For the sake of argument

Women should run the world

N. J. BERRILL SAYS February 15 1958
For the sake of argument

Women should run the world

N. J. BERRILL SAYS February 15 1958

Women should run the world

For the sake of argument

N. J. BERRILL SAYS

It is obvious that in the present state of society there are too many people moving too fast and making too much noise, all mutually endangering one another’s lives and sanity. It is equally clear that most of the disturbance comes from the males, both young and old, and the real trouble with the world at present is that the plaintive phrase of womankind—it’s a man s world—is all too true. The silly business starts as soon as the babe is born. Doting parents see the infant boy strutting as a man with big feet and a commanding voice before he ever leaves the cradle, and from then on the path is cleared for him.

Yet finding a suitable career is difficult, since maternity is definitely not the masculine path to a satisfactory life. The male is all wound up with no particular place to go and it’s not surprising that nine out of ten teen-agers in trouble are boys, or that it costs twice as much to insure a car driven by a male between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five as it docs to insure a car driven by both his sixteen-to-twcnty-five-year-old sisters and his parents. This is the age group that armies have been made of throughout history, marching and bellowing across the continents and the centuries. Men and boys are troublesome creatures, but being larger, stronger and louder than the females they have succeeded in putting over the biggest bluff the earth has ever seen. For when you come to the point, what use are males apart from keeping some sweet young things happy and keeping other males at bay?

In any case worse trouble looms ahead, for while males for the most part are not technically unemployed they are, biologically speaking, little more than necessary evils— necessary for reproduction but otherwise time-consuming, foodconsuming and always in the way. You would never know it. though, to hear them talk! Yet this is the

beginning of the age of automation. More and more industrial and agricultural work will be conducted through electronic remote control by fewer and fewer men. If such work as there is can be evenly spread out, which may be the best we can hope for, man, but not woman, is going to have even more time on his hands—perhaps a twoor three-day working week and the rest at home. And won't he be useful, taking over so many of the household and family duties? You can hear the women cheering from here! Otherwise he can stay in bed, sit in front of the television or go riding in the car—if he can get the car, for his wife needs it to shuttle the kids to and from school and for shopping.

Laws apply only to men

In any event, looking ahead a little farther, say to the end of the century, oil and gas will be so valuable and expensive the combustion engine in family automobiles will be as obsolete as the old Stanley Steamer; small packages of atomic energy to take its place are most unlikely and transportation may well be back to systems of electrical railroads, very efficient and smart-looking, no doubt, but a heck of a substitute for a fast and furious cgo-intlating drive in the new Hdsel or Buick.

So more and more you will hear, ‘ Where have you been? Out! What did you do? Nothing!,” for that already is the title of a popular book now on sale, and its popularity is an ominous sign. Boredom lies ahead for the energetic males unless something can be done about it. And something must be done about it since out of boredom grow crime and punishment, an unhappy sequence for such a lordly sex. This of course is well known, for while laws are made for everyone, in practice they apply only to males. The continued on page 50

continued on page 50

DR. BERRILL IS PROFESSOR OF ZOOLOGY AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY

continued from page 8

“If women controlled babies’ sex, males would get short shrift”

female sex seems by contrast to know instinctively or intuitively what is good for themselves and the human race as a whole and lo behave in a decently moral fashion without the restraints and coercions enforced by courts and police. Among themselves women seem to agree how things should be and woe to the woman who fails to toe the line in her own little community—some back-fence gossip or a few telephone calls to the gang will soon smarten her up.

What can be done about this masculine plight? It exists of course. Women are more aware of it and every mother, wife and sister knows the males of the family are completely dependent upon the female sex in some form for comfort, encouragement and pufling up of selfesteem, and that much valuable time must be given to soothing bruised flesh and feelings and listening to masculine boastings. Man without a woman is a lost creature and even the great he-men strutting across the world's stage arc mainly over-compensating for having to stand too much alone on their own two feet.

