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In "Ayn Rand Answers" she makes it clear that her ideas on gender role and identity come from an anatomical perspective, namely that the man is sexually 'dominate' because he is 'bigger and stronger' and has a penis.

In "The Psychology of Self-Esteem" Branden, again, raises this viewpoint and uses it to advocate heterosexuality as the 'optimal' romantic choice. (page 208-209)

Is there a fuller explanation for this view in general?

Do these views have implications for practicing Objectivists? Are they part of Objectivism?

asked Jun 30 '11 at 05:35

James%20Hughes's gravatar image

James Hughes

edited Jun 30 '11 at 09:35

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Generally speaking, Branden's opinions have little to nothing to do with Objectivism.

(Aug 03 '11 at 03:18) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

  • Regarding a fuller explanation, there is a little further insight in Ayn Rand's article, "About a Woman President", republished in The Voice of Reason (Chapter 26), along with her article, "Of Living Death" in the same book (Chapter 8). Refer also to the topics of "Femininity" and "Sex" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon, and Ayn Rand's concretizations of romantic love in her fiction writing. All of these references together, plus the references in Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 139 and 222-223) noted in the question, provide the most complete picture that I know of for Ayn Rand's views on femininity and masculinity. My understanding is that she was referring in those contexts to heterosexual intercourse and its psychological meaning, not to other forms of using one's sexual capacity (about which she seems to have said almost nothing in any public discussions that I know of, and, by implication, she probably would have regarded them as major distractions from the immense value of romantic love, perhaps even as disgusting aberrations).

  • Regarding what field Ayn Rand's views on femininity and masculinity belong to, she actually answers this in one of her responses in Ayn Rand Answers, p. 139, where she refers to "the psychology of the sexual act [as] a proper subject for doctors and psychologists...." OPAR expresses essentially the same point as follows, in the chapter on "Happiness," subsection titled "Sex as Metaphysical" (p. 346):

    The subject of sex is complex and belongs largely to the science of psychology. I asked Ayn Rand once what philosophy specifically has to say on the subject. She answered: "It says that sex is good"
  • The book by Branden is mostly, but not quite exactly or entirely, a collection of articles that he published during his professional association with Ayn Rand. If, however, one finds any conflict between what he says in that book and what he or Ayn Rand wrote during their association, remember that his book was published after the break and may not accurately reflect Ayn Rand's views. Books of hers (such as VOS) that include articles by Branden also now include the following disclaimer:
    Nathaniel Branden is no longer associated with me, with my philosophy or with The Objectivist (formerly The Objectivist Newsletter).
  • "Implications for practicing Objectivists" will depend on what one currently believes about femininity and masculinity (and sex in general), and how much of Ayn Rand's perspective one understands and accepts. A person's sexual views will have considerable effect on his own sense of personal identity and the judgments of his character by others with whom he may want to deal (or avoid), including potential sexual partners. As Ayn Rand noted, however, a systematic analysis of such effects is a topic more for "doctors and psychologists" (and fiction writers, who deal with concretized characterizations and motivations) than for philosophers, except on the issue of sex as a value.

  • answered Jul 04 '11 at 02:20

    Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

    Ideas for Life ♦

    So does it follow that "man worship" is not part of Objectivism? I recall that this every-woman-needs-a-man-to-worship seemed to be part of her reasoning behind her famous "About a Woman President" essay, Was that just AR's personal value choice or is it part of the philosophy?

    (Jul 19 '11 at 20:49) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

    As I explained in my answer, the question one should ask is not whether some of Ayn Rand's conclusions are part of Objectivism, but what field they are part of. It is a false-alternative fallacy to suggest that if some of her views do not pertain directly to the field of philosophy, then they must be just "personal value choice." There is an entire field known as psychology, which is neither philosophy nor just "personal value choice."

    (Jul 20 '11 at 16:09) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

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    Asked: Jun 30 '11 at 05:35

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    Last updated: Aug 03 '11 at 03:18