Though I’ve seen allusions on this site to Ayn Rand’s fiction, most notably to The Fountainhead, I’ve been surprised that no one has mentioned this work on this thread of responses to the boss’s post, for this novel features a progression of violent psycho-emotional encounters between hero and heroine leading to a bout of rough sex in which an alpha laborer in a granite quarry, thoroughly provoked by the taunting of the heiress daughter of the quarry’s owner, takes her by force in an act of scornful possession that gives her, against all resistance, total rapture (Golly, do they get their rocks off!—c’est bien le cas de le dire)—perhaps the classic scenario of consensual non-consent. A careful analysis of the text confirms the novelist’s own pithy synopsis: “rape by engraved invitation.”
The between-the-lines invitation engraved in the passages that precipitate this climactic scene electrifies the narrative with a sub-textual undercurrent of sexuality, of desire, of resistance—conveyed in large part by the heroine’s powerfully charged hand fetishism. Yummy. How curious that those so exquisitely sensitive to the silent signaling of sexual harassment remain lamely clueless in the face of innuendo, implication, and body language that conveys seduction and consent: this scene drives gender feminists up the wall, as, of course, does Rand herself (cf. Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand. Wendy McElroy’s analysis nicely counters the deconstructionist readings).
Sexual teasing is grand, but dangerous, fun. The woman has been warned she is playing with fire yet does not, cannot, leave off. A few days prior to the “rape” she, mounted on horseback, slashes him across the face with a switch—opening the door to personal “violence” and the retaliation she fears but desires. Let’s call a spade a spade: she’s asking for it; more deliciously, she is begging for it.
This is not to suggest that Rand is endorsing for all of womankind the classic prescription in answer to that hoary question “What do women want?” (“Penis naturalis dosim repetatur!” though your Latin be rusty, I’m sure you’ll catch the thrust) but there is ample evidence in her writings that she knew, physician heal thyself, what personal emptiness needed filling.
Cautions apply (duh!). Testosterone is powerful stuff. The counsel of prudence and vigilance may be conservative, but nevertheless worth conserving. Whether it is a man setting himself up for temptation, or a woman risking, unchaperoned, the company of males, it is downright foolish and reckless to ignore the dangers, in Pollyannaish belief that living dynamics are always “safe, sane, and consensual”. Evolutionary Nature does not play by those rules. Men are biological creatures “designed” for hunting, fighting, and rough-house aggression (physically, intellectually, sexually): mankind would have long ago perished without the achievements, creations, and pregnancies driven by these impulses. To deny, evade, or seek to “rewrite” male nature, male “predation”, male selfishness (pimping for wimps by drugging boys with Ritalin (cf. Christina Hoff Summers: Who Stole Feminism?, The War Against Boys) or raising their consciousness with gender feminist pieties), is a form of arrogant imperialistic colonialism (aka bullying) driven by those, of all people, who should know better.
I am particularly appalled by the current “raunch” fashion statements made by young girls (cf. Ariel Levy: Female Chauvinist Pigs)—innocent little girls revealing grown-up women’s bodies are decidedly not safe and male lust is a dark, dangerous force of nature, not subject to regulation and legislation (cf. Camille Paglia: Vamps and Tramps). Parading renal dimples is not quite the same thing as showing the facial ones: these girls need to be educated to the dynamics of enticement and seduction.
Especially in this time of foolishness and charges of “date rape”, the new coinage for what is often no more than reckless regrets (cf. Wendy McElroy and Camille Paglia’s essays and Katie Roiphe: The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus), it falls upon an “aggressive” man, as a matter of ethics and consensual choice, to make clear upfront to a woman in his care that it is not in his nature to ask permissions (to do so runs totally counter to what he wants from the experience). Likewise, if such is her preference, a woman should make utterly clear to him that her terms are explicit consent, parting company if need be.
That said as background and bedrock to whatever the relation might become, I think the terms of in-line, on-going personal dynamics are quite different (and I can already hear the howls of the explicit consent, hoot owl gals). In sailboat racing there is a term for a forceful run at the starting line: barging. If you ask, silly boy, you give her a chance to say No! If such is her mind, she’ll find the word on her own. How better to break the spell of smoldering heat and rising passion than to ask in genteel and gentlemanly fashion “Do you want to make love?” (Now that’s artful seduction! It might well inspire the reply “Do you want to call me a cab?”), and what’s more, it dishonestly cloaks in a simpering euphemism what is generally a much starker reality. An honest and direct approach would be to tell her you’re going to (in the oft-used tender cliché of my still beloved ex-wife) … her brains out, but that will be evident to her in your eyes. Some women don’t need everything spelled out; they are good at reading between the lines and drawing out the implications of words and behavior. I think a woman’s working assumption should be that a man is a potential rapist and that given his druthers he would indeed, as a matter of rather constant protocol, simply ravish her whenever and however he wanted. (How’s that for a delicious statement to be torn out of context?)
That is not to say that men cannot be civilized—clearly they are and, to all appearances, much too much so. One does not notice bannered on the covers of the pop relationship magazines how-to articles on dampening masculine desire and cooling male ardor. Look at what sells women: ravishment romance. The inner fear of a woman is not the danger of her man’s overwhelming desire and passion for her; it is rather the despair at the thought of never inspiring and inflaming that sort of heat.
In this ambivalent, conflicted, hyper-provocative yet desensitized culture mixed signals abound: “Go for it.” “Just do it”—but not that! The “sell” is spontaneity, daring impulse, grand adventure—the reality is the lame, juiceless, lifeless conventions, rules, and regulations of the maternalistic nanny state. It is hardly surprising that those vulnerable to cultural “conditioning” introject memes contrary to earthy realities best taught and learned, not in the classroom (Yikes!), but in the cloistered setting of mossy woods and airy haylofts, hidden from the patrolling eyes of school-marms and intrusive parents. Let me betray my years with this foolish question: don’t kids, anymore, strip for oranges and baseball cards, play doctor, and tease each other in games of Trust Me?
There is a fierce, ruthless, severe side to aroused alpha masculinity where the pilot light, never extinguished, of caring concern and sensitivity (where he can recognize an authentic and necessary No), and benevolent intention to do no harm goes very much background. Its equivalent in femininity is reached at that point where she does not want tenderness and consideration. The entreaties say it all (a nasally congested bibliophile might say, the do me! decibels of her passion) and even non-believers become oh-god-ists—she wants to be used as the object of his desire and lust and revels in his forceful intensity. This is an exquisite treat for a man, to just let it rip. In no other context can he so intensely cash-in and celebrate his self-trust, self-confidence, and self-possession.
No doubt a major aspect of the appeal of pornography to men is that it liberates in fantasy those impulses. Some of us want it for real. (In this regard I consider Camille Paglia’s characterization of pornography as the elevation of woman “to high priestess of a pagan paradise garden” very apt, as contrasted with the prevailing wisdom that sees here the breeding ground for abuse, degradation, humiliation, and subjugation of women). While men can perhaps more easily treat this as a purely animal transaction and indulge more promiscuously, single women are not immune to this sort of impulse and at times seek out studs good for a MoveOn.Org. There are indeed many fish in the sea and women are hardly exempt from using “keeper” and “throwback” language. To select one, exclusively, is monumentally exceptional. For an “active” man to surrender that need to one woman is a huge gift. (Male surrender to his need for his woman has an oddly aggressive and active aspect but is nevertheless surrender: surrender to his own raw male animal nature and his daring to let go of his “civilized” dimensions). It is refreshing, on this site, to hear testimony of women who recognize those same dimensions within.