The Sexist

Internal Affairs: How Ayn Rand Followers Rationalize “Welcomed” Rape

Ayn Rand

The recession has been good to Ayn Rand. And why shouldn’t it be? Rand created objectivism, a philosophy that champions laissez-faire capitalism, individualism, and utter selfishness—a powerful opposition ideology at a time when government is growing and welfare for everyone is on the agenda. Almost 30 years after Rand’s death, her casket marked by a gigantic floral arrangement in the shape of a U.S. dollar sign, her economic ideas are gaining plenty of traction.

But what about her ideas on sex?

Not every passage in Rand’s works speaks to her campaign platform, which is abridged in her 1,000-page 1957 allegorical novel Atlas Shrugged: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

Rand’s heroic man is also into some pretty coercive sex. Consider this scene, from Rand’s 1943 novel, The Fountainhead:

She tried to tear herself away from him. The effort broke against his arms that had not felt it. Her fists beat against his shoulders, against his face. He moved one hand, took her two wrists and pinned them behind her, under his arm, wrenching her shoulder blades.…She fell back against the dressing table, she stood crouching, her hands clasping the edge behind her, her eyes wide, colorless, shapeless in terror. He was laughing. There was the movement of laughter on his face, but no sound.…Then he approached. He lifted her without effort. She let her teeth sink into his hand and felt blood on the tip of her tongue. He pulled her head back and he forced her mouth open against his.

Kate first read that scene when she was 12 years old. “I read all of [Rand’s novels] when I was in middle school,” says Kate. Now 22 and a student at Georgetown University, Kate spent her tween years a committed objectivist. “I was really, really into them. I read them all at least twice. I had pages dog-eared. I would go back and read over the best parts. I kept a journal that I would fill with quotes I liked from the books, the stuff that struck me as meaningful.”

But Kate’s very favorite lines never made it into the diary. “I’ll be honest. The first time I read The Fountainhead, the courtroom scene—that long soliloquy where she goes on and on about her philosophy—I skimmed it. I was really more interested in the sex scenes.”

When Kate first discovered Rand, “Sex wasn’t even a part of my vocabulary,” she says. Rand’s involved, fantastical rape scenes quickly filled the void. After reading her next Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged, Kate became obsessed with heroine Dagny Taggart, an idealistic capitalist who conquers the railroad industry—and submits to the violent sexual conquests of three men along the way. “That was the big draw for me as a teenage girl,” says Kate. “It was my first exposure to pornographic kind of materials. But the really fucked-up thing was that I didn’t realize back then that those scenes were rapes.”

It’s not unusual for readers to turn to Rand at a formative time in their lives. “It happens at all ages, but I think it does happen more commonly among young people,” says Joshua Zader, creator of the Atlasphere, a social networking Web site that connects objectivists around the world. Zader says that many Randians experience their first contact with her books between the ages of 14 and 21. “Her books appeal to youthful idealism, to people who are at the point in their lives where they’re trying to figure out what’s important,” Zader says.

It’s also when they’re trying to figure out sex. Rand’s influence on young people can’t be overstated—her fans have described her books as “life-changing,” “my Bible,” and “hot.” “I know that your sexual inclinations can be kind of stamped into you when you’re going through puberty,” says Kate. “So it’s a little disconcerting that at 12, 13 years old, I was stamping myself with this complete and total interest in submission, when I didn’t have any experience with sex at all,” she says. “It’s an interesting seed to plant in a teenager’s mind that that’s how sex operates.”

Even those teens who aren’t particularly obsessed with Rand’s erotica have picked up long-lasting sexual cues from her books. Angela Huynh, 24, is another Randian who got hooked as a teenager. “The Fountainhead changed my life,” says Huynh, who first read the book at age 19. “I…loved that whole philosophy of being who you want to be and doing whatever the hell you want to do in the most selfish way possible,” she says. “Who gives a shit about what people think or expect from you? …It became my Bible for life for a while.”

And the sex? “I know that many view it as a rape scene, but I definitely did not see it that way,” says Huynh of the Fountainhead scene. “Yes, there are elements of nonconsensual sex in that scene, but I was aware of Dominique’s feelings towards Roark and to me, she internally agreed to it,” she says. “I guess in the way that a lot of females may enjoy ‘rough’ sex and want domination behind closed doors.” And Huynh’s view of the scene hasn’t evolved in the five years since her first reading. “I will always feel this way about sex in the novel,” she says. “It changed the way I viewed men. The way they are supposed to be. Their motivations. It also made me look for raw dynamics when it comes to relationships.”

