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Echoes of Ayn Rand: A “Submissive Wife” as President?


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#1 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 02:29 PM

Questioner under fire for asking Bachmann what it means to be a ‘submissive’ wife


"The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands," [Michele] Bachmann said at the time[2006], according to the [Washington] Post. Her campaign hasn't disputed the remarks.

On Thursday, the Washington Examiner's Byron York, a conservative columnist who was one of the moderators of the 2012 debate, asked Bachmann directly about that quote.

"As president, would you be submissive to your husband?" he asked, a question that prompted the crowd to erupt in loud boos.

After a slight pause, Bachmann smiled and thanked York for his question.

"Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th," she said. "What submission means to us … it means respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful, godly man and a great father, and he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage."


Obviously, Bachmann was lying about what the word “submission” means. No doubt it means something very different to her as opposed to what it meant to Ayn Rand, but it doesn’t simply mean ‘respect.’ I think the issue raises same fascinating questions—whether or not you agree that femininity means “hero-worship” as it did for Rand. There is a definite sense in which a female is “submissive” to the male sexually. Quite aside from all that religious crap, there is something going on here psychologically that could potentially present a problem for a woman president. I think the fact that this issue came up means that it does have significance, even if the public discussions do not begin to address what that significance really is.

Excerpts from Rand’s 1968 article:

I do not think that a rational woman can want to be president. Observe that I did not say she would be unable to do the job; I said that she could not want it. It is not a matter of her ability, but of her values.

...when it comes to the post of president, ...do not ask: "Could she do the job and would it be good for the country?" Conceivably, she could and it would - but what would it do to her?

The issue is primarily psychological. . .

...the higher [a woman's] view of masculinity, the more severely demanding her standards. It means that she never loses the awareness of her own sexual identity and theirs. It means that a properly feminine woman does not treat men as if she were their pal, sister, mother - or leader.

Now consider the meaning of the presidency: in all his professional relationships, within the entire sphere of his work, the president is the highest authority; he is the "chief executive," the "commander-in-chief." ...In the performance of his duties, a president does not deal with equals, but only with inferiors (not inferiors as persons, but in respect to the hierarchy of their positions, their work, and their responsibilities).

This, for a rational woman, would be an unbearable situation. ... To act as the superior, the leader, virtually the ruler of all the men she deals with, would be an excruciating psychological torture. It would require a total depersonalization, an utter selflessness, and an incommunicable loneliness; she would have to suppress (or repress) every personal aspect of her own character and attitude; she could not be herself, i.e., a woman; she would have to function only as a mind, not as a person, i.e., as a thinker devoid of personal values - a dangerously artificial dichotomy which no one could sustain for long. By the nature of her duties and daily activities, she would beome the most unfeminine, sexless, metaphysically inappropriate, and rationally revolting figure of all: a matriarch.

For a woman to seek or desire the presidency is, in fact, so terrible a prospect of spiritual self-immolation that the woman who would seek it is psychologically unworthy of the job.

From “An Answer to Readers (About a Woman President),”
The Objectivist, Dec. 1968


Edited by Dennis Hardin, 12 August 2011 - 02:40 PM.


#2 Reidy

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 05:28 PM

I see a big difference betwen them. Bachmann says (try as she will to deny it) that a virtuous wife would behave this way. Rand says that she wouldn't, but she'd be frustrated.

Bachmann could almost make you believe Rand's contention that no rational woman would want to be president.

#3 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 05:49 PM

I see a big difference betwen them. Bachmann says (try as she will to deny it) that a virtuous wife would behave this way. Rand says that she wouldn't, but she'd be frustrated.

Bachmann could almost make you believe Rand's contention that no rational woman would want to be president.


There definitely is a huge difference in the way the issue is being explicitly defined. Rand argued that the issue has to do with female sexual nature, while Bachmann contends ‘submission’ is a religious duty of some sort. I’m suggesting that the “religious” crap is just a subterfuge and that both are really talking about the same thing—and I am speculating that being president could potentially have an impact on a woman’s experience of her femininity.

