A 21st century tale
By Eve’s Rib
7: MEN MATTER
The Men Matter meeting was being held in the community centre off West Downs Road. It was a cold evening, and Leo hunched into his jacket as he turned up the drive towards the low, brightly-lit building. Clyde Rock’s event was advertised on a poster on the main door. It was titled: Please, Ma’am, May I Have My Balls Back? Leo chuckled.
The drab room slowly filled up with thirty or forty men. Rows of chairs faced a table at one end. A stout, beery-faced stalwart sat there who seemed to be chairing. Leo saw Trigger sitting at the table too; he was surprised that his friend was taking this so seriously. On the other side of the chairman sat a tall, dynamic looking man in jeans and a check shirt, with the kind of swarthy, leathery face one saw in Westerns. Trigger caught Leo’s eye, raised a hand, and winked.
Eventually the chairman stood up. He was rather formal in his tweed blazer, and had the air of a retired military man — he even had a brisk little moustache.
“Harrumph... I’m pleased to see a large turnout tonight, um, fellows. We’re lucky to have a guest speaker of some repute, whose book Ironing John is doing rather well. I hope you’re all going to read it. I know I have, and it’s demmed good. Um, he’s travelled a long way from Canada, where, you may know, the encroaching of womanism is even more advanced than here, so I’m sure he can give us an insight into this problem, which is certainly the biggest problem facing us chaps in the twenty-first century. So I won’t waste any time, and would like to introduce, with great pleasure: Clyde Rock.”
Clyde Rock stood up and waited for the applause. In his hand he held a copy of a recent Time magazine which had become famous. The cover showed a good-looking young woman with her arms folded, staring aggressively at the reader under the headline: THE WAR OF THE SEXES IS OVER — AND THE WOMEN HAVE WON. Behind her peeked an anxious young man with bobbed hair and a blouse, appealing to the back of her head.
Rock didn’t speak for a while. He waved the magazine around, letting everyone take it in. Then he grinned. “I guess we’re all pretty tired of reading this sort of thing, huh?”
There was a ripple of laughter, and he slapped the magazine down on the table.
“Yup, this meeting is about women. Who else? They’re pretty important people. More important now than they’ve ever been before. I can quote the conclusion of that Time article by heart. I’ve made it my business. The opening line says it all: ‘There is a sea change underway.’” He recited slowly, in a steady North American voice like gravel. “In our universities and professions, the women outnumber the men in increasing numbers. There is no longer any doubt that women will be in charge in every field within the next twenty years. They’re strong, affluent and sexually independent. Evidence suggests that the world of the Amazons, once just a titillating myth, may be a mere generation away from becoming reality. The future is indeed female.”
He paused, scanning his audience.
“In my book Ironing John I examine how a shift in the balance of power between the sexes has created a new breed of women who threaten to dominate men in every walk of life. I have interviewed hundreds of men and women and talked to experts, psychologists and counsellors, and if you’re a guy, the statistics look bad. It’s not just about your female prime minister in Britain, and our female president back in Canada. Companies have more women on their payroll than ever, and women managers and senior executives are fast becoming the norm. In Britain, more than three in five managers are now women; in the boardroom, nearly six in ten directors are women. A recent study from Warwick University stated that at least 69% of working wives earn more than their husbands. In the public sector, women hold 71% of managerial jobs while in the insurance and pensions sector, 66% of top jobs go to women. In the personnel field, women are holding down 70% of managerial posts. Girls now outperform boys at every level of education, including the number of first-class university degrees awarded. They even dominate in former male preserves like maths and physics and law and engineering. Boys are falling behind and dropping out as a new breed of female teenager begins to dominate, not just in class but in every aspect of school and college life.
“It is normal to assert, including in respectable journals like the Financial Times or The Economist, that women have qualities that make them better bosses than men. Women are better at working with their subordinates, taking risks, assessing needs, helping workers develop — and they generate more profit. In a recent management study, women execs won higher ratings than men on 44 of the 52 skills measured. The message: if you need a boss who’s got the right stuff, hire a female. In a changed world filled with professions rather than trades, technology rather than industry, it is women who have the advantage, women who are taking over power, leaving the men floundering in their wake.”
No longer content to stand behind the table, Rock was pacing up and down the stage like a panther, his voice rising in volume.
“By contrast, men are losing their virility and confidence. Leticia Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College, London, goes even further. Her book The Decline of Men is excellent as a précis of the official gynocratic wisdom of our times. Its message is clear: Men are doomed. I’ll risk your anger by quoting part of it.” He reached to the tabletop and picked up a book.
“‘Everything is against them — biology, economics and medical science, but above all it is the unstoppable rise of women — freed by the sexual revolution from the bonds of oppression — that has been men’s undoing. Manhood itself is in full retreat. We are in the midst of an ascent of women matched with an equivalent descent of men. What once seemed a natural superiority of the male has collapsed in the face of a total failure to cope with modern times. When the going gets tough, the women do better.’
“Macho values have become an embarrassment, says Professor Jones. She writes: ‘The economic tide has turned, at men’s expense. With the decline of industry, employment has shifted to services. Women, employers believe, do the work of the modern economy better (and cheaper) than their male competitors.’
“What, the insecure male may think, is the point of him? Most are doomed to housework and childcare, completely dependent upon the female. What a remarkable turnaround after thousands of years of male predominance.”
