Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ayn Rand and the Rav: On Sexual Theory

I don't think I could ever like or understand Ayn Rand- if not for the Rav, whose work tempers, corrects, and fixes her philosophy and beautifies it.

One of the most disturbing aspects of Ayn Rand, and the only one I really can't reconcile even to her black-and-white world, is her attitude regarding the relationship between men and women. Her scenes between men and women are all about posession, domination, conquering and even rape. It's disgusting and incredibly disturbing, and I think it's the one great flaw in her work. I understand what she was aiming at, but she went about it the wrong way- at least, I think so.

Consider this description of a scene between Dominique and Howard Roark of The Fountainhead:

    She fought like an animal. But she made no sound. She did not call for help. She heard the echoes of her blows in a gasp of his breath, and she knew that it was a gasp of pleasure. She reached for the lamp on the dressing table. He knocked the lamp out of her hand. The crystal burst to pieces in the darkness.

    He had thrown her down on the bed and she felt the blood beating in her throat, in her eyes, the hatred, the helpless terror in her blood. She felt the hatred and his hands; his hands moving over her body, the hands that broke granite. She fought in a last convulsion. Then the sudden pain shot up through her body, to her throat, and she screamed. Then she lay still.

    It was an act that could be performed in tenderness, as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest. It could be the act of a lover or the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman. He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him- and she would have remained cold, untouched by the thing done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous posession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted [...] (220)

A little later on-

    They had been united in an understanding beyond the violence, beyond the deliberate obscenity of his action; had she meant less to him, he would not have taken her as he did; had he meant less to her, she would not have fought so desperately. The unrepeatable exaltation was in knowing that they both understood this.

And last-

    She thought, if they knew...these people...that old life and that awed reverence before her person...I've been raped...I've been raped by some redheaded hoodlum from a stone quarry...I, Dominique Francon...Through the fierce sense of humiliation, the words gave her the same kind of pleasure she had felt in his arms. (223)

This scene never made any sense to me. It completely disgusted me and disturbed me, and I was unable to understand how it came into being. Of course, it happened to be that today I was reading Family Redeemed, which contains various essays by the Rav. The most fantastic thing happened- what I knew and sensed was described by him beautifully, evaluated, and laid aside and I can now understand both my distaste and dissatisfaction with what Rand wrote, and the remedy and correct way to go about what she was trying to prove.

    What kind of a person emerges from this hedonic sexual experience? A pandemic one, vulgar and carnal! Let us not forget that this type of sexual actiivty is fraught with the demonic desire for power. I enjoy the satisfier and ipso facto I dominate it. The hedonist becomes egocentric, self-loving and self-adoring. His egotism reaches such proportions that his pleasure manifests itself not so much in the discharge of physical tension as in the knowledge that he dominates the other person who is just as dedicated exclusively to the comfort and enjoyment of the selfish self. Pleasure sensation is identical with teh exercise of power over the other person. De facto he converts the partner into an it. One of the partners becomes the master-persona and the other the slave-object, since the institution of slavery converts people into objects, personae into the neuter it. This type of dominion is distinguished by its ruthlessness and insatiability. No barriers are strong enough to stop the demonic person from engaging in his aggressive designs. He does not recognize any other existential area except his own and his liberation from all restrictions, a liberation which expresses itself in the depersonalizations of others, in transforming them into satisfiers.

    [...] The best illustration of such an I-it relationship in the sexual realm can be found in the institution of prostitution. The man who avails himself of the insitution considers the woman as an object which serves one purpose only- the gratification of his need. She is an it, a satisfier, a source of animal pleasure and nothing else. At the aphrodite-pandemic level, either the he or the she forfeits personal worth and sinks into oblivion. Sexual function, if performed at the pandemic level, depersonalizes either the man or the woman under the impact of an overwhelming force with which either he or she is identified.

