Legitimized Rapes

By Susan McWilliams for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC

Claremont, CA.  In Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, the hero Howard Roark violently rapes a woman named Dominique, forcing her into submission “like a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession” of a slave.

“She tried to tear herself away from him. The effort broke against his arms that had not felt it. Her fists beat against his shoulders, against his face…, her eyes wide, colorless, shapeless in terror. He was laughing.”

Dominique bites and flails and even draws the blood of her assailer, but Roark has his gruesome way with her. But don’t feel too bad for Dominique, because it’s all cool:  all that bruising and bleeding makes her realize that being raped brings “the kind of rapture she had wanted” all along.

In Rand’s lesser-known Night of January 16th, one Bjorn Faulkner rapes a woman named Karen Andre when she comes to interview with him for a job. She has such a good time being raped that she becomes his partner in business and sexiness for the rest of his days on earth.

And in Atlas Shrugged, the heroine Dagny Taggart secretly wants men to rape her. The more powerful men, the better. Fortunately, Rand’s superhero John Galt understands this and forces her to commit an act of what has sometimes gotten called “consensual rape.” Then they live happily ever after.

Gosh, and the ladies complain that romance is dead.

With the Republican Party awash in self-proclaimed devotees of Ayn Rand, I wonder why fewer of them have stood behind Missouri Congressman Todd Akin and his distinction between “legitimate” and other kinds of rape.* All Akin did was suggest that for women, sometimes “no” means “yes.” In Rand’s ouvre, a woman’s “no” almost always means “yes.”

As Rand saw it, superior men are virtually required to be rapists. The Randian hero, as she described Howard Roark in her journals, is someone who “can never lose himself in love” because “his life and work come above all—nothing and no one can interfere, or even be considered beside it.” When it comes to having sex with a woman, then, Roark only acts on the “feeling of wanting her and getting her, without great concern for the question of whether she wants it.” And although Rand’s ideal woman almost always wants it, in the end her feelings really don’t matter. “Were it necessary, he could rape her and feel perfectly justified.”

So I don’t know why all these Randians find Akin’s comments so “outrageous,” as Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan called them. Next to Rand, Akin looks like a bra-burner, a champion against violence against women. After all, for everything he got wrong, his words suggest some belief that the feelings of women – and other people in general – matter.

*Interestingly, Congressman Ron Paul – perhaps the most ardent Randian in the legislative branch – has refused to comment on Akin’s remarks.


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