I admit that for a moment, it sounded lovely — the perfect antidote to an evening of thumping, wailing, and being carelessly beaten with phallic weapons.
I had just been reading startling new research that shows the male gender is an endangered species. Scientists say copious hormone-tweaking chemicals in our air, food, and water are “feminizing” fellas around the globe, and up and down the ladder of the animal kingdom, from fish to polar bears to human men.
The report, published by the British chemical watchdog CHEMTrust, cites a surge of hermaphrodite toads, deer with deformed antlers, bald eagles and porpoises who can’t reproduce, and male alligators with high estrogen levels. Folks, it’s crazy out there.
Perhaps most alarming are the study’s implications for people: The global ratio of boy-to-girl births is inexplicably shifting toward girls, and boys born to mothers with high levels of “gender bending” chemicals like phthalates and PCBs are more likely to have smaller penises, undescended testicles, and — oh, dear — a preference for playing with dolls and tea sets.
None of which is remotely funny, of course.
Except that it is. A little bit. Granted, if the opposite were happening and females were being “masculinized” into oblivion, women would be marching on Washington (holding hands, wearing hot pink ribbons, and, okay, maybe crying a little) in outrage. But it’s the reversal of traditional roles that makes this crisis just the tiniest bit amusing.
Long have men been our species’ protectors and warriors — the ones who do the threatening, not the threatened. And long have males been the very standard of “mankind,” the basic “everyman,” not the fully loaded model at risk of losing its, ahem, trim package.
But what if they do?
I confess I was firing on both X chromosomes when I began pondering this question on a recent night. My ovaries and I had jammied up and hunkered down for a cozy, quiet evening of wrapping presents by the fire. I was draping bubble bath and flower pots in sparkly gift tags and curling ribbon when the testosterone hit the fan.
Reasoning that this was a good time and place for a light-saber battle, my irrepressibly male offspring and their hairy-chested father proceeded to jump, dive, and wail around me, accidentally whacking me in the back with a hefty plastic rapier and then giggling (yes, all three of them) during my stern but moot lecture on the inappro priateness of Jedi play in the house. That’s when it occurred to me that — the toxic chemical-induced rapid mutation of our evolution notwithstanding — a world with less testosterone might be quite tolerable.
Less violence. Less mess. And the billowy silence of a sleepy Sunday afternoon would almost never be punctured with the words, “THROW, YOU IDIOT! THEY’RE UP 14 POINTS!”
But of course, in all seriousness, this mass un-manning of the planet’s beasts must be halted. Biologically speaking, males can’t go extinct without everyone going extinct and, frankly, the world wouldn’t be much fun without them.
Because when they’re not trouncing on my personal femme-bubble, I really do love men. I love their straight lines and deep voices. I love how they spend less time pondering and more time doing, and how they use their ears more than their mouths. Mostly I love the intriguing way they look at us women, their affinity for our finer details, their unabashed fascination with our femininity.
And I’ll just say for the record that the idea of shrinking penises doesn’t delight me. Still … I could stand it if their light sabers were a little smaller.