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Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand

Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand

THE RANDIAN-FEMINISM MAILING LIST

SELECTED ARCHIVES FROM THE FOUR MONTH CONFERENCE

The Randian-Feminism Mailing List is a forum for Objectivist and Randian Feminists -- people who share a common interest in Feminist philosophy, issues and perspectives, and in Ayn Rand's ideas and philosophy.  Thomas Gramstad created the list on January 14, 1998. 

March 15, 1999  (Thomas Gramstad)

Ayn Rand and Feminism: An Unlikely Alliance  -  Mimi Reisel Gladstein

On Atlas Shrugged  -  Judith Wilt

	Mimi Reisel Gladstein discusses her essay, "Ayn Rand and Feminism: An Unlikely
Alliance" (20 Mar 1999 07:53:34):
It was more than a generation ago that my experiences in teaching "Women in Literature" led me
to write the "Unlikely Alliance" essay. Looking back, I am tickled at what an innocent I was of
Rand and Objectivism. It wasn't till publication of the article and Greenwood Press's invitation to
write The Ayn Rand Companion that real education began. Being so removed from the
Objectivist context, I was totally unprepared for the hostility I encountered, for her threat to sue
me when I requested an interview.  Still, rereading the article today, I stand by my thesis. Atlas
Shrugged does belong in a women's studies curriculum. If I were rewriting the essay today, I
would probably enlarge the section about what I find offensive in her attitudes toward women and
femininity. But, it is just those sorts of contradictions that provide some of the best class
discussion, just as they have for this one more global one.  And, of course, when, some months
later, I read Judith's follow-up, I could only wish that I had thought of the things she so brilliantly
explicates.
As to Rand's presence in Women's Studies courses, I would remind everyone of the original
purpose of Women's Studies, African-American Studies, Chicano Studies, et al. The purpose
ultimately is not to remain segregated, but to integrate the works of these writers into the
curriculum. I rarely teach women's studies courses any more and I count that as a measure of our
success. In the early 70s, at the University of Texas, El Paso, I created the courses and was the only one
teaching them; now I have many colleagues competing to teach those courses. So, I teach Rand and other
women, and African-American, Native-American, Chicano/a writers in the American Literature survey classes.
I also teach "Atlas" in a Political Literature course I team-teach with a colleague in Poli. Sci.
On another note, thanks Thomas for pointing out the distinction between developing the artifacts
of physical beauty and developing physically, as in strength and exercise. On the question of
conquest, however, I must point out that Rand uses that term and concept in a multiplicity of
contexts, not just in defining masculinity. She uses it both as dramatic irony and double entendre in
the interchange between Rearden and Francisco at the anniversary party. Rearden asks if Francisco
has found any conquests, referring to women, and Francisco responds that he thinks he has found
his greatest conquest, referring to Rearden.  
Dominique demonstrates her power over Roark (Rand's terms) by staying away and he
"surrenders" at once by coming to her. She tells him to kiss her hand, he kisses her ankle. He tells
her "You can do almost anything you wish with me." Roark also tells Dominique that she owns
him. Dominique feels no "thrill of conquest" because she is as much owned as he is. It may not
always work, but I think Rand sees the ideal romantic relationship as a mutual conquest.

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