By the middle of the 21st century a new kind of man was born.
Like the stay-at-home dads of previous decades, he was a househusband. But unlike them he did not persuade himself that he was an equal partner who would, given the opportunity, return to the world of work. The new kind of househusband took it for granted that his place was in the home, cleaning and cooking and raising children. Surrounded by highly qualified, breadwinning women, he simply did not believe that he was their equal or that he could succeed in the jobs they performed so competently. They were so confident, smart, ambitious, full of initiative and power. So he was grateful that his wife or girlfriend was prepared to provide for him, and that his own responsibilities were modest.
A collapse of confidence in his own abilities and judgement meant that he was mostly glad to accept female authority. His doctor was a woman, the Prime Minister was a woman, his plumber was a woman, his car mechanic was a woman, his child’s headteacher was a woman, and the spouse who bought the dresses that filled his wardrobe was a woman1.
In most households, the traditional roles had by the mid-21st century been completely reversed. The social norm was not sexual equality, but female supremacy. Empowered by her control of the family income, the woman openly considered herself the head of the household. She would make all the major decisions — and have the last word on all the minor ones too — and expected her husband to do as she said.
The New Man believed in marriage — only it was him who would wear the beautiful white dress and swear to “honour and obey”. He raised his sons in his own image, showing them how to dress prettily, perform housework, and obey female authority. His daughters he treated more indulgently, for they were destined to rule the world.
Of course, the New Man’s way of life was not accepted by all men, or even all women. It offended those who wished for sexual equality. Men’s rights groups began to spring up, holding demos or performing stunts while dressed as Superman.
Yet men had not fallen under women’s thumb because of the innate characteristics of either sex but because they were the victims of an immense sea change of history that overwhelmed those who wished, like Canute, to roll them back.
1 Within heterosexual relationships anyway.