Rand reportedly had this to say about the scene: “If it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation.” But for young people with no practical experience with sex, Rand doesn’t provide any instruction on how exactly to seal the note. If your sex partner is biting you and beating you in the face, how can you be sure they’ve consented “internally”? Between Rand’s idealized heroes and heroines, why is the ideal sexual scenario a violent rape that the woman only privately desires? And for Rand, who was fond of invoking the tautological principle that “A is A,” when is rape not rape?

Zader was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of New Mexico when he first consumed The Fountainhead. “I didn’t get off the couch for three days until I was done with it,” he says. Twenty years later, Zader has had plenty of time to mull over the sexual dynamics at play there. “It was a welcomed rape is what it was,” he concludes. “It was a rape where both people wanted that sort of contact.…Now, one hopes that not too many people would actually go out and treat a woman that way.”

Perhaps it’s a concept that can only be understood by a fellow Randian. In 2003, Zader created the Atlasphere; soon, he added an online dating component to aid objectivists in finding “someone to fall in love with.” Today, 11,644 Randians and like-minded singles are looking for love—and sex—through the Atlasphere. The majority are men; currently, 96 men and 36 women in D.C. are enrolled in the service.

Despite all having an interest in novels that lean heavy on the rape fantasy, Atlasphere users rarely spell out their sexual inclinations on the site. Not one of the Atlasphere’s dating profiles includes the word “rape.” Only nine Atlasphere users have clicked a box signaling an interest in “erotica.” Many Atlasphere users express an interest in “domination”—world domination. The only woman with the word “submissive” in her profile is seeking a relationship and/or business partner to team up with her for her dream venture, “Pizza Tomb.” Pizza Tomb is a theme restaurant where “the gimmick is that the pizza is served on a hollow pyramid-shaped platter placed atop the customer’s head, requiring the customer to eat his or her way out,” she writes. The Pizza Tomb is currently lacking a dominant male figure: “Overly-effeminate and submissive men sicken me,” she writes.

Zader says sexual cues used on the site can sometimes be discreet. “People who are into dominance and submission tend to have their own vernacular,” says Zader. “Some will say, ‘I’m a sub, and if you don’t know what that means, you don’t need to contact me,’” he says. “Some people are more explicit about it and some might not come right out and say it.” Not that every Randian is into the rough stuff. Zader says the objectivist reaction to Ayn Rand’s sex scenes falls about like this: “I’d say a third of them, it turns them on; a third are neutral; and a third are really bothered by it.” For the most part, the Atlasphere isn’t about sex—it’s about rational self-interest. “What it signals most is that you want a relationship with someone who has similar values,” he says.

As for Kate, she never got the chance to apply her peculiar obsessions into some Randian role-playing. Kate fell out of love with objectivism before she ever got around to having sex in the real world. “People I meet now in college who are really into Ayn Rand—I can’t relate to them,” says Kate. “They’re just unpleasant. There’s no nuance.”

“I would never go back to read her philosophical rants in those books,” Kate adds. “I would probably go back to read the sex scenes—just purely for the pornographic effect.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Shinobi

    I'm so glad I read Stranger in a Strange Land instead of Atlas Shrugged when I was 13. I grok now that that was the best possible decision for my future psychological development.

  • http://jaded16.wordpress.com jaded16

    This is the problem that I have with most of Rand's works. However strong or independent the woman's character is, she is almost always sexually submissive. We, The Living's Kira , Karen Andre from Night of January 16 to name a few. In fact at one point, Rand described femininity as "hero-worship".

    Her books aren't that big an influence on how I think so I can't say I've had any psychological damage. Though I'd like to see Objectivist Feminism one of these days.

    ~ Jaded16

  • Peter L.

    Ugh - Ayn Rand as a sex-positive role model because she was into rape fantasies? It's bad enough that teens latch on to this psychopath as any kind of social or political role model, let alone as a foundation for one's sexuality. Unicorn chaser, please!

  • pukeimmediately

    although i have no doubt the majority of randians amanda could have found for this article would have expressed equally moronic readings of her books as those interviewed in this piece, these kids have almost completely misunderstood the point of her books...addressing the sex thing as a rape or not a rape is just one example of misunderstanding the books.

    first of all Rand writes FICTION, and she writes so that u get to know her characters very well, so its not like u can make any big general 'this is how Rand is saying sex should be' kind of statements when she has a intense sex scene in her book. its realistic bc everyone likes diff shit in bed and these people in this book are specific characters who obv are fighting against loving another human being physically- bc they are so afraid that doing that will cause them to, like, not be the strongest most internally powerful individual ever- so then this sex is just what they end up wanting in bed. like, these guys in the books are just obsessed with working inhumanly (or they argue humanly) hard, and not putting love or anything first. but they cant help it and thats sort of the animalistic but beautiful part of the relatinships in the books. that they just want to be like these great people who make great decisions in powerful positions that benefit the whole world -and they want to never need other people for anything personal- they can do it on their own and be great-and how they are obsessed with all this godlike strife and they still cant help but want to have sex with certain other characters. and they physically fight it off. so, its not woman or man not consenting, its both of these totally crazy people touching another person physically and trying to figure out how that works- and so it makes sense that it ends up being like bloody and biting and stuff, bc thats how they treat themselves- they basically rip themselves apart internally and this is them putting someone else on that level.

