Stephen Speicher

Male-Female sexual roles

93 posts in this topic

From the Objectivist corpus, the archetypical statement on sexual roles comes perhaps from January 1968 issue of the The Objectivist, in an article titled "Self-Esteem and Romantic Love." [...]

[...] The difference in the male and female sex roles proceeds from differences in man's and woman's respective anatomy and physiology.

When I am puzzled by a difficult or possibly flawed statement, I sometimes try rewriting it. One approach is to use my own vocabulary. Another approach is to explicate implications -- in other words, "unpack" the statement. Such rewriting, of course, must avoid pitfalls, most obviously the pitfall of misunderstanding the original statement and therefore, in the rewriting, misrepresenting it.

With those cautions in mind, I offer the following as my rewrite designed to bring out the questionable points:

The difference in the male and female sex roles -- that is, the one and only role that every individual man everywhere, at all times, plays out and likewise for every individual woman -- is ineluctably caused by differences in a statistically average man's and woman's respective anatomy and physiology.

When the thesis is stated this way, I would not even begin to try to defend it. In my experience, it contradicts observable facts: Individual women act differently in sexual situations -- and how! (I don't spend time watching other men engage in sex, so I will leave that to others better qualified.) It also contradicts facts known to me through inference and testimony -- particularly the very wide range of individual roles (actions) of individual homosexual men and women. Further it attempts to draw a conclusion about every individual in a group from a rough generalization about the group as a whole. Last, there is possibly an implicit confusion about whether the statement is descriptive, normative, or some combination of the two.

I did not understand the original thesis when I read it in 1968. If I understand it now, I understand it only as a false statement. So, I cannot defend it, but I offer my restatement as a target for those who defend the original statement.

Have I correctly restated it? If not, how would you "unpack" it?

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Please don't take this post to imply I don't wish to respond to other points Stephen Speicher raised; I just saw a couple points I wanted to make quickly with a little bit of time I have available.

However, jedymastyr has cleverly attempted to link penetration directly to these other factors, so my choice as moderator is to either remove his post now and save it for later discussion in a separate thread, or deal with the points he has raised. I choose the latter, but with two conditions: First, the response will be in a minimalist style, and second, this is not an invitation to open general discussion of other relevant sexual role factors here in this thread.

Thanks for an excellent job at clearly defining that, responding to my point, and limiting extraneous discussion.

I have never stated nor implied that the standard view holds anatomy as the sole source. However, with that said, one might indeed get that impression from the Peikoff quote ...

Sorry for putting words in your mouth; I was mistaken.

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With those cautions in mind, I offer the following as my rewrite designed to bring out the questionable points:
The difference in the male and female sex roles -- that is, the one and only role that every individual man everywhere, at all times, plays out and likewise for every individual woman -- is ineluctably caused by differences in a statistically average man's and woman's respective anatomy and physiology.

... I did not understand the original thesis when I read it in 1968. If I understand it now, I understand it only as a false statement. So, I cannot defend it, but I offer my restatement as a target for those who defend the original statement.

Have I correctly restated it? If not, how would you "unpack" it?

I make no attempt at defending the original statement, but I have one comment about the restatement. While I think the phrasing "a statistically average" properly applies to "physiology," it does not seem appropriate to "anatomy." The essential difference between male and female anatomy, penis and vagina, respectively, is fundamental to the difference between man and woman; it is not a statistical average.

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While I think the phrasing "a statistically average" properly applies to "physiology," it does not seem appropriate to "anatomy." The essential difference between male and female anatomy, penis and vagina, respectively, is fundamental to the difference between man and woman; it is not a statistical average.

Thank you for the clarification. Yes, of course, the existence of different sexual organs is not subject to averaging. But various sizes of bodies can be averaged. Is that a subject of study in a field other than anatomy -- morphology, perhaps? Isn't that the field that comes up with descriptive terms such as "dimorphic"? Otherwise, I don't know how to classify terms for size.

Nevertheless, men on average are apparently taller ("bigger") than women on average, and men are heavier than women on average (assuming equally lean, fit individuals!). And that difference, if I recall correctly, is one of the differences cited in the original article as relevant to differences in "the" role of male and female.

