By Ayn Rand
Date: 10 March 2001
Excerpt from "Atlas Shrugged"
[Note: It's not written gender neutral because this was before
Political Correctness. Don't let this fool you into thinking it applies
only to men!]
[Some people] think that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of
one's mind, choice, or code of values. They think that your body creates a
desire and makes a choice for you -- just about in some such way as if iron
ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind,
they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers.
But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental
convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you
his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell
you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he's taught about the
virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act
which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment -- just try to think
of performing it as an act of selfless charity! -- an act which is not possible
in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired
and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit,
as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will
always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself,
the woman whose surrender permits him to experience -- or to fake --
a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value
will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires,
the strongest, the hardest to conquer, because only the possession of a heroine
will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut.
He does not seek to gain his value, but to express it. There is no conflict
between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body...
Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives -- and observe the
mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds
from the other. Love is our response to our highest values, and can be nothing
else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence -- let him profess
that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of
pride but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is
born, not of admiration but of charity, not in response to values but in response
to flaws, -- and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him,
it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes
to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will
always follow the logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws
are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract
him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is
worthy of enjoying... Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires
of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is
a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him
nothing but boredom and sex nothing but shame....
Only the man who extols the purity of a love devoid of desire is capable
of the depravity of a desire devoid of love.
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