This article is Ancient (archive 2011)

Why They Hate us Girls and Gays

The Tea Party’s commitment to eradicating government spending seems strange combined with its interest in keeping abortion and gay marriage illegal. A more traditional Libertarian stance advocates near-total freedom (hence Ron Paul’s appeal to college students), and assumes the free market can provide what society needs. In combination with the socially conservative message, the Tea Party’s faux-libertarianism smacks back to Ayn Rand, who mothered Objectivism, but remained strangely sexist (quote) and a bit homophobic.

The Tea Party’s incoherence brings Ayn Rand’s ancient contradictions back into play. Why would a worldview devoted to individual liberty suppress the freedoms of marginalized groups?

The answer (my eternal answer) is love. Free market capitalism exalts ruthlessness, which makes the sacrifice factor of romantic/sexual relationships difficult without an orderly hierarchy. “The woman’s” castrated ambition establishes a cookie-cutter hierarchy which makes decisions about who should sacrifice what, when, and how, much easier. The dissolution of a sex-based division of labor and heteronormativity fucks all that up: if women aren’t better off at home, and sexual relationships without a sex-based power structure can work, then what does it mean for the way they’ve lived their lives?

Perhaps when social conservatives refer to homosexual marriage as a threat to the institution of marriage, they refer to this unmooring in their deeply personal lives. To accept that the love shared by a same-sex couple compares to their love would require a new (and maybe painful) look at their domestic partnerships.

Any relationship that calls her masculinity-worship into question presents a problem for Rand. Not only does it make her sexual relationships more complicated, it would undermine the only part of her books that’s ever been worth reading (Atlas Shrugged is totes my Twilight, don’t tell). Her Masculine/feminine ideals have always been at odds with the concept of extreme liberty.

Perhaps fear (of communism or anything that looks like it maybe could be communism) bonds the social conservatism with a strong belief that Obama’s government shouldn’t be allowed to spend money, because, as one Tea Partier explained, “They’re trying to take away our freedom.”

Libertarianism demands its own restrictions on freedom to preserve social institutions like marriage and friendship that become difficult  in the war of all against all in some mythical “state of nature” for which Rand and her adherents seem so nostalgic. Not that we could possibly imagine what a state of nature would look like, unless, of course, we assume that our cultural hierarchies, strictures, and hang-ups apply to everyone.

Rival world views don’t just violate conservatives’ cognitive security, they challenge the foundations of their lives and loves.  The perceived ickiness of gay sex doesn’t threaten them so much as the model of a relationship based on equals rather than a sexist, separate-but-equal division of labor that is necessary where compromise is a weakness and selfishness is strength.

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