"Femininity is defined as the woman who embraces, loves, and relishes in the fact that she is a woman." Amber Pawlik

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The Roots of Gender: Defining Femininity and Masculinity

Just as the conclusions in Objectivist philosophy were based on man’s nature, so the conclusions in sexuality should be based on the nature of man and the nature of woman.

Being male or female is the biological sex of a person. It is their physical, bodily nature. Being masculine or feminine is the gender of a person. It is an act of choice—the way a person behaves. The current cultural mantra is that these two, gender and sex, are unrelated to each other. Men, they say, can be feminine, masculine, or both; and women can be feminine, masculine, or both. This is the subjectivist definition of gender, i.e., that it is up to either sex’s arbitrary choice.

By definition, the subjectivist view on gender is illogical. If any so-called feminine trait can rationally exist in a man, it is, by definition, not a feminine trait. The same is true in reverse: if any so-called masculine trait can rationally exist in a woman, it is, by definition, not a masculine trait. This is not to say that if a woman so chooses to adopt a trait, it is by definition feminine or vice versa, but if that trait can appropriately and rationally exist in her, it is not a masculine trait.

If a trait can interchangeably exist in both sexes, it is not masculine or feminine; it is sexless. If one wanted to argue that masculinity has nothing to do with men and femininity nothing to do with women, the only logical thing left is to do away with the concepts of masculine and feminine altogether or assign that particular trait as being androgynous.

In our culture, gender and sex have been divorced. Qualities of masculine and feminine are determined independent of men or women. Usually, any trait that is strong is taken to be “masculine,” and any trait that is weak is taken to be “feminine.” A plethora of traits that can and do exist in both women and men—from logic to competition to emotion to nurturing—are assigned as masculine or feminine traits.

For instance, intelligence may be ascribed as a masculine trait. But it is not. Intelligence is something that can rationally and appropriately exist in either a man or a woman. Being intelligent does not make a woman masculine. She is simply a woman who is intelligent. Intelligence is androgynous; it has nothing to do with masculinity or femininity.

This view that masculinity and femininity are unrelated to men or women respectively is a byproduct of Platonic philosophy. Plato believed there was the world we live in now, and then there was another, more perfect world where truth, morality, perfection, etc., exists. Therefore ideas are divorced from reality; behaviors are divorced from humans; femininity is divorced from women; and masculinity is divorced from men. It is Aristotelian to keep behaviors related to human beings—femininity related to women and masculinity related to men.

It is the very nature of men that gives rise to masculinity and the nature of women that gives rise to femininity. Femininity and masculinity are the conscious, chosen behaviors of women and men to act in accordance with their nature as women or men respectively.

Femininity—the “ought” of what a woman should do—is based on the nature of a woman, i.e., what a woman is. The same is true for masculinity. Let us now do something very unpopular: define the “is” of men and women.

The nature of the woman, the reason for her existence as a woman differentiated from a man, is that she is the sex capable of child bearing. The nature of the man, his differentiation from a woman, is that he is the sex capable of fertilizing the woman.

This is not to say or even to suggest that all sexual interaction must be done with the intent to procreate. This is not to refer to the process of child making in any manner whatsoever. This is to suggest the definition of what makes a person a woman as opposed to a man. That difference, at its most fundamental level, is the woman is the child bearer and the man is not.

Many usually say in regards to this (dictionary) definition, “But a woman is not just a uterus, she has a mind too!” A woman is indeed defined as a creature with a mind, but this defines her as a human not a woman.

Men, who do not carry the “burden” of childbearing, are designed for one purpose: mastering reality. Men’s bodies are taller, bigger, and more muscular than a woman’s. They have less body fat, a higher center of gravity, and broader shoulders. Their entire design has one central purpose: efficacy.

Women’s bodies, on the other hand, are not designed solely for efficacy. A woman’s body is smaller, shorter, and less muscular than a man’s. It has a layer of body fat to protect her and a lower center of gravity. She has supple breasts, wide hips, and monthly periods. The central design of a woman’s body is not efficacy: it is child bearing.

I mentioned in the article before this that feminists have encouraged women to urinate in urinals, which is not appropriate for a woman’s anatomy. This is a clear-cut example of how a masculine woman behaves: by acting in a manner not in accordance to her nature as a woman.

Being male or female is an immutable fact of reality; being feminine or masculine is not—it is a chosen behavior. Whereas liberals tend to say gender is subjective, i.e., up to arbitrary preference, many conservatives argue that gender is intrinsic, i.e., automatically exists in a person. Gender is neither arbitrarily chosen nor automatic. It is, in fact, a choice, but a rational person would act in accordance to their nature. It is possible for a woman to act masculine or for a man to act feminine, but it is not rational.

It is femininity in particular, as chosen by women, that has been not only assaulted, but often rejected by many women themselves, so this is what I will discuss in detail now. I discuss masculinity, which summed up can be described as heroism and efficacy, in depth in my article, “The Anti-Romeos: Feminism’s Assault on Masculinity.”