    [...] If the sexual impulse is not redeemed and is left in its crudity, the participants in the drama are guilty of an act of mutual exploitation and vulgarization. The corruptions are interlaced and compounded with enslaving a human being, with denying him the most elementary right of personal existence. The person is depersonalized, desensitized and de-emotionalized. The climax of the hedonic sexual union is ipso facto an act of objectification of the personal, intimate and unique.

and then the redeeming notion, the elevation of sexual union-

    If you should inquire as to the essence and meaning of the institution of marriage, I would say that through marriage the miraculous transition from the I-it contact to an I-thou relationship occurs. Marriage personalizes sexuality as the joint experience of the I and the thou, as a community of two individuals driven by loneliness and metaphysical despair to give up their independance and commit themselves to each other. Basically the same drive that brings man to God makes him quest for his companion. Judaism hated promiscuity in sexual life: zenut, promiscuity, is perhaps the most abhorrent phenomenon of the heathen world against which the Bible mercilessly fought, because in every form of indiscriminate sex-activity the personal moment is lost and the element of dominion emerges. The I enjoys the it. The experience is not shared with another I; it remains an isolated dreary experience, animal-like in seclusion and loneliness. The pandemic I never emerges from his hiding even though he is physically attracted by the woman.

    (This is all from Family Redeemed, 89-94)

Ayn Rand was trying to differentiate between Dominique the figurine, the woman put on a pedestal and made of chiseled marble, the woman loved and courted but never truly touched, and Dominique the person feeling as a person. She thought, perhaps, that for Dominique to submit- unwillingly, have her submission wrested from her- would be fitting and demonstrate Dominique's true passion. I think, however, and it is substantiated by the Rav's view, that this only weakens Dominique. Dominique is the object, raped- that is the word she uses- by Roark. Howard Roark tears his pleasure from her, and it is at this point that many a person could lose sympathy for him. What kind of bestial egotist over-man is he? Rand loses the reader's sympathies here, when she goes in for some kind of sado-masochistic dominating relationship over Dominique. She does the same with Dagny and John Galt, possibly all of her heroes and heroines. Her theory of sexual love is truly sick, a perversion- in the same way that Dominique almost dying and killing herself for Roark is wrong, and does not demonstrate her love for him.

The Rav has the right of it- the marriage union describes the I-thou relationship rather than the I-it relationship. Dominique sacrifices all she is for Roark. She puts him up on a pedestal, almost worships him, rather than becoming his partner. She is not a partner or help-mate; she is a worshipper, someone who exists merely to help him to get to his goal, she is a possesion and though it is true that she can leave the one man for the other- she is posessed by Roark, while she dominates all her other relationships. Dominique never becomes Roark's equal-only someone willing to sacrifice for him, someone willing to be dominated. We admire Roark's sense of himself as creator, and we admire Dominique for finally allowing the world to destroy both her and Roark rather than destroying him herself, but it is difficult to admire Dominique- or Dagny- in their own right.

And this, I think, is the root of the problem and the reason why.

Perhaps it is all a subtle mockery, with our understanding leading us to read Howard Roark and Dominique as a tragic couple, and even though they win and are correct; they are still coupled in that tragedy of never being equals- but I think this would be beyond Ayn Rand and her bleak sureties. Perhaps in my revisionist reading of the book...

Rabbi Soloveitchik's philosphy in opposition to and complementing Ayn Rand's works is fantastic. I don't think anyone (who has the ability and the knowledge) should read her books without reading the Rav; in and of themselves her books can only be frustrating and disturbing.

But with his critique...her books are fascinating- because I wouldn't have understood what the Rav was saying if not for reading that scene, and wouldn't have understood why precisely that scene disgusted me so much without his differentiaton between the relationship of the I-it and the I-thou.

And so everything works together...Torah u'Madda, at its best.


Charlie Hall said...

I've never understood why so many otherwise reasonable people so admire Ayn Rand. I have always found her entire ideology repulsive -- not just her sexual ethics (or lack thereof) but also her militant atheism, and her worship of lassez-faire capitalism. She doesn't seem to have any use for the Torah values of taking care of each other. Her world would not be a pleasant one -- there is much more to life than maximizing wealth. I can't see how any religious person could accept her system, and I have never understood why more Torah figures have not given her work the attention (criticism) it deserves. Thank you for sharing this work by Rov Soloveitchik that addresses this aspect of her work.

(FWIW I would make similar criticisms of postmodernists as well.)

e-kvetcher said...

Let me preface this by saying that I have never read anything by Ayn Rand, so I am just going by the quotes here...

Do you think that she views this type of relationship as descriptive or prescriptive? If the former, then it seems like a very realistic description of a sexual relationship, especially in the time period where strong women were kind of an aberration and in many ways this spilled over into sexual relationships as well.

I think I am probably being too oblique. What I mean to say is that the stuff that shapes peoples lives (including AR's) invariably shapes their sexual identity as well, for better or for worse. If I judge this piece of writing on the merit of conveying realism of a particular relationship, I think it works well as a description of a 'messed up' couple.