With your clarification, I would amend the ever-expanding thesis statement to reflect both facts:

The difference in the male and female sex roles -- that is, the one and only role that every individual man everywhere, at all times, plays out and likewise for every individual woman -- is ineluctably caused by (1) structural and functional differences in a man's and woman's respective sexual anatomy, as well as by (2) differences in statistically average male and female stature and physiology.

Beyond that amendment, the intial method of restating an original statement would become unwieldy for me. The attempted restatement has done it's job, for me, of highlighting problem areas, stimulating thinking, and providing a target for criticism.

I have nothing further to suggest.

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While I think the phrasing "a statistically average" properly applies to "physiology," it does not seem appropriate to "anatomy." The essential difference between male and female anatomy, penis and vagina, respectively, is fundamental to the difference between man and woman; it is not a statistical average.

Thank you for the clarification. Yes, of course, the existence of different sexual organs is not subject to averaging. But various sizes of bodies can be averaged. Is that a subject of study in a field other than anatomy -- morphology, perhaps? Isn't that the field that comes up with descriptive terms such as "dimorphic"? Otherwise, I don't know how to classify terms for size.

Human anatomy is actually a branch of morphology. I am not aware of any field that studies size dimorphisms per se. Size dimorphisms, and sexual dimorphic morphology, could be studied by the comparative anatomist, the evolutionary biologist, the reproductive physiologist, or any of those in a large number of other fields for which some aspect of the dimorphism is relevant. Even philosophically-mined sexologists. :)

Anyway, I'm sorry that my words were not more clear. All I really meant to emphasize was that, from the perspective of sex, it is the essential difference in male and female anatomy, the penis and the vagina, for which statistically averaging does not apply.

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You mention "struggle for dominance," but you have not identified any metaphysical fact(s) that would give rise to such a "struggle" in the male and female sexual roles. You speak of "which will win," but identify no metaphysical fact(s) that necessitate a contest between man and woman, with a winner and a loser.

[...]

...the basis for this supposed "struggle for dominance" has not been given, no connection made between man's nature and the metaphysical facts of reality, ...

You are correct that I did not identify any metaphysical fact(s) that give rise to a struggle for dominance between lovers. Visualizing a struggle between a man and woman helps make the relative physical strenghts--metaphysical facts--clear to me. However, I don't mean to imply that such a struggle actually exists between lovers.

The penetration perspective involves the man as dominant with respect to the woman. The enveloper perspective being discussed involves the woman being dominant with respect to the man[1]. What I did was identify a common trait between the two perspectives. In both cases, one sex is dominant with respect to the other. So there are two perspectives, and the question is: which (if any) is the source of the male and female sex roles. This is the point where the metaphysical facts of reality and man's nature come into play. Man being dominant is consistent with these facts (due to his physical strength), and woman being dominant is inconsistent with these facts (due to her physical fragility, by comparison).

So, based on these metaphysical facts regarding man's nature, the♠ enveloper perspective (with a dominant woman) can be rejected, and this may also provide some minor support for the penetration perspective. I do not even wish to imply that this is all that is needed to support the penetration perspective (issues of physiology not to be discussed in this thread are probably necessary for this).

[1] I attempted to describe, in a previous post, how the enveloper perspective could be consistent with the penetration perspective if the woman is not dominant; the discussion was switched back to the woman enveloper being dominant, so that is what I am discussing here.

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The penetration perspective involves the man as dominant with respect to the woman. The enveloper perspective being discussed involves the woman being dominant with respect to the man[1]. What I did was identify a common trait between the two perspectives. In both cases, one sex is dominant with respect to the other.

But you are assuming just what needs to be demonstrated. What do you mean by "dominant?" Previously you said "In an instance of dominance, all that matters is: in a struggle for dominance, which will win?" But now you say "I don't mean to imply that such a struggle actually exists between lovers." Whatever you mean, apparently it is more than just the fact of who is more active, and who is more passive. Remember the Peikoff quote:

And to her, man was the initiator because his function was penetration, and the woman was the one being penetrated, and therefore, she was inherently in a passive position.

