Men: useless, but for whom?

Reflections on the thesis that men have become useless: first I will say that it is false, then I will say that it is true and finally that it is very, very significant. Embarrassing. That humans have become useless is an assertion that has no foundation and no verisimilitude whatsoever. Despite universal mechanisation, increasing automation and the invasiveness of machines and devices, men’s contribution to economic life is still crucial and irreplaceable. In the primary sector, fishing, forestry and mining are still areas of absolute male monopoly, while agriculture and livestock breeding have a minority of women. All heavy industry, all construction and transport are also the domain of men.

The construction and maintenance of all networks is in male hands: roads, motorways, railways, ports, airports, aqueducts, gas pipelines, sewers, power and telephone lines. These are heavy, risky and outdoor activities. This is the realm of man, which is such by nature, let’s be clear, for the reasons set out in the previous article. Moving the needle from this side to the safe and protected professions (and therefore essentially carried out indoors) the number of women increases steadily and explodes in some sectors (health, education, banking…). Trivial observations that make a mockery of the idea of male uselessness. This truth is underlined by the disproportion between the official number of deaths at work (96.5%), to which must be added the deaths “outside work” in productive activities carried out on their own, such as the recent case of the four killed by the vapours of must. All this is purely economic and material, leaving aside the psychological one. Useless where?

Faced with such a picture, one wonders how the very idea of man’s attained uselessness could have arisen. And yet there are reasons for this, and they are prospective. In its impetuous development, technology has reduced in every sector of productive life, and in some fields has already completely eliminated the need for the application of male intensive force. Countless examples can be given. There used to be dockworkers (the notorious ‘dock loaders’): now cranes are operated from the control room with a joystick like toys, the stuff of children. The trend is accelerating and the outlook is clear: we are moving towards the total abolition of all need for muscles, sweat and, to a large extent, the male propensity to take risks. In this certain prospect, the robotic future will swallow up the present, and the bright era of… the end of men… appears before us. The end of men. They still do a little, it is true, but the expiry date is looming. Useless.

In the same sense, another perceptive squint operates. In everyday life, the typically male work is only marginally seen, and only if one wants to see it. If you do not call the carpenter, if you do not need the mechanic, if the boiler does not break down, you may well think that you do not need men, or rather no one. What we possess was conceived, constructed and arranged in due time far from our eyes, and if nothing breaks down, we can climb the throne of presumption and arrogance, thinking that we need no one. One can finally shout: “Better alone, lonely!”. If we happen to see bricklayers on a scaffold (a privileged place for catcalling), or on the road with a jackhammer, or driving a lorry, educated by half a century of feminism, we think that there are indeed males there, but there could be females. They would be there if patriarchal ‘gender roles’ and ‘stereotypes’ did not prevent them from being there. All we have to do is wait for the end of patriarchy to see female truck drivers unloading rods. These are the reasons behind the triumphant cry: “Useless, you are useless!”.

lavoratore uomini impalcature

This cry is echoed by many pro-psychologists and scientists, including Telmo Pievani, who traces the ridiculous uselessness of the male back at least to the Cenozoic era. And this is where the fun comes, because the question immediately arises: useless to whom? Superfluous for whom? They cannot be useless to themselves, so if they are “useless” they are useless for females. The yardstick for men is therefore given – what do you know – by the utility that women derive from it, it is the benefits that they obtain that determine the value of this part of the world, of this half of the earth. The right to be here depends on the usefulness of it to the better half of mankind, and so, having become useless to it and therefore cumbersome, it is left to those concerned to draw the necessary conclusions: is it not time to leave? If only what is useful to the white woman of the Western affluent class has the right to exist, what are we doing here? “Useless!”, voice from the empathetic and loving heart of feminism. Let us meditate, boys, let us meditate. I meditate.

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