Chana said...

The problem is, e-kvetcher, this is Rand's description of the relationship of the ideal couple...

Charlie Hall- I love Ayn Rand's work for her great vision of what man can be, and even her vision of what man can be when he is evil. I just think she can take it too far, so it needs to be tempered by the Rav.

duby said...

"I would say that through marriage the miraculous transition from the I-it contact to an I-thou relationship occurs."

I beg to differ. Marriage doesn't automatically--or "miraculously---transform the I-it into the an I-thou relationship.

Cutting through all the philosophical jargon, the distinction R' Sol. is trying to make is the difference between selfish vs. selfless relationships. Put otherwise, that's also the difference between lust and love. Selfish relationships, where the actors have only self gratification and lust in mind, the other is merely an "it", not a person.

R' Sol. equates the "marriage institution" with I-thou; I don't think the two correlate at all. It''s quite possible to have an I-thou relationship without marriage, and conversely (and unfortunately), to have a marriage with an I-it relationship. Many people (R"L) marry not out of selfless love, but out of lust.

Secondly--and more importantly--R' Sol. defines marriage as "as a community of two individuals driven by loneliness and metaphysical despair." That seems to me the exact antithesis of his glorification of marriage. On one hand he's saying that marriage should be for the other, then he's arguing that it's to escape human loneliness. If loneliness is the reason for marriage, then aren't we back to square one, marrying the other for ourself, and using the other as an instrument to alleviate the pain of loneliness?

Granted, you may argue that sexual gratification is more selfish than the wish to escape loneliness. But that's just an issue of gradations. Ultimately they are both selfish reasons to enter into a relationship.

I don't see why marriage to escape loneliness is any less of an "I-it" relationship than one based on sexual lust. In both situations the common thread is satisfying a personal need and using the other for ulterior motives.

e-kvetcher said...

I'm having trouble understanding what you mean by 'ideal couple'. Is she saying that all of us should strive for a sexual relationship where the man rapes a woman?

e-kvetcher said...

The the quote from Rav Soloveitchik, I think, is just as off in the other direction. I don't think I've ever read such a fairy tale description of sex in a marriage (Full disclosure: I've been married 12 years).

For one thing - I don't follow the progression from someone being self-absorbed and focused on self-gratification and aggression. Especially if the self-gratification is mutual and there is no abuse. And I won't even bring up masochism and a thousand other consensual sexual behaviors that stray from a fairly narrow definition of 'normal'.

If you should inquire as to the essence and meaning of the institution of marriage, I would say that through marriage the miraculous transition from the I-it contact to an I-thou relationship occurs. Marriage personalizes sexuality as the joint experience of the I and the thou, as a community of two individuals driven by loneliness and metaphysical despair to give up their independance and commit themselves to each other.

This may be the case for a few, and it often is the case for people in the first stage of a relationship, but I would bet my mortgage and my yearly salary that if I quoted this to 99 percent of the married couples that I know, frum and otherwise, they would burst out laughing. Not because we don't love our spouse, or that we are all some types of hedonistic, raving sexual nymphomaniacs, but just because it is not reality, or even a realistic ideal.

Chana said...


Yes, this is Ayn Rand's depiction of the ideal relationship between man and woman.

Regarding your second point-for the Rav, it was reality. I think it can be reality for anyone who chooses it, or who is born to that way of thinking. I certainly don't think anyone has the right to laugh at this approach without reading all his essays on the subject. If you differ from him, do so, but please do it respectfully. Simply claiming that his description doesn't fit you or the people you know doesn't equate to his being wrong, laughable, or a man whose idea of marriage should be described derisively as "fairy tales."

To make it clearer- and this is for everyone- Rabbi Soloveitchik is not to be disrespected, ever, on my blog. I won't have it.


I think the ultimate completion and unification of the I-thou relationship occurs through marriage, and this is what Rabbi Soloveitchik is expressing. I do not think he is claiming that it's utterly impossible to have an I-thou relationship outside of marriage, only that it lacks the final step.

When Rabbi Soloveitchik says marriage is to escape human loneliness, he's using loneliness as he defined the term, in a very specific sense of the word and NOT in any way regarding to one person marrying another to escape his OWN loneliness and USE the other person for his ends. Rather, BOTH individuals seek out one another because of their "metaphysical loneliness," their desire for the others' companionship.

