In 1729, Jonathan Swift penned a satirical essay entitled "A Modest Proposal," which advocated that poor people decrease their burden on society by selling their children to the rich, to be "stewed, roasted, baked or boiled" for a very delicious meal. In today's tiresome jargon, it would be characterized as a "win-win."
I have a modest proposal of my own, and I'm not being satirical. Until some way can be found to mitigate testosterone's devastating impact on the world, I advocate that males be castrated at birth.
Our world is saturated with violence, ruthless greed, crime, war and pornography. Let's put a stop to this madness, and train women to be "Keepers of the Testosterone." We'll hand out the syringes when we think some societal or personal benefit will be derived from a dose of this many-splendored hormone. Other than that, guys, you'll have to chill out and learn to behave.
Our newscasts used to be about car crashes and convenience-store robberies. Now they're about sex crimes and convenience-store robberies.
Every night on the local news there is at least one, and more often several, stories about infants who have been raped; small children who have been sexually fondled, raped and sodomized; adolescent girls who have been repeatedly assaulted by teachers, coaches or religious leaders; female joggers who were shoved off the path and horrifically brutalized -- first with a penis, then with a crushing blow to the head -- and elderly women -- some of them emaciated, demented or even paralyzed -- being raped, sometimes daily, by nursing-home staff. We could probably devote an entire half-hour every night to local sex crimes and still not be able to fit them all in.
On Sunday, a story surfaced about the "sexually hostile atmosphere" at Yale University, where "sluts" are celebrated, "frigidity" is castigated and sex crimes, including rape, are swept under the rug by the administration. It's been noted that this is really only "news" because it's Yale, and because a Title IX lawsuit might result, but data indicate that sexual harassment and assault are widespread and growing problems on college campuses nationwide.
And then, of course, there are the stories that have been trickling out for several years about the intimidating, hypersexualized atmosphere in the military. Remember the hideous humiliations at Abu Ghraib? They were not isolated incidents -- they were emblematic of how men often behave when they feel unconstrained by the usual rules.
Half of all women in uniform describe ongoing sexual harassment that creates "substantial psychological distress." These women don't dare go out at night to use the toilet without waking someone up to accompany them. One in five women says she has been raped by a fellow soldier, although even the military acknowledges that the number is most certainly higher (in a Christian Science Monitor story last month, over half the rape victims said they didn't report the incident).
In the testosterone-engorged environment of the military, even men are not uncommon targets. According to Newsweek, nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for “military sexual trauma” at the Department of Veterans Affairs last year. These are virtually all heterosexual men who are sexually harassed, assaulted or gang-raped by other heterosexuals "who are motivated by power, intimidation, and domination."
A recent immigrant joined the Army and was gang-raped in his barracks by men who said they were showing him who was in charge of the United States, Newsweek added.
Rape by soldiers -- ours and everyone else's -- has gotten much more publicity in recent years than it used to, but it has always been a part of war. Women's private parts, it seems, are a prized "perk" among the spoils of war. Even the United Nations' peacekeepers have become notorious for raping women and girls. And when you're in a war situation, plain old rape and gang rape aren't always interesting enough. So women are raped with broken bottles and large, rough tree branches, or their sons are forced to rape them, or they are raped with rifle butts and then shot internally.
Thousands of women around the world need treatment for fistulas, which are tears so massive that the urethra and/or anus have been ripped, along with the vagina, into one big hole, so that the woman is constantly leaking urine and feces. Their communal groups exile them for being smelly and tainted.
Testosterone is like some unconquerable pestilence that pours pain and perversion all over everything.
As any woman in a large city will confirm, walking down a major street is like making one's way through a gauntlet of growls, moans, gropes, open-mouthed stares, flicking tongues and remarks that I won't repeat here. Men follow you, plead with you, flatter and eventually threaten you. It is exhausting. It is a constant assault. And it is infuriating not to be able to enjoy a simple stroll on a sunny day. When you get home, and close and triple-lock your apartment door, you feel an immense sense of relief. I usually jumped right into the shower.
This is not inconsequential stuff. It is a major quality-of-life issue for millions of women.
Not to mention domestic violence, and the global sex trade, and sex tourism, often involving toddlers who are "guaranteed virgins."
Is the idea of castration making a little more sense?
Most of my best friends since college have been male. Just last month, a survey indicated that 85 percent of men who have a "close female friend" harbor the hope that the relationship will evolve into a sexual one. On several occasions when I was younger, men whom I regarded as either beloved brothers or father figures got very drunk and blurted out their yearnings for me (one called it "years of torment"). I was devastated at what I had lost, and I felt so betrayed to look back on all of our warm, companionable talks, walks and even weekend getaways. I thought they were my FRIENDS. Are men hormonally incapable of being just friends?
We've all heard the spectacularly bizarre statistics on how often men have sexual thoughts. The most often cited is every 52 seconds, which even I find hard to believe. But even the most conservative and narrow studies indicate that men have sexual thoughts, impulses and fantasies many times every hour.
How many times do we have to hear the same old story about "great men," widely admired for their integrity, godliness and devotion to mankind, losing it all just to get laid? How many times do we have to hear what the multibillion-dollar porn industry is doing to our young men, our "happily married" middle-aged men and even our women -- who feel pressured to conform to the porn aesthetic and "anything goes" expectations?
Let's end this insanity!
I had a wonderful friend in New York, a famous fashion photographer and graphic designer from Vienna. He loved women, hungered for them, was rhapsodic about their scents, textures and flavors. One night over dinner he told me he would be greatly relieved when he got old and his sex drive dissipated. "It is just too much," he told me. "It gets in the way of everything else!"
Think of how testosterone -- which gives us horny, ruthless, power-hungry guys -- affects the realms of finance, capitalism, crime, entertainment, media and politics -- domestic and global. Think how different our lives could be without this hormonal dictator running the world.
Let's take their balls and go home. It couldn't make things any worse.