It is precisely your appeal to dominance -- its meaning and significance -- which has to be justified,

So there are two perspectives, and the question is: which (if any) is the source of the male and female sex roles. This is the point where the metaphysical facts of reality and man's nature come into play. Man being dominant is consistent with these facts (due to his physical strength), and woman being dominant is inconsistent with these facts (due to her physical fragility, by comparison).

But, again, you must first explain what you actually mean by "dominant," and why is it significanant for the male and female sexual roles? Why, and in precisely what way is it different from has been previously described, in some detail, from woman in the active role? Why is the statistically averaged fact that man is larger and stronger than woman, significant enough to necessarily determine the male and female sexual roles? And, as I asked previously, a slight male may have a larger, stronger female as his lover; for his own psychology, why should it matter if man on average is larger and stronger than woman, when he clearly is not? Is his masculinity necessarily undercut because he is not of the averaged size?

So, based on these metaphysical facts regarding man's nature, the♠ enveloper perspective (with a dominant woman) can be rejected ...

Not only can it not be rejected, you have yet to explain what it actually means. Frankly, I see the argument to be proved as being built-in to this vague notion of dominance, so we really have nothing more than circularity here. Woman as enveloper, at least as presented and discussed in this thread by myself and ADS, had no reference to any notion of dominance. We spoke of action, but not of dominance.

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I have a question about something as innocuous as pollination (by bees, of flowers). How accurate is it to say that "pollination" is the fundamental act here in the intercourse between the bee and the flower? If the "penetration" perspective is rejected between men and women, should we also reject the "pollination" perspective in bees and flowers? Couldn't we say that the flower "accepts" the bee, rejecting our bee-centric viewpoint?

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I have a question about something as innocuous as pollination (by bees, of flowers). How accurate is it to say that "pollination" is the fundamental act here in the intercourse between the bee and the flower? If the "penetration" perspective is rejected between men and women, should we also reject the "pollination" perspective in bees and flowers? Couldn't we say that the flower "accepts" the bee, rejecting our bee-centric viewpoint?

I started to actually discuss the biological aspects of plant pollination, but I quickly realized that that discussion belongs in the Biology forum, not in Psychology. Since plants are not conscious animals, I see no purpose served in considering plants when the subject matter involves human sexology.

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Hi, I am new, so I might make a bunch of mistakes... but...

Yes, I think one could look at it as woman as enveloper, if that were the culture. However, I know of no culture that does this.

Also, MAN can only penetrate? Are you all sure about that? (Yes, I'm still talking hetero relationships. Gay ones are a different story!)

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I generally don't like to see "loose ends" left hanging if there is anything I can do to help. But I've long been reluctant to contribute to this particular thread because I don't agree with the basic epistemological premise on which it was conducted. Up to now, any possible contribution by me had seemed pointless, since the thread's prime mover is no longer living, and since there was a total lack of new activity in this thread by others for an entire year (until 11/8/07).

However, my interest in commenting briefly on masculinity versus femininity has been revived, not only because of the 11/8/07 posting by Oceanis Blue, but also because of another recent posting by Bill Bucko, referring to his 2005 essay, which includes a footnote offering dubious speculation about Ayn Rand's psychological state in regard to femininity. (I hasten to add that the overwhelmingly positive response to Bill's essay by others is well deserved, and I have no quarrel with it. It is only his psychologically speculative footnote that I find objectionable.)

The present thread's basic premise was forcefully stated and restated several times. Here is a sampling from the very first posting:

It has often been discussed, by myself included, that there exists a metaphysical basis for the differences in the male and female sex roles. For instance, anatomically speaking, that there is psychological significance to be drawn from the man being the one who penetrates, and the woman being the one who is penetrated. In this current thread, it is that sole point that I would like to focus on. [...]

Considering this argument, can anyone justify appeal to penetration as being of metaphysical significance for the man-woman sexual roles? And, again, here I only want to focus on this one issue of penetration. and not appeal to other physiological or anatomical concerns.