For example:

"Of course, erotic love is the cry of the flesh in the night of passion, sensuality and vulgar desires. However, it is also a metaphysical cry. We know that wherever there is erotic love, the lovers are lonesome for each other even when sexual desire is silent. They enjoy each other's company. They like to converse, meditate, dream and rejoice together. [...]" (94)

This is the loneliness to which the Rav refers.


"God retreated [Chana adds: this is talking about tzimtzum] and left a void for the universe to fill. Similarly, the two lonely human beings who are driven to creativity by their yearning for giving and bestowing love engage in sacrificial action and offer everything they cherish for the sake of the new member; they engaged in Imitatio Dei by withdrawing from self-centered romanticism into a hesed-oriented community which binds man to life yet unborn.

At this level, sexual activity is redeemed by infusing it with a metaphysical mystery theme- namely, man's desire to give love. One must love not only the real, but the unreal as well, in order to make it real. When Eve gave birth to Seth, the Bible relates, "And Adam lived for 130 years and begot a son in his own likeness and his image" (Gen 5:3). Adam imitates God- he creates in his own image. The central Judaic ethical norm to walk in God's footsteps and to imitate Him obligates man to become a creator." (39)

My point is- the Rav very clearly describes his idea of marriage, and a fundamental part of it has to do with the unborn child who is to come about/ man's ability to give love. To take a woman and use her to ease your own loneliness is absolutely NOT what the Rav advocates.

dbs said...

This is a great theory, I'm very impressed. Keep it in mind when you pick your doctoral dissertation.

Of course, I have a completely different take:

Rand’s view of sexual relations is consistent with her view of all human relations: The Hero is locked in a struggle with the abomitable mediocrity of the masses. They struggle against all of the clever devices which have been invented to keep humanity mirded in mediocrity. These devices include such things as Morality - an illusion used to prevent the strong from achieving their greatness; Compassion - an absurd hoax which robs the great ones of their natural right to dominate; Love - an attempt to seduce the hero to rip a part of their streanth and trade it away for affection. The succesfull heros overcome all of these devices to maintain their greatness. The only relationships that they can have are ones in which they take what they want and leave the other person to deal with it. It is totally consistent. I understand the message that it is okay to be great – it is okay to strive for ultimate achievement and not settle for the average. But I find the amorality of her outlook reprehensible.

The Rav is one of the great humanists, and is a good foil for Rand regarding his outlook of obtaining greatness through embracing morality rather than superseding it. I read your admonition about disrespecting Rav Soloveitchik, so I imagine that you’ll hate what I’m going to write – please keep in mind that I place the Rav among the highest contributers to mankind in the past century.

Having said that, while he certainly has a point that sex within a loving relationship is a wonderful, sharing experience, his jargonized attack on general sexuality smacks of the same blind shame which has pervaded western religion for centuries. “vulgar and carnal… fraught with the demonic desire for power”.

Far worse, though, his preposterous assertion that sex without marriage is an act of de-humanizing domination is offensive nonsense, filled with one absurd comment after another.

“[The] pleasure sensation is identical with the exercise of power over the other person. …this type of dominion is distinguished by its ruthlessness and insatiability.” And on, and on…

Sex is a simple human pleasure. It involves feelings of joy, satisfaction, excitement, playfulness, and intimacy. As with any human interactions, there is the opportunity for both positive and negative behaviors. Good judgment and self-care is needed. Even casual sex involves a certain level of trust and of dropping of defenses, and therefore it leaves participants in an heightened state of vulnerability. But, there is no fundamental reason that the experience can not be 100% positive.

To demonize the activity itself – to equate it necessarily with “an act of exploitation and vulgarization… enslaving a human being”, reflects a terribly distorted attitude towards our basic human sexuality.

Chana said...

These reactions both frighten and disturb me.

I never know how people will take what I write. What to me seems to be the most beautiful, uplifting concept, is coming across as something confusing at best and disturbing at worst. I just want to cry, "No!" in protest, but obviously I have done something wrong in explaining what the Rav writes. I assure you that he is NOT demonizing the sexual act. His description of sex and sexuality is beautiful, wonderful, utterly lovely, and above all else, both kind and moral. I would be very upset if people were to go away thinking that the Rav is an evil judgmental man who chooses to demonize what he does not agree with merely because I didn't explain his views well. Please read his works before judging him, especially Family Redeemed. I don't know how I would ever defend myself were I accused of in any way maligning him, and even now when I feel like I have somehow betrayed and sabotaged him, because he as good as saved my life.

