Man in driver's seat in bedroom

55 posts in this topic

For some reason the quoting isn't working so my replies to Helen are in blue:

Helen,Apr 26 2005, 03:08 PM:

Betsy -- oh we are most certainly different -- yes. There are biological and physiological differences between men and women, no question. Do they lead to psychological differences? Yes, I would agree that they do. I am just not quite sure any of it leads to the very precise definitions of femininity/masculinity being put forth.

I'm not arguing for precise sex roles -- most traditional ones are seriously wrong -- but for recognition of the real biological differences between men and women and their psychological, personal, and optional consequences.

As far as the visual/tactile divide is concerned, part of that is physiological, but part of that is also a result of our irrational culture. Girls and boys are raised very differently when it comes to acceptable sexual/romantic behaviors. Good girls aren't supposed to look at boys and find them sexually desirable. Really good girls aren't supposed to have sexual desire (or at least admit to it), period.[

I haven't heard THAT for a long time. That attitude is so ... 1950's.

They are definitely discouraged from pursuing men (which can be a real hindrance to those girls who prefer the geeky, bookish types :P ).

There's pursuit and there's PURSUIT.

I have given informal seminars at Objectivist conferences on how to find romance and I definitely don't advise women to passively wait for men to magically appear and sweep them off their feet. I recommend specific things for them to DO to bring their values to the attention of men and invite romantic advances. But I also warn against being aggressive seducers or too "easy" if they are looking for a long-term relationship and not just one-night stands.

Male beauty isn't worshipped to the degree female beauty is in our culture (for various reasons). We have to go back to the Greeks and Romans for that. Boys receive physical affection/touching to a far lesser degree (in general) and are often taught that the need to be touched or hugged or held or made emotionally vulnerable in any way makes them 'weak' or 'gay'.

Not in our house! The traditional approach to raising boys leads to men out of touch with their own bodies who too often fail to meet the sensual needs of the women they love.

This particular definition of femininity/masculinity doesn't seem to rest on the visual vs. tactile differences in men and women, but when this topic comes up, I just like to point out that many of these differences aren't strictly biological in nature and exist on a very wide spectrum anyway.

Indeed. We are talking about sexual differences in general, but there is a wide range of individual differences that individual couples should be aware of and, hopefully, celebrate.

For many a man, a touch on the neck or ear sends him to the moon (especially such a touch from the right woman).

A perfectly good example of celebrating an individual difference.

Women can and do revel in the sexually stimulating visual delights the male form has to offer. This is most especially true with women raised in households with healthy, rational attitudes about the human body.

Absolutely. At the age of ten I developed a strong interest in Greek and Roman mythology and the fact that encyclopedia articles and books about that subject were illustrated with statues of gorgeous naked men had a lot to do with it. ;)

But my appreciation for the male form is several orders of magnitude less than the attention-grabbing effect on most men of anything that vaguely resembles something that reminds them of something that reminds them of a woman. Men get the hots when looking at curvy sports cars and try to look up the skirts of mannequins in store windows.

I do agree that the physical differences do lead to differences in psychology in the realm of sexuality. But we aren't defining the essence of being a man or woman on a violent act irrelevant to sexual relationships between rational individuals, are we?

Of course not but --

Sex is such an important value in life that it would be wrong to limit it to the bedroom. Bringing the subject up, hinting at it, alluding to it, and recognizing it in other contexts is unavoidable and darn nice. Emphasizing sexual differences in dress, the way one responds to the opposite sex in non-sexual situations, etc. is quite desirable. I can hold a meeting in which I assign tasks to a dozen men who report to me and, as we leave to conference room, one of them graciously opens the door for me and I give him an appreciative smile. It is a delightful reminder of the fact that he is a man and I am a woman.

I have found that I do enjoy a man to take charge sexually -- this is a common female experience. But you know, I like taking charge, too -- also a common female experience.

Sometimes you can emphasize a significant fact by contrast and that helps keep a relationship interesting and fresh.

I am just not so sure control/surrender is the essential difference when it can be experienced by both sexes.

It is the basic, "vanilla" version of the sexual "operating system." Personal add-ons, customizations, and enhancements make it even better.

I also wish kilts would come into fashion in this country to better highlight those masculine legs. :)

Hear! Hear!

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I am a skeptic concerning proper sexual roles, as delegated to men and women. I will attempt to highlight my concerns.

I've been thinking about how much of the "proper sexual roles" argument relies on the consistency between people's common personal experiences. No one (so far) has offered a proof deriving male-dominance, female-passiveness (or whatever terms one chooses to use; I am skeptical of *any* difference between the supposed sexual, or more inclusively life-related, roles of men and women and therefore any terms you assign to men and women are irrelevant as far as my argument goes) from human nature. That is to say, no one has argued, "A human is a rational animal with such and such characteristics, from the most basic of which I have derived male-role-X and female-role-Y." I believe that this is because no such argument exists; that is, the common conception of differing roles relies completely on how one *personally* feels about their *own personal nature*.