Later posts reiterated the narrowness of the attempted focus. For example:

I have acknowledged that, according to the standard view, other factors than penetration are also considered in delineating THE male and female sexual roles. I isolated the penetration issue specifically so as not to complicate the discussion by analyzing these other factors. My concern was, and is, that, as as happened in other threads, the subject matter swings wildly from point to point, and the essence of the issue seems to get lost among the din. That is why I have so narrowly restricted the focus of this particular thread.

However, jedymastyr has cleverly attempted [or found it fundamentally unavoidable] to link penetration directly to these other factors, so my choice as moderator is to either remove his post now and save it for later discussion in a separate thread, or deal with the points he has raised. I choose the latter, but with two conditions: First, the response will be in a minimalist style, and second, this is not an invitation to open general discussion of other relevant sexual role factors here in this thread.

But what does it really mean to identify "penetration" as a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of human masculinity and femininity? Does it mean that all other characteristics should be "derivable" somehow from that fundamental? Don't all the characteristics of an entity together define its identity, regardless of which ones might be more fundamentally significant than others? One can always ask which characteristic(s) of an entity is (are) most fundamental and which ones can or cannot be "explained" by the fundamentals, but it's a mistake (in my understanding of Objectivist epistemology) to expect all characteristics of an entity (or aspect of an entity) to be necessitated or logically implied by the most fundamental one(s).

Shouldn't we be actively seeking, then, to take all relevant facts into consideration, including "other physiological or anatomical concerns," so as to build a complete context and form a "big picture" view of how we see our own sexual identities? I.e., shouldn't we seek an integrated approach and result in understanding human sexuality (or anything else)?

The "big picture" regarding masculinity and femininity has already been discussed extensively on several Forum threads, including a lengthy excerpt from a three-part article in The Objectivist, December 1967 through February 1968, titled "Self-Esteem and Romantic Love." Unless I somehow missed it, however, there has been little or no attention given to Ayn Rand's own most definitive statement on femininity in her December 1968 article in The Objectivist, titled "An Answer to Readers (About a Woman President)." There has been mention of one particular sentence about "the desire to look up to man," which is included in Ayn Rand's article along with her explanation of what she means by it. Happily, anyone can now readily study the key paragraphs from that December 1968 article in the entry on "femininity" in the on-line Ayn Rand Lexicon.

The kinds of masculine heroes that Ayn Rand wrote about, both in fiction and in non-fiction, certainly "penetrate," but they also "envelop," in the sense of holding and embracing their partners with tremendous sensuousness and affection. And the feminine heroines that Ayn Rand wrote about proudly and totally submit to the men they love (with both genders exercising severe selectivity in their choice of partners).

Apparently, many observers question whether or not these male-female psychological roles can (or ever should) be reversed. If I remember correctly, an anthropology professor of mine once told the class that there have been matriarchical societies in human history, societies where women held all the power and told men what to do. I can't imagine how or why the men would submit to it (over time), unless the women actually "looked up" to the men's strong masculine bodies and somehow developed a way, through the society's underlying philosophy, to induce the men to submit as the women's obedient subordinates. Matriarchal societies also seem to be limited to primitive (mystical) tribes, as far as I know. Ayn Rand's focus, of course, was always on man as a rational animal, rationally and productively pursuing his life and career. In a few of her fictional characters (such as Lillian Rearden), Ayn Rand also concretized the fact that being a woman doesn't preclude power lust or other forms of irrationalism.

I wonder if anyone finds Ayn Rand's fictional concretizations of femininity objectionable in regard to the masculine-feminine distinction (while accepting all of her deeper philosophical fundamentals about sex, love and values in general).

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But what does it really mean to identify "penetration" as a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of human masculinity and femininity? Does it mean that all other characteristics should be "derivable" somehow from that fundamental? Don't all the characteristics of an entity together define its identity, regardless of which ones might be more fundamentally significant than others? One can always ask which characteristic(s) of an entity is (are) most fundamental and which ones can or cannot be "explained" by the fundamentals, but it's a mistake (in my understanding of Objectivist epistemology) to expect all characteristics of an entity (or aspect of an entity) to be necessitated or logically implied by the most fundamental one(s).

