When New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asked, "Are Men Necessary?" in the title of her funny book critiquing today's gender-confused culture, I took the question to be a rhetorical play on E.B. White and James Thurber's "Is Sex Necessary?"
I wrote in response that, yes, men are necessary, if not to certain women, then certainly to children, who, despite the creative inventions of many modern mothers, seem to love their daddies.
At least they love the idea of Daddy, since so few children these days get to have a real one. A third of all American children are born to unwed mothers and half will sleep tonight in a house where their biological father does not live.
This past Sunday, the New York Times was replete with stories that answer both Dowd's question and that posed by Thurber and White. Not only are men not necessary, but neither is sex in many cases.
The cover story of the Times' Sunday Magazine, for instance, was headlined "Looking For Mr. Good Sperm" and featured women who have given up on Mr. Right and are searching instead for a good vial of sperm.
Another Times story was about "virtual visitation," which allows absent dads to stay in touch with their kids through instant messaging and webcams. A third told the plight of unwed fathers powerless to block the adoption of their babies.
Finally, the fourth was a first-person narrative by a woman who married and had a child with an incarcerated murderer, whom she later abandoned. The dad, not the baby.
While such distilled summaries can't tell the whole story, the unspoken essence is that women have all the power when it comes to children, and men are only as good as their sperm count.
The most potent of these stories was the one about Mr. Sperm, as it underscored how Techos is winning the war against Eros, and leaving us spiritually poorer for the victory. In one particularly chilling segment, women went looking for specific features in sperm donors to achieve a certain look in their children.
Our embrace of superficiality is rarely so vividly displayed as when an African-American woman chose a Latino donor so her child would have lighter skin and nonkinky hair. A Jewish woman opted for a 6-foot-2 German/Catholic with blond curls and blue eyes in order to avoid Jewish traits she found unappealing and, one can't help proposing, to make a point her therapist can sort out.