Maybe if I just include more quotes it will help explain, but I think I'm coming to realize there's no substitute for reading the work as a coherent whole.

"There is, according to the Jewish view, no need for a supernatural act of Divine grace to remedy or redeem the sexual activity of man. The natural becomes personal; the vulgar refined; and the profane sacred- not by the intervention of God, but by that of man. Man was summoned by God to purge and to redeem himself and to raise the instinctual and the natural to the level of the personal and meaningful.

"On the other hand, marriage is not merely a civil institution, a quid pro quo arrangement pertaining to property and pleasure by two individuals starved for erotic love and a convenient life. Of course, the marriage community is established by human beings. It is a human institution created by the mutual consent of both parties. Yet, its human origin does not diminish its metaphysical meaningfulness. Marriage is more than a formal community or a useful partnership. It is rather a covenantal community, which is nurtured by the awareness of absolute belonging to each other. Married life is an existence in fellowship, togetherness. In it, man finds copleteness and existential fulfillment. The story of the first marriage in Genesis confirms this thesis, "And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man" (Gen 2:23)

"The marriage, like the covenantal union, distingusihes itself by a deep sense of loyalty and faith. Erotic love, as an emotion, lacks constancy and permanence. Fundamentally, it is an orgiastic experience, by its very nature transient. The desire for variety and change constitute the very essence of sexual love. The lover, the Don Juan, moves excitedly from love to love. Driven by an uncontrollable force, he must always give up on love in order to be able to enjoy another. What he would want to do is to have every possible love experience at one instance and drink madly out of the cup of love experience to the dregs. Identity and monotony undermine the very essence of the Eros. The madness to enjoy passing pleasures pushes the Eros along the path of excitement and adventure. The Eros knows no repetition. It searches for new forms of beauty, new faces, new smiles, and new passions. It excites in the new, showing contempt for old.

"Marriage, charged with the task of redeeming erotic experience, tries to free the latter from the whimsicality of the Eros and from the capriciousness of the aesthete. The task of marriage is to teach man to find love in identity and continuity. Marriage is basically supposed to accomplish the redeeming of the sex life from the aesthetic and hedonic and its conversion to an ethical moral experience whose intensity is not weakened through repetition. While the central category of the aesthete is one of the moment, that of the ethicist is of continued action. Hence, marriage, seen from the artistic vantage point, is but a transient affair; however, while observed under the aspect of the moral law, it aquires the ability to survive the changing moods of the Eros." (47-48)

I think his fundamental point is essentially correct- and what is more, inarguable. The people we admire, the people of romantic fantasy, ARE the Don Juans and Carmens, those who change partners and seduce many, those who thrive on unbridled erotic love. He explains in great depth how marriage sanctifies erotic love. He is not trying to demonize love outside of marriage, only explain the differences. He also explains one possibility- what occured between Adam and Eve- when they desired to possess and dominate one another rather than love and respect one another. And this is what I saw expressed by Rand.

(By the way DBS- such a dark view of Rand! I can't agree. I prefer her to be a misled humanist, unable to see beyond the training she was given of God as a cruel and untenable concept, or of morality as much of the same.)

dbs said...


To be fair, context is very important and I have not read the essay. But, Rav Soloveitchik never claimed infalibility and you don't need to do that for him - nor do you need to take responsibility for our reactions to his ideas.

If the point is that romantic love is a far more meaningful, or that commitment adds intimacy and longevity, then of course there is no argument. The Rav is out to defend marriage, which he sees as being under attack in the modern world, and he does so with great power. His view of marriage is very beautifuland very human. Also, he is defining marriage in very wise terms - 'a human institution created by the consent of both parties', 'destinguished by loyalty and faith'.

But it is a stretch to say that the Rav is not demonizing 'love' outside of marriage - he is still describing a 'redemption' of the vulgar. And don't rush to take the blame for our negative reactions to the idea that agressive domination pervads non-romantic love - that idea fails on its own merit.

(As for Rand, I can't help it. Her extreamness just ruins any positive elements for me. I don't think that her problem is her view of God, I think that it is her jaundiced view of the common man.)

Anonymous said...