    anyway, im not saying i Support any of that crazy shit- and far from excusing actual rape and acts of violence bc a person is struggling with themselves internally. none of that is ok in real life. but these are FICTIONAL characters who are part of a novel, about these NOT-human Randian ideas of individualism. thats what the book and the characters are about. so its taking the sex scenes out of context for -just bc its violent and theres talks of slamming and pinning hands -that its necessarily a rape scene.

    also, wtf the fuck is w/ people reading this book for the sex scenes? thats pitiful. when i read this shit in high school, i really didnt even care there were hot sex scenes in these books. i thought the book was about the sense of purpose the characters feel and how they are see their role in the world as working so hard to improve the world and make it efficient- so much so that they give up their whole selves bc their work is somehow worth all of that giving up of being human and laying on the couch. all that lame rand for the first time shit. thats what decent people take from these books. (and by the way, that 'u can do whatever u want and not care about other people' thing that one kid in the article said of the rand philosophy is also a gross misread).

    so- to anyone who reads Rand for the sex scenes: i hope i never have to work with ya'll on anything important.

  • TJ

    Am I the only grown person out there who has never read any of Rand's work? This is enough for me to go out there and look it up for myself...

    Thank God I like reading and I'm grown enough to tell the difference between real and fiction...

  • http://randex.org/ Mark Wickens

    It's not "welcomed" rape, but welcomed "rape." Hence, no need for rationalizations.

  • http://www.rebeccacoffey.com Rebecca Coffey

    I've turned The Fountainhead's rape scene into recipe porn. See "Ayn Rand's Head Cheese" at http://revolvingfloor.com/issues/5/ayn-rands-head-cheese/

  • Emily H.

    To be honest I'm less offended by the rapiness of the scene than by the badness of the writing. It's totally lifeless and wooden, with no sense of how two bodies would interact in real physical space, there's not a vivid, clear visual image in the whole passage, and those "colorless, shapeless" eyes are really puzzling. "He moved one hand, took her two wrists and pinned them behind her, under his arm, wrenching her shoulder blades.…" How possible is it to grab and secure TWO of someone's wrists with one hand, unless they're three feet tall? If her hands were in front of her body, how did he get them behind he back without letting go of them first?

    Power struggle/rape erotica can be really hot, but only if it's about a genuine power dynamic, between bodies that can apply force & take up physical space. A fantastic superman lifting up an apparently weightless female "without effort" isn't very compelling. People who think Ayn Rand is a good writer are so hopeless... if you want to believe in a philosophy of self-interest, read Nietzsche & find some real porn.

  • AB

    It is termed "welcomed" rape, not welcomed "rape" because rape is NEVER welcome. That's why it is rape and not consensual sex, or rough sex, in this case.

    And while it is fiction, the writing effects the minds of the readers, the Randians, and can have real life consequences.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Perhaps we can compromise and call it "welcomed" "rape."

  • Resident85

    No TJ, you aren't the only one who hasn't read Rand. Somehow I don't think we've missed out when The Fountainhead was used in Dirty Dancing.

  • pukeimmediately

    @ AB You treck into dangerous territory when you criticize a fictional narrative and its fictional characters simply bc of the influence it can have on readers. the readers should know better than to rape someone or cause violence. the existence of the fictional rape-like scenario in the narrative isn't raping anyone.

    what you are saying reminds me of the arguments people used in post-revolution Iran when they were deciding which books were appropriate to be studied in school.

  • MTD

    Ayn Rand couldn't write her way out of a paper sack. The philosophy is objectionable; the writing is unforgivable.

  • alano

    Don't listen to these teenage interpretations of Ms. Rand's fiction. Read Ms. Rand's books for yourself - and then make up your own mind as to whether or not she was the horrible monster this article makes her out to have been.

    Consensual rape is a contradiction in terms. If both parties "want it," then it's just rough sex, not rape. What Ms. Rand depicts in the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is rough sex, not rape. In both novels and in her formal philosophy, Ms. Rand makes it clear that the intitiation of physical coercion against any human being is the greatest sin known to man; this anti-violence principle is the foundation of Ms. Rand's entire theory of politics and her concept of the state. She clearly does not condone rape.

