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“Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand”

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Tabitha
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Leaving aside the "can of worms" homosexuality itself opens, it certainly wouldn't be in her rational self-interest to pursue a romantic relationship with a man.

Leaving aside the can of worms, I don't think it applies, or is meant to apply, to homosexuals. I don't know what, if anything, applies to them. But they clearly aren't covered by the scope of masculinity/femininity, and so don't enter into the argument about it in any way.

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Leaving aside the can of worms, I don't think it applies, or is meant to apply, to homosexuals. I don't know what, if anything, applies to them. But they clearly aren't covered by the scope of masculinity/femininity, and so don't enter into the argument about it in any way.

Well...actually, homosexual's that I have been acquainted with well enough to also know their partner tend to pair up with a significantly more masculine or more feminine person. I don't know for a fact, but I would guess that the dynamic of the relationship is often similiar in that respect.

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Well...actually, homosexual's that I have been acquainted with well enough to also know their partner tend to pair up with a significantly more masculine or more feminine person. I don't know for a fact, but I would guess that the dynamic of the relationship is often similiar in that respect.

Yes, I've seen that, too. But I don't know what to make of that. I think the bottom line is that they play a different game so they play by different rules. Whatever those are.

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How does that explain the lesbians out there that live full lives (and the heterosexual women, who despite having rational men, don't feel they are living full lives)? I know a gay female Objectivist, who despite having good friendships with men and otherwise "relates" fine to them... is, well, gay. Where does that place them? Leaving aside the "can of worms" homosexuality itself opens, it certainly wouldn't be in her rational self-interest to pursue a romantic relationship with a man. Doing such a thing would lead to undue stress and depression. On another note, Rand herself didn't exactly put her man before her career -- in the sense that she was considerably nontraditional.

I don't really want to venture into this, because I simply don't know the answer. I'd imagine Betsy Speicher would be good at tackling this question.

Furthermore, isn't it up to the individual to decide his own self-interest? Mind you, I'm not referring to the subjectivist, whimsical, anything-goes, "what's good for me may not be good for you" mentality. Rather, I'm referring to individuals deciding for themselves their own goals and romantic partners (all based on rational values, which, in turn, are the only way to achieve true happiness).
This I can answer. Yes, the individual must decide what is in his best interest, but he must do it as against an objective standard. Life is your ultimate value that makes all lesser values possible, and living as man-qua-man (rationally) is your standard of value. Within that context you would choose your values. If you step outside of that context, then you would be destructive of your life.

I recognize the "men and women are metaphysically different" argument and the idea that sex/gender is a different grouping from race. Yet, for the reasons stated above which I could get into later when I have more time, I still find hero-worship problematic. (Again, I have yet to read up on it, which may be why. I'm just responding to this thread quickly before I run out to work.)

I recommend reading Ayn Rand on it. And, if you want to talk to someone who I think is most qualified for answering this sort of issue, then, as above, I'd recommend Betsy Speicher. She's really good on these sorts of issues.

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I plan to read the essay. My point is that grouping women, or anyone, is a form of collectivism. Again, it would be unacceptable to Rand to write an essay on "Black Presidents," as referring to people in terms of their categories is the antithesis of viewing merit before all else.

Hi Tabitha,

Just a point of order on your statement above. You have misused the term collectivism. Simple grouping of anything is not collectivism. Grouping based upon immaterial characteristics is. Would you suggest that a doctor that prescribes estrogen birth control pills only to women is being a collectivist?

We can certainly debate whether or not Rand's characterization of female psychology is correct or even material and as you can see from this thread, many do think it is incorrect (and I myself won't defend it as such because I don't have a view toward it); however, she is claiming that it is fundamentally material to the issues and therefore not a form of collectivism.

Note: I have no idea whether it would acceptable for Rand to write an essay on Black Presidents because you haven't specified what claim she would be making. If it was something along the lines of her claim here, that blacks have a different psychological need, and there would not want to be president, then yes, that would be unnacceptable, but that is because no one that I can see can show that black psychology is different than white psychology. This is not necessarily true with women.

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To follow up on Kendall's comment, here is the connection that Rand makes between collectivism and racism from the essay "Racism":

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestor

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

If you look at Rand's uses of the term "collectivism", you will see that she especially uses it in a predominantly political sense, to refer to primitive tribalist views which subordinate the rights of the individual to society, for example that wealth should be collectively owned by the tribe, and (especially relevant to the racism essay) this tribe -- racially defined -- deserves to survive at the expense of that neighboring tribe. Nothing even marginally resembling this can be attributed to her views on femininity.

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A few remarks to the comments on homosexuality: Not all feminine lesbians care much for butch lesbians, and vise versa. In fact, many do not. But even for gay couples that are comprised of one masculine person and one feminine person, hero-worship is null and void because no woman can be 100% masculine all the time, without being a man. The same goes for gay men. So, the bottom line is you are left with either two women or two men.

Rand does refer to homosexuality as "immoral," because gay relationships can't fit into the hero-worship model. As such, is she arguing that gays cannot achieve romantic love? This is what I'm getting at.

Also, I would argue that gays are covered by the scope of masculinity/femininity, inasmuch masculinity and femininity are defined as human traits.

