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Customer Review

on 16 June 1999
I'm not part of the "Leonard Peikoff Objectivist Jihad", but I agree with Ayn Rand on 95% of her points. Where I break from her is on the issue of sex, which is the issue which _literally_ broke her herself. Her views of sex were carryovers from her russian psuedo-christian upbringing. She always remained sympathetic toward christianity right up to the end, and this explains her views on marriage, sexual roles, homosexuality, etc. Her main problem came in when she found an attractive young man and she had to weave a creaky bridge of logic to allow herself to sleep with him. In the end, it destroyed her and crippled her message. If she had understood sexuality better, objectivism wouldn't be the giant joke that it is today.
It's for this reason that I eagerly read Gaitskill's book on a friend's recommendation. I expected to find a snide portrayal of Rand and her philosophy. I did not. Gaitskill really shows respect for Ayn Rand and her core ideas. Ayn Rand (Granite) is shown as being powerfully intelligent, compassionate, and violently passionate. M.G. also eludes to Rand's casual use of weight pills/amphetamines, which is well known and adds a touch of honesty without being cruel. Gaitskill's point is that Rand was wrong about sexuality. I agree. In making this point, Gaitskill was honest and not disrespectful in regard to the central values of objectivism and Rand.
The two main girls are really not that atypical. Sexual issues for women are very complex and Rand didn't do them any favors. The fact is, she never wrote for women anyway. She was a man-worshipper (in her own words) and wanted to reach men. The problem is that women are powerfully attracted to her and her ideas, but are left hanging when it comes to sex (they are in effect taught to accept rape as great sex!). The book attempts to address this point, and I think it really has something to offer in this way.
The book is a naturalistic book in that the characters are not consistent but rather imperfect and irrational at times. Ayn Rand would point to this as a reason to not like the book and for women not to read it. In fact, she herself bears responsibility for similar states of confusion and irrationality in many women due to her absurd philosophy of female sexuality. I applaud Gaitskill's attempt to show some compassion toward these women and think that the main value of her book is to show the weak points and inconsistencies in Rand's view of sex and how it often results in harm for women.
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