That is not to say that one's personal experience is irrelevant. Far from it! I know it is extremely rational and correct to rely on one's own personal experience to derive truths, especially concerning ethics and how one ought to behave (regardless of whether, historically, philosophers have chosen to disregard the significance of personal experience).

However, when the argument is found to be properly founded in personal experience any conclusions therefrom derived will necessarily pertain only (though accurately!) to the individual whose experience is providing the foundation. This is to say, it is obvious that Betsy Speicher (and every other member in this discussion, I'll just pick on her because her post was last :P ) thinks a certain way about the existence of different roles between men and women (in fact, she has a very strong position). Because this position is founded on personal reflection and individual experience, any of her statements are highly accurate and honest descriptions of how Betsy Speicher ought to act. It says nothing about how this is related to the inner workings of Helen (to pick the next member up), however. This is to say, the claims thus derived that are of such a specific nature are *not* generalizable to others, let alone a claim to the knowledge of human nature and, more broadly, human ethics.

To provide a more concrete context, and personal experience, to the discussion so I don't seem like some Ivory Tower skeptic (I'm not a Skeptic, but I do plan on working in an Ivory Tower ;) ), I'll highlight briefly how I feel. I'm a male, I'm not very strong, I'm very thin, and generally very uncharacteristically male. I have absolutely no interest in sports or cars or hunting or anything like that. I am somewhat of a prototypical academic-nerd -- fun you say, well that's what school's for! (Not entirely true, I was part of the debate and speech teams before I quit for moral reasons and I competitively play a card game called Magic)

I feel no real urge to pursue anyone, female or male, sexually or otherwise. That is, I have a few good friends, and I am perfectly content. Fortunately (depending on how one looks at it) I am a very "pretty" person; I have hardly any body-fat, I have a nice form (defined muscles), and a "pretty" face (this is what I'm told). So I've never had to pursue anyone in terms of attractiveness; in fact, because I'm not even interested I regularly turn down offers or whatever one can call them (in high school folks, this isn't exactly the real world, I know). The people I find most attractive are highly intellectual, whether male or female (though I am mostly attracted to females).

With this context in mind, maybe it will be easier for supporters of the different role theory to understand how it is not necessarily clear to *everyone* that men and women feel certain ways about certain things by nature of their gender, by using myself as the philosophical thought-experiment guinea pig. I don't feel any way that I could identify as particularly 'male', I've also thought of all of my thoughts and beliefs and actions based thereon as being derived solely from reason and therefore I've thought that what I was experiencing were common, rational, and utterly human events, not things altered by my sexual organs or hormones.

In the tradition of good philosophy (and science), I offer an alternative explanation. Because I (and I assume others... hopefully!) do not identify with the "normal" role, or any role at all, I know that said "normal" role cannot be derived from human nature or be said to exist within all humans as exhibited by personal experience (because one person's is not, in this case, “generalizable” to another's, mainly me and others). But what, if not human nature, is common, that is, what is shared among all those who believe these roles to be "normal"? Culture. Most people are raised from a young age to think that there are inherent and significant differences between men and women (any basic psych text can provide volumes of references for this). What's interesting is that this culture is not specific to any one society... this thought is almost all-pervasive, and to the best of my knowledge has existed in most every group of people ever (more than the belief in god!).

Why the anomalies, such as others and myself? I was raised by an extremely dominant, A-type personality single mother since I was 2; I've never had anything resembling a normal (by cultural standards) upbringing. It is actually a *foreign* idea to me that women and men would ever behave differently under any circumstances... I simply do not understand why this claim is justified. Could my upbringing have affected my personal feelings on male-role vs. female-role? Absolutely. And I find the argument that my unique rearing contributed towards my feelings concerning my role (or non-role) more convincing than accepting that all men do have a role, and I'm just a freak, or something. :)

I eagerly await others' thoughts on this issue. This has been one of my favorite things to ponder, probably because it is one of those things (like with atheism and laissez-faire) where I seem to be coming from a completely different direction than everyone else and I want to figure out why.

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I've been thinking about how much of the "proper sexual roles" argument relies on the consistency between people's common personal experiences.  No one (so far) has offered a proof deriving male-dominance, female-passiveness ...  from human nature.

I would like to start by saying that I am not advocating that a man be dominate as in he is the only one who is really "doing" anything (especially if you are speaking in a physical context). Nor do I advocate that a woman be passive in bed as in she does nothing but lie there.

I'll just warn you that what follows might be a bit crass, but I'm going to attempt to argue from the nature of things. It is in the identity of a woman, her nature, that in order for her to have sex she must spread her legs and let the man penetrate her. It is in the identity of a man that to have sex his penis must be erect.

