Any Other Business: Male Elimination
Authors note: An attempt to envision what it is that Men’s Rights Activists actually believe will happen, when they talk about how the evil Feminists will eradicate masculinity and males.
“Alright then, we’re almost done. Any Other Business?”
The chairwoman tapped the last line on the flimsy on the overhead projector with a carefully manicured fingernail. For a second, the agenda projected on the dilapidated wall was obscured by claw like shadows. Max couldn’t suppress a shiver, but it might have been the broken heater.
He’d have to find some time to fix that. Somehow.
“Yes, I have something.”
It was the hermaphrodite on his left. It…
No. Max caught himself. Xe. Xir pronoun had changed again this morning, and he’d have to get it into his skull. Xe, xe, xe. His back was already smarting with lashes from a correction last week, he mustn’t get this wrong – he couldn’t afford anything that made him slow down, not if they were going to finish repairing the solar cell coverings before the winter storms set in.
Xe received a nod from the chairwoman and cleared xir throat: “I have a modest proposal for the council before we adjourn for yoga.” Xe glanced around the room once, and whet xir lips.
“The final elimination of the males.”
The room quieted down at once, and the chairwoman pursed her lips in thought. The demigirl on her left, Betsy, blinked once, and then laughed uproariously.
“Oh, Petunia. That’s so clever!”
Petunia smiled, looking up through xir eyelashes. “I just think that what with the food shortage and whatnot, it’s time for some bold, decisive gestures from the Feminist Council. Did I tell you how pretty that blouse is, by the way?”
“Yes you did, Petunia, but thanks again.”
Max cast a desperate look across the room. He hadn’t dared speak in the meeting so far – he was really only here because the last bout of illness had downed both his team leader and the Logistics Coordinator herself, and someone had to represent Logistics. But this… Surely someone had to say something?
There were no other males here, unsurprisingly.
The delegates to the Ruling Feminist Council of Mars traded surreptitious glances along the large, round table. There were some nods, some hesitant smiles, and Max could see the consensus growing silently in the room. Debates and discussions were divisive to the unity of the commune, it was always better to take stock of the current feeling and align your opinion with that.
One of the few exceptions to the growing enthusiasm was Jonathan, who had a minute frown on her face. Max sought her eyes, hoping to find a trace of the fellowship they’d once shared. Jonathan deftly avoided his gaze, but after a minute she nonetheless raised a hand.
“A question, ma’am.” At the regal nod from the chairwoman, Jonathan cleared her throat and continued. “Petunia, it might be me not understanding things, but do you mean to propose that the Council remove ‘male’ as a gender option for the entire world commune?”
“Thank you for that excellent question, Jonathan. Yes, you have it right on the money. We just remove it. Solves all the problems that were discussed last session, I think.”
Several of the council people were now nodding openly and demonstratively. The consensus was approaching – it rolled across the room like a subtle, nauseating smell.
“But… but how?” The words were out before Max realized that he’d spoken, and he shrank from the disapproval in the faces around him. He raised his hand, eyes lowered.
“Yes, Max. It is Max, right?”
“Yes, Madam Council President. Max. And I just don’t understand. I apologize for being so blunt. But how would that help?”
How would it help the ageing dome that now barely kept out the howling storms of the half-terraformed planet? How would it help the crop enhancers – they had been state of the art technology when they were brought to the Red Planet by the first colonists, but since no one seemed interested in mechanics any longer, they were slowly rusting away. How would it help the dwindling population – there had been no new pregnancies registered with the council for the Olympos Mons commune in the last year, and only a handful from the other eighteen domes spread around the Basin…
“It’s never wrong to admit that you don’t understand something Max,” Petunia said, and Max noted that xe didn’t get any glares for speaking out of turn. “I’m proud of you for that. You see, there are apparently a lot of problems facing us right now – and by us I don’t mean just us here in the capital, but all over the planet, from what the tech people tell me they hear over their radio and Wi-Fi thingies.” Xe waved her hand dismissively, proud that xe didn’t understand. “Until it switches at the end of the year, Max, this council is the government for United Mars, and we have to find broad solutions that will work in harmonious synergy. Do you understand now?”
Everyone was looking at him. Max could practically feel the points being deducted from the Evaluation Board outside. He wouldn’t eat tonight. He pressed his lips together, a feeling of helplessness washing over him.
