I am letting go of the topic I began this year with, the coming parity between the sexes. I don’t have enough to say yet. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves.
Parting thoughts: violence, revenge, the plan ahead.
Violence: Fine to dream of some deep cultural realignment, but in every nation, every day, women are sexually assaulted (men too but in far smaller numbers). Sometimes they are assaulted because they are weak, but sometimes because they are strong, or at least resolute. War rapes are tools of demoralization. The men who committed the gang-rape and -murder in Delhi, and many other rapists there and elsewhere, are unemployed men with no prospects. They see women making something of themselves and they feel cheated and envious.
But entitled men rape too. High-school star athletes drug a woman to use her body, and think themselves not only in the right but that they can post it online for all to see. Droit de seigneur.
Men have done this violence for millennia. That it is being talked about, that it is making it out to public consciousness, is a sign of women’s rising power. But yes, it will also have to be solved. This is the convenience of fiction. Perhaps I can come up with a world in which it was solved, and then look backward for the solution.
Revenge: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Of course, back when that phrase was turned women had little else but fury; how could it not seep out. One day will resentment erupt in the female unconscious? Anger? Something to poison the well of our comity. It would certainly have the right to do so. In my novel I felt compelled to add that element, in the form of magical escapes that Missy the coven heiress increasingly takes, to the point of addiction. But she is just one woman. I’m talking about the soul of a people and a mutual grievance.
I was reassured by this quote from Tavis Smiley, in an interview about slavery in movies:
Our contribution to the nation is that we didn’t create a black al Qaeda. Look at all that black people have endured and gone through, and then look at the patriots that we have become. That’s the beauty of the black experience. Look at the humanity at the epicenter of the story.
Whatever their full say in our society will come to mean, women already have reaped great rewards and I think they would rather press on than fall backwards. We’re not likely to plan a Truth and Reconciliation commission between the sexes, but that’s just what art and culture are for. Mad Men and Wolf Hall are just the tip of the iceberg of confessing our buried horrors to ourselves. We have so much to bring back out into the light.
Plan ahead: I don’t know exactly how things will play out but for the rest of my life I think America and Asia will diverge in a curiously co-dependent way. Due to sex-selection, when my son is an adult there will be as many Chinese and Indian men without wives as there are people in the United States. Many will idle their way through this social change, or worse as we have seen. But for some, hunger is a motivation. Even the top tenth of a percent of this hungry cohort numbers in the millions, even as global warming guarantees there will be fewer nicer places to live.
Put crudely I think the Western world is in some way going to be Asia’s girlfriend. Perhaps literally, with women births more prized, a reversal on Austen. It’s going to be an unusual time to be an American man. I’m going make sure my son values feminine perspective and feminine friendship, but I’m also going to help him get ready, as a man, for a tough and high-speed world. For a long time men have been the egg of the next generation. They are becoming its sperm.