Objectivism, Ayn Rand, and homosexuality

Objectivism, Ayn Rand, and homosexuality

Objectivism is a philosophy created by Ayn Rand, which some homosexuals have been interested in for its celebration of personal freedom and individuality at the expense of government power. While Rand consistently advocated the right to political freedom and equality for homosexuals, her personal views of homosexuality were unambiguously negative and she opposed laws against discrimination within the private sector.

Ayn Rand

Moral views

In 1971, Rand published "The New Left", a collection of essays which attacked feminism and the sexual liberation movements, including the gay rights movement. Rand called them "hideous" for their demand for what she considered "special privileges" from the government. She addressed homosexuality in the course of an attack on feminism, writing that " [T] o proclaim spiritual sisterhood with lesbians... is so repulsive a set of premises from so loathsome a sense of life that an accurate commentary would require the kind of language I do not like to see in print." ["The Age of Envy"]

In response to questions from the audience at the two Ford Hall Forum lectures she gave at Northeastern University, Rand explained her views in more detail. In her 1968 lecture, she said, "I do not approve of such practices or regard them as necessarily moral, but it is improper for the law to interfere with a relationship between consenting adults." ["Ayn Rand Answers", p. 18] In 1971, Rand reiterated this position, then explained that homosexuality "involves psychological flaws, corruptions, errors, or unfortunate premises", concluding that homosexuality "is immoral, and more than that; if you want my really sincere opinion, it's disgusting." [cite web|url=http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq.html#Q5.2.6|title=www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq.html#Q5.2.6 ]

Political views

Despite the vigor and rancor in her moral views about homosexuality, Rand took a much more tolerant view of the legal rights of homosexuals. She endorsed rights that protect gays from discrimination by the government, but rejected the right to be protected from discrimination in the private sector. The basis of this conclusion was not related to her feelings about homosexuality, but rather a product of her stand on property rights. Rand supported the right of an owner of private property to discriminate, even on a basis, such as racism, that she condemned as immoral.

On sex roles

Rand asserted that the "the essence of femininity is hero worship — the desire to look up to man" and that "an ideal woman is a man-worshiper, and an ideal man is the highest symbol of mankind." In other words, Rand felt that it was part of human nature for a psychologically healthy woman to want to be ruled in sexual matters by a man "worthy" of ruling her. In an authorized article in "The Objectivist", psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, Rand's extramarital lover and onetime "intellectual heir," explains Rand's view as the idea that "man experiences the essence of his masculinity in the act of romantic dominance; woman experiences the essence of her femininity in the act of romantic surrender." (1968)

Reactions

In 1983, Branden wrote that Rand was "absolutely and totally ignorant” about homosexuality. Branden added that he saw her perspective "as calamitous, as wrong, as reckless, as irresponsible, and as cruel, and as one which I know has hurt too many people who ... looked up to her and assumed that if she would make that strong a statement she must have awfully good reasons."

Harry Binswanger, of the Ayn Rand Institute writes that, while Rand generally condemned homosexuality, she would adopt a somewhat modified view of it "when she was in an especially good mood." [cite web|url=http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq-notes.html|title=www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq-notes.html ] He also noted that he "asked her privately (circa 1980) specifically whether she thought it was immoral. She said that we didn't know enough about the development of homosexuality in a person's psychology to say that it would have to involve immorality."

After Rand's death

After Rand's death in 1982, her heir, Leonard Peikoff, went on record disagreeing with Rand's statement. [cite web|url=http://www.aynrandbookstore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=LP51CS|title=www.aynrandbookstore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=LP51CS ] Peikoff argued that homosexuality itself is not open to moral judgment. Other contemporary Objectivists generally continue to support the view that, while government should not discriminate for or against homosexuals in any way, private individuals and private organizations should be free to do so.

For example, according to Objectivist Damian Moskovitz::While many conservatives believe that homosexuality should be outlawed and many liberals believe that homosexuals should be given special rights, Objectivism holds that as long as no force is involved, people have the right to do as they please in sexual matters, whether or not their behavior is considered by others to be or is in fact moral. And since individual rights are grounded in the nature of human beings as human beings, homosexuals do not deserve any more or less rights than heterosexuals. [cite web|url=http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--392-FAQ_Homosexuality.aspx|title=www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--392-FAQ_Homosexuality.aspx ]

Objectivist psychologist Michael J. Hurd supports gay marriage as falling under the rights of individuals to associate voluntarily. Unlike Rand, however, he does not view homosexuality as immoral, stating that "a gay marriage... though unconventional and highly controversial, can be a loving and highly satisfying union between two individuals." [cite web|url=http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?id=3612|title=www.capmag.com/article.asp?id=3612 ]

Objectivist psychologists Ellen Kenner and Edwin A. Locke express opinions similar to those of Hurd. [cite web|url=http://www.objectivistconferences.com/ocon2006/optional.htm#romance|title=www.objectivistconferences.com/ocon2006/optional.htm#romance ]

ee also

*Libertarian perspectives on gay rights

References

* "Rand, Ayn, Homosexuality and Human Liberation" (2003) [http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns/040729_keefner_homosexuality.php]
* "The Female Hero: A Randian-Feminist Synthesis", Thomas Gramstad (1999) [http://folk.uio.no/thomas/po/female-hero.html]

External links

* [http://www.indegayforum.org/news/show/27018.html Ayn Rand and Homosexuality] , Chicago Free Press article by Paul Varnell


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