Femininity is not made up of such negative traits as “chaos, dependence, and emotion,” or even positive ones like “nurturing, relationships, and cooperation.” Femininity is defined as the woman who embraces, loves, and relishes in the fact that she is a woman.

Femininity, by definition, can only rationally exist in women. Men cannot (rationally) revel in the fact or act in accordance to their nature as women for obvious reasons. And, vice versa: masculinity, by definition, cannot rationally exist in women.

Femininity is more than the woman who is pretty, wears high heels, or dresses in skirts. One can name a host of attractive women who dress in heels and skirts but are not feminine. Makeup and dressing nice can be and are a part of it but only to accentuate, highlight, and idealize those features that make her a woman.

Do not let anyone fool you by saying that any other given culture did not have, say, women who wore makeup, therefore makeup is not a feminine trait or more importantly that there are no objectively definable feminine traits. Makeup is merely a concrete—only one possible application of femininity. What matters are not the concretes of femininity that are materialized, but the standard: femininity is defined as a woman who embraces her nature as a woman and acts accordingly.

Ayn Rand defined femininity in the following way: “For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero worship—the desire to look up to a man” (“About” 268). This is the most important part of femininity, although it has not been given a full and explicit philosophical explanation as of yet. Let us now do that.

Hero worship is based on the metaphysical natures of men and women, i.e., what a woman is and what a man is. The less efficacious woman looks up to and admires the stronger man. A male’s sexuality is wrapped up in heroism, and a woman’s sexuality is wrapped up in admiring him because this is, after all, what has allowed civilization to exist and to prosper. Sex is a celebration of life. Life is the standard of erotica.

Hero worship does not mean that a man will want a dumb, dependent woman to be by his side. A man still, first and foremost, loves a woman for her virtues. But the relationship he has in contrast to her is different. Whereas the woman looks up to and exalts the man, the man looks at her with an affectionate, warm eye. It is not an upward or downward glance that he gives her but a levelheaded, admiring one. His sexual pleasure should not come from admiring her efficacy, but in his own efficacy. The ultimate reward for his efficacy is the ability to be with a rational, honest, virtuous woman.

Some would say that intellect matters, not physical capabilities; therefore, the stronger nature of a man does not matter. Man’s intellect is, indeed, the source of all wealth valuable to man. However, there is no mind-body dichotomy. Man’s mind initiates and the body acts. The body must be used to materialize what man’s mind created. Imagine manning a farm, mining for gold, sailing across a sea, winning a war, or performing heart surgery without a functioning, coordinated, or even strong body. It is not because of female moral deficiency or inferior status or anything of the sort that the male sexuality is heroism while the female sexuality is hero worship.

An argument sometimes made is that the person who has the bigger struggle should be admired more. Therefore, even if men are stronger than women, women should be admired more for equal accomplishments. However, when you begin to analyze this logically, you can see how absurd it is. If you owned a business and there were two machines being presented to you to buy, one of which ran extremely efficiently, almost effortlessly, and another one that required a tremendous amount of energy and strain to run at the same rate, which would you buy? In Atlas Shrugged, Rand makes a philosophical point: pain does not matter. What matters is not the struggle you have to endure to gain something, but the value you receive upon gaining it. Pleasure, ease, and ability should be regarded as a higher value than pain, difficulty, and weakness.

Hero worship is not meant to be a damning curse, highlighting the “inferiority” of women. It should be nothing more than a simple, benevolent female-to-male appreciation.

If hero worship is not the response to male strength, the only other response possible is jealousy. Feminists make this response inevitable.

The entire point of feminism, they say, was to fight for equality. By equality they don’t mean equality of opportunity but of result. They want women to be identical to men—to have the same number of women and men in high-powered jobs; for women to become combat soldiers and firefighters, etc.

Commanding women to be equal to men, when they are not designed to be equal, has not and cannot result in equality. Anyone sending a woman on a journey to be “equal” to men is sending her on a damning journey. Men and women are different, and this is not something to be ashamed of. The male body is better suited for some things and the female body for others. The completion of an adult, morally achieved woman is not an eternal struggle to be like a man. Women are not deformed males: the female form is complete in and of itself, able to achieve moral completion in its own right. A woman who tries to be “equal” to men will find she can only (not) do it by denying, evading, and damning herself for being a woman. She will become frustrated with, jealous of, and hateful towards men. If you can name anything worse to cause a woman to lose her own sensuality, please do.

The result will be that instead of revering men, she will be jealous of men. If any woman can be accused of penis envy, it is a feminist. Ayn Rand said we live in an Age of Envy, a time when the good is hated for being good. It is one thing for any person to hate someone for being good, but for a woman to hate a man for being good? A woman’s sexuality is hero worship. For a woman to hate a man for being good is comparable to a man hating a woman for being beautiful.

