'AYN RAND, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND HUMAN LIBERATION'
Lindsay Perigo is a man on a mission. In his foreword to Chris Matthew Sciabarra's Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation, Perigo is determined to challenge
And what was her view?
Rand, the Grand Dame of modern libertarianism, held that psychological immorality is at the root of homosexuality. She argued that homosexuality demonstrated "psychological flaws, corruptions, errors, or unfortunate premises." While she declared that the government has no right to prohibit consenting sexual acts between adults,
Perigo has chosen the right man for the job. Sciabarra characteristically proves more than able. His book gets high marks from me. It is an elegantly written and riveting read. Sciabarra is eloquent in his description of the emotional damage suffered by gay objectivists as a result of the cruelty of their objectivist brothers and sisters. A chapter titled, "The Horror File," is given over to personal accounts that document this unkindness.
Despite Sciabarra's eloquence, I agree with Leonard Peikoff that "the subject is not part of the objectivist philosophy" (p. 10). Sciabarra admits as much, albeit in a different context (p. 14). Objectivism is a philosophy of individualism. Sexual orientation is a "nonessential" characteristic. "There's no objectivist organization for straights or women or blacks, after all."
In any event, great strides toward tolerance have been made by "post-Randian thinkers." Barbara Branden, one of
Such treatment might be futile, but Sciabarra goes even further in his condemnation. He considers it proof that "the heterosexual model of sexuality continues to inform the discussion." Sciabarra also protests what he sees as an attempt by mainstream objectivists to "marginalize much of the incredible diversity in human sexuality." I am afraid we are at odds here (and so, indubitably, would
Those who consider themselves heterosexual but have "just-for-fun homosexual contacts," like Alberto (p.25), are more inclined to see sex as an expression of personal liberty and lifestyle than as an extension of a personal relationship. The attempt, moreover, to depict human sexuality as existing on a continuum and in a state of flux is as unsubstantiated as the inference that
Rand's work has in the past been raped by assorted asexual, feminist interpretations, written mostly by the kind of women and men for whom, again, sex is a function of personal liberation (a tedious and leftist notion –
While Rand, a libertarian, would support the individual's right to pursue happiness as he sees fit, I can't see Kira Argounova of We the Living or Dagny Taggart of Atlas Shrugged acting out sexually as 23-year-old
The same can be said of the porn star who goes by the screen name Jon Galt. He (p. 3) might think his films – which include "Ride 'em Cowboy," "At Large," and "Finish Me Off" – embody Rand's vision of man as heroic, "rational, passionate, creative, purposeful," productive, and ... private, but that doesn't make it so. Are rational self-interest and personal happiness – all tenets of
I might be mistaken, but I fear that what has emerged from Sciabarra's many fascinating personal accounts is a liberal and permissive narrative about sexuality that serves to denude sex of its Randian majesty and meaning.
I prefer Sciabarra's perceptive emphasis on the paramountcy of the "private" to "
If "civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy," in
©By ILANA MERCER
July 9, 2004