I have been fortunate, or perhaps unfortunate, enough to have observed a huge change in male/female relationships in my lifetime. In my childhood and early youth, the traditional relationships and social mores were well defined and easily understood.
Men were expected to marry (a woman) and be responsible for providing for the family, generally outside the home. Men dominated most professions, especially those that required physical strength and risk. Men were expected to take charge, and make most major decisions in society. They were expected to make war when needed and actively engage in fighting. They were expected to be providers and protectors and were rewarded with privileges to do so.
Women were expected to marry (a man) and be responsible for caring for the hearth and home. They were expected to nurture and care for the children. As the 20th century progressed, more and more women worked outside the home, but they dominated professions that did not require great physical strength and involved the care and nurturing of children. Like teachers. And nurses. And secretaries. They were expected to take orders, and make most of the minor decisions that kept things running. They were expected to avoid war and not engage in fighting. They were the comforters and caretakers and they, too, had certain privileges.
There were many things that changed in the 20th century in economics, technology, standards of living, and political freedom. Most professions now do not require physical strength or risk. Two things, however, occurred in the 1960s that fundamentally transformed the relationships between men and women, especially in the United States. The development of inexpensive, reliable, convenient and temporary birth control gave women the ability to control their reproduction. They gained greater flexibility in timing their children and freedom in their sexual relationships. The other change was the prevalence of no-fault divorce. This removed the necessity to show some cause for ending a marriage and reduced the financial risk for doing so. The social stigma and the financial peril was substantially equalized.
These changes have resulted in huge disruptions in personal and social relationships, especially in the family. There have been equivalent disruptions in the areas of economics and business.
Now we seem to have reached a turning point in the particular area of sexual harassment and bias in the workplace. Recent events have resulted in the personal, professional, and financial ruination of a number of high-level men in positions of power and fame. Men and women (and whatever other genders one may define) will soon need to understand, accept, and deal with what is happening to form a new societal structure.
I have indicated that I am a fan of science fiction. One of the characteristics of the genre is an exploration of the consequences of just such changes as we are now facing. Consider this speculative situation: Despite claims to the contrary by some, male and female humans are physically different as a consequence of genetics and evolution. While this difference is subject to substantial overlap in the population, it is real and significant. Male and female reproductive systems are quite different and operate in different but, of course, compatible ways. As a consequence, men can, technically, father thousands of children. Females can mother but a few. As various genetic and medical advances continue, it is not unreasonable to expect that the genetic inheritance of children can be controlled, including gender.
Even if we limit our speculation to require that women still carry children and give birth, one conclusion is inescapable. Men, from a reproductive and evolutionary standpoint, are disposable and quite valueless as individuals. If we accept many of the assumptions about the nature of men, society would be better off with many fewer males around. Women would be much safer from the various depredations of men. If we look at the statistics on crime, the rates of murder, assaults, and robbery would reduce to almost nothing. A few thousand men, even a few hundred, perhaps on reservations in remote areas for the protection of women and children, would totally suffice to produce the quantity of small, motile, gametes required to procreate.
So, gentlemen, we need to change our ways. There is no telling what could happen.
Ed Pole is an engineer, retired from IBM and Intel, and resides in Lacey. He is a member of the 2017 Olympian Board of Contributors. Contact him at email@example.com.