I've read a couple of thousand pages of Ayn Rand's writing. My own analysis is that she is very far off base on sexuality. One is that she presents her heroines as desiring to be raped (in the case of Dominique) or at least to be taken roughly (in the case of the heroine of Atlas Shrugged). But Dominique does also choose to debase herself by sexual liasions, choosing to marry a man she despises b/c the world has turned out not the way she wanted. In Rand's view sexual unions are not just casual affairs; they do have significance. (in her own life, she saw her connection to her pupil as requiring a sexual relationship, one that her husband and his wife knew about) She presents sex in an absence of real affinity as distasteful in Atlas Shrugged. She also shows the heroine of Atlas Shrugged advancing into the Objectivist state of englightenment as she advances from parnter one to two to three. Let me clarify, though, she does not show her being promiscuous. She is celibate for years after her first lover leaves and does not return to him after she chooses another. Another flaw in Rand's view is that she projects what is considered a woman's perspective onto men in claiming that they do not desire sex as a physical pleasure alone but only with a woman they feel connected to - also in Atlas Shrugged. Biologically speaking that is simply not true, much as women would like it to be so.

Chana said...


You make a good point in saying that Rabbi Soloveitchik is not infallible and that I should not claim that for him. I understand that you are right in the literal sense, but Rabbi Soloveitchik is the one person whose philosophy actually makes sense to me and whom I feel I understand, whose works I appreciate and enjoy and would follow; hence it disturbs me when people refer to him lightly or mock his ideas (I know you're critiquing, not mocking, even so...)

To disagree with him is fine, is my point- to claim that he is wrong from some higher vantage point disturbs me. I know of lots of people who don't follow the Rav's views or haven't even read them, and they are in accord with other perfectly acceptable views. But their following one path doesn't negate the other path. You may disagree with his claim that the hedonic sexual life is vulgar, but claiming that his view "smacks of the same blind shame" as centuries past, Christianity included, is to completely undermine and even misunderstand his work. One of the great aspects of it is his differentiation between Judeo-Christian views, and definitely his analysis of shame (which is pretty interesting.)

I know that I don't need to take responsibility for your reactions- even so.


I agree with your analysis. Another item to add to your excellent list, or that you perhaps referred to, is how Dominique engages in marriage in order to punish Roark. She marries Peter Keating- very selfishly, to punish herself, while he loses Katie because of it- she marries Gail Wynand and only at the end does she go back to Roark.

Almost the only place I like Rand's view of sexual matters is during the conversation Hank Rearden and Lillian have, where Lillian says he should have a relationship with anyone BUT Dagyn, and Hank confusedly tells her he thought she'd be pleased- that he didn't forsake her except for the most pure relationship of his life. Lillian, of course, is furious.

P.M. Prescott said...

Coming to you by way of Irina's blog.
What caught my eye was mention of Ayn Rand. I've never read any of the good Rabbi's work, but from your quotes he seems quite sensible and his approach is not much different from contemporary Christian marriage apologists.
In teaching economics I took excerpts from Atlas Shrugged and wrote them into play form. Her diatribe on the root of money I found helped explain the concept of a medium of exchange, though she is a hard currency person more in tune with Andrew Jackson's time than our own.
The discussion of sex between D'Anconia and Reardon is where she lays out her philosophy on sex. Which she states is exactly the same as her philosophy on money. While reading it I thought she had Bill Clinton down to a T. Someone attracted to the highest and purest of women, but only finds fullfillment with prostitutes. But her premise is that comes by thinking that sex is dirty or evil.
I think from what you've quoted from the Rev, he is not equating sex as dirty or evil per se, but that it is ultimately non-satisfying metaphysically. There is a constant physical hunger for diversity and consumption, but never satisfaction. The I - Thou relationship gives satisfaction to both parties.
To a certain point Ayn Rand is right in equating sex and money. Just as the hedonistic lifestyle gives only momentary enjoyment, but no lasting satisfaction, so does greed (when all is said and done Atlas Shrugged is about justifying greed -- which is why it has been so ravinously embraced by CEO's and the Republican Party through spokesmen like Rush Limbaugh)yet for the greedy no matter how much money they make it is never enough. The CEO of Walmart makes over 25 million dollars a year, not counting stock options, but that's not enough. If he took a fifty percent paycut on salary alone it would double the salary of his worldwide non-supervisory employees. Talk about an I - it relationship! Master - slave!
Off my soapbox now, really enjoyed the discussion you started.