A world without men?
It would be much duller place, even if we can now make babies without their help
I’m sure by now all of you have read all those stories about how a couple of scientists have managed to produce sperm artificially, using skin stem cells. The scientists in question believe that in time, as their research gets perfected, this technique will help infertile couples produce children who are their own
The media, of course, have a different take on this. Ever since the news broke, we have been inundated with articles about how this will impact the future of men. The general consensus seems to be that men will soon become obsolete, because their contribution will no longer be needed to perpetuate the human race.
Well, I’m sorry if I’m being particularly obtuse, but I don’t really get that. Okay, let’s assume for the purposes of this argument that men and women are no longer required to do the nasty if they want to have babies. Let’s assume that you can just deposit a skin graft in the laboratory to grow your own sperm if you want to get pregnant.
Do we really believe that this is how all of mankind will choose to procreate in the future? Surely, the majority of people will still want to have some romance and love involved in their baby-making and will want to do it the old-fashioned way?
Even if we take the worst-case scenario and assume for a moment that men will be phased out of the reproductive process, does that really render them obsolete? Does anyone seriously believe that a man is only good for one thing: the production of healthy swimmers? And that if this signal purpose of his life is taken away from him, he loses his entire raison d’etre?
Just off the top of my head, I can think of several ways in which men are vital to life the way we know and love it. And no, none of them has anything to do with sex, procreative or purely recreational (important though that undoubtedly is). Or with the usual stuff about paying for dinner, holding the door open, buying us presents, praising our new outfits, etc. (though, of course, they are quite welcome to do
all or any of the above). Or even about fixing a fuse, changing a light bulb, unclogging the sink or doing other stuff around the house (in fact, I don’t know many men who do any of the above).
No, I’m thinking of ways that are just as important even if they do seem trivial. Here are just some of them, in no particular order.
• Remember that old joke? Question: Why does the government exist? Answer: Because there are some things that you can’t blame your wife for! Well, guess what? It works both ways.
We need men because if they didn’t exist, whom could we blame for all the ills of the world? Toilet seats being left up, messy bedrooms, the relentless power cuts, the rising price of vegetables, the global meltdown, the war in Iraq, the chaos in Iran – you know it’s all their fault even if they are not willing to admit it.
After all, it’s men who rule the world (as they never tire of pointing out to us). And with power comes responsibility.
• Men are essential to female bonding. If we didn’t have men to complain and carp about, how could women hope to bond with one another? Imagine a world in which you couldn’t settle down to a coffee and a moan about your boyfriend/husband/ex-husband and all his many, many, many, many flaws.
Not only would this render most female friendships next to impossible, it would also mean that conversations would be even harder to sustain.
• Life would be so boring without the challenge that men present as life-long projects. We spend many happy hours in our mission to recast them in a mould that is more pleasing to us: a better wardrobe, fresher breath, a brand-new haircut, a different personality. (Of course, they never do change, but by the time you figure that out, you end up loving them just the way they are.)
• The entertainment world wouldn’t be half as entertaining without both men and women and the special dynamic that rules their relationships. Can you imagine an all-girl Friends? Or even a Sex and the City with no Mr Big to keep Carrie on her toes? Or, for that matter, a Boston Legal, without the chauvinistic edge of its male
Most of our iconic sitcoms and television series would not exist if it weren’t for men providing us with such brilliant fodder. And the ones that took their place would not be a fraction as interesting.
• But most of all, we need men so that we can celebrate our differences from them. Imagine how boring this world would be if all of us were just the same. It would be dull, dull, dull.
We need men to enliven our days, enrich our lives, engage our minds. We need them to pit our wits against, to build our lives with, to raise families together, to grow old with, to bicker with, or just simply be with.
The truth is that men can give us so much more than babies. And it’s time we learnt to value them for all that they bring to our lives.