Nicole Hollander then answered her own question: “There’d be no crime and a lot of fat, happy women.”
I have to admit that I found it kinda funny. Now, however, let’s do it… let’s ruminate a bit on the possibility of a world without men.
No men in the world.
First and easiest: As soon as the first hurricane rolls around, we’d desperately wish they were back.
Oops… maybe that Great Banishment was just a bit ill-considered! Maybe we should have just enslaved them! 🙂
So, after the hurricane, we’d undo whatever we did to banish men, and un-banish them, right? Just for long enough either to build walls big enough, and dwellings strong enough, and city infrastructures solid enough, to withstand hurricanes (and earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, tornadoes)… or else to move our sorry female backsides out of Florida. Right? And out of Texas, and Louisiana, and California, and the midwest states… We’d all move back to Connecticut, or Ohio, or Michigan, or New York State, or Pennsylvania. Until, that is, the first blizzard knocks out power, and we get cold.
Stupid, useless men! They protected us from bears, wolves, mountain lions, bugs and snakes, but they didn’t bother to tame Mother Nature! Typical men! Only doing half the job!
And, yes, crime would diminish. At first. But, then the “Law of All Creature Interactions“(1) would take over. And if you take this immutable law of nature into effect, as George Orwell did in his great work Animal Farm, you realize that crime rates over time likely would not change much. Not even violent crime rates!
On thinking about it for just a bit, one realizes that, absent men, those women most prone to violent crime wouldn’t find any male obstacles in the path of their acting on their worst impulses. Would these now fat, happy women act on those violent impulses? Duh!
However, let’s imagine that men have vanished, or been banished, and Mother Nature now smiles on us — probably because those nasty men are gone! — what next? Well, we’re all fat and happy, that’s for sure! All those nasty, pains-in-our-glutes, stupid, brutish men are gone! Thank goodness!
Boy, I sure hope the toilet never backs up! Or the septic tank in the back yard. And surely the roads will never get potholes, right? Our driveway will never need to be shoveled, because the woman driving the snowplow will be happy to do it for free for us, right? Oh, wait… she’s fat now. She doesn’t want to get out of bed to go and do driveways. No problem! I’ll just wait a few days to get out and go to the store to pick up some things.
Wait… what’s this? The shelves at the store are pretty bare! Oh, that’s right… the fat, happy women aren’t running the heavy farm equipment, slinging the bales, doing the heavy, sweaty, hard work that harvests the crops to fill our stores’ shelves.
We learned all that just before the local and national television stations went off the air… because there were no fat, happy women maintaining the local or national wires and pipes, poles, stanchions, transformers, cables, power stations, and satellite support systems that used to allow us to learn at a moment’s notice what was going on next-door and around the world.
And another thing… we’re hearing rumors that the state next door has it even worse than we have it, and they’re sending raiding parties of fat, happy women across their border to steal food and other essentials from our fat, happy women!
What the hell?!?
Well, we’ll show them! We’ll just do the same thing! And we’ll equip our fat, happy women with better weapons than what those other ones have! Gee, I kind of wish our women were a little less fat, and a bit more fierce and intimidating!
We hear frightening rumors that this kind of thing is going on all around the world. Of course, we can’t tell for sure, because they’re only rumors. If only someone would fix the telephones and the television and the internet! Apparently there are fat, happy women who understand what needs to be done to fix it all, but there just aren’t a whole lot of fat, happy women willing to do the stuff that will actually fix it all!
There’s another problem… my washing machine and dryer have worn out, and there are really few fat, happy repair women around. They’re all booked for months in advance. Also, my water system isn’t working well at all. And, there are so few fat, happy plumbers — and they’re booked months in advance too. My microwave’s dead too, and my gas stove stopped working long ago.
I had a fat, happy friend, who’s kinda handy, look at my plumbing, and she said she wasn’t even sure my plumbing was attached to a working system anyway! She’s gone now. She disappeared in the turmoil. I miss her.
So, nowadays I wash my clothes in a nearby stream, and I shower there too. In the summer. I don’t really have to shower in the winter, right? Sometimes, I have to fight off other fat, happy women coming to use my stream.