I’m not arguing that this should necessarily prohibit a woman from seeking the office. Maggie Thatcher was one helluva Prime Minister. I’m just saying it’s an interesting question—and the fact that this came up in the debate underscores that fact.

#4 studiodekadent

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 05:08 AM

Its also completely different in scope.

For Rand, it was a sexual kink of hers. She was raised in an environment where femininity was basically passivity and emotionalism. As a genius with ambition, she felt socially defeminized.

Hence she developed a kink for bodice-ripper sex as a way to make her feel like a proper woman.

Rand's idea of submission was exclusively about being ravished in the bedroom.

Bachmann's, and/or that of the questioner specifically, and certainly the religious meaning of the term, extend far beyond the bedroom.
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#5 whYNOT

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 05:55 AM

Questioner under fire for asking Bachmann what it means to be a ‘submissive’ wife



"The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands," [Michele] Bachmann said at the time[2006], according to the [Washington] Post. Her campaign hasn't disputed the remarks.

On Thursday, the Washington Examiner's Byron York, a conservative columnist who was one of the moderators of the 2012 debate, asked Bachmann directly about that quote.

"As president, would you be submissive to your husband?" he asked, a question that prompted the crowd to erupt in loud boos.

After a slight pause, Bachmann smiled and thanked York for his question.

"Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th," she said. "What submission means to us … it means respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful, godly man and a great father, and he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage."


Obviously, Bachmann was lying about what the word “submission” means. No doubt it means something very different to her as opposed to what it meant to Ayn Rand, but it doesn’t simply mean ‘respect.’ I think the issue raises same fascinating questions—whether or not you agree that femininity means “hero-worship” as it did for Rand. There is a definite sense in which a female is “submissive” to the male sexually. Quite aside from all that religious crap, there is something going on here psychologically that could potentially present a problem for a woman president. I think the fact that this issue came up means that it does have significance, even if the public discussions do not begin to address what that significance really is.

Excerpts from Rand’s 1968 article:

I do not think that a rational woman can want to be president. Observe that I did not say she would be unable to do the job; I said that she could not want it. It is not a matter of her ability, but of her values.

...when it comes to the post of president, ...do not ask: "Could she do the job and would it be good for the country?" Conceivably, she could and it would - but what would it do to her?

The issue is primarily psychological. . .

...the higher [a woman's] view of masculinity, the more severely demanding her standards. It means that she never loses the awareness of her own sexual identity and theirs. It means that a properly feminine woman does not treat men as if she were their pal, sister, mother - or leader.

Now consider the meaning of the presidency: in all his professional relationships, within the entire sphere of his work, the president is the highest authority; he is the "chief executive," the "commander-in-chief." ...In the performance of his duties, a president does not deal with equals, but only with inferiors (not inferiors as persons, but in respect to the hierarchy of their positions, their work, and their responsibilities).

This, for a rational woman, would be an unbearable situation. ... To act as the superior, the leader, virtually the ruler of all the men she deals with, would be an excruciating psychological torture. It would require a total depersonalization, an utter selflessness, and an incommunicable loneliness; she would have to suppress (or repress) every personal aspect of her own character and attitude; she could not be herself, i.e., a woman; she would have to function only as a mind, not as a person, i.e., as a thinker devoid of personal values - a dangerously artificial dichotomy which no one could sustain for long. By the nature of her duties and daily activities, she would beome the most unfeminine, sexless, metaphysically inappropriate, and rationally revolting figure of all: a matriarch.

For a woman to seek or desire the presidency is, in fact, so terrible a prospect of spiritual self-immolation that the woman who would seek it is psychologically unworthy of the job.

From “An Answer to Readers (About a Woman President),”
The Objectivist, Dec. 1968


I have the notion that she got her inductively-gained concepts excatly right so much of the time, that she grew over-confident with such assertions.
From the specific to the general; from what works for me, to what should work for everyone.
Resulting, now and again, in her rationalizations.
Check your premises, Ayn - one would like to say to her. Even a brilliant intellect is but a child when it comes to human sexuality and gender.

