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Any summation of the human race can be described using several different words. Feminists prefer "the human race" or "humankind" to describe Earth's primary inhabitants. But the word mankind, as a feminist I listened to on the Internet just now, describes the human race in a male-oriented culture. Is this true? I don't believe so. What does the word "man" mean, in a broader context to just the male half of the human race? Is it simply another noun used to conceptualize the human race? If so, why is the word "man" in it? Why is a gender used to describe the human race?

I ask this because I was watching to a YouTube video of an Ayn Rand advocate who is criticizing Anita Sarkeesian, and her views on women in culture, and how she has a problem with the fact that they're portrayed with feminine qualities (pink bows).

asked Nov 22 '13 at 14:22

Collin1's gravatar image


edited Nov 22 '13 at 15:56

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The term "sexist" is a package deal. According to Wikipedia, "sexism" generally means gender discrimination, discriminating against people (usually women) on the basis of their gender. If one tries to argue that a term such as "mankind" does not discriminate on the basis of gender, then one implicitly endorses the view that there should be total gender equality. If one tries to argue that some degree of gender inequality actually does exist and isn't a bad thing, one will be branded as "sexist" and viewed as a bad person.

Also, if it is claimed that "mankind" suggests male dominance simply because it contains the word, "man," then one faces a similar problem with the words "woman" and "human," which likewise contain "man." The "man" content is not, however, the actual etymology of these terms. The actual etymology is considerably more complex and non-obvious, dating back in large part to the Latin language of the ancient Romans. Latin uses terms like homo, vir, virago, femina, matrona, humanus, and so on to denote various aspects of male and female existence among humans. (Note that "female" in modern English is just "male" with "fe" in front, perhaps deriving from "fem.") Latin and English alike also have different terms to denote whether or not a woman is married. Men have no such designations.

Feminists are hard-pressed to claim that the male and female genders are completely equal in all respects. Feminists may, perhaps, regard the observable physical differences between male and female people as only physical and incidental, not relevant to general equality. Ayn Rand strongly disagreed here. Ayn Rand Answers, p. 139, explains:

AR regarded the male, by the nature of his anatomy, as the prime mover in the act of sex.

The book then lists three closely related questions which Ayn Rand was asked at different times, along with her answers:

  • "Will you comment on what makes the male the dominant sex?"

  • "Could you explain the difference between male and female sex roles, and its connection to your position on a woman president?"

  • "If there is no intellectual difference between men and women, and no moral difference, then what other kind of difference could there be, and why would this make it wrong for a woman to run for president?"

Page 106 lists three additional questions specifically on feminism and its egalitarian premise:

  • "Could you comment on feminism?"

  • "What is your position on the Equal Rights Amendment?"

  • "Could you give us a word about the women's liberation movement?"

Ayn Rand's answer to this last question was characteristically terse:

I'd be the last person to give you that. I'm a male chauvinist.

Ayn Rand's meaning is explained more fully in her article, "An Answer to Readers (About a Woman President)," excerpts from which are reprinted in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Femininity." Here is a brief sampling:

For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship -- the desire to look up to man.... Intellectually and morally, i.e., as a human being, she has to be his equal; then the object of her worship is specifically his masculinity, not any human virtue she might lack.

Men are dominant in sex -- bigger, stronger, and "the prime mover in the act of sex" -- and a rational woman wouldn't have it any other way (in Ayn Rand's view of femininity). It's natural and reasonable that man's languages would reflect that, and the attempt to obliterate such distinctions throughout our language is an attempt to deny the reality of the basic gender differences that do exist. It's an instance of modern egalitarianism in action.

(For more detail on how Ayn Rand applies her view of femininity to the issue of a woman President of the U.S., the complete text of her article can be found in VOR, Chap. 26.)

answered Nov 23 '13 at 20:42

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Nov 22 '13 at 14:22

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Last updated: Nov 23 '13 at 20:42