    Also, I will add: Ms. Rand is now the most influential female intellectual of all time. Over the decades, her writings have brought millions of people over to the American right. That is why the left hates her so much and will always come up with smear pieces like this.

  • Xenu01

    It is troubling but not surprising that Ayn Rand's works are greatly admired by many young people. We have strayed very far from the idea of seven generations, respect of ancestors and one another, and the idea of saving resources for the future of our childrens' children. Rand says grab what you want from who you want and disregard everyone else. This is why I am vehemently anti-objectivism.

  • Xenu01

    I myself am an ex-fan of hers. I suppose it is natural that I would have loved her work once, having been a USian white young person of privilege.

  • http://bikegroggery.blogspot.com groggette

    If both parties “want it,” then it’s just rough sex, not rape.

    I think that only applies if both (all) parties know the other person (people) wants it too. The way Rand has it set up in her book, we the readers know that both parties "want it" but Roark sure as hell doesn't know that Dominique is enjoying it. He's going to have sex with her whether she consents or not. That's rape.

  • SwissCheeseWhiz

    I hate Ayn Rand...it didn't help that I read all of her books (admittedly I only read 20 pages of that awful John Galt radio rant in AS) while I was the Peace Corps. That whole anti-altruism element of objectivism is sort of offensive.

    I agree with the first commenter, more grokking less Dagny Taggert/Dominique Francone forced sex.

  • http://thelonestarphoenix.blogspot.com Jennifer

    @ Amanda: But is it RAPE rape? That's what Whoopi Goldberg wants to know!

  • Rob Quinn

    In "Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead" by Robert Mayhew, he addresses the rape scene as follows:

    "In answer to a 1965 fan letter, [Ayn Rand] wrote: 'You say you were asked whether "the rape of Dominique's freedom, an act of force that was contrary to the Objectivist Ethics?" The answer is: of course not. It was not an actual rape, but a symbolic action which Dominique all but invited. This was the action she wanted and Howard Roark knew it.'"

    I'm sure Rand doesn't support rape, some people just don't grasp her literary approach in that scene. I know my brother didn't get it the first time, and it took me a long time to convince him to come back and read Atlas and some other stuff.

  • voy_a_entrar

    I've never read this author, and I don't really know why I would. With Cervantes and Pindar and Julius Caesar to read, not to mention the nineteenth century romantics, why would one waste precious time on this chick?

  • LeftSidePositive

    @Rob Quinn--NONSENSE. She may rationalize it as such, but "all but invited" is pretty classic rape apologism. HOW did Howard Roark know what she wanted? Trying to claim someone "secretly wanted it" is the tried-and-true rapists' defense. Ayn Rand may not *think* she supports rape, but if she builds up these kinds of scenes where someone ostensibly fighting as hard as they can may be taken for "wanting it" without any previous discussion, indication, or affirmation is pretty sick stuff.

    "All but invited" simply is not good enough. Sex must be ACTUALLY invited, in that people must actually communicate to each other.

    Since I haven't actually read anything by Ayn Rand (and, frankly, don't intend to!) I googled some commentary on the passage to make sure I had the context right. My GOODNESS. Ayn Rand fansites are very, very scary places!!! The things that her FANS claim defend the rape?! Some guy actually claimed that Dominique could stop this rape simply by "speaking matter-of-factly to him." WHAT?! Okay, so this was clearly a man who I may safely assume had never actually had his personal autonomy violated. Some people seem to think that the laden discussion of a cracked fireplace signals consent to rough sex (?!). Guys, I've got news for you: sexual innuendo exists on a VERY wide continuum. Just because a girl wants to flirt with you does NOT mean she's down for whatever you can force on her! A girl may even conjure up a pretense for you two to be alone in her room...she may only want to kiss you. She may just want oral. She may want to talk about your thoughts on marriage and family. She may, for all you know, actually have a broken fireplace!!

    There was also this attitude that showed up numerous times that "He's such a noble person...he couldn't possibly have raped somebody!" In other words, we admire something about him, so we're going to bend over backwards to rationalize and explain away something horrible that he does to make ourselves feel better!! These are the beliefs rapists THRIVE on.

    Good heavens, the man could be Roman Polanski!

  • Kripa

    Ayn Rand herself likes it rough and hence writes rape-y scenes because that's what she herself finds hot. When she was writing those scenes she was fantasizing being Dominique/Dagny/Karen. And she's not worried about what readers will take away from it. That's my theory anyway.

  • http://theboozetube.wordpress.com/ Gnatalby

    “I guess in the way that a lot of females may enjoy ‘rough’ sex and want domination behind closed doors.”

    For the love of Pete, what's wrong with the word "women?"

    Read Ms. Rand’s books for yourself – and then make up your own mind as to whether or not she was the horrible monster this article makes her out to have been.

