BBC Reports on Life Without Men


Posted on July 11th, by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, women. 6 comments

Well, a young feminist friend, Vanessa Fisher, sent me the link to this article from the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8142104.stm) and I had to post it here. She commented that it was reverse sexism, taken to the extreme. It sure is. While it seems to be part of the evolutionary process that each stage of development pushes against the last, we sure need to move beyond the way postmodern culture villifies men (and “the masculine”) and idealizes women (and “the feminine”). As some of the comments here show, male bashing has too often become a postmodern sport among women.

Life without men

Scientists claim to have grown human sperm in a lab, and columnists and bloggers are musing on the possibility of a world where men are no longer needed.

Michael Hanlon in the Daily Mail

is not looking forward to the prospect of a world that doesn’t need men.

But if – and it is still a big if – scientists could one day use cells from female embryos to produce sperm, or perhaps even DNA extracted from an adult’s skin or cheek-lining cells, then we truly would be living in a terrifying new era.

The Daily Telegraph’s Rowan Pelling says men are redundant but worth keeping for menial tasks.

Yet I feel compelled – and not just as the mother of two small boys – to make a spirited defence of the weaker sex. Where would I be without my husband to read 80 pages of a car manual, in French, to find out how the back windscreen-wiper works? Who would tug the dried lumps of excrement from our cat’s backside? Who would explain the rules of cricket to an American? Who would clear a blocked drain of unspeakable clotted matter? Who would take hours to demonstrate the dreadnought manoeuvres at the Battle of Jutland, armed only with salt cellars and jam jars? Without men, there would be no one to read Joseph Conrad or Norman Mailer, to remove spiders from the bath, or (important one, this) to tell women they’re pretty.

The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics John Harris says in the Independent that he sees nothing wrong with exercising choice but the real ethical issue isn’t about the prospect of a world without men.

Women have many ways of trying to do without men. They don’t need men – they just need their sperm. Sperm is a notoriously renewable resource and it is plentiful. There is always the turkey baster option for women who want to get pregnant but do not see the need to get a man… The real ethical issue here is that we do not foreclose the beneficial possibilities of research through prejudice or fear.

Professor Karim Nayernia of Newcastle University
The man himself, who made sperm from stem cells

Emily Cook in the Daily Mirror

can only think of one useful man and that’s scientist Karim Nayernia, who conducted the sperm research:

Women have always known that men are a bit of a waste of space … Now British scientists have proved how unnecessary blokes truly are by creating the first human sperm from stem cells. And as if that’s not a big enough problem for fellas everywhere, the expert behind this revolutionary move is a man.

And Blog Tactic says despite the scientific developments, men should be kept around as play-things.

That means men can become redundant in the human productive cycle and the end of male infertility. But for the ladies, I think we should keep a few of them around just for fun. And for those anti-gay, it is an efficient way to cure male homosexuality: abolish men.

Karen on the Macleans.ca blog hints at how complex the politics of parenting may become by linking to the UK government’s current meanings of mother and father. The definitions are more than 5,000 words long. On the same blog Last Man on Earth says:

WE MUST CRUSH THIS! Take away their funding, burn all evidence, delete all records, kidnap and kill those who made the discovery and then bury this entire story under some celebrity scandal. Men can’t become irrelevant!

In the Culture Watch blog Bill Muehlenberg is concerned the advances may leave men with nothing to do:

… what they are really about is the end of man – both as the male gender, and as humanity … A number of problems come to mind, including the obvious: if scientists can now manufacture sperm, that simply makes males even more redundant than they already are. This is really parthenogenesis, or procreation by one sex alone. This might be good for amoebas, but it is not good for human beings, and certainly not good for the children who come about by such a process.





6 responses to “BBC Reports on Life Without Men”

  1. Megan says:

    Wow, this is really horrifying. And I thought the slew of commercials that portray men as bumbling buffoons and woman as master manipulators was bad … The research is one thing, but all the commentary really takes it to a whole new level. I know much of it is meant to be cheeky, but it actually reveals a lot.

    Rowan Pelling’s comment struck me in particular. Where does this superior attitude toward men come from? I think it’s at least partly that so many of us women feel ambivalent toward, and have a lot of anger around, our roles as caretakers and workers at this point in history. We think “ugh, if I want something done well I have to do it myself” — becoming martyrs, in essence — and then we have a strange sense of pride about our martyrdom while also feeling resentful about everything we have to do in a day.

    Of course, sexism is still alive and well, and women still bear more responsibility for child-rearing and housekeeping than men do, even when we work full-time. But is the proper response really to denigrate men? Wouldn’t it be wiser to work toward a more equitable solution as adults rather than perpetuating the men-are-children trend?

    It’s a victimized stance, this — that we have to get rid of men so that we can fix the world. It assumes that men made the world and did such a crap job of it that we, the eternal caretakers and martyrs, have to patch it all up again now.