(Strangely, perhaps, in some areas, I sense she was extremely naive and inexperienced.)


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#6 Xray

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 07:07 AM

Questioner under fire for asking Bachmann what it means to be a ‘submissive’ wife


"The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands," [Michele] Bachmann said at the time[2006], according to the [Washington] Post. Her campaign hasn't disputed the remarks.

On Thursday, the Washington Examiner's Byron York, a conservative columnist who was one of the moderators of the 2012 debate, asked Bachmann directly about that quote.

"As president, would you be submissive to your husband?" he asked, a question that prompted the crowd to erupt in loud boos.

After a slight pause, Bachmann smiled and thanked York for his question.

"Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th," she said. "What submission means to us … it means respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful, godly man and a great father, and he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage."


Obviously, Bachmann was lying about what the word “submission” means.
No doubt it means something very different to her as opposed to what it meant to Ayn Rand, but it doesn’t simply mean ‘respect.’

Bachman was helplessly trying to wriggle out of the corner the questioner got her in.
Submission is of course something entirely different than respect.
Satirical comment by a blogger:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/questioner-under-fire-asking-bachmann-means-submissive-wife-170236837.html
If "submissive" means "respectful", then I'd like to hear Bachmann say her husband is submissive to her."

Touché. :D

That Bachmann could not think of anything else to say just shows how brilliantly astute the question was.
Typical also that the questioner is now under fire (!). Classic case of trying to 'kill the messenger'.

I wish politicians were grilled far more often like that by persistent journalists about the things they utter.

There definitely is a huge difference in the way the issue is being explicitly defined. Rand argued that the issue has to do with female sexual nature, while Bachmann contends ‘submission’ is a religious duty of some sort.


No doubt the biblical passage "The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands,"
implies sexuality as well, i. e. the wife has to submit to the man's wish to have sexual intercourse with her, and is not allowed to refuse on the grounds that she is simply "not in the mood."

I’m suggesting that the “religious” crap is just a subterfuge and that both are really talking about the same thing—

I think both Rand and Bachmann had/have a traditional and unreflected attitude regarding gender roles.
As for Rand, this not surprising, given that she was born at the beginning of the last century.

As for Bachmann, hers is just another example illustrating to what extent dogmatic religion can stifle independent thinking.

Edited by Xray, 13 August 2011 - 08:11 AM.


#7 Xray

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 07:25 AM

For Rand, it was a sexual kink of hers. She was raised in an environment where femininity was basically passivity and emotionalism. As a genius with ambition, she felt socially defeminized.

But in that case, wouldn't it have been more likely for Rand to choose a sexually dominant role?

Rand's idea of submission was exclusively about being ravished in the bedroom.

I don't think it was only limited to that.
For Rand's thinking was overall very hierarchical.
The submission theme also involves the males in AS. Both Rearden and D'Anconia readily submit to Galt (the novel's undisputed alpha male), relinquishing the love of their lives, Dagny, to him.

Edited by Xray, 13 August 2011 - 07:51 AM.


#8 Xray

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 07:51 AM

I have the notion that she got her inductively-gained concepts excatly right so much of the time, that she grew over-confident with such assertions.
From the specific to the general; from what works for me, to what should work for everyone.
Resulting, now and again, in her rationalizations.
Check your premises, Ayn - one would like to say to her.


A frequent thinking error by Rand was to believe that her personal preferences constituted an objective standard of value.
The same applied to the things she personally rejected.
The impact of her subjective value judgements on her followers was considerable.
Just two examples listed in past threads:


(I'd heard years ago that Peikoff once incurred Ayn Rand's disapproval because he liked the music of Johannes Brahms. I didn't know, till I read Heller, that he actually gave away all of his Brahms recordings after Rand made a pronouncement ex cathedra. Heller gives the year and the recipient.)