    I love how any time a feminist says anything someone wants to construe it as a nuclear attack. I'd love to see how exactly this article painted Ayn Rand as a horrible monster. Really, point me to the sections about tentacles.

    Honestly, Amanda could have written "Feminists say it's a nice day out" and some dude would be along to say: "How dare feminists claim the sun is engulfing the earth in its patriarchal fires! What an overreaction!"

    Someone is overreacting in this scenario, but it's not who you think.

  • Michael Hardesty

    As Ayn correctly wrote, "If it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation." Ayn Rand is the greatest writer of
    serious fiction and the greatest philosopher in world history. Hess and Rand's other demented critics are already in the process of being permanently forgotten while Rand will continue to sell books in the tens of millions and be remembered as long as the world exists.

  • Atlas Drugged

    Anytime someone brings up Ayn Rand in conversation, you know you're In For It.

  • alano

    It wasn't rape - and there is not a single jurisdiction in the Western world where what Rand describes in that scene would be considered rape.

    As I noted above, a consensual rape is a contradiction in terms. If both parties "want it," then it is rough sex - not rape.

    What Roark knows or doesn't know (his mes rea, to use the legal term) is ONLY relevant if Dominique did not in fact consent. Dominique did in fact consent; she wanted it. Therefore, there is no need to consider what's going on in Roarks' head as to the issue of Dominique's consent. By definition, it cannot be rape.

    If Dominique did not consent, then - and only then - we would need to inquire into whether or not Roark had good reason to believe she didn't consent.

    What we all know is that this whole "rape scene" in the Fountainhead routine is not the real issue. The real issue is that liberals hate Ms. Rand and are terrified of the way Ms. Rand's works turn people into right-wingers. So they come up with all sorts of silly things to try and dismiss her and smear her. It's not about rape - it's about liberal insecurity.

    They also try to say "Oh, I loved Ayn Rand when I was 15 but then I grew out of it." Bull. You just didn't get it when you were 15.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Alano--from any ethical perspective, this is absolute and total nonsense. You can't just help yourself to someone's being or property and figure this cavalier attitude is only relevant based on how the other person reacts. There is a basic sense of human decency in caring for other people and actually being interested in their wishes.

    Now, it's not necessarily unusual for works of fiction to espouse bass-ackwards moral codes. We spend all of Casablanca cheering for infidelity. We watch Ocean's 11 and believe premeditated grand theft is all fun & games. We enthusiastically follow someone systematically murdering anyone who threatens The Talented Mr. Ripley, and hope he gets away with it.

    BUT, most people know to leave these alternate moral universes in the movie theater or between the covers of a book. What gets dangerous here is that people seem to think Ayn Rand's books illuminate some great enlightened message (i.e., how to be a pompous, selfish, egotistical dick and call it a philosophy!) AND it reinforces some very dangerous ideas about women's sexuality and autonomy. What, EXACTLY, is the likelihood that a woman fighting as hard as her strength will allow--against someone she barely knows and has not communicated any specific desires to--"secretly wants it"? What kind of messed-up world is it that some VERY mundane behaviors are perceived as an "engraved invitation" to be raped?

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  • alano

    LeftSidePoz - It wasn't rape. It was rough sex. Talk to anyone who has been to law school and taken first year criminal law: It cannot be rape if both parties consent. Not under the laws of any state would what is depicted in the Fountainhead qualify as rape. Your stilly little "gotcha!" trick is lame.

    There might well be reasonable arguments against Ms. Rand's philosophy; this is not one of them.

  • alano

    Also, you state: "You can’t just help yourself to someone’s being or property and figure this cavalier attitude is only relevant based on how the other person reacts."

    Yes, "how the other person reacts" is 100 percent relevant when the question is rape or any other property issue. If I borrow your truck and you're cool with it, I haven't commited theft. You've consented to my borrowing you truck. If I have sex with you and you're cool with it, I haven't commited rape. How the other person reacts determines whether or not a crime was comitted. There's no room for you to keep arguing on this. You lose.

  • Jess

    Oh my God, the Ayn Rand crazies are WAY funnier than the boring old MRA crazies. (Except the comment directly above this one, which is frankly terrifying rape apologism.) I look forward to future posts about Rand... THE GREATEST PHILOSOPHER THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOW!

  • Henry

    This Kate sounds really put together, with a great head on her shoulders. Number or email, CP? Help a guy out here

  • LeftSidePositive

    Alano, when someone is making every possible effort to convey non-consent, i.e. fighting as hard as they possibly can, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that they are actually consenting. Maybe in Ayn Rand's twisted little universe, but it is a really, really sick message to send that someone who is acting like that is consenting. (For the record, it's also pretty sick to assume anyone who hasn't explicitly consented wants sex, even if they're not fighting this much as was presented here.)