Shouldn't we be actively seeking, then, to take all relevant facts into consideration, including "other physiological or anatomical concerns," so as to build a complete context and form a "big picture" view of how we see our own sexual identities? I.e., shouldn't we seek an integrated approach and result in understanding human sexuality (or anything else)?

When looking at what is a fundamental, the quest is for that particular attribute that is causally responsible for the most differences. Although I did not participate much in this thread, I know from off-line conversations with Stephen, that this was what he was looking for.

Is the fact that the man is the penetrator causally responsible, in some identifiable way, for the other differences between men and women -- particularly the differences observed in the way they relate to each other that seem to have persisted across cultures and are thought to be inherently masculine and feminine?

If I remember correctly, an anthropology professor of mine once told the class that there have been matriarchical societies in human history, societies where women held all the power and told men what to do. I can't imagine how or why the men would submit to it (over time), unless the women actually "looked up" to the men's strong masculine bodies and somehow developed a way, through the society's underlying philosophy, to induce the men to submit as the women's obedient subordinates. Matriarchal societies also seem to be limited to primitive (mystical) tribes, as far as I know.

One professor I had observed that, in all matriarchies, the women were revered for their ability to bear children. In societies advanced enough to to have identified that men have something to do with reproduction, there are no matriarchies.

Ayn Rand's focus, of course, was always on man as a rational animal, rationally and productively pursuing his life and career. In a few of her fictional characters (such as Lillian Rearden), Ayn Rand also concretized the fact that being a woman doesn't preclude power lust or other forms of irrationalism.

I wonder if anyone finds Ayn Rand's fictional concretizations of femininity objectionable in regard to the masculine-feminine distinction (while accepting all of her deeper philosophical fundamentals about sex, love and values in general).

I don't find anything objectionable at all and, introspectively, it rings very true.

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I wonder if anyone finds Ayn Rand's fictional concretizations of femininity objectionable in regard to the masculine-feminine distinction (while accepting all of her deeper philosophical fundamentals about sex, love and values in general).

Not really. My only objection (that is not really an objection) is that Ayn Rand, being a woman, preferred male heroes. Roark and Galt are both moral ideals I was inspired by, and those characters really are what motivated me to learn more about Objectivism. However they are not my romantic ideals, because they are men. :D

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I wonder if anyone finds Ayn Rand's fictional concretizations of femininity objectionable in regard to the masculine-feminine distinction (while accepting all of her deeper philosophical fundamentals about sex, love and values in general).

Not at all, and if you see the earlier posts in the thread it's clear that many women who choose to weigh in on this don't do either. Keep in mind that AR's distinction is only that, a distinction. It's only used to separate identifiable characteristics into proper categories, and doesn't serve as prescriptive or as required in all cases. In general each person's psychology tends to be their own and unique, and some people have posted here that they have other ways to identify with their significant other. But if we could make some generalizations for most people, and most couples, it would have to be along the lines of what AR said.

When looking at what is a fundamental, the quest is for that particular attribute that is causally responsible for the most differences. Although I did not participate much in this thread, I know from off-line conversations with Stephen, that this was what he was looking for.
Is the fact that the man is the penetrator causally responsible, in some identifiable way...

But think of men who feel plenty masculine about themselves without having slept with a woman yet. Or, think of Roark in Fountainhead. Ttheir own experience maybe adds on to, but clearly isn't required for their sense of masculine self (or similarly for women; I've known a woman who was never truly satisfied in her past relationships but still continued to maintain an exquisite sense of femininity about her). Maybe the argument is that somebody like Roark or another matured but inexperienced man, lives in a society of men who are experienced, and from there is where he picks up what he would lack? I don't know, It's something to think about. I've always, from the earliest age, felt myself to be a man because of moments of great personal accomplishment and pride.

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When looking at what is a fundamental, the quest is for that particular attribute that is causally responsible for the most differences. Although I did not participate much in this thread, I know from off-line conversations with Stephen, that this was what he was looking for.