Robert Campbell

A friend of mine attended a conference in the late ‘80’s, pre-Kelley split, and reports that John Ridpath said he once was a Beethoven fan, and on AR’s advice that this pointed to a problem (psychological, sense of life, whatever), he worked on it and got over liking Beethoven.


Even a brilliant intellect is but a child when it comes to human sexuality and gender.

(Strangely, perhaps, in some areas, I sense she was extremely naive and inexperienced.)

Interesting points.

Edited by Xray, 13 August 2011 - 07:55 AM.


#9 Selene

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 08:50 AM

That Bachmann could not think of anything else to say just shows how brilliantly astute the question was.
Typical also that the questioner is now under fire (!). Classic case of trying to 'kill the messenger'.

I wish politicians were grilled far more often like that by persistent journalists about the things they utter.


Angela:

This is an accomplished professional woman. A tax attorney. A Congresswoman with a solid approach to economics. Additionally, she and her husband have established profitable businesses.

From your perspective of empathy being a positive criteria of evaluating a person she is AAA+. She and her husband had an effect on twenty-three (23) foster children. Almost all of them were teenagers who they "took in" for periods of a few weeks to several years.

This was not a "brilliant question" since it has no bearing on her ability to govern. She has made the statement about submission before and, from my understanding, submission is a narrowly defined in biblical interpretation.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#10 Xray

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 10:02 AM

Angela:

This is an accomplished professional woman. A tax attorney. A Congresswoman with a solid approach to economics. Additionally, she and her husband have established profitable businesses.

Adam:
To avoid a possible misunderstanding: I was not implying that Bachmann is stupid or anything. I wanted to point out to what extent dogmatic religion can stifle independent thinking (even in intelligent and sucessful persons).

From your perspective of empathy being a positive criteria of evaluating a person she is AAA+. She and her husband had an effect on twenty-three (23) foster children. Almost all of them were teenagers who they "took in" for periods of a few weeks to several years.


I would not use this type of ranking when it comes to empathy. For AAA+ has to much of a business life connotation to me.
I would therefore more use AAA+ for objectively assessing that this individual ranks high up in the social hierarchy due to her professional success.

She and her husband had an effect on twenty-three (23) foster children. Almost all of them were teenagers who they "took in" for periods of a few weeks to several years.

This is certainly very impressive and commendable. I assume it is their faith which gave them the strength to this, and again it makes me think of how complex dealing with the issue of religious influence can become. For no doubt countless human beings have profited (and are profiting) from the social commitment and the benevolent acts of religious individuals.

This was not a "brilliant question" since it has no bearing on her ability to govern. She has made the statement about submission before and, from my understanding, submission is a narrowly defined in biblical interpretation.

But this is what got Bachmann in a corner, hence her evasion. For the Bible is clearly partiarchal, with the wife's submission extending to all decisions being made by her husband.
Going by the premise that Bachmann endorses what it says in the Bible, suppose her husband should later disagree with a decision she plans to make as President, she would have to submit to the husband.

From the article:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/questioner-under-fire-asking-bachmann-means-submissive-wife-170236837.html
The Biblical phrase came up in a recent Washington Post profile of Bachmann's husband, Marcus, which reported the Minnesota lawmaker had told congregants at her church in 2006 that she'd pursued her degree in tax law only because her husband had told her to.

"The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands," Bachmann said at the time, according to the Post. Her campaign hasn't disputed the remarks.


Edited by Xray, 13 August 2011 - 10:07 AM.


#11 Reidy

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 10:36 AM

If the question had no bearing on her ability to govern, then she showed bad judgement in bringing it up at a public campaign appearance, and that does reflect on said ability.

As for her accomplishments as a tax lawyer, she worked for the IRS pursuing taxpayers. Her attempts to rationalize this as the experience that taught her to object to taxes is quite as lame as her attempts to redefine "submission."