    Really? Would you--without any prior discussion--just take the keys out of my purse and then drive away in my car, and just assume I was okay with it?! And it's only a problem if I am able to confront you about it later? On what PLANET is that acceptable behavior?? Now, what if, when you're taking my keys and driving away in the car, I'm running after you as fast as I can trying to get you to stop...would you still think what you were doing was okay? And, if you didn't get arrested afterwards, would you think it was because I was really okay with your taking my car despite all my actions to prevent it, or that I couldn't get the police to investigate the case or track the car? Are you really fine with the idea that you've done something that very likely has caused me great inconvenience and distress, and you think that the act of theft can be mitigated by whether or not I have the ability or resources to cause consequences to you? Would you really think that as you acted on your own initiative to take keys and my car, even when I tried to prevent you, it was even REMOTELY plausible that I wanted to give you my car??

    Here's an example: I ordered an espresso maker, and when it was delivered to the mailboxes in my apartment, someone took it. It was very clearly addressed to me, but that didn't seem to matter to that person. Now, I called the apartment manager AND filed a police report about the theft, but I have no way of knowing who took it, so no one has confronted them or caused them any consequences. Did they imagine I was "giving" them my espresso maker when it had been delivered next to my mailbox? Do they think that since I haven't been able to find out who they were or get it back that I am fine with their having my espresso maker and drinking what are rightfully my lattes every morning?

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  • Kripa

    I think we should stop conflating Dominique and Ayn Rand herself. The reason it's not rape in Rand's eyes is that Rand, fantasizing about being Dominique, was getting turned on by that scene. But I'm willing to bet that if Howard Roark actually pulled a stunt like that on Ayn Rand herself in real life, not in Ayn Rand's FANTASIES, Ayn Rand would (rightly) call it rape. Not rape by invitation, but rape full stop. Even if, in her own fantasies, Ayn Rand was positively creaming herself as she wrote that rape-y scene.

  • alano

    LeftSidePositive, for the crime of rape to occur TWO elements have to be in place: (1) The victim's non-consent to intercourse, and (2) the perpetrator's knowledge of the victim's non-consent. If EITHER element is missing, it cannot be rape.

    You keep arguing only for the second element. Given Dominique's behavior in the scene in question, you argue, Roark should have believed that she did not consent to sex.

    As I have repeatedly noted, you completely ignore the first element required for the crime of rape. Regardless of what Roark believed or what he (in your estimation) should have believed, the reader knows from the context given in the novel that Dominique fully consents to sex.

    You also argue that even if Dominique did consent to sex, in your opinion Roark should have thought Dominique did not consent. But in making this argument, you're apparently referring to a version of the Fountainhead that simply does not exist. It is pretty clear given the context of the novel that Roark knows Dominique wants him.

    In other words, Dominique (despite playing hard to get) in fact consents. Roark knows that she (despite playing hard to get) in fact consents. The reader knows that Dominique consents, and the reader knows that Roark knows that Dominqiue consents.

    Your fall-back argument then is: Despite the fact that both parties consented and despite the fact that Roark KNEW that Dominique wanted it, he still should not have acted because Dominique did not stop and give him explicit permission to have intercourse.

    I'm a gay guy who's been on both sides of intercourse plenty of times. Whether I'm giving it or taking it, I've never been in a situation where the guy bottoming stopped to give explicit permission for intercourse. Talk about killing the mood! "Now I give you permission to put it in." What a bizarre, sterile, robotic way of approaching sex!

    And even if she gave explicit permission, it would just be a "he said, she said" situation later! Maybe Roark should have gotten Dominique's permission in writing? Should it have been notarized? Maybe just to be absolutely certain that Dominique really really really consents Roark should get her permission in writing, which should then be filed with a local government agency, followed by a 30-day waiting period after which it will be acceptable for Roark to proceed with intercourse? After all, we can never be too careful.

    The car analogy breaks down (heh, "breaks down") completely because when it comes to sex people often play hard to get in a way that they do not when it comes to loaning automobiles. I apologize for offering the analogy.

    As to your espresso maker, you get the analogy wrong. Dominque consents and Roark knows that she consents. So the correct analogy is that you come to your apartment, you see the package sitting there with your name on it, you know it's yours, so you take it upstairs. But in your strange reading of Rand's novel, you should come home, see the package with your name on it, throw up your hands and yell "It's not really mine! I can't touch it! I have no reason to believe that it's mine!"