There is one place where I possibly disagree with Ayn Rand regarding femininity. Rand said a woman should not become the President of the United States, as if she did she would become a sexless, rationally revolting creature (“About” 269). The reason is much as I outlined above—for if a woman was the top leader in the freest nation on earth, she would have no man to look up to and would lose her sexuality. I disagree: a woman may perhaps be able to become a leader of a great nation without losing her sexuality. For an example of this, see Margaret Thatcher. A woman does not necessarily look up to the President as her hero. She very easily could look up to a different man as a hero: her husband.

The sexlessness of a female does not come from a woman who chooses a certain profession, but from the woman who is in denial of her nature, and many women in all different professions fit this bill. Indeed, this includes some female leaders such as Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno. But so as long as a woman still cherishes who she is as a woman and adores and appreciates men, she can remain sexual. However, Rand said she was opposed to a female President of the United States, not Prime Minister of England. And there was one person more powerful than Thatcher during her time in office: Ronald Reagan.

A woman can still do a number of things considered “masculine” and retain her femininity. Many women, for instance, who play sports are still feminine. Generally, the woman who recognizes that men are stronger than she, and does so without bitterness, simply doing her best, remains feminine. The unfeminine woman is quite intent on being equal to men for she is denial of her nature as a woman. The only enduring characteristic of a feminine woman, despite everything, is one who accepts and loves the fact that she is a woman.

As far as sexuality goes, nothing is more alluring to men than a woman who embraces her femininity, i.e., loves and embraces the fact that she is a woman. A sexual woman is not just one who is not in denial of her nature as a woman, but fully embraces it, plays it up, and accentuates it—she has a heightened sense of her femininity. Even having ideal characteristics is not as powerful in alluring men as embracing femininity.

There is only one subset of the population that could have a rational, vested interest in twisted gender roles: homosexuals. In all relationships, a couple polarizes themselves into a masculine role and a feminine role. For heterosexuals, how that polarizes is obvious. But for homosexual couples, which involve either two men or two women together, it is not. At some point, typically a man will behave in a feminine manner, and a woman will behave in a masculine manner. Gender bending is a natural part of their lives. If you ever notice, the loudest advocates of twisted gender roles are almost always homosexuals.

But twisted gender roles utterly flop for heterosexuals. Feminine men do not attract heterosexual women and masculine women do not attract heterosexual men. The recipe for heterosexuality is quite simple and universal: masculine man and feminine woman. Those trying to destroy this by hurling gender bending on to the heterosexual population, including some supposed Objectivists, are assaulting reality, pleasure, sexuality, and fun.

As a conclusion, allow me to offer an example of a group of people who denied gender roles, i.e., tried to deny the metaphysical design of men and women.

This was taken from Andrea Dworkin’s account of the Sexual Revolution (which was not so sexual) in Right Wing Women (ch. 3). In it, she describes the men and women who came together in opposition to the Vietnam War. They boasted they would develop a new kind of sexual credo—with men and women being “partners” in “brother-sister relationships” instead of in gendered roles. Here is what actually happened. This is her description of men and women living in “sexually liberated” communes. I apologize for the language, but the snip was revealing enough to be included.

The men grew more manly; the world of the counterculture became more aggressively male-dominated. The girls became women, found themselves possessed by a man or a man and his buddies (in the parlance of the counterculture, his brothers and hers too), traded, gang-fucked, collected, collectivized, objectified, turned into the hot stuff of pornography, and socially re-segregated into traditionally female roles. Empirically speaking, sexual liberation was practiced by women on a wide scale in the sixties and it did not work: that is, it did not free women. Its purpose—it turned out—was to free men to use women without bourgeois constraints, and in that it was successful. One consequence for the women was an intensification of the experience of being sexually female—the precise opposite of what those idealistic girls had envisioned for themselves.

This is a group of people who wanted “equal” relationships in which they were completely blind to whether a person was a man or a woman. After trying to live up to “brother-sister relationships” (i.e., genderless), these men and women dwindled into far more extreme, abusive gendered roles. The women became absolutely submissive; the men absolutely dominant. The male-female interaction of the man as the hero and woman as the hero worshipper was not able to be eliminated. Instead it grew wild and untamed.

Once again, it is proven: reality, to be commanded, must be obeyed.

Amber Pawlik

Objectivist Sexuality: An Outline for Happily Ever After
Amber Pawlik
Objectivist Sexuality discusses gender, dating, love, sex, and relationships from an Objectivist viewpoint. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. This book discusses sexuality from a philosophical perspective but it also has a practical purpose: to give men and women the principles and values necessary to define, seek, and ultimately find the love of their life. The topics covered include masculinity, femininity, love, dating, sex, relationships, feminism, sexual evolutionary theory, homosexuality, and many others.

This article is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976. No part may be copied.

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