One of the things that men in the post-industrial western world have had difficulty coming to terms with is the whole idea of redundancy. Where the man was once the bread-winner, it is now often the woman who is the earner in working class areas, as the traditional "female" jobs cleaning and cooking etc. are still there while the male preserves of heavy industry and unskilled labour have contracted. Given that many men of previous generations defined themselves by their jobs (my own father left for work before 7 am and often didn't return home until 8 pm) this has had profound psychological effects as well as economic and sociological ones.
With the backing of the welfare state, many women don't see the obvious need for having a man around, even if he is the father of her children, and some of them are probably better off without the men in question, as they contribute little more than sperm to the making of a child. But that's part of the joys of sexual reproduction... the male produces billions of little swimmers for most of his lifetime so can affort to make his contribution and move on, but the female, having a finite supply of eggs and having the inconvenience of incubating any resultant embryo in her own body has a higher level of reproductive investment in each child. Its generally to her advantage if the male sticks around and contributes to the upbringing of the child, but if he is a deadbeat then perhaps she is better off without him. However, what might be better for the mother is not necessarily better for the child or indeed for society, because research seems to indicate, and personal anecdotal observations would back this up, that the lack of a positive male role model in the lives of many young boys is a significant factor in the social breakdown of certain communities.

But add to this mix the news few days ago that researchers in Newcastle have successfully produced sperm cells from undifferentiated stem cells in the laboratory, and it could soon be that the whole male sex is completely redundant.


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