The obvious solution, I suppose, for the future rather than the present, is either to slip tranquilizers into the milk, beer or coffee that males drink during the several stages of their existence, or else not to breed so many of them. Both remedies are feasible, in theory at least. Tranquilizers are already being mass-produced and are almost as easy to get as aspirin, so that there is no serious difficulty in handling the mechanics of the treatment. The trouble would be that the perpetually tranquilized males would still be lying around the house and need to be fed just as often, just like over-large babies, and the improvement would be merely the elimination of the need to console them—and while they may still be bored, they wouldn’t be bright enough to know it or, anyway, care to do anything drastic for the sake of excitement. It would be a depressing situation, both in prospect for the males and in practice for the females. The other solution would be kinder—to keep the number of male human beings down to a manageable and useful size. Short of drowning excess males at birth as has been done with kittens and baby girls here and there in the past—for the idea is not new in principle but only in application—this solution depends upon our succeeding in determining or controlling the sex of infants before birth. At present we do not know how to do this but biologists certainly understand as much concerning what causes sex to be male or female as physicists knew about radioactive atoms a few years before they applied their knowledge to the making of the first atom bomb. And, believe me, the control of sex would be power that would put the nuclear bombs in the shade. Who would control it? You don’t need to be told! Who makes babies, anyway?

Just how fantastic is this? Not at all! Insects have been doing it since time immemorial although more for economic reasons and population strategy than to solve difficulties concerning male delinquency and non-contribution. The common sawfly, for instance, at present threatening the existence of spruce and pine throughout eastern North America, has faced the issue squarely and nipped the male in the bud, so to speak. Every sawfly is a virgin female bearing fertile

eggs. Everything the grubs of the sawfly cat is in the end turned into females, which produce eggs that spontaneously develop into more females and so on down the fine, with no wasted food or effort assigned to the production of males. This is an extreme case, of course, and is a biological innovation most unlikely to afflict humanity, hut other insects such as bees and ants really practice sex control in such a way that the ratio of males to females varies according to the needs of the insect society. And what they can do we can do if we just put our inventive minds to work.

Sooner or later I am afraid someone will come up with a simple chemical means of deciding whether a child is to be male or female, the decision neces-

Who is it?

She left private business for public life and became the first of her sex to serve on Canada's highest council. Turn to page 63 to find out who this girl grew up to be.

sarily being made at or before the time of conception. Then what?

If women should ever get together and decide on a policy as a group, the males, I fear, would get short shrift, that is if feminine heads ruled feminine hearts. If they would they could see to it that ninety-odd percent of human production was female, with just enough males produced each generation for artificial breeding purposes, general ornamentation, a reasonable supply of plumbers and a perpetual object lesson.

Naturally it wouldn’t happen this way because under such circumstances most of the women as individuals would be traitors to their cause and would he sure to cheat. Yet this capacity to choose the sex of our offspring may well be just around the corner and women will be much more in control of it than men and, for better or for worse, choices will be made.

To begin with, of course, the pendulum would swing the wrong way. Given the choice, both parents want first of all a son, the mother because being a woman she likes the opposite sex and the father because he is mainly interested in seeing himself grow up again. So sex control at first leads to a human society horribly overweighted on the male side and the natural and inevitable reaction is then to try to restore the natural balance.

But it’s like rocking a boat, when you tip one way you immediately tip the other, and there you are, a predominantly

female world with males definitely in the minority. Probably there would be a long period of see-sawing from one overbalanced condition to the other, hut eventually a new equilibrium would be discovered where women would find enough masculine society without being swamped by overbearing male conceits and overcompensated inferiority complexes.

It is noteworthy that throughout the animal kingdom, taking it as a whole, males are generally smaller, weaker and fewer than the females. Only among the big hairy mammals do males tend to be big bullies, and that mainly because they are unwilling to share and share alike. In all too many instances for masculine self-esteem the male has become a dwarf parasite with little or no mind or volition of his own.

