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The Munk Debates

Caitlin Moran: Women may be the hot new thing, but men still hold most of the power Add to ...

Men are obsolete? Man, that I should be this obsolete: holding 99 per cent of the world’s wealth, totalling 66 of Forbes’ “71 Most Powerful People In The World” list, being every single pope, American president and secretary general of the UN, and in charge of every military force on Earth. If this is men being obsolete, I’m intrigued to see what they will be able to achieve once they’ve downloaded some manner of software update. I mean, men recorded Get Lucky this year, and that was one hell of a catchy record. They are really doing quite well, all things considered.

Of course, I understand the general argument here – that women are, essentially, the hot new thing: crushed and ignored for 100,000 years, the current explosion of female creativity, power, sexuality and will is thrilling. Beyoncé’s new album is out soon, Angela Merkel rules Europe, women outstrip men in academic achievement, and the shifting global labour market increasingly favours someone who can spend ten hours a day wearing a headset, eating Reeses Pieces and making pleasant chitty-chat over someone who can break a pig in half with their bare hands. Whilst men might not currently be obsolescent, the future looks 100-per-cent female.

Except, if true, that would suck as much as when the past was 100-per-cent male. I don’t have many rules in life, other than, “Do not eat feta cheese that tastes ‘fizzy’,” and “Nap whenever possible,” but my big one is: “Be polite.”

All harm and wrong in the world occurs when people forget to be polite. Ladies: Remember how annoyed we were when men said women were obsolete? All those millennia of men treating women like second-class citizens? Remember how we took all that Valium, and essentially self-harmed by getting huge perms?

Well, let’s not now do the same thing to men. Not least because the stats talk of mens’ obsolence are based on don’t doom the kind of men I’d like to be obsolescent (ass-hats in private jets furthering the various sundry causes of dreariness and evil), but, essentially, working-class men. Given that my feminism is a) strident b) fuelled by cocktails and c) Marxist, I’m kind of “not really up for” middle-class women with soaring prospects dumping on working-class men.

Unless! Unless, of course, this talk of men being obsolecent is just a cunning scam by men, that is about to be sprung in households across the world. Men lying on the sofa, going, “Oh love, I’m feeling a bit socially obsolete at the moment – can you put the bins out?”

“I feel all obsolete – there’s no way we can visit your mother.”

In that case, we can afford to be a “bit brisk” with these men.

Anyway, if men do become obsolete, then, as anyone who studies popular culture will tell you, it won’t be for long. Sure, they might be phased out for, like, ten years. You won’t see men anywhere. All the men will disappear. But then, after a decade, some hipsters will discover men in a thrift store, and be all like, “Oh my God, imagine how ironic it would be if I bought this man and put it in my living room! Everyone would be like ‘Wow, I used to have one of these when I was a kid! Amazing!’”

Fast-forward three years, and everyone will be back into men again – they’ll be cooler than ever, and you’ll have to pay more for them on eBay, because they don’t make new ones any more.

My feminism is neither “pro-women” nor “anti-men” but “thumbs up for the seven billion.” It’s a sweet, if troubled, little blue-green planet, and we need every brain on-board steering us to the future. Also, I repeat again: Get Lucky. That was one hell of a song.

Caitlin Moran is a British broadcaster and TV critic who has been writing for The Times since she was 18. She was named Columnist of the Year in 2010 by the British Press Awards and won the BPA’s Critic of the Year and Interviewer of the Year awards in 2011. Her book How to Be a Woman won the Galaxy British Book Awards Book of the Year award in 2011 and was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller. She will be debating with Camille Paglia, a professor of humanities and media sudies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. Her most recent book is Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. Her third essay collection is under contract to Pantheon.

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