Category Archives: Ayn Rand


When I was very little, I learned the concept of what I now know as ‘gender:’ people are male and female, boys and girls, men and women.  I was really young when I learned this concept, so young that I can’t remember not knowing it.  And along with gender, I learned some other concepts, which I never really thought about until much later:

  • Essentiality: A person must have a gender.
  • Binary states: One is male or female: there is no other alternative.
  • Mutual exclusivity: A person must be male or female. One cannot be both at the same time.
  • Immutability: One cannot change one’s gender.  (One can impersonate the other gender, but it isn’t the same thing.)

I learned all of this just by observing the world around me.  So far as I know, my parents never had to explain this to me, nor did I have to explain it to my son when he was little.

So now we’re facing the onslaught of people who believe that requiring men and women to use different bathrooms is somehow evil: you’re denying people their basic human right to a comfortable place to pee!  We’re told that we have to look out for the transsexuals, who need to go to a bathroom that does not correspond to their physical gender.

Since this is ludicrous on its face, it’s actually pointless to argue logically against it.  Ayn Rand said, ‘Don’t bother to examine a folly—ask yourself what it accomplishes.’  Nevertheless, to establish that the issue in question is a folly, it is necessary to argue against it:

  • Yes, there are some (very few) transgendered people who have issues with using one restroom or another. But there are many more maladjusted but otherwise normal men who enjoy peeping at women’s private parts.
  • There are also many more non-transgendered people who have no question about which restroom to use, but are nevertheless uncomfortable with public restrooms. I used to be one of them, and I got over it as I got older.  It isn’t the responsibility of the world at large to furnish me a comfortable place to pee wherever and whenever I need it.

And what does this accomplish?

  • It raises what seems on its surface to be an affectation to a ‘protected class,’ where to even identify it is to be discriminatory.
  • It’s another way to get people who disagree to shut up for fear of offending someone. (Remember that liability makes cowards of us all.)
  • It’s another effort to erase the distinction between men and women. But this difference has been part of our nature since the beginning, and has been integrated into every human society to date.  It seems pointless at best and dangerous at worst to try and eliminate it.

None of this means that men and women shouldn’t have civil equality.  Men and women should have the same rights before the law and in commercial transactions, including receiving the same pay for the same work (this last has, in fact, been the law in the US for over 50 years).

But underneath it all, men and women are different.  That difference is to be respected, admired, cherished, and enjoyed.  To deny, disparage, or deprecate it is to deny reality.

Atlas Shrugged Movie

When I was in my early twenties, one of my aunts recommended the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged to me.  It illuminated my life: it clarified my place in the world, and the power of one’s mind and of productive energy.

On 15 April. a movie version of the first part of the novel was released.  I finally got around to seeing it today.  It’s a little strange: it’s playing at a regular theatre, not an art house, but there is very little publicity about it: no newspaper ads, no TV commercials, not even a poster in the lobby.  In fact, if I hadn’t been for some random Web surfing a couple of weeks ago, I would have missed it.

It’s not spectacular: the production is clearly constrained by its budget, and in the interest of not making it too ‘talky,’ some of the wit in the original dialogues was dropped.  But it’s a good telling of the story, with solid performances.  I went today with my son, and will take my wife to see it next weekend, if it’s still open.

The popular perception of the movie is heavily politicized, but both sides are wrong.  Liberals see Ayn Rand as vaguely evil, with her warnings against altruism.  But it’s not that she didn’t believe in charity: it’s that she didn’t believe that it was the government’s job to subsidize people out of poverty.  And conservatives praise her as an apostle of free-market economics, which is true, but she was a champion of free enterprise without government help, which is very different from what passes for capitalism today.

In any case, it’s a good picture.  I enjoyed it, and look forward to Part II.