From a strictly biological standpoint only a small percentage of a population need be male and it could turn out that women would discover that a society with relatively far fewer males might suit their instinctive purposes far better than the present arrangement, the males to be kept firmly under control. Such a society would he quieter, safer, altogether different in many ways, since family life for example would necessarily be of a somewhat different pattern. Or it could be so dull that the only result of the power of sex control in the human race would be a perpetual instability, unless sexual regimentation was imposed by the state with a ruthlessness far exceeding that of the politburo. Yet whether or not such control is thrust into our more or less unwilling hands, the idea of it suggests some alternative means of settling affairs as they now are.

Look at the Hopi Indians. Their sex ratio naturally is roughly one man to each woman, as everywhere else. But except insofar as missionaries and governmental agents have interfered with their original way of life they appear to have solved the problem of the personalities of the sexes. Unfortunately they are a small community destined for oblivion in the southwestern U. S. desert. They have about the same chance of survival in the modern world as the last remaining colony of whooping cranes. Governmental and proselytizing interference combined with the distracting pressures of the world around them will sooner or later entirely destroy their isolation, and that will be the end. We should take notice of them while we can.

In Hopi society the women are where they belong and the men and boys are well-adjusted amiable individuals. The whole pattern is a definite alternative to our own and is one that does not produce either delinquent adults or adult adolescents, whichever you care to call them. The Hopi tribe is divided into clans, which are essentially large family groups, but each clan has as its heart a number of related females consisting of an elderly active woman who is the real head, her sisters, and all their female descendants. They own absolutely the house, all stores of food and furnishing, and the children; they grow foodstuffs, raise the children, and are the craftsmen. Such is the female status whether a woman gets a husband or not. Every woman symbolizes motherhood and as a sex controls the staff of life. And every male in the community is brought up under the joint jurisdiction of aunts, mother and older

sisters who see to it that he is as thoroughly domesticated as any household pet. At the same time the masculine personality is catered to somewhat as a mother yields to the demands of a child, in little things, while keeping command over the more important decisions. So the ceremonial head of the clan, as distinct from the real head, is the brother of the ruling female, and he works not with the clan itself but with other males as members of a secret religious society, drawn from the community as a whole, which practices complicated rituals about as harmless and ego-satisfying as those of the Masonic orders. Otherwise the men hunt a little, farm a little, play at being important, and only show' their masculine mettle when the Hopi state is under attack, an event that happens only at the instigation of the males of some other tribe.

Obviously, mankind in general, with the male more or less firmly in the saddle and driving the old mare almost every which way at once, is not going to adopt a system that puts him running alongside on foot. Yet we might be much better off if we did, with a more peaceful world and less frustrated individual lives. All that is needed, and this is a lot. I admit, is for all nations to adopt the same reform simultaneously, so as to give no advantage to any particular one.

Hie necessary change is simple enough. Women now have the right to vote, at long last, l et them retain it anti at the same time assume the sole right to become members of parliament or congress

or whatever and to assume the reins of office. Men should be deprived of the vote and be ineligible for election to any political status. They retain influence, certainly, just as the Hopi men do within the clan and much as Victorian women did during the last century. By blarney and by being helpful, amenable and companionable they could probably get anything they might want, except the means, money and sanction for making atom bombs, war in general or overpowered machines. All they really need are adequate incentives to become reasonable human beings, a maternal and sisterly form of government, which would take care of the essential running of a large family-like society, and a personal allowance, which would enable them to undertake creative activities, collectively such as the present international Geophysical Year, which is a superb example of the male sex at play, or individually to become painters, poets, actors, or even scientists so long as it is all a game.

Let the women run the world and let men and boys enjoy life without anger, bombast or serious responsibility. We’d all be much better off. Perhaps when sex control finally arrives and women gain command of it this sort of system may be presented to the men as an ultimatum: either abdicate and behave yourselves or we’ll drop all the male-producing pills down the drain and outnumber you ten to one—either behave less like an ape or be smothered in females.

"Men are such pets" may be the future indicative. ★