The other day, I was hanging out with my friend the Beautiful Business Owner. She’s a single woman in her early 30s — smart, poised, beautiful, successful, single … and pregnant. And no, she doesn’t have a boyfriend — and no, she’s not gay.
Like so many woman in similar circumstances, she decided that she wants a child, that she’s perfectly capable of raising it alone and that she doesn’t need a husband/boyfriend/significant other to be involved in the process.
Instead, she went to what used to be called the sperm bank — or, as her friends merrily call it, “Man in a Can.”
Nowadays, women can learn a great deal about potential donors, and can choose among literally thousands of … suitors? Donors? Brands? The BBO selected a young man from a European country whose characteristics best matched her own predetermined criteria.
Her baby’s due in a few months — and everything seems to be going well.
I asked one of her friends why BBO didn’t simply wait until she found Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Reasonably OK?
“Oh, John,” she said with an exasperated sigh, “You know how fussy [the BBO] is — and besides, it’s one thing to date — but actually living with a guy!!?? I mean, I really think that men are only good for three things: starting wars, spreading STD’s and watching professional sports — and I can so do without that stuff.”
Seeing my hurt look, she quickly added “Not that you’re like that — I’m sure you’d never start a war!” And she laughed and walked away.
Somehow, the conversation made me think about horses.
In 1850, there were as many as 60 million horses in America. A century later, there were less than 6 million.
In 1850, horses provided power and transportation in city and country alike. Horses pulled streetcars, cabs, carriages and plows. Without horses, the frontier would never have been settled, the mythic cowboy would have become the not-so-mythic herdsman, and bells never would have jingled on the one-horse open sleigh.
By 1950, horses had become a pleasant luxury, not a necessity. Thanks to the internal combustion engine, Henry Ford and the inventive genius of generations of engineers, horses were history — the victims of a classic disruptive technology.
There are still horses around — for sport, for recreation, for amusement. But few of us can afford to own them — they need special facilities and lots of room, and they have to be trained, and groomed and fed. Let’s face it, if you want to spend an afternoon with a horse, they’re easy enough to rent.
Now let’s consider men. Isn’t it possible that we, the so-called stronger sex, are threatened by technologies as disruptive as those that rendered irrelevant our equine brethren?
Let’s start with the reproductive process itself. As the BBO and hundreds of thousands of women have proven, you don’t need an actual man — just a dollop of semen. And a few thousand carefully screened donors can provide enough reproductive material to initiate hundreds of thousands of pregnancies.
OK, that’s not good — but what about economics? Don’t we have an irreplaceable function in the marketplace? After all, we’re bigger, we’re stronger, we’re faster, we can fix things, we can join the Army and defend our country … c’mon, America would be in the tank without us!
Alas, there’s another disruptive technology out there — servo-assisted machinery. Consider cars, trucks, planes, cranes or any kind of mechanical device — you no longer need upper body strength to operate them. Whether it’s a pickup truck or an F-18 fighter jet, some slip of a girl can drive it just as well as you — and probably better. Big, strong and aggressive doesn’t cut it any more — if you’re smaller, reasonably quick, cooperatively inclined and control the mechanisms of reproduction, you win.
Time’s Arrow — the direction of evolution — is clear. Men, like horses or dinosaurs, are suited to an evolutionary niche which no longer exists. For us, it’s the long goodbye — the deepening twilight of a proud gender. The horse’s fate will be ours — the women will keep a few million of us around, for genetic diversity, for sport and for fun.
Who knows, just as rich guys keep a bunch of horses, rich women may keep a bunch of guys. And, of course, the women will always need personal trainers, masseurs, hairdressers, stylists and couturiers — so we’ll never be totally extinct.
We just won’t be generals, or CEO’s, or pilots or presidents of the United States.
And speaking of women and U.S. presidents, one’s thoughts inevitably turn to … yup, Bill Clinton.
I’ve gotta admit it — I really miss him. Remember those halcyon days of the ’90s, when the economy was booming, the government was running budget surpluses and the country was at peace? Sounds good, doesn’t it?
I’m old enough to remember the time when the Republicans ran against “Democrat wars” and “Democrat deficits”— and I thought they were right. I still do — and that’s why I’m a Clinton Republican. Just give me someone who can solve the mess in Iraq, fix the deficit and keep the economy humming — I’ll vote for him/her. Too bad we can’t re-re-elect our favorite scoundrel.
As Dan Quayle said years ago, correctly predicting Al Gore’s defeat:
“With Bill Clinton, you know you shouldn’t like him and you know you shouldn’t trust him — but you do. And with Al Gore, it’s just the opposite.”
And don’t we know that, in the women-dominated world to come, the remaining men will be … well, more like Bill than Don Rumsfeld.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 634-5905×241.