    In reality, though, men and women created this world together. And we must create whatever new world we wish to see together, as well. Our ability to do this will come, at least partly, from laying down our anger so we can explore new options. Comments like the one from Rowan Pelling only serve to deepen our current behavioral ruts.

    And where did this idea that men are redundant come from anyway? It seems to reflect a kind of hatred of culture — as though all the jobs that men do are just a part of this silly game we play called ‘civilization’ whereas women can do the only truly important thing — have babies.

    Talk about sexist!!
    Megan

  2. Cynthia says:

    Wow I’m with Megan, this is horrifying! It’s amazing to me that people can sum up the use of having men in this world down to sperm producers, readers of car manuals and clogged drain cleaners! If that is all they were then yes maybe we wouldn’t need them anymore but obviously the male species brings a whole lot more to this world then that! I am hoping that this article has taken comments out of context but I am afraid they probably havent which is pretty disturbing.

    Barry Long has a lot to say on the subject of men and women. He is so bold to say that men have created most of what we would term as “woman’s conditioning” and in order for men to liberate themselves they need to take responsibility for this and in doing so they also play an important role in the liberation of women (sounds a bit more important then being useful in “figuring out the back windshield wipers”). He goes on to say that women have created “survival” techniques in response to abusive men. We are not responsible for the initial abuse but we are responsible for our response to the abuse. So in a nutshell the cycle looks something like this – aggressive men created fearful women, fearful women becomes competitive and manipulating creatures as a defence mechanism, men get a taste of the power of a frightened woman who has mastered the craft of manipulation and they either cower at this power or strike back, only to create more fear or frustration in the woman and more backlash. Obviously this is an over simplification but it shows that men and women have helped create the conditioning that both sexes seem to be locked into. So to me it seems the good news is that since we created this situation together we can also untangle it together.

    In my own experience being in relationship with men is a clear and helpful reflection for me to see where I bind myself as where I bind myself is also where I imprison the man. So for example if I am able to see insecurity and neediness in myself because the man I am with is withdrawing because he is feeling suffocated, I have the chance to liberate us both by taking on this conditional response that is de-evolutionary for us both. Just as I have the same opportunity when something is reflected back to me by another woman BUT what a woman is going to reflect back to me will be very different than what a man will reflect back to me and in my experience I need them both!

    So from an evolutionary perspective I am more interested in seeing what a free man and a free woman will actually look like and what kind of relationship can emerge between us then if I am in if I need a man to supply me with sperm or not! How gross, ridiculous and superficial it is to write off half the human population because they may no longer be needed for reproduction. That would be the same as saying all women who can’t have children are worthless. It really makes me angry!

  3. genevieve beenen says:

    It was alway obvious that women could reproduce without men. When conception takes place, all embryos are female; only later does the clitoris become a penis and the ovaries drop to become the testicles. Then the double XX chromosome becomes an XY. Men respected and perhaps feared women when it was believed that women were solely responsible for life. But as soon as men decided they had something to do with conception, they had to take all the credit and turn it into power over women. It is insecure men who lust for power.

    The fact that the female is prior to and could be independent of the male should not become a matter of power-over. That was perhaps Nature’s way of allowing for catastrophe–of men killing each other off. This world has been brought to the point of extinction and a living hell for most by the lust for power-over (and we are the only species that has made fear and war a way of life). Women and minorities know how oppression feels. Feminism insists on equality of dignity and respect for both genders.

    If we have any intelligence at all, let’s combine it with respect and compassion for each other as full human beings. Together men and women could do so much that is good and wonderful. As a species we have spent so much time oppressing and killing each other we have hardly touched the surface of what wonders we could become and accomplish.

  4. genevieve beenen says:

    This world has been brought to the point of extinction by the lust for power-over (and we are the only species that has made fear and war a way of life).

  5. kamara says:

    I wanna add to the lil’ discussion here the fact that artificial wombs were tested and proved doable…so, an all Man world is also possible.This news is almost 10 years old but it wasn’t made into a big deal, as men don’t care about that it seems.

  6. Elizabeth Debold says:

    Dear Eero,
    Did you read the article that I just posted? I think you might be surprised.

Leave a Reply



MOST RECENT POSTS

From pop culture to politics, sexuality to spirituality, whatever and what-have-you, I'm commenting on it, hashing out my own thinking on the upward trends and troubles of our times. Please join in with a comment!

Beyond Polarity: A New Encounter between Women and Men

The day after my very first appearance on New York cable TV—it was the 80s, so cable was new and small—I got...

What Makes a Truly Global Education?

In the middle of nothing—that is, nothing but sand stretching in every direction—there is a peculiar oasis. It has huge palm trees with thick...

Time to Be Human: Gender Liberation and the Creation of a New Culture

The United Nations declared 1976-1985 the Decade of Women, which created an international consensus on the importance of women’s political and social equality. The...