  • LeftSidePositive

    Alano, HOW does Roark know that Dominque consents??? All the interaction between the two of them was really, REALLY mundane. I'm sorry, but bringing someone in to fix your fireplace IS NOT a request for rough sex. You act like he can be so sure that she wants it, but that is not supported by the vaguely flirtatious behaviors in the story. Flirting (or even talking dirty) DOES NOT equal consent to sex. It's extremely dangerous to imply that demonstrating such a cursory interest in someone means that they can then assume that you're down for whatever they can do to you. It's attitudes like this that prevent women from obtaining justice for their rapes because every little thing they said or did is falsely interpreted as "she secretly wanted it."

    As for your own personal life, asking for consent does *not* kill the mood, and it is by no means robotic or sterile. It can be quite sexy, inviting, and exciting to talk about what you want. It's also a basic feature of human decency to care about what your partner (gay or straight) wants and not to make assumptions about his/her body.

    And no, fighting someone off as hard as you can does not equal "playing hard to get." Playing hard to get means you wait a few extra days before returning a phone call. Forcefully fighting someone off cannot be minimized as "playing hard to get," not to mention the fact that it's not really "hard to get" if the other person is simply going to overpower you and take what they want.

  • Sean

    There is a profound and perhaps purposeful misunderstanding of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism illustrated by this article, as well as by the quotes from supposed "fans". I recommend that anyone who would like to think for themselves takes the time to actually read her works, and not a defamatory summary of them.

    Rand clearly did not advocate "rape" of any sort and most if not everything else written her is pure and delicious rubbish. Think for yourself and investigate her ideas using your own mind.

  • Try Actually Reading

    What a load of BS. You begin by taking a section out of context and then quoting someone who thought they were an Objectivist at 12 years old and it only gets more asinine from there.

    You know what I'd like to see just once, an honest attempt to criticize Rand or her philosophy or refute any part of it. It doesn't seem like much to ask for but from what I've seen not a single one exists.

  • Justice T. Mann

    An Apologists’ View of Rape…..Nooooooot!
    After reading the article, "Internal Affairs - How Ayn Rand followers rationalize "welcomed" rape," it is apparent that the author of the article, Amanda Hess, never actually read Atlas Shrugged (and likely has not read The Fountainhead). Although Hess quotes a passage from The Fountainhead, and uses this as the basis of her article, it is obvious that the true subject matter of her piece is the philosophy of Objectivism as found in Atlas Shrugged.
    Hess' aim is evidenced in several ways: First, the cover photo is a picture of the book, Atlas Shrugged; Second, Hess quotes Rand's most concise statement of her personal philosophy (which Hess describes as Rand's "campaign platform") as it appears on the back cover of Atlas Shrugged; Third, Hess makes multiple references to Atlas Shrugged within her article, most notably her interview with Kate; Fourth, Hess variously suggests and implies that Atlas Shrugged itself contains scenes of rape, even asserting that all members of the online social network Atlasphere, “hav[e] an interest in novel(s) that lean heavy on the rape fantasy.”
    Putting aside Hess' discernible intention to undermine the philosophy of Objectivism by characterizing it as an apologist view of rape, what is most striking about Hess' article is her lack of familiarity with the philosophy of Objectivism, and thus the content of the novel Atlas Shrugged.
    Although there are no rape scenes in Atlas Shrugged, in editorializing her interview with Kate, Hess states that:
    "After reading her next Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged, Kate became obsessed with heroine Dagny Taggart, an idealistic capitalist who conquers the railroad industry-and submits to the violent sexual conquests of three men along the way."

    Although it is true that Dagny Taggart does have sex with three different men in the novel, none of these sex scenes could sensibly be construed as rape.
    In the first scene, in which Dagny has sex with Francisco D'Anconia, the two characters have essentially been courting one another since childhood, and at the height of their romance, the two engage in a consensual sex act at a time when the characters are of college age. In the second scene, Dagny, dissolved of her affections for Francisco because of his intentional manifestation of a false persona (which intentionality and falseness is unknown to Dagny), engages in a consensual sex act with Hank Rearden at a time when she is about thirty years old. As with Francisco at an earlier time, Dagny identifies Rearden as representing man in his highest form; the embodiment of moral values manifested through speech, action, ability and achievement. In the third scene, Dagny finally encounters the ironically notorious John Galt, who represents the height of human consciousness, her ‘one,’ the exemplification of human accomplishment; he is the Hero. Although all three of Dagny’s initial sexual encounters with these men are forceful in nature, they are anything but rape. In fact, Dagny undertakes close, personal relationships with each of these men following the consummation of their love for one another, which is conditioned by what each represents to the other; again, the height of human consciousness, self-awareness and accomplishment.
    Conversely, Rand also identifies in Atlas Shrugged, the villains' perception of moral values, and thus their underlying attitudes toward sex. As Rand states through Dagny:
    "In the many months of [Francisco’s] absence, [Dagny] never wondered whether he was true to her or not; she knew he was. She knew, even though she was too young to know the reason, that indiscriminate desire and unselective indulgence were possible only to those who regarded sex and themselves as evil." (pg. 109)

