register as a Wikipedia user and change pretty much anything you want.
That pretty much sums up why I don't consider Wikipedia to be a reliable source of information. It's fine for giving you ideas about what specifically to look up, but I virtually never trust anything put out there, and verify any claims and opinions.
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I believe Ayn Rand said in Philosophy, Who Needs It, that:

- There are two definitions of "feminist."

- The first is the notion that women deserve equal human rights as men.

- The second is that women, because of their harsh treatment by men in the past, deserve special treatment now to compensate.

- Rand stated that she was entirely agreeing with the former definition, but was morally opposed to the latter, the reasoning being that to compensate for one act of immorality (mistreatment of the female gender) in the past with another act of immorality (granting females special priviledges) is to negate all attempts at positive morality in the first place.

I tend to agree with her.

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Three Q&A sessions where Miss Rand was asked about feminism are quoted on page 106 of Ayn Rand Answers.

The following is the shortest example of her answers.

(Questioner) - "Could you give us a word about the womens' liberation movement?"

(AR) - "I'd be the last person to give you that. I'm a male chauvinist."

The answers to the other two questions go more in-depth into Miss Rand's views of the political movement claiming to act for "equal rights" for women but her stance is as has been stated in the previous posts.

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That pretty much sums up why I don't consider Wikipedia to be a reliable source of information. It's fine for giving you ideas about what specifically to look up, but I virtually never trust anything put out there, and verify any claims and opinions.

A study compared the number of errors in Wikipedia to an encyclopedia (I think Britannica) and found that the number of errors per article was higher in Wikipedia, but the number of errors per volume of text was lower (it had more errors, but distributed among larger articles).

Edited by tnunamak
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A study compared the number of errors in Wikipedia to an encyclopedia (I think Britannica) and found that the number of errors per article was higher in Wikipedia, but the number of errors per volume of text was lower (it had more errors, but distributed among larger articles).

Actually, it was more of an informal survey by Nature, which Britannica blasted as being "fatally flawed."

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Even if the study was imprecise to a degree, I think that it does illustrate that Wikipedia can be reliable in comparison to other reputable sources.
How can you distinguish the reliable and unreliable parts of Wikipedia? AFAIK the zoological taxonomic information out there is reliable (it has been for the things that I've independently verified) -- Liri can crush that belief if she wants. But in my own area, I know they are unreliable and I know where. Authorship is an important predictor of reliability, which is what makes Wikipedia unreliable. BTW it doesn't matter whether Wiki is as bad as Encyclopedia Brittanica; I also would never accept a statement taken from an Encyclopedia Brittanica in a paper. The question shouldn't be whether someone is as bad as or worse than Wikipedia, the question should be whether there is a certain minimum standard of reliability that ought to be met, and does Wiki meet it.
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.....BTW it doesn't matter whether Wiki is as bad as Encyclopedia Brittanica; I also would never accept a statement taken from an Encyclopedia Brittanica in a paper. The question shouldn't be whether someone is as bad as or worse than Wikipedia, the question should be whether there is a certain minimum standard of reliability that ought to be met, and does Wiki meet it.

that is an excellent point. I like to look up stuff on Wikipedia sometimes because often it will refer to source material that I can then go to myself. I look at it as a possible first step towards finding more information.

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I apologize if I have put this in the wrong forum, but I heard today that Ayn Rand is anti-feminist. Is this true? This is sort of a shock to me, because I have always called myself a feminist and I thought I would have caught that she wasn't. I figured she wasn't a bra-burning, man hating extreme feminist, but is this source true? I hope not, I really like her books and I agree with a lot of aspects of objectivism. Can someone help me? Thanks!

Feminism can be defined by irrationally defending people simply for being female. In this consideration ayn would always side with the rational party, not just the one with a vagina. So yes, she is anti-feminist, pro-individual.

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  • 3 years later...

Sorry to restart this old thread. But I just wanted to add that feminism is one of the forms of collectivism I vehemently oppose. I believe feminism is at the root of enslavement of women under socialist barbarism, like Canada or the UK (where most people, especially capitalists, are enslaved to the government). It is pure evil and is totally anti-individual. By requiring women to be equal to men, feminism artificially creates two collectives "men" and "women", whereas such stupid distinctions do not really exist (we are all individuals and nothing can make us part of any collective whatsoever, especially our sex organs).

Any more thoughts?

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Sorry to restart this old thread. But I just wanted to add that feminism is one of the forms of collectivism I vehemently oppose. I believe feminism is at the root of enslavement of women under socialist barbarism, like Canada or the UK (where most people, especially capitalists, are enslaved to the government). It is pure evil and is totally anti-individual. By requiring women to be equal to men, feminism artificially creates two collectives "men" and "women", whereas such stupid distinctions do not really exist (we are all individuals and nothing can make us part of any collective whatsoever, especially our sex organs).

Any more thoughts?

My main gripe with feminism, aside from the collectivism which you pointed out, is that it dismisses the reality that women are agents who choose to act. Feminists gripe about women being treated as sex objects and not earning as much as men... yet, women are choosing to put themselves in positions to be viewed as sex objects. (Not all women all the time, obviously - I'm referring to strippers, women who dress and act in certain ways, etc.). Women who stay at home with their children are choosing to do so. Talking to some feminists, you'd think they believe that men plant some type of microchip into women's brains that makes us unable to think. As a woman myself, I can't think of anything more infantalizing than feminism. But, yes, I would have to say the collectivism aspect of it bothers me a great deal. I want nothing to do with many women (just as I want nothing to do with many men, or people who fit into other "groups), but feminism assumes I do, "just because."

Edited by Tabitha
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Sorry to restart this old thread. But I just wanted to add that feminism is one of the forms of collectivism I vehemently oppose. I believe feminism is at the root of enslavement of women under socialist barbarism, like Canada or the UK (where most people, especially capitalists, are enslaved to the government). It is pure evil and is totally anti-individual. By requiring women to be equal to men, feminism artificially creates two collectives "men" and "women", whereas such stupid distinctions do not really exist (we are all individuals and nothing can make us part of any collective whatsoever, especially our sex organs).

Any more thoughts?

You seem to have a rather strange conception of what feminism is. The most common definition used in the academic world is; "Someone who acknowledges that gender is a social construction." Which is exactly what you're doing in your post.

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