Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ayn Rand's Playboy Interview: Women, Work, and Children

By Diana Hsieh

In past weeks, I've highlighted some gems from Ayn Rand's 1964 Playboy interview as part of Modern Paleo's Saturday blogging on Objectivism. Here's another such gem: it concerns women, work, and children.

PLAYBOY: Do you believe that women as well as men should organize their lives around work -- and if so, what kind of work?

RAND: Of course. I believe that women are human beings. What is proper for a man is proper for a woman. The basic principles are the same. I would not attempt to prescribe what kind of work a man should do, and I would not attempt it in regard to women. There is no particular work which is specifically feminine. Women can choose their work according to their own purpose and premises in the same manner as men do.

PLAYBOY: In your opinion, is a woman immoral who chooses to devote herself to home and family instead of a career?

RAND: Not immoral -- I would say she is impractical, because a home cannot be a full-time occupation, except when her children are young. However, if she wants a family and wants to make that her career, at least for a while, it would be proper -- if she approaches it as a career, that is, if she studies the subject, if she defines the rules and principles by which she wants to bring up her children, if she approaches her task in an intellectual manner. It is a very responsible task and a very important one, but only when treated as a science, not as a mere emotional indulgence.
Ayn Rand's views on this topic were quite remarkable for 1964, but hardly surprising. Ayn Rand was not the kind of person to passively accept the ideas and standards of her culture. She always checked her premises against reality and integrated any new ideas with her fundamental principles. As a result, she developed very distinctive views on a wide range of issues, often decades before others saw the light. Her views on women and work are a clear example of that, as is her analysis of the evil of racism.

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