The New Year explodes with dire prophesies for men and women and their mating patterns. If they're correct, or even close to it, the lot of men will not be a happy one -- nor will the women who love them (and want one of their own).
That future, in fact, is almost here. In their failure to appreciate the biological differences obvious to most of us, second- and third-wave feminists have downsized men and denigrated their values, forging a radical imbalance in the way the two sexes relate to each other. Women surpass men in formal education, and the male and female elites of the upper economic brackets compete with each other in courtroom, boardroom -- and, inevitably, in the bedroom.
The traditional divisions of labor among working-class men and women have gone from bad (and bed) to worse in the recession as service jobs favor women. Jobs that once required heavy lifting are gone with Detroit's emblematic bankruptcy, and President Obama's promised shovel-ready jobs never arrived in the numbers he said we could count on. Role reversals abound where PowerPoint dominates.
Camille Paglia, a prominent feminist critic and unhappy prophet of heterosexual doom, thinks we're watching civilization commit suicide. She warns her sisters they must beware, lest they turn themselves into Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks and pit vipers, who will have to clone themselves by parthenogenesis if they are to reproduce themselves.
"Is it any wonder," she asks, "that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life?" These questions have been asked before, of course, but never with such growing urgency as women debate male abdication of responsibility to them.
The metaphor of the popular movie "Her" is the stalemate in male-female relationships posed for the near future. "Her" is about a computer geek -- the actor Joaquin Phoenix actually looks like one in the movie -- who has a love affair with a highly advanced computer operating system. He gets paid for writing letters in purple ink for others. He's tongue-tied to a machine when he's speaking for himself.
The voice in the computer is called Samantha and belongs to Scarlett Johansson, conjured in imagination by Theodore, her geek lover. Her sotto voce voice is silky, smooth and sexy, and she reads Theodore's emails and gains electronic omniscience. She straightens out his filing system, too. She confesses she has 8,316 other conversations going, and she's in love with 641 others. She loves him most, of course.