#12 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 11:09 AM

Bachmann claims to study Mises “on the beach”, and to have switched from Democrat to Republican as a result of reading the description of George Washington’s backside in Gore Vidal’s Burr. She is simply not a serious candidate.

http://www.slate.com/id/2298712/

I see they’re still excluding Gary Johnson from debates. :angry:
Prandium gratis non est

#13 Selene

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 11:12 AM

If the question had no bearing on her ability to govern, then she showed bad judgement in bringing it up at a public campaign appearance, and that does reflect on said ability.

As for her accomplishments as a tax lawyer, she worked for the IRS pursuing taxpayers. Her attempts to rationalize this as the experience that taught her to object to taxes is quite as lame as her attempts to redefine "submission."


Yes, she worked as an IRS thug.

The scary thought for a lot of folks here on OL is going to be that for at least half of the prime voters in Republican primaries, that fundamentalist biblical interpretation of a "wife's submission" is a positive.

In the key states that will heavily influence the selection of the Republican nominee, it will also be a positive. Interestingly enough, the nomination process in this cycle will be proportional and not winner take all which virtually guarantees a convention battle.

Adam
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#14 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 05:49 PM


There definitely is a huge difference in the way the issue is being explicitly defined. Rand argued that the issue has to do with female sexual nature, while Bachmann contends ‘submission’ is a religious duty of some sort.


No doubt the biblical passage "The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands,"
implies sexuality as well, i. e. the wife has to submit to the man's wish to have sexual intercourse with her, and is not allowed to refuse on the grounds that she is simply "not in the mood."

I’m suggesting that the “religious” crap is just a subterfuge and that both are really talking about the same thing—


I think both Rand and Bachmann had/have a traditional and unreflected attitude regarding gender roles.
As for Rand, this not surprising, given that she was born at the beginning of the last century.

As for Bachmann, hers is just another example illustrating to what extent dogmatic religion can stifle independent thinking.


So, I'm curious: As a woman, would you contend that most women do not want to be 'ravished in the bedroom'? Obviously not all women want this, but my experience strongly inclines me to believe that most women want exactly that from a man.

And wouldn't that be an almost impossible challenge for the first husband--to ravish a woman who was the most powerful human being on earth? And wouldn't that be just a little bit frustrating for her?

I'm not saying it's a deal-breaker for a potential presidential candidate. When people have been married for a long time, sex probably becomes (for most couples) less important in life. But I think it's a perfectly valid question, especially for someone who is determined to keep their sexual passion as vital as ever into their later years.

I disagree with Rand that this would be a reason to not vote for a woman president. But I do think the question has some interesting ramifications psychologically.

#15 Reidy

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 06:00 PM

Can't wait til some self-identified Randian runs for president and a reporter asks her if she agrees with Rand's statement on the matter.

#16 Selene

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 07:00 PM

Can't wait til some self-identified Randian runs for president and a reporter asks her if she agrees with Rand's statement on the matter.


Like when Paul Ryan runs?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#17 Brant Gaede

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:34 AM



There definitely is a huge difference in the way the issue is being explicitly defined. Rand argued that the issue has to do with female sexual nature, while Bachmann contends 'submission' is a religious duty of some sort.


No doubt the biblical passage "The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands,"
implies sexuality as well, i. e. the wife has to submit to the man's wish to have sexual intercourse with her, and is not allowed to refuse on the grounds that she is simply "not in the mood."

I'm suggesting that the "religious" crap is just a subterfuge and that both are really talking about the same thing—


I think both Rand and Bachmann had/have a traditional and unreflected attitude regarding gender roles.
As for Rand, this not surprising, given that she was born at the beginning of the last century.

As for Bachmann, hers is just another example illustrating to what extent dogmatic religion can stifle independent thinking.


So, I'm curious: As a woman, would you contend that most women do not want to be 'ravished in the bedroom'? Obviously not all women want this, but my experience strongly inclines me to believe that most women want exactly that from a man.