Then Jonathan cleared her throat, and Max felt a sliver of hope. Jonathan had lived as a man until just last month, when she’d suddenly had the revelation that she’s been assigned the wrong sex at birth. Max had been more than happy to scrape together what little he could– Jonathan’s wife had been ill for some time, and they had desperately needed the customary gifts that followed such a momentous moment.
Surely Jonathan would say something. They needed to discuss the breakdown in the mysterious computer park that governed so much of the capital, they needed to figure out why the automated farms weren’t sending food the way they used to. The rest of the meeting had been taken up by the new plans for sensitivity training and the preparations for menstrual celebrations, and while Max absolutely recognized the importance of that, absolutely, this point on the agenda, Any Other Business, was the only time where they could get practical matters taken care of. And surely he couldn’t be the only one who saw that.
Also… What would happen to him and the other males?
“That was an excellent explanation, Petunia. I was just wondering about the implications. What would happen to the current males?”
“Oh, there are over seventy other genders to choose from, Jonathan. I’m sure they will all find something.”
“Yes,” interjected Betsy. “And the male gender is so toxic. I don’t understand why people still belong to it. Just look at all those wars all those centuries ago. Technology. Bad. Destroying the Earth.”
The president nodded and turned her eyes to Max. “Max, it’s probably good that you are here after all. Not to put too fine a point to it, but, well, you are listed as male, honey. What gender would you re-register as?”
“Yes, and you’d be able to pick any of them,” Betsy nodded. “Any. You know how important freedom of choice is to us.”
“Being male isn’t something I choose, Betsy. It’s who I am.”
“Well, have you tried not being male?”
Afterwards he didn’t know if it was that last sentence that did it. Or because Karl had just succumbed to the last outbreak of the flu, and now they’d didn’t have anyone left with any kind of real pre-Englightenment tech skills. Maybe it was the fact that he, and a handful of other males, were the only ones who actually did any work on the failing systems and broken infrastructure of the once-proud colony, while most of his neighbours spent their time on literary studies, pacifist meditation and flower arrangements.
Maybe it was simply the way that Jonathan wouldn’t meet his gaze.
Suddenly, he found that he no longer cared. His hunched back straightened, and for once he leaned back and spread out. He let the logistics rapport – carefully penned notes on the most alarming repairs – hit the table with a low thud, and ignored the disapproving titters from the crowd.
“This dome is crumbling. Your world is falling to pieces. In three generations, you have undone every advantage Man had achieved in thousands of years of progress. That technology that you hate so much, you’ve forgotten that it is also what allowed the Founders set out on their interplanetary journey to form their ideal community, free from the patriarchal oppression that had apparently run rampant on the old world. Without technology, without that male drive to build and improve, none of us would be here.”
He laughed at the indignant shouts of the delegates, pushing the table back, uncaring that several carefully orchestrated flower arrangements fell to pieces in the middle. The chairwoman banged her gavel at the table, eyes blazing in righteous anger, but with newfound clarity, Max saw a glimmer of fear in them. He glared back in challenge.
Come one, you old bat. What do you think you can do to me? I could break you in half.
“Order. Order! It is clear that Max Lindason, being male, has a conflict of interest on this point, and I move that he not be allowed to participate in this vote about the elimination of the males. Yes? Yes. We have consensus.”
She turned to him decisively, but faltered when she saw his disbelieving smirk. Betsy, wilfully ignorant as usual, only gloated from her seat across the table.
“Ah yes. I can see that it will be difficult for you to re-register as another gender. Shouting. Violence. Absolute lack of tact and attunement to the opinions of the group. Fact resistant. So very, very male.”
He snorted. “Yes Betsy. I will never be anything but male. And that’s what will keep me alive when this planet finally eats you.”
He didn’t wait for them to muddle through the procedure of exiling him. Sundown saw him by the eastern airlock, carrying nothing but a backpack, a sturdy length of pipe and the breathing mask and storm cloak that would let him cross the Basin. The air out there was breathable, but very thin – a small layer of life forced on the Red Planet by Man’s great terraforming machines. They still circled somewhere high above in orbit. Before he died, Karl had said that he thought it was only another decade before the process would be complete. The domes would have failed by then, crushed under the sheer incompetence of its population.
But he would be here.
Max, David’s son, would tame the Red Planet with his bare hands if he had to.
He was a Man, and no one would ever be able to take that away from him.