This is the eighth in a series of Friday posts on this blog called Friday Thoughts, or #Foughts, an in depth discussion on a character or topic I have found particularly interesting, or has divided opinion.
A hot question that’s been titillated by women’s magazines for decades – “does size matter?’ – may be the destruction of the male race forever. The Y chromosome, the structural biology that transforms a foetus into a boy, is rapidly losing genes. Millions of years ago the chromosome had 1400 genes and present day men have held onto only 27 of them. Researchers have discovered that sperm concentration has reduced by 52% and sperm count has dropped 59% in the past 40 years (predominantly in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand). Reasons for the decline have pointed towards the modern diet of bad eating, smoking, drinking and sitting in front of the TV for too long. It seems that, along with those pesky illegal abortions and double standards, men are now to be blamed for the extinction of the human race. Scientists argue that men will be vanishing in roughly 4.6 million years whereas others are sure that men will be around forever, the genes may just decline, a way of throwing out old mutations that are no longer vital.
In the animal kingdom, there are many species – including lizards, snakes, insects and fish – that don’t need men to reproduce. Through parthenogenesis (reproduction without fertilisation) female creatures never need cross paths with a male to have children. The Whiptail Lizard is completely all-female, they have no time for meddling men with their sex organs to continue their lineage. In the human world, scientists are testing artificial sperm in mice, paving the way to creating humans without the need for swimming sperm that may remove the need for men in the process of reproduction.
Female empowerment in the wake of sexual abuse allegations, the awakening of embracing inner hoe-ness, open speech about menstruation and body hair, and tackling the pay gap, has lifted women up to a platform for them to speak out against the inequality they’ve been suffering for years, but does this mean that men have to step down?
A common revelation made by women who frequent the dating pool is that a lot of men are just terrible. “They’re only after one thing”; “why can’t men commit?”, “they’re so useless”… And women everywhere are realising that the Prince Charming frequently showcased in all the fairytales they had grown up with, doesn’t exist. The man who fights dragons or defeats an evil witch just to reach the beautiful damsel in distress; the man who confronts a corrupt king to win his love back; the man who travels kingdoms and almost dies on the journey to make it back to the woman who stole his heart… those were the types of men that women grew up dreaming about. In this modern society, she’d be lucky to get a text back.
‘Back in the good old days’ men would open doors for women, give flowers on the first date, walk them home… but perhaps these were just what women believed. Perhaps without the internet and feminism, men got away with infidelities and their lurid porn tastes and modern society is now revealing men for what they always there. One writer claims that while women were dreaming of Prince Charming, men were fantasising about the buxom beauties from Sports Illustrated.
The reason I bring this matter up, is because women are standing together to call men out on their lurid ways, the popular topic of discussion: ‘fuckboys’ – (and there are many types of those that a woman should be aware of) – has made way for a feminist movement that celebrates independent women, no longer taught to be the ‘damsel in distress’ but to be the ultimate independent woman who can do anything. In pop culture, women are bold and strong, and encourage other women to be positive and powerful about themselves. In one online debate, 59% of respondents argued that we don’t need men in today’s society. In the age of the mad men, husbands were needed for social and economic safety, and women stayed at home to cook and clean, but now women can be CEO’s and they can be successful working mums with an empire of their own. One article is telling women that in this age of independence, they’re becoming the men they want to marry. Men admit that being a man today is confusing and challenging because the roles are not as clear as they once were, and perhaps female empowerment has left men feeling a little unsure and shaky.
A shocking example of this happens in Japan, the celibate country. Because their young people are losing their desire to have sex, thus procreate, it is facing an economic crisis where the population is shrinking. In a quiet backlash of masculinity, Japanese men have created a subculture called ‘herbivores’, men who choose to be celibate and prefer staying indoors and present timid, gentle personas rather than what society traditionally deems to be masculine. This has been an issue for years, and women have been taking matters into their own hands by being the ones to pursue men – called ‘carnivore women’, an equivalent to ‘cougars’.
The Sex Differences
In Cordelia Fine’s book, ‘Testosterone Rex’, she investigates the myth that men are aggressive and competitive due to the hormone testosterone, and women are submissive and empathetic due to the hormone oestrogen, resulting in successful powerful businessmen and meek-minded nurturing mothers. The long-believed theory was that men are wired for conquering (those single women above would say a lot of their useless dates were only trying to conquer them for one thing) that leads to wolf of wall street caricatures, while oestrogen-brimming women cook their dinners and ask no questions. She points out that this is all wrong, that men and women are equally as competitive and goal-oriented, and the notion of big strong men and dainty pretty women is a construct created entirely by society.
The bottom line is that men don’t act like the traditional Neanderthal man – hunting and fighting to put bread on the table – because they are created with testosterone. That is how society worked before industry and technology, and is out of touch with our forward-thinking world. There is no reason for men to be the strong breadwinners anymore because women can work in the same roles and be mothers, and be single without the stigma of being unwanted or faulty.
Are Men Becoming Disposable?
In modern society, women are freer and encouraged to be independent and not rely on men for financial support. While this is fantastic for little girls being born now who will grow up in a world where they can strive to be anything they want, our society is having a negative effect on men. You could call it a threat to masculinity, or the blurring of gender roles, but male suicide rates are accelerating, with suicide being the number one cause of death in men.
Just as I evidenced earlier, gender is a construct of society and the reason for male suicides links to this – men are taught to be strong, to be emotionally vacant, to ‘man up’ when life gets tough, to never reveal their vulnerabilities. Because men can’t talk about their issues, they tend to swallow it down and let it boil inside, until they can’t take it anymore. Men feel that asking for help is an affront to masculinity, and modern society praises men who are tough and invincible in the face of troubles. In the age of post-truth, conversation is louder than ever on these issues and there is help out there for men suffering in silence.
It’s clear that modern society has turned traditional gender roles on its head, and there are still individual struggles for both genders, but if both genders can work side by side as equals, it will only strengthen our society and enable us to push further in empowerment and acceptance.