By Robert Folsom | August 31, 2012
“Men, Who Needs Them?”
That question introduced a widely-read essay that published recently, not in an academic journal or obscure blog, but on the op-ed page of The New York Times.
The author is a professor of biology and criminal justice.
At Boise State.
And, he’s a man.
After I read the Times essay it was clear that he could have answered his who needs them question with brevity: “Not women. Not ever.” But instead of four words he went ahead and wrote 977.
Accompanying the essay is an illustration that depicts a small rubbish pile. In the middle of the rubbish lies a “Y” chromosome, which resembles, well, a pile of dogsh*t.
I’ll let the professor himself present the gist of his argument:
With expanding reproductive choices, we can expect to see more women choose to reproduce without men entirely…. That’s good, since women are both necessary and sufficient for reproduction, and men are neither.
From there he suggests that the idea of men as breadwinners is downright quaint, since “women have been a majority of college graduates since the 1980s.” The very notion of “mankind” is, he says, “a gross misnomer.”
Want me (him) to keep going? Okay, I will (he does):
Meanwhile women live longer, are healthier and are far less likely to commit a violent offense. If men were cars, who would buy the model that doesn’t last as long, is given to lethal incidents and ends up impounded more often?
There’s more, but you get the idea.
Our books (chpt. 14) and publications have explained that times of negative social mood include conspicuous gender role reversals. I’ve identified many current examples of that trend on this page. But this professor’s essay takes the cake.
A few of the many reader responses in the Times discerned an element of tongue-in-cheek in the essay. Maybe. But the fact is that the writer lives in Idaho, so I can’t automatically assume that he has a fine-tuned sense of subtle or ironic humor.
I do know that the face value of the text speaks for itself: Men are unnecessary.
If you have a thought about what you’ve read — or about the issue of gender role reversal — speak up in the comments section below, or join our Twitter feed.
Andrea Dibben contributed research — and not a thing more, dammit.