Ive been here before, with the lesbians and the turkey basters. Every time theres a fertility story like this some people get jumpy about men being wiped out
When I heard the news that stem cell scientists have managed to create an artificial version of sperm in the laboratory from embryonic cells, and used it to create healthy baby mice, I recalled the opposition to lesbians using sperm donors and a turkey baster to reproduce back in the 1980s. Men, and sometimes other women, would ask if this was the beginning of the end of men.
I took part in a TV debate about lesbian mothers at the time, and was asked by the host whether the male race would die out because all we would need would be sperm banks.
I was always quite puzzled at how these critics thought we would be able to prevent male babies from being born via this method, but I understood the wider point that men were feeling insecure about not even being needed, at least directly, in the pregnancy process.
Although the latest breakthrough appears to have been about helping men whose fertility is damaged by cancer treatment, mumps or other problems that prevent them from producing sperm, tall tales of man-hating feminists with an agenda to wipe out men usually pop up from somewhere.
Men can be sensitive creatures. Last year I made a joke in an interview in response to the question, What can we do to end male violence?, a campaign I have been involved with since 1979. I replied, jokingly, that if men could not learn to behave themselves, it might be a good idea to put them into an enclosed space, modelled a bit like a holiday camp, with a choice of quad bikes, white vans or bicycles. Female partners, mothers and friends could visit, and take them out like a library book, returning them at the end of the day. This would continue, I suggested, until men could learn to behave better towards women.
Within hours of the interview going online, mens rights groups were accusing me of wanting to put men in Nazi concentration camps. And they say feminists are the ones with no sense of humour.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked by men how on Earth lesbians manage to have sex without a penis. They seem to assume this body part is essential in the sack, and yet research as far back as 1976 suggests that it may not, even for many straight women, be all it is cracked up to be.
Maybe this goes some way towards explaining the paranoia from some men that we are always looking to get rid of them especially when so many lesbians have learned to do their own DIY. Look, for example at the brilliant women-only plumbing service in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, named Stopcocks.
Then there is the widely accepted fact that far too many men do little more as fathers than donate sperm. Even those who stick around can be pretty useless. My mum used to say she had four children her three offspring and my dad.
Women do, as we all know, get sick of men on occasion. We live under a patriarchal system in which men commit acts of sexual violence that we are subsequently blamed for. They start wars, leave their socks on the floor, and dont do enough childcare. I have heard more straight women than lesbians suggest that a world without them would be an improvement, probably because they are the women spending their lives with the irritating creatures.
There have been attempts at women-only lands, and increasing numbers of women are opting to have babies without the direct involvement of men. Men had better buck up their ideas, or it wont be enough that they can often open jars and get the BBQ going.
I dont want a world without men, but I would like them to behave better. Do we need men? They can be a monumental pain in the backside, but even I have to admit, they can be very entertaining.
Read more: www.theguardian.com