Gelding, By Lily

The Sorrowful Rise Of Neuter Man

Ever wonder why masculine men are dying out -- the old strong, silent type who rolled cheroots one-handed while roping dogies with the other -- and being replaced by delicate androgynous Ken-dolls who look like Tinkerbell with a flat chest? Or why women look increasingly . . . not masculine so much as sexless?

Tell you what I think.

(I'll bet that surprises you.)

Used to be, men and women were different, and they knew it. They weren't in competition. So a guy could be Marlboro Man, or sort of anyhow, and grunt, and stand tall in the saddle, and say, "Hoo-ahhhh!" and ride Harleys. And if anybody messed with his kids or women, he'd take a tire iron to'em, or a thirty-thirty, depending--or at least imagine that he might. He had sense enough, anyway, to know that it was a good idea.

Back then, a woman could like a big hairy-chested hunk, because she wasn't competing with him. In fact, the hairier and chesteder he was, the better, because she was vying with her girlfriends to see who could get the manlier man. And a lot of women liked the idea of 240 pounds of muscle in a Stetson that meant to take care of them.

She meanwhile could afford to be cute, feminine, and curved, and dress like a woman, and maybe wield a gorgeous smile that she used to play him like a banjo -- which he probably knew, and figured that was OK too, because that's how things worked, and anyway guys are guys. She didn't have to out-hairy him. She wasn't trying to be a guy.

East was east, and west was west, and the twain would meet at the drop of a hat.

Then everything changed. Women decided they wanted to compete with men. OK. I can understand it. If I were a woman with an IQ of 160, I'd probably want to be a biochemist instead of child-herd and doily-polisher. The idea seemed reasonable to most women, and to most men. A kajillion gals poured into the workplace.

Thing was -- and nobody had really thought this out -- they didn't expect to compete on their merits as individuals, get as far as they got, and figure that was the hand God dealt them. They wanted to duke it out head-to-head, self-consciously and avowedly, as a class, with men. It wasn't Sally wrestling with the law boards. It was Us agin Them.

Which was a Whole Nuther Thing. No society or species had ever tried it.

Problems arose. Fact is, men are hard to compete with. Physically, they are taller, heavier, much stronger, more durable and more enduring. Except for nymphet gymnastics, there may be no sport in which women hold the record. Intellectually men have a large advantage mathematically and a slight one verbally at the high end, that becomes rapidly greater as one moves to the right of the mean; This is the Glass Ceiling. Men are more aggressive, exploratory, adventurous, and versatile. Sorry, but there it is.

Women moved up some, and some moved up a lot, but they didn't catch up numerically with men. It was because they couldn't, and that's a pretty good reason. And when you got down to it, women just didn't care enough. They had other things on their minds, like families and rugrats.

They didn't quite understand this. Nobody did. All women wanted, they said early on, was to be judged by the same standards as men. It was a bad idea. If I judge Cup Cake as a woman, I note that she is sleek, smart, funny, graceful, sweet as sorghum on a Moon Pie, and dances like a dream raised in Arkansas. I'm smitten.

If I judge her as I judge men, she's an emotionally unstable dwarf. How much respect am I supposed to have for a 5'3" guy who bench presses a twenty-ounce Pepsi?

Antagonism inevitably ensued. Men said that the ladies didn't want to be women, and couldn't be men. Why, they asked each other, did a first-rate woman want to be a second-rate man? The women said men were bigoted. Men said they were just observant. Women, who had always regarded men as commitment objects and pre-med objects, became enraged that men regarded them as sex objects. Men were puzzled. They didn't know what else to regard as sex objects.

I was confused myself. I remember a woman screaming at me, "Women don't want to be objects!" Trying to be conciliatory, I said, "OK, you can be subjects." That didn't suit her either.

They don't know what they want. And that's the problem.

They got angry and developed chips on their shoulder pads. War ensued, in which women raged and men didn't know what the hell was going on. When natural ability failed, women discovered, politics would serve. And so we got affirmative action, which means, "pretending."

Depending on the venue, the women needed very little or lots of pretending. The military was worst. It pretended either that women could climb obstacles, or that wars didn't involve obstacles. Soon soldiers discovered that most women couldn't throw a grenade beyond its bursting radius. This will make you unpopular on battlefields. Besides, a woman throwing a grenade looked like a sea lion waving its flipper. So the Army built a little wall for them to drop grenades over.

It was ridiculous. It is ridiculous. Affirmative action always is. Nobody is fooled. Still, it spread like peanut butter on a hot day. For those women who didn't like men anyway, it was sweet revenge. Except -- it wasn't quite. The men knew, and the women knew they knew. On the other hand, the checks cashed.

Intuitively women knew they had to push for unisex. To compete with men, women had to act like men, who are competitive, and get men to behave like women, who aren't. They bought ugly sexless suits, did boring things with their hair, and practiced being disagreeable, often succeeding wildly. Meanwhile the media, fronting for them, went in for pretty male models who waxed their chests and weren't threatening. The compassionate man emerged like a grub from a log.

The women won. Marlboro Man, or anybody too clearly of one sex or the other, is out of style. Both the New-Age woman, and her docile man-surrogate, would be intimidated, and ol' Marlboro would have trouble knowing which was the girl. God it's boring.