Clyde Rock tossed the book onto the tabletop with the same disdain he had shown Time. “When feminism started, it meant women should achieve equality with men. In the fourth decade of the twenty-first century, not least in my own country, in Canada, the dominant discourse has shifted to think women should achieve superiority over men. Some people prefer to use the term ‘womanism’ for this. The technical term is ‘gynocracy’. Personally, I don’t give a heck what you call it.
“Now, some in the men’s movement talk about a female conspiracy. That is bullshit. That creates the image of a gang of women sitting in a secret room, cackling together hatching plans about how they can subjugate men in the sex war.” He rubbed his hands, mimicking a witch, and there was laughter. “Of course not. What’s happening is a change in society. Social forces are taking us in a direction that favours women and the only way to fight back is to understand these changes. Don’t get my message wrong: I don’t say that women should be pushed back into the nineteenth century —”
“Why not?” someone called out, raising a laugh.
“I’m just saying that we’re replacing one injustice with another. Our sons are never going to know that men can accomplish great things. The son of a friend of mine just started work. He’s sixteen. His boss this summer at the swimming pool is a woman, the head of the park is a woman, the swim team coach is a woman. They’re tough and they’re opinionated and he can’t even take a shit without their permission. Our boys are going to be so conditioned that they’ll be shocked when you say that men can be in charge. I read a story about a family that had a female lawyer, a female doctor, and a female priest. When they moved to another town, they had to take their little boy to the local doctor. It turns out the doctor was a guy, and the son, he throws a tantrum, crying, ‘But Mom, he’s a man.’” There was a ripple of bitter amusement. “This is the mantra! Women are smarter. Women do it better. I recently saw a girl in a T-shirt that read, ‘Girls say, boys obey’. A cheeky joke, perhaps. But men have lost their dignity and respect. Women aren’t completely dominant — they have only just over half the MPs in the British parliament, for example — but they sure as hell will be within ten years without a bit of effort from YOU.”
Leo felt frightened. He’d heard it all before but recently it had come very close to home. Rock stopped walking up and down and became very grave. “But more of that later. I haven’t spoken yet about the worst part.”
What new horror was this?
Rock slipped a large laminated card from his table and held it up. It depicted a young boy and girl. “I expect most of you have seen this ad around. It’s for M&H’s new line for kids. I guess you can see what’s rum about it?” The audience murmured. “Yes, guys, guess which of the two is wearing the dress! The ultimate taboo has finally fallen. You all remember when it started, only a few years ago. It was treated as a welcome loosening-up of social mores. The argument seemed superficially reasonable: ‘If women aren’t inferior to men, why should it be a humiliation for a man to wear a skirt?’ There was a lot of amusement, some doomladen headlines in the tabloids (which seem prescient now), then suddenly the ‘debate’ was over. Skirts for men had been mooted once or twice before but never caught on, but this time, they were here to stay. Sadly many men were complicit in promoting the practice.
“Not the end of the world, some might think, and in a neutral world it wouldn’t be. But why do you think women were in such a hurry to get into trousers? A skirt or dress indicates inferiority. That’s the message in our culture, like it or not. Many women are actively encouraging their males to try wearing dresses and it has to be opposed. It’s always presented as a bit of fun, but it’s anything but. Look at this ad again. The boy enjoys his frock but doesn’t quite dare to say so. He looks at the girl as if she is the centre of authority. The girl, however, looks at us. She’s confident. She’s wearing the trousers and knows she’s the boss. This is the sort of imagery we are engulfed with nowadays and it’s all part of the rot.” He shook the ad wrathfully. “How low have we sunk for something like this to happen? Just ten years ago it would have been unthinkable. You don’t need me to point out how ridiculous it is for grown men to mince around in pretty frocks and tight skirts! Why, it’s making men a laughing stock! What message is it giving the women? And our sons are more vulnerable than us. We still remember something of what being a man really means. If women feminise our sons, they’ve feminised our future. Modern boys are under huge pressure to wave their trousers goodbye: just go look in a kindergarten and see who’s got the frilly frocks on. They’re on the front line and they need our help. So Men Matter says: If women won’t wear dresses, nor will we!”
There was a rumbling of approval. Trigger leaped to his feet and applauded, and the audience followed suit with more clapping. Clyde Rock paced to the side of the room, spun on his heel, and marched back to the centre with his finger raised combatively. “So I’m going to ask every man here who’s serious about his rights to make just one important pledge about his life. And that pledge is: don’t let them put you in a skirt! Once you’ve done it once, there’ll be no going back. I can see one, two, three men here in this very meeting who are wearing dresses. Stand up! Stand up, those men!”
Three men stood up red-faced, tweaking their skirts in shame.
“If even those men who want to start the fightback model themselves on Doris Day instead of on some manly example, what hope is there for the rest of us? Now stand up the rest of you. Go on, stand up — that’s it. This is where the worm turns.” Theatrically, Rock took a hold of his crotch and gave it a firm shake. “Take a hold of your sack. Feel what you’ve got? What you’ve got here is precious, guys. These are your goddamn balls. They don’t belong to your wife, they belong to you and they’re the source of your manhood. Who invented every goddamn thing that we call civilisation? Was it a woman who invented the car? The telephone? The computer? Goddamn it, stand together and stand tall. You’re MEN. Say it loud: I’m a man and I’m proud!”