This is where the proper sexual relationship comes from. The man must act in a certain way in accordance with his nature to have sex. He must value the woman in order for him to become erect. The woman must also act in accordance with her nature. She must value the man in order to let him in. The difference is in how they value the other and that difference comes from the different way that each must act. In order for the man to become erect, he must value her in the "normal" way of seeing her as a value he wants to achieve and then acting to gain it. He must "conquer" her. The woman values the man, though, in a "not normal" way. She values him, not as a conquest or achievement, but as somebody who is capable of conquest or achievement.

This is not just some cultural definition or something derived from mere convention, but is a direct consequence of the fact that she is the one who must surrender. She is the one who must spread her legs and in so doing, she must trust him. She trusts him because he has proven to her that he is a man of virtue. It is a direct consequence of the fact that the man must value her as an achievement that he must conquer for him to become erect. I'm not sure if I'm entirely clear here, but the ideas are in there if you look for them.

By the way, I noticed your quote in your "signature" area sounds a lot like something Marx or another proponent of the labor theory of value might say. Where is it from?

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Hello all,

Here's a working definition of masculinity and femininity.

Masculinity can be defined as

1. the psycho-sexual traits that are characteristic of the male gender of the human species, and

2. the psycho-sexual pattern of behavior that is typical of the male gender of the human species.

Similarly, femininity can be defined as

1. the psycho-sexual traits that are characteristic of the female gender of the human species, and

2. the psycho-sexual pattern of behavior that is typical of the female gender of the human species.

Psycho-sexual means pertaining to one's emotions and sexuality in the context of a romantic relationship.

In other words, though both men and women are rational animals by nature, they are emotionally and sexually different from each other, if and when they relate to each other romantically.

The genus of these concepts is human traits and behavior (or human character, for short) and the differentia is psycho-sexual traits and behavior (or psycho-sexual character, for short). Just as one can have moral character, one can also have emotional and sexual character respectively.

Since the goal of Miss Rand's (fiction) writing was to project an ideal Man, which means a hero like Roark, or a heroine like Dagny, here's an example of masculinity and femininity from her novels.

An example of masculinity

In The Fountainhead, there is a scene is which Dominique informs Roark that she has married Keating and Roark is definitely affected by the news. In fact, Roark loves Dominique so much that the reader would be baffled if he was not so affected. Nevertheless, Roark exhibits a certain level of emotional maturity that is characteristic of a (rational) man, the kind of maturity that one could not (and, therefore, would not) reasonably expect from a (rational) boy. Since his behavior occurs in the context of his romantic relationship with Dominique, I would consider it as an integral aspect of his masculinity.

If, on the other hand, Roark was so affected by the news that he screams at Dominique and storms out, or bitterly sulks in a corner and refuses to talk to her, or some such equivalent (the kind of reaction a boyish Steve Mallory would, probably, have exhibited, had he been in Roark's position), the reader would, once again, be baffled because one would be unable to integrate such behavior with the strength of character Roark exhibits in the struggle that he has to go through in his career. As Dr. Peikoff rightly said, integration is the essence of personal identity.

An example of femininity

In Atlas Shrugged, there is a scene is which Dagny rushes to meet Rearden after calmly announcing on Bertram Scudder's radio show that she was* Rearden's mistress. On her way, she is extremely worried that her announcement would have terribly affected Rearden. But upon meeting him, when she discovers just the opposite, she is so overcome with relief that she sobs. Since her behavior occurs in the context of her romantic relationship with Rearden, I would consider it as an integral aspect of her femininity. (*Note: Even though she is in love with Galt at that time, which is why she uses the past tense in her announcement, she has not formally ended her relationship with Rearden).

In the history of mankind, bad ideas have always corrupted the meaning of valid concepts. For example, just as the concept of selfishness, according to the altruist ethics, would mean acting to further one's interest at the expense of others, so also, the concepts of masculinity and femininity would mean something else to a traditional chauvinist, or probably nothing at all, to a modern feminist.


Ramesh Kaimal

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I am a skeptic concerning proper sexual roles, as delegated to men and women.  I will attempt to highlight my concerns.

I've been thinking about how much of the "proper sexual roles" argument relies on the consistency between people's common personal experiences.

Let me make it clear that my views concern the actual and not the "proper," the "is" and not the "ought," the facts of the matter that include a huge array and variety of optional values.

Some of the differences and "roles" assigned to men and women are based on facts and some are just based on arbitrary traditions. Some are based on facts that no longer apply such as the limits on a woman's career options based on the inability to control her own fertility.

My goal has been to unearth the facts behind male/female differences, see what is real and unreal, what is necessary and and what is optional so I can better understand myself, my sex, and the opposite sex.

What I offer is the result of my personal experiences and (informal) research.

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