Today I'm going to talk about Ayn Rand's views on gender. Specifically, what I believe she means by "femininity" and "masculinity" - and why she rightfully relates those to "hero worship" and "hero being".
Men and women are essentially the same qua human beings. They are both rational beings, equally capable of choice, productivity and virtue in general. Qua man and woman, however, they are fundamentally different. Hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection have led to significant differentiation between our sexes - which were probably quite different from the get-go. This includes differences in physique, perception, coordination and temperament.
Men are generally stronger, have denser bones, better spatial intelligence and a higher capacity to focus on a single thing. Due the same biological differences, we're also more decisive, aggressive, territorial and thing-oriented. Women are generally weaker, but they have higher flexibility and resistance to pain. They can also perceive much more subtle differences in color and smell, have better fine motor skills, and are more agreeable and people-oriented.
Going out on a limb to sum it up, I'd say men are better at differentiating, while women are better at integrating. Those differences are not arbitrary or socially defined, but metaphysical differences, based on physiology and shaped by millennia of natural selection. Simply put, women "make new people", men don't. That made one sex more "expendable", and suitable for dangerous activities such as hunting and waging war, leaving the other in charge of childcare and internal politics.
Are those binary absolutes?
No. Individuals are very different, even within the same sex, and there lies the essential difference between being "a man" and being "masculine". "Masculinity" and "femininity" refer to the traits and virtues that are more prevalent in one sex, but which also exist in the other. They are concepts that identify men and women's metaphysical differences, in the context of their essential similarity.
They are also not opposites. Masculinity is not the absence of femininity - a weak man is not feminine, and a clumsy woman is not masculine. They are both epistemological positives, and refer to the development of non-exclusive traits and virtues. They compliment one another, both socially and individually - one of the biggest signs of psychological development is to be comfortable enough with your gender to understand, appreciate and emulate the virtues of the other. In other words, the ideal man is both masculine and feminine to his full extent, and vice versa.
What about the "hero" aspect of it?
Heroic action is the integrated use of one's mind and body to subdue nature. It is a decisive, and usually aggressive action, focused on a thing - which, traditionally, also requires a significant amount of physical strength. Those are all masculine qualities, and this is why the apex of masculinity is being a hero.
What about women? Are they just supposed to be secondary "worshippers"? Hell no.
To worship and love, one must understand and live up to the hero. That means developing all the universal virtues, like rationality and independence, to the same extent. It also means understanding the hero more than he does himself, because while he is focused on the heroic action and its object, she is focused on the person as a whole. To be a "hero worshiper" means setting the standards of heroism, and choosing the hero - ultimately, becoming one with him by giving birth to another hero.
- March 27th, 2020