Is the fact that the man is the penetrator causally responsible, in some identifiable way, for the other differences between men and women -- particularly the differences observed in the way they relate to each other that seem to have persisted across cultures and are thought to be inherently masculine and feminine?

This isn't quite the way Stephen phrased his challenge, but it's close enough. As for why anyone would pick that one characteristic and try to treat it as the over-arching fundamental, Stephen offered a brief quote [here] from the January 1968 article in The Objectivist titled, "Self-Esteem and Romantic Love (Part II)." Stephen simultaneously posted a much longer excerpt from that article on another related thread [here]. The longer excerpt gives a significantly different picture of what the fundamental distinguishing characteristics of masculinity and femininity are, beyond merely the capacity to penetrate or to be penetrated. I maintain that a proper, objective approach to concept formation and validation must take into account all the distinguishing characteristics of the concept, of which penetration capacity is only one (though an important one) in the concepts of masculine and feminine. (Refer to the on-line Ayn Rand Lexicon, under "Fundamentality, Rule of," for Ayn Rand's own statement of how to apply fundamentality to the task of identifying which distinguishing characteristics of a concept should be regarded as essential in formulating a definition of the concept.)

The longer excerpt posted by Stephen [here] begins with a comparison of body size and strength, energy production and usage, general level of physical activity, and so on. Penetration capacity is certainly included as an important characteristic also, but only as one of a number of characteristics, though one that certainly entails many other characteristics, physically and phychologically. To form valid concepts of masculinity and femininity, one must look at the total complex of distinguishing characteristics and identify how they all interrelate together. The January 1968 Objectivist article provides a very useful overall summary and outline of this conceptual process. Stephen, however, skillfully edited all of that out in his shorter excerpt [here] from the same original material, apparently to reinforce his original thesis.

Contributors to this thread tried on several occasions to bring up the other anatomical and physiological characteristics besides penetration capacity. Stephen acknowledged some merit in their attempt even as he rebuffed them:

[A]ll I have attempted to focus on here is the sole issue of male-female sexual roles proceeding from man as penetrator, as if it were a metaphysical fact that necessitated a sole role for each. There are, of course, many other aspects to the anatomical and physiological differences between men and women that have not been addressed, and other metaphysical estimates, that may account for both a man and woman to choose in effect the implications arising from the perspective of man as penetrator, woman as penetrated.

The only other reference to an authoritative Objectivist source in support of Stephen's challenge was offered by ADS [here], whom Stephen explicitly acknowledged as the original inspiration for Stephen's challenge. The offering by ADS was a transcription, apparently by ADS, of a tape-recorded extemporaneous Q & A session by Leonard Peikoff. The transcribed excerpts certainly do seem to support Stephen's challenge very directly and explicitly. However, Leonard Peikoff has often commented that oral remarks do not carry the same weight as writings, and they usually need extensive editing before they can be reduced to a final writing. In my mind, therefore, what ADS says that Leonard Peikoff said about what Ayn Rand said is potentially fraught with inaccuracies. There is certainly a discrepancy compared to the January 1968 Objectivist article, and that discrepancy constitutes reason to doubt whether or not Leonard Peikoff really meant his remarks to be as restrictive as Stephen's challenge presumes, assuming that the transcription of the remarks is accurate and complete in the first place. (Since I don't have tapes of those lectures, I can't verify the transcription myself. The transcription also includes several ellipses indicating omissions, and I would want to double check those omissions myself to find out if they include anything relevant to the present discussion.)

If one wants to challenge Leonard Peikoff's remarks (as transcribed by ADS), go ahead. I challenge those remarks, also, but for very different reasons, as I've explained.

