BEL MOONEY says the feminist trope of a man-free world demeans us all

This feminist obsession with imagining a world without men demeans BOTH sexes: As yet another novel is set in a male-free dystopia, BEL MOONEY says it reflects a troubling and all-too-real trend

All over the globe planes fall out of the sky, machines stop, cars are abandoned, fires rage on. Why? Because, thanks to an unexplained cosmic event, every single human with a Y chromosome has disappeared, while all the bewildered XX females pick up the pieces of life as best they can.

It is the end of men.

Fanciful? In fact, it’s the premise of a new book, The Men, by American novelist Sandra Newman, who has added her voice to a long line of women who seem to think we’d be a lot better off without them.

It has certainly stirred up the feminists — the book has been described as gripping and haunting — as well as triggering accusations of transphobia, because transgender women disappear along with the men.

In Newman’s book, some women weep and search for their lost husbands and sons, while others quickly celebrate

Here we go again, I thought, another female writer imagining what life would be like without half the population of the world.

In Newman’s book, some women weep and search for their lost husbands and sons, while others quickly celebrate: ‘But at last one woman said it wasn’t all bad. Her violent ex had been stalking her for years, and now, for the first time, she felt safe. Then everyone talked about the men they wouldn’t miss: the deadbeat exes, the groping bosses, the abusive stepdads.’

It’s as if the whole #MeToo movement is popping champagne corks, because all the bad guys and quietly misogynistic dudes have gone . . . pffft . . . The end of men, in a puff of smoke.

No men? Is this a world that women really want? How are all the babies going to be made? And who will put out the bins?

Only this week, a report from the Office for National Statistics revealed that there are now more women than men in England and Wales. According to new figures, women account for 51 per cent of the population — there are 30,420,100 of us! — meaning 49 per cent of the population (a mere 29,177,200) are men. Perhaps we’re on the road already.

I joke, but can the single-sex fantasy really exist as a utopia? Surely most women can’t imagine a world without men? I can’t. I love men — and always have.

I learned how attentive and loving a man can be at my late father’s knee, and that lesson continued until he was well into his 90s. I’ve been lucky in two marriages to good, kind people who detest macho sexism as much as I do and haven’t a notion about the offside rule or which football team they should support.

My son has as much emotional intelligence as any woman I know, and my son-in-law is the very best of fathers. Both are hardworking and value family life — like their friends.

I do understand why women feel as threatened as ever by male aggression, and this must be what fuels the resurgent sci-fi fantasy 

Deluded it may seem, but I believe the majority of men in this country are as capable of love and decency as women. This is the truest equality. Yet fantasies about single-sex societies must be appealing to women — or else they wouldn’t sell.

Old hands like me know that they date back to the time of the Suffragette movement. In 1913, A World Of Women told of a plague wiping out the male population, while two years later, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman featured a group of men coming across a race of Amazonian women.

Over the years, the female-only society became a subgenre of science fiction, mostly produced from the 1970s to the 1990s. It was once so popular it was almost as if women found it hard to imagine a future with men.

Sandra Newman nods to this literary legacy in the acknowledgements at the end of The Men.

‘Thanks to writers of feminist utopias who came before . . . women brave enough to say, unapologetically, in a far more patriarchal world, that there should be no men. Their work made a crucial difference to me long before I ever thought of writing this book.’

I do understand why women feel as threatened as ever by male aggression, and this must be what fuels the resurgent sci-fi fantasy. The vile murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and, just last weekend, Zara Aleena, throw yet another brutal spotlight on the fears of countless women when walking home at night.

No men? Is this a world that women really want? How are all the babies going to be made? And who will put out the bins?

We read stories of men preying on women with a horrible sense of deja vu. One in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, two women are killed each week by a current or former partner in England and Wales, and it is estimated that around three women a week commit suicide as a result of domestic violence.

You only have to think about rape used as a weapon of war for centuries to know that women’s lives all over the world are as subject as ever to male constraint, exploitation and violence.

Against that, a world dominated by ‘the sweet clamour of [female] voices in the air’ (Newman’s phrase) might be appealing indeed.

Perennially shocking facts (too many to list in detail here) underline the obvious, bitter truth of the female condition, which nobody can deny. Yet there is so much more to the human story.

It limits us as surely as did the old patriarchal norms to screech (as so many women do, especially online) that ‘All men are sh**s’.

In addition, to accuse ‘all men’ of being potential rapists is to slander our fathers, brothers, partners, friends and sons. ‘Not all men’ is a slogan I will shout from the rooftops (even though it’s hated by many feminists), just as I will insist that not all women are victims. Of course, misogyny is ancient and yet still needs to be fought, even when women are world leaders and achieve so much in every other field of human endeavour. But I remain unconvinced that furious misandry (hatred of men) is the way to counter it.

