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Monday, March 07, 2005

...if you were the last man on Earth

Today's post in celebration of International Women's Day asks what if women did indeed run the world.

...I wouldn't ride with you if you were the last man on Earth.
...I'm workin' on it.

- The Quiet Earth (1985)

This is actually a small post (relative to my usual standards). The reason for its brevity is this. Anyway, this is a continuation on the theme of "Why we men have it so bad". For those who came in late, the situation is something like this:

...If you were the last man on earth and I was the last woman on earth, and the future of the human race depended on our having sex, simply for procreation, I still would not have sex with you.
...What's your point?

- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Also this ties in to one of my more favourite activities - reading comics (what DID you think it was?).

The comic in question is Y: The last man. I liked this one so much I actually BOUGHT the trade paperbacks. Right now, the series is onto the 5th paperback (out of 8). So here's the story so far:

A mysterious plague destroys every living being on Earth with a Y chromosome. Every man, boy, bull, tomcat, sperm cell - EVERY one. Well, not EVERY one, actually - that wouldn't make for a very interesting story. The plague leaves two survivors. A young escape artist by the name of Yorick Brown (the title character Y), and his pet monkey Ampersand. So we have this one chap and all the females in the world at his disposal - heaven, did you say? I mean, this surely beats 72 virgins hands down. In other words:

...I would'nt marry you if you were the last man on earth!
...If I were the last man on earth I'd be too busy!

- The Lambeth Walk (1940)

Umm... not quite. In the story so far, Y has had 7 attempts on his life, 3 rape attempts - one of which was successful - and been subjected to violence and humiliation by all kinds of nut jobs, including a gang of single-breasted warriors led by a former chess grand master, a whip-carrying S&M freak, the Israeli army, a bunch of motorcycle-riding surgically-altered hermaphrodites and a former supermodel who was upset because her boob job was suddenly pointless. And right through this a huge number of groups are playing tug-of-war over him to make sure that when the Earth is saved, they hold all the cards. So serious international espionage happens as well. All in all, hardly fun and games (it is peppered with witticisms, though).

But let us set our hero aside for a moment and look at the world he lives in. The authors actually come up with a pretty reasonable counterfactual description of a world without men. Some of the major changes are:

- Judaism, Christianity and Islam collapse completely because of the absence of women in all levels of their heirarchy.
- Some countries, such as the Middle Eastern ones, fall into complete chaos because of the complete absence of women in government.
- Israel suddenly has no enemies and civil war breaks out.
- In the USA, the Republican Party is almost completely wiped out. The Democrats take complete control of the Senate and the Secretary of Agriculture becomes the President. The wives of former Republican senators lead a march to the White House, leading to a gun battle in DC.
- Almost all aircraft are grounded, as 95% of pilots worldwide are male.
- Construction activity comes to a standstill.
- Transport, power, communications all collapse.
- All satellites go offline.

There has been no mention of India in the story till now. I'm guessing that if all the men were to die tomorrow, India would not collapse as completely as the Arab countries, but would be more crippled than the Scandinavian countries. Lets try and imagine what might happen if this happened today:

- Sonia Gandhi becomes the PM, declares a state of emergency
- The armed forces collapse, but so do their counterparts in China and Pakistan.
- Some insurgent groups (LTTE, PWG) launch crippling attacks in some states.
- Production falls in almost all sectors
- States such as UP, Rajasthan and Haryana fall into chaos. Women who have never stepped out of the house suddenly find that the responsibility for running the land is theirs and are all at sea.
- Kerala, Mizoram and Goa set up emergency response systems fastest.
- The Communist Parties shut down. Mamata Banerjee becomes West Bengal CM.

I think I'll stop here, but you could go on with many scenarios. None of them are pretty, but its just something interesting to think about.

And now the question to the men now is - would you really want to be the last man alive in a state such as this? Take it from someone who spent three years of his life studying in the best girls' college in India (i.e. the best college for girls, NOT the college where the best girls went) - you REALLY don't.

PS - Y: The Last Man is published by DC Comics under their Vertigo imprint. Its written by Brian K. Vaughan and the paperbacks are available at most bookstores in the USA. And no - I am not getting paid for this - its a public service announcement.