The far greater, unstated issue that I see lurking in all of this comes down to the following: are Ayn Rand's concepts of masculine and feminine objective? She, of course, always emphasized the importance of being rational, which includes being objective. It would be a serious breach to find an issue such as this on which she allegedly may not have been entirely objective. And she certainly left little doubt about what she held to be true of masculinity and femininity. In non-fiction, we have her own statement in "An Answer to Readers (About a Woman President)," originally published in The Objectivist, December 1968, reprinted in The Voice of Reason, Chapter 26, and excerpted in the on-line Ayn Rand Lexicon under "femininity." There are also numerous discussions by Ayn Rand on the subject of sex in general. (See especially the entry on "sex" in the on-line Ayn Rand Lexicon.) And in Ayn Rand's fiction, we have numerous vivid and dramatic concretizations of feminine heroines (and even some feminine villains) as well as masculine heroes (and villains).

As for how Ayn Rand reached her concepts of masculine and feminine, the most definitive description I know of is the January 1968 Objectivist article, which was published by her and with her full knowledge and endorsement. We also have a further affirmation of her reliance on facts of reality in the transcribed remarks by Leonard Peikoff, despite the questions I've raised about their full accuracy.

As far as I can determine, Ayn Rand certainly seems to have lived up to her own stated epistemological standards in forming her concepts of masculine and feminine, and I know of no other view of masculine and feminine that can say the same (or even come close).

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As for how Ayn Rand reached her concepts of masculine and feminine, the most definitive description I know of is the January 1968 Objectivist article, which was published by her and with her full knowledge and endorsement. We also have a further affirmation of her reliance on facts of reality in the transcribed remarks by Leonard Peikoff, despite the questions I've raised about their full accuracy.

As far as I can determine, Ayn Rand certainly seems to have lived up to her own stated epistemological standards in forming her concepts of masculine and feminine, and I know of no other view of masculine and feminine that can say the same (or even come close).

There are two separate issues here: 1) did Ayn Rand reach her conclusion objectively? and (2) is her conclusion true? I think everyone agrees that Ayn Rand was objective but I have seen a wide range of disagreements when it comes to whether her views of masculinity and femininity describe things as they are and/or things as they should be.

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There are two separate issues here: 1) did Ayn Rand reach her conclusion objectively? and (2) is her conclusion true? I think everyone agrees that Ayn Rand was objective but I have seen a wide range of disagreements when it comes to whether her views of masculinity and femininity describe things as they are and/or things as they should be.

This is a fascinating distinction and one with which I concur in great measure. How people choose to use their sexual capacities certainly is subject to their free will (and its exercise or not over the span of their lifetimes, resulting in deeply automatized premises). If this is what the excerpted observation above is driving at, then I would agree that the issue becomes an "ought", i.e., an issue of values (and sense of life).

In this regard, I find additional useful insights in Ayn Rand's views on sex in general. There is one particularly striking statement by her that has remained in my mind ever since the first time I read it. It appears in her article, "Of Living Death," originally published in the September 1968 through November 1968 issues of The Objectivist. The article was also reprinted in The Voice of Reason, Chapter 8 (pp. 46-63). The article is also excerpted in the on-line Ayn Rand Lexicon in the entry on "sex," but those excerpts don't include the quote that I have in mind. The quote appears in Part II (October 1968) [p. 56 in VOR]. In response to a particularly evil religious view of sex, Ayn Rand wrote:

I cannot conceive of a rational woman who does not want to be precisely an instrument of her husband's selfish enjoyment. I cannot conceive of what would have to be the mental state of a woman who could desire or accept the position of having a husband who does not derive any selfish enjoyment from sleeping with her.

Note the inclusion of "rational" in this formulation. ("Husband" was included because marriage was the context of the religious views that Ayn Rand was responding to. See also "marriage" as well as "sex" in the on-line Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

There is also an excellent discussion in OPAR, Chapter 9, "Happiness," in the section titled, "Sex as Metaphysical." The main philosophical question regarding sex is: is sex good? The philosophical answer is: yes (in a rational context). The predominately psychological question then becomes: how best can a rational man and woman use their respective sexual capacities to express their romantic affinity for each other? Terms like "best" and "rational" are loaded with philosophical significance, and I don't think Ayn Rand's concepts of masculinity and femininity are meant to apply without modification to cases which Objectivist philosophical standards would classify as non-rational or not fully rational.

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