And wouldn't that be an almost impossible challenge for the first husband--to ravish a woman who was the most powerful human being on earth? And wouldn't that be just a little bit frustrating for her?

I'm not saying it's a deal-breaker for a potential presidential candidate. When people have been married for a long time, sex probably becomes (for most couples) less important in life. But I think it's a perfectly valid question, especially for someone who is determined to keep their sexual passion as vital as ever into their later years.

I disagree with Rand that this would be a reason to not vote for a woman president. But I do think the question has some interesting ramifications psychologically.

Vote for her, fuck the bedroom!

--Brant

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#18 Reidy

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 06:42 AM

Actually I was thinking of somebody quite different from Ryan in the relevant respect.

While we're on the subject, that story about his requiring staffers to read Rand is not true.

Edited by Reidy, 14 August 2011 - 06:47 AM.


#19 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 09:50 AM

The questioner clearly intended to insinuate that if Michele Bachmann were elected, she could possibly compromise the office of the Presidency by "submitting" to her husband's whims, whatever they may be, because she had to according to her religion. And that could mean compromising the security of the USA.

This insinuation is a total distortion of what submission to husband means to people of Bachmann's persuasion. Granted, she fudged a bit by calling it respect, but she was not too far off, either.

If her husband told her not to run for President, I believe she would "submit." There would be family matters at stake and he leads the family. But I seriously doubt he would consider meddling in her job as part of his marital prerogatives, nor would she. And if he ever wanted to, from what I have seen of Michele Bachmann, there would be hell to pay, but even at the nastiest point, I don't believe the submission issue would arise between them over that. I don't believe either of them think of marital submission in that light.

And I don't believe she would ever compromise her duties as Commander in Chief over marital squabbles.

Anyway, this whole thing, to me, is like imaging what would happen if the world were invaded by hoards of unicorns. The Bachmanns have a wonderful marriage and I can't imagine her hubby feeling anything about her professional life other than fiercely proud of her. He is more than mature enough to understand that she would be President, not he. For that matter, she is likewise mature.

I think President Obama has more risk of being influenced by his wife on national policy than Bachmann ever would her husband.

Michael

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#20 studiodekadent

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:11 AM


For Rand, it was a sexual kink of hers. She was raised in an environment where femininity was basically passivity and emotionalism. As a genius with ambition, she felt socially defeminized.

But in that case, wouldn't it have been more likely for Rand to choose a sexually dominant role?


Not necessarily. In her case, it was compensation. She felt socially defeminized. This obviously was not pleasant for her (note how in her Woman President article she describes how any woman that felt defeminized must be experiencing some kind of excruciating psychological torture... I think she was speaking from her own experience). So she needed a way to reclaim her sense of being feminine.

Hence, the strong and powerful woman wanting to be overpowered and ravished in the bedroom.

Adam is probably the expert on this, but I am a goth and thus I have a few kinky friends. There's a definite trend (not universal, but its there) that people tend to compensate in the bedroom; powerful and strong people want to relinquish responsibility etc. and be overpowered. On the other hand, people that feel oppressed, downtrodden and controlled in their real life will become tyrants in the sack as a way of feeling some degree of potency over something.

This isn't a universal trend, as I said so before. There are clear exceptions, and also many different spins on things. Rand's own "Red Sonja" take, for instance, isn't shared by all those with a kink for dom-sub. And also, not all kinky persons are fond of dom-sub in the first place. But yeah, just making my caveat clear about "general trends."

Rand's idea of submission was exclusively about being ravished in the bedroom.

I don't think it was only limited to that.
For Rand's thinking was overall very hierarchical.
The submission theme also involves the males in AS. Both Rearden and D'Anconia readily submit to Galt (the novel's undisputed alpha male), relinquishing the love of their lives, Dagny, to him.


You have a point, but I think that wasn't meant to be part of the philosophy; it came off to me as an unintentional result of the fact that Dagny's lust-life was Rand's own wish-fulfillment.

I prefer Dagny/Hank myself. John Galt was boring.
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