domingo, abril 08, 2018

The Man Flu: "Five to Twelve" by Edmund Cooper

There are undoubtedly many factors that influence the trends revealed by some statistics - social roles, required sustenance levels, lifestyle, physical conflict, sacrifice, etc, as well as the fact that we already know that men have lower life expectancy. Men and women are different, but equal. It's a sad state of affairs when the idea that men die younger is wheeled out with smugness as some kind of victory, complete with a picture of a jubilant old woman (are we supposed to assume that she is specifically laughing about the death of her husband or a close male relative?). I fully and completely acknowledge that women have been, and are being, subjected to terrible treatment due simply to their gender - however I don't think the way to address that issue is to put the boot on the other foot and start kicking the other way instead. (Is the notion that your own husbands, brothers, sons, are going to die statistically younger really something to be triumphalist about? Does that make them weak?) As nice as it may be to get some payback, and I'm not saying that towards a lot of men it isn't deserved, the real problem in our society is that men and women are taught to be opposing sides and are pitted against each other; we are stuck in a conflict of men vs women. It's true that men have traditionally had the upper hand, but (some variants of) feminism seeks only to level the scores, or to give women the upper hand. What really needs to happen is that we end the ridiculous rivalry and work together to make life better for everyone. Let's end the gender pay gap, stop women being treated like objects, end the shaming of women, have women properly represented in our legislature. Let's also address the issue of why most suicides are men, why the majority of homeless people are men, and let's not make it sound like men dying younger is a victory that proves how weak they are, and can be phrased as such in a respected national newspaper. We can do both. Am I being too idealistic? We are socially equal (and that's a good and normal thing), but not biologically equal. We're complementary, that's even better than equal! And that does not imply any judgment of one is better than the other at this or that. I have heard women claim their superiority all my life, while hearing the same from men that we are superior (less so these days, in the climate of political correctness). There is little to indicate that either are right, but each gender seems to cherry pick its 'facts', and believe it fervently. Such are the common failings in every stripe of humanity, with our ability to deceive ourselves. Cooper's book is a good example. If women live a little longer than men at the very end of a human life span, who cares? It does not add anything to society or humanity, to be able to cling on a little longer. That is a hopeless metric to be claiming superiority on. This has been known for centuries. It is also true of other mammal species; every farmer, every breeder of dogs knows that infant mortality among males is higher than among females. The normal excess of women over men in human populations shows that the same is true of us. There is probably an evolutionary reason, dating from long before civilisation, for the difference. While men are stronger (and need to be to hunt, work and fight for their community; speaking for myself, I never hunted, I work my butt off every single day, and I only fight when the need arises...) they are essentially disposable. No lasting harm will be done to the gene pool or the tribe if many of them are wasted in action. Women need to survive; without that, in a generation there will be no family, no tribe or no nation. Accordingly, they have a different hormonal balance (less testosterone and physical aggression for one thing); less muscle but more fat reserves.

In a word: men need to be and to do, and women to do and to be as well.  

I remember reading a long time ago Edmund Cooper's "Five to Twelve", a satire set in the closing years of the 21st Century in which society is controlled by women and men are relegated to servile status. Although comedic, the humour contains serious undertones, especially the division of women into infertile Doms, who govern, and the pitiful Infras, who are little more than baby factories. Written in the late sixties, it is an obvious reaction to the Women's Liberation movement, but I find some of the arguments still resonate today, especially the concept that modern feminism is targeted for the benefit of a certain "class" of women. Of course, it is written by a man, and his sympathies reside mostly with the male protagonist, the Sport Quern, but it is surprisingly empathic towards both the Dom who he is compelled to pleasure, and the Infra who he impregnates so the Dom can have a child. A dystopian future with (some) women "on top"? I can't determine whether it really is anti-feminist or simply a comedic warning of the perils of "wanting it all". I think (given when it was written) it is not anti-feminist as such - but rather uses the inversion to advance women's rights...

NB: Basic genetics lesson. Females have two X chromosomes and males only one. (Note that Y chromosomes barely contain any genes.) This creates the advantage of genetic redundancy. Obviously this means men suffer from more X-chromosome related diseases, like colour blindness. But on a much broader scale, where multiple genes are interacting, it can be expected that two X chromosomes will have other advantages. This means, males by having only one X chromosome, help to strengthen the pool of X chromosomes available to females. This is selection at work. If a male survives birth, becomes strong, healthy and fertile with only one good X chromosome, then it might be worth breeding with him. 

Bottom-line: Men just get on with it. Except for when they have the flu. Exactly WHAT do men 'get on with'? Life. Fucking everything up mainly. The man flu: it's a cold. Women must be stronger because they never seem to get ManFlu either.  It's a condition invented by advertisers to make women think they need to buy Lemsip for their manchild who can't operate a washing machine, cook dinner or change nappies because he's too busy putting his muddy boots on the floor or oily hands on the clean towels.

3 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

Don't mock the man-flu. Women giving birth is about the closest women will ever get to experiencing what a man goes through when he has the man-flu.

I saw that in a meme a couple of months ago and laughed my head off. I wish I had saved it :-)

Manuel Antão disse...

It makes me mad that women just can not grasp the seriousness of this illness, more education on the long term affects is needed. Total rest and no house work is the only reliable cure...More needs to be done about the man fly virus. I must feel there is not enough research.

eh eh eh

Book Stooge disse...

Research and lots and lots of research money. Give me $100K and I will have the man-flu for an entire year. All in the name of Science of course :-)