I can’t resist it. Scientists in Newcastle have created sperm in their lab. This prompts a dual reaction. The first is to cycle through a long list of obvious schoolboy gags, but the second is more interesting. It’s the possibility that this will make men redundant.
I’ve spent decades being embarrassed by the macho culture, appalled at the brutality inflicted by men on what is literally the weaker sex. I don’t understand how these two attitudes can co-exist so easily. How absurd that the proof that you have the biggest cojones is best exemplified by being able to beat the shit out of someone who’s effectively defenceless. That’s an oversimplification, of course, but none of the subtle, erudite analyses of the male psychology is remotely persuasive when you see the black and bloodshot eyes, the fractured cheekbones, the split lips and swollen faces of the women they’ve used as convenient punchbags. It’s hard to believe in the perfectibility of our species when you realise that someone, even if they do have a severely limited set of brain cells, can perpetrate such things.
The whole ‘show me a silver medallist and I’ll show you the first of the losers’ mentality is ludicrous, negative, destructive. It also implies a severe lack of understanding of the wider values that need to be recognised to establish and maintain communal living. And, when I hear people braying that sort of thing, I always wonder what’s missing in their lives that makes them so needy, so desperate to be acknowledged.
I know there are women who voice the same mantra but, for the most part, these individuals show a wider set of values than their male counterparts and confine the competitive imperative to their (usually athletic) endeavours. Because, let’s face it, women are nicer than men.
So the Newcastle development seems promising. Maybe there could be a future in which humans don’t elect people like Bush and Blair, who fling on their bomber jackets and strut to the microphones to mouth platitudes and lies about saving the world and democracy. Maybe the days of the alpha male (like Bernie Ecclestone, for God’s sake) are limited. Maybe women will eventually take over.
But, of course, the minute that thought begins to form, two awful truths slink out of the shadows, truths which are precisely identifiable and which undermine the whole optimistic impulse. Even if machismo is doomed, there’ll still be things like Margaret Thatcher and, now, Sarah Palin.
OK, there’s no hope. So let’s just enjoy it.