    Thus, not only did Rand not present an apologist view of rape in Atlas Shrugged, Rand venerated the act of sex by conditioning her characters’ consent to the identification and acknowledgment of each others’ moral values.
    In light of the foregoing analysis, what makes Hess’ article even more egregious is the lack of consideration given toward popular attitudes on sex today within our society. Given the promiscuousness with which sex acts are engaged in by many young people (who likely constitute a majority of the readership of the Washington City Paper), and the sometimes deadly consequences of such behavior, it is startling to think that such a profound, moralistic view of sex would be maligned in such a haphazard way. What’s even more insulting is that Rand’s atheistic construct of a moral value system is degraded to rape apologetics. If, as Rand believed, there is no God, then how else does man adopt or undertake to construct a moral value system than by his ability to reason? But again, the secularist approach to creating a moral value system is given absolutely no consideration; perhaps because the author of the article never bothered to read the book.
    In conclusion, Rand’s philosophy on sex is best presented in her own words:
    “Sex is one of the most important aspects of man’s life and, therefore, must never be approached lightly or casually. A sexual relationship is proper only on the ground of the highest values one can find in a human being. Sex must not be anything other than a response to values. And that is why I consider promiscuity immoral. Not because sex is evil, but because sex is too good and too important. . . .” (“Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March, 1964.)

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  • http://twitter.com/fridythirteen fridythirteen

    Ever notice how the more words Fountainheads use, the less sense they actually make?

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  • http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/ Doug Neuman OTVII

    Let's face it. When you are tweeking your balls off like Rand was (self-admittedly) when she wrote this book, you get into all sorts of kinky shit! You've been up for three days on benzedine having all different kinds of sexy, sick fantasies and anything seems okay. Anything must have been justifiable to her drug-addled mind at that point: kinky rape, dominance, carrying on an affair with the married Nathaniel Branden, the disgust with altruism. She was probably typing with ONE HAND, if you know what I mean. Too bad she missed out on all that killer crystal meth before she died alone (well, her servant was there) in her apartment. You aren't missed Ayn, you selfish tweeker!

  • AubreyC

    Oh, maybe because ONE-she is an atrcious writer, who's flat characters and horrible prose, and complete lack of understanding of human nature makes Stephenie Meyer look like a candidate for a Pullitzer. TWO because she believes women truly want to "hero-worship" men, and enjoy being beaten and violently raped, and THREE her ridiculous amount of big... See More words and "I AM GENIUS, I AM" and sevety page speeches doesn't hide the fact that her philosophy can be summed up as "Poor people suck-rich industrialist white men are hot, especially when they smack women around."

  • RobertD

    @AubreyC, I guess we could sum up the philosophy of Jesus too, Sin is bad, God is good. Or Feminism, Women are Good, Men are bad.

    Even though I agree, Rand should have been able to abbreviate her own thoughts, Atlas Shrugged is at least 3 times too long, I don't agree Objectivism is quite a one liner. That isn't fair.

    I guess I'm the only person, having read Rand as a teenager, and having been moved by her works, nevertheless, only skimmed over the sex scenes, because they were embarrassing.

    I honestly didn't read them, and had no idea they had any rape scenes.

    But you are forgetting something, Ayn Rand was Russian. Her first book, published in Russia, in the Russian language.

    It's important because the Slavic culture has a different viewpoint. It's entirely possible she wasn't advocating rape at all, but instead believed that it happens, in life. And therefore her books would reflect it.

    Since I didn't read the scenes beyond skimming past them, and since - its been a long time since I've read the books, I cannot comment about how they came about. It could be that these people knew each other, and had a relationship.

    In some cultures if you maintain a sexual relationship, there is an expectation of sex, that is the consent. To end the sex, you end the whole relationship. Even in the United States, in those years (early 1900's - it was a common belief that if you married someone - that was a consent to have sex)...you could divorce, and that would revoke the permission for sex.

    We don't think that way anymore, but Ayn Rand was of a different culture, in a different age, and its very likely she didn't view this as rape - and since nobody, man or woman, in the fictional scenes viewed it as rape, it probably wasn't.

    But I agree, you can't translate that into the modern world - if someone is biting you and trying to push you off, she's going to consider it rape, and it will be.

    I'd be surprised if anyone gets the wrong message from this ancient novel, frankly. I've known Objectivists for a long time, and I've never known a single one that advocated for rape, had a 1900's Slavic viewpoint on the world, or, in fact, had anything but the common understanding of what rape constitutes.

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