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Hi Tabitha,

Just a point of order on your statement above. You have misused the term collectivism. Simple grouping of anything is not collectivism. Grouping based upon immaterial characteristics is. Would you suggest that a doctor that prescribes estrogen birth control pills only to women is being a collectivist?

Fair enough; "collectivism" would be a poor choice of term.

Note: I have no idea whether it would acceptable for Rand to write an essay on Black Presidents because you haven't specified what claim she would be making. If it was something along the lines of her claim here, that blacks have a different psychological need, and there would not want to be president, then yes, that would be unnacceptable, but that is because no one that I can see can show that black psychology is different than white psychology. This is not necessarily true with women.

Well, my point is that she wouldn't write an essay about blacks having a different psychological need, because one's psychology cannot be judged or determind by one's group (black, rich, poor, woman).

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A few remarks to the comments on homosexuality: Not all feminine lesbians care much for butch lesbians, and vise versa. In fact, many do not. But even for gay couples that are comprised of one masculine person and one feminine person, hero-worship is null and void because no woman can be 100% masculine all the time, without being a man. The same goes for gay men. So, the bottom line is you are left with either two women or two men.

Rand does refer to homosexuality as "immoral," because gay relationships can't fit into the hero-worship model. As such, is she arguing that gays cannot achieve romantic love? This is what I'm getting at.

Also, I would argue that gays are covered by the scope of masculinity/femininity, inasmuch masculinity and femininity are defined as human traits.

I didn't mean to imply that all lesbains want a "butch" or extremely masculine partner. Only that they would likely want someone complimentary to themselves. So to the extent and in the ways that one is masculine, the other often seems feminine. So the dynamic would be similiar, because as you point out, masculinity/femininity can apply to either gender, to a certain extent.

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To follow up on Kendall's comment, here is the connection that Rand makes between collectivism and racism from the essay "Racism":

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestor.

This is what I was referring to: My concern was (is?) that Rand
does
dismiss women based on the collective actions of other women.

These responses have all been great, btw. I have started to read the 14-page "Woman President." What I'll likely do is start responding to that thread once I get more into it.
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Fair enough; "collectivism" would be a poor choice of term.

Well, my point is that she wouldn't write an essay about blacks having a different psychological need, because one's psychology cannot be judged or determind by one's group (black, rich, poor, woman).

Well, to a certain extent, it can. You could for example determine a human's need for self-esteem by the fact that he is in the catagory human, which ensures certain biological similiarities. Males and females have somewhat different physiologies, and as such might have similiar psychological needs within the context of their subgroup that do not necessarily apply to the other. The differences in race(pigmenation,etc) currently appear to be much less significant of a difference then that of gender.

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to the extent and in the ways that one is masculine, the other often seems feminine.

This hasn't been my experience, which is why I questioned it. From what I see, the "butch-femme" dichotomy in lesbian relationships has completely died out in many circles. The person I'm thinking of (feminine lesbian) says, "If I wanted someone manly, I'd be with a man." My guess is that "butch-femme" was more common in the "old days" (1950s?) because the relative stringency of gender roles at the time might have made it more socially acceptable / encouraging to relate to your "opposite."

Males and females have somewhat different physiologies, and as such might have similiar psychological needs within the context of their subgroup that do not necessarily apply to the other. The differences in race(pigmenation,etc) currently appear to be much less significant of a difference then that of gender.

Yes -- this is starting to make some sense to me now.

Edited by Tabitha
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This hasn't been my experience, which is why I questioned it. From what I see, the "butch-femme" dichotomy in lesbian relationships has completely died out in many circles. The person I'm thinking of (feminine lesbian) says, "If I wanted someone manly, I'd be with a man." My guess is that "butch-femme" was more common in the "old days" (1950s?) because the relative stringency of gender roles at the time might have made it more socially acceptable / encouraged to relate to your "opposite."

Yes -- this is starting to make some sense to me now.

You might be right. My sample size is admittedly small. :) What is harder to ascertain though, is whether or not particular masculine or feminine poles exist in the relationship when you isolate particualr traits. So rather then one individual being primarily masculine and the other primarily feminine, it might be the case, as it is in many straight couples, that some are more masculine in one area while not in the other. But the split might be more balanced then what you would likely find in most straight couples.

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The differences in race(pigmenation,etc) currently appear to be much less significant of a difference then that of gender.

But note that it actually is okay to prescribe actions based on one's race. If you're fair-skinned Irish, then it's pretty good advice to stay out of the sun for the most part.

The problem is not the "idea" of race as such, but rather the irrational things that people have chalked up to one's race. For instance, I don't think that anything besides one's free choice can be ascribed as responsible for (as MLK put it) the contents of one's character; not race, not wealth, and not gender.

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But note that it actually is okay to prescribe actions based on one's race. If you're fair-skinned Irish, then it's pretty good advice to stay out of the sun for the most part.

The problem is not the "idea" of race as such, but rather the irrational things that people have chalked up to one's race. For instance, I don't think that anything besides one's free choice can be ascribed as responsible for (as MLK put it) the contents of one's character; not race, not wealth, and not gender.

That's true. The different actions must be connected to the actual differences possessed.

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