All hatred dehumanises, and currently the fragmented Western world seems horribly keen to shatter the noble notions of equality and mutual respect between men and women, and between different races, for which we fought in the 1960s.

The fictional vision of a female utopia is rooted in biased dreams of ‘woman as saint’ — the shining spirit of female perfection which would ensure (as expressed by a character in The Men) that ‘the world would become a haven of peace, ruled over by wise queens’.

Pollution would be cleaned up, and the ‘genocide of Earth’ would come to an end. Even Boris Johnson said this week that if Putin were a woman he would not have invaded Ukraine. How unbelievably wonderful that sounds.

Of course, no woman alive would ever chuck a plastic cotton bud down the loo. But how can anybody say that without men there would be no violence when the concentration camps showed that women are just as capable as men of inflicting maximum cruelty?

I love my own sex — but hate lies. Single-sex crowds can show the worst of themselves, as anybody who has seen a drunken hen party will testify. ‘Mean girls’ bully and can even beat up their victims, while all-female offices can be rife with bitchiness.

What chance do we have of creating a better society, if we persist in seeing my sex as saintly, while men are the demons we would be better off without?

Already, about half of all women are now childless at 30 and many won’t have children at all (around one in four women will now not reproduce) — so men are needed less and less for the purposes of procreation.

Yet families do need fathers, and I have had desperate letters to my Saturday advice column from men reduced to a lonely life in a bedsit, having failed to gain joint custody of their children through the courts. Sometimes men can be the victims of punitive, controlling women — and it’s destructively dishonest not to acknowledge it.

The truth is, men are Not The Enemy — and many of them are not in a good place either.

All hatred dehumanises, and currently the fragmented Western world seems horribly keen to shatter the noble notions of equality and mutual respect between men and women

The collapse of manufacturing industries brought about the loss of millions of jobs, the vast majority of which were for men.

In the 1970s, I was very friendly with the charismatic Scottish trade unionist Jimmy Reid, leader of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. He described shipbuilding, mining and heavy industry to me as ‘man’s work’ — and the pride in that phrase really meant something.

The loss of it brought about a profound economic and psychological shift that has been going on for at least 30 years.

Many people, like me, loved the hit 1997 film The Full Monty — and laughed all the more loudly with each viewing. But when the giggles cease, who can forget the pitiful condition of those Sheffield men spat out by the collapse of the steel industry? The likeable but useless hero Gaz (played by Robert Carlyle) scraped around trying to make a bit of money for his son, while his employed ex-wife lived in luxury with her well-off new man.

Yes, it was hilarious that Gaz & Co should become a male strip group . . . but really?

I’m as partial to the sight of some well-oiled pecs as any gal — but in real life, women baying like wild animals at near-naked men and then groping them if they get chance is no prettier than men doing the same to women.

Statistics show that young, white men are the most deprived group in Britain, and that middle-aged men are the most likely group of people to kill themselves.

Yes, men are ‘victims’ too — and not all masculinity is ‘toxic’. The brilliant political writer David Goodhart has written that ‘the traditional male virtues — strength, physical courage, emotional stoicism’ are undervalued.

I ask how we can even start to educate boys to respect girls if we begin with the assumption that we would be better off without the lot of them because they’re timebombs of misogyny waiting to explode?

Of course, I rage to read that girls as young as 13 routinely send naked pictures of themselves to boys because it is expected. But why does this go on? Pornography, of course.

Anybody with half a brain cell should know what the vile, multi-billion-pound pornography trade does to women — reducing them to objects on whose bodies the most disgusting, violent outrages can be inflicted.

But pause for a moment to reflect on what it is also doing to men who consume it.

Even as I write these words, countless boys will be peering at disgusting porn on their smartphones — utterly corrupted and rendered almost incapable of having normal relationships, or, in other words, of evolving into mature human beings.

Some of them might go on to harm women — but my point is that the limitless nightmare of sexual exploitation which liberalism (on the one hand) and greed (on the other) have allowed to flourish is arguably as toxic to men as it is to women. It does lasting damage to both — which means, to us all.

At the end of Sandra Newman’s novel, the men prove not to have disappeared at all, and the main character is . . . well, let’s just say, the author doesn’t seem to know what to make of the fact that human love remains.

Yes — good old human devotion! No matter what extremists think or scream or write, the rest of us know we are hardwired to want to love and be loved, and just struggle along — not waging any ‘battle of the sexes’ but trying to understand each other’s needs and weaknesses as best we can.

In this divided, quarrelsome, worrying world there is plenty for good men and women to be equally angry about — and the last thing we need is more division.

This is not idealism, but sheer necessity. Because men and women do need each other equally — and therefore our only option is mutual tolerance.

Who knew?

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