I found a gun the other day, when I broke into a neighbor’s house. I hadn’t seen candles in her windows for a while, so I don’t know where she went. I don’t know how to use the gun, but it sure scares the fat, happy women who want to use my stream when I point it at them, and they scram but fast!
I had a flat tire the other day… my phone wasn’t working, and I tried to flag down a couple of motorists. These fat, happy motorists snarled at me that I should change my own damn tire. I left the car on the side of the road and walked home.
It’s a good thing I like my clothes, because I can’t drive to Target anymore. I’m not even sure Target’s still open. Sometimes I go out and find clothes in other houses. I keep track of places where candles haven’t been seen for a while, and I go into those. The clothes rarely fit, and they’re usually dirty, but they’re clothes, right?
I find food and other good things at these people’s houses too, and that keeps me going. The problem is that other fat, happy women like me have found lots of these houses too. And sometimes there are still fat, happy women living there, and there have been deaths. We can’t do much about that, and we just kind of let the ones who killed the other ones get rid of the bodies. Rumor has it that frequently the fat, happy woman who killed the other fat, happy woman just drags her body out to the back and lets the local fauna dispose of it.
No one goes into the cities anymore. Rumors are that the cities are places of rampant death, violence, stench and horror. Apparently the fat, happy women there seem to be involved in pitched battles to survive and to seize power.
There are signs that things are changing for the better here in the suburbs, though. There are small groups of fat, happy women getting together to protect themselves and the members of the group from outside marauders and criminals who would disrupt our fat happiness. They’re collecting guns and other weapons, and we think that the more members we have, the better. There’s strength in numbers, after all!
We’ve elected a leader. She’s JoAnne from a few streets over. She’s tough, big, strong, loud, young and we kind of felt that if we didn’t elect her our leader, then she’d simply make herself the leader. We hope she’ll be a good leader, and we hope she’ll protect us from the outsiders. She asked us to call her “First Woman,” because, she said, she would be simply “first among many equals.”
We don’t know where they’re coming from, but now the raiding parties come a lot more frequently. It’s a rare week that we don’t hear of someone being raided, and hurt, and sometimes killed. We asked JoAnne — she wants us to call her Jo — for permission to build some barriers around our small group so that we might have some more protection. she said sure, and helped us build the wall. A wall. It was a pile of barrels, wire, stakes in the ground, junk and anything we didn’t need that was lying around. It didn’t help a lot though, unless we posted guards armed with various weapons.
There are fires now. And if a fat, happy woman has a fire, and she can’t put it out, then she becomes a fat, happy, homeless woman… along with her children, if she has any.
It’s not safe to go out at night anymore, because that’s when you have a good chance of encountering a gang of fat, happy, homeless women foraging for food or shelter. Stories of fat, happy, homeless women taking over the homes that belong to other fat, happy women are common… and they’re true.
Jo even said this is a good thing. After all, she said, when there were men, they didn’t care about anyone else, so they would have kept these homeless women out. Some of us wondered whether these women would even be homeless if there had been men around in the first place to put out the fires. We didn’t say it though.
Jo formed a “Committee for Safety” and she put the biggest, toughest, least fat women on it. It was a scary committee, and no one dared question it. If you were to question it, you might even disappear, or you might find yourself fat, happy and homeless, as a previously homeless woman or family took your home.
We named our collective of fat, happy women Librefem. It’s pronounced LEE-bray-fem, and Jo says it means “Free Woman,” and she said she liked it, so we voted and it was unanimous. Before, there usually weren’t unanimous votes, but that seems to be all we have now.
At the last community meeting, Jo said that maybe we should also start spreading the word that we have a … man. Yep. You read that right. Doesn’t matter that, you know, no one had even seen a man in years, but, if we had a, well, a man, then who knows what we could do! Everyone knows a man is strong, fast, tireless, brutal, cruel, merciless, violent… a real berserker.
If we could get the word out that our community of fat, happy women were in possession of, and controlled, a man, then the other groups would quail before our power! Besides, we’ve heard rumors — nothing more than unfounded rumors — that other groups have men too. We’re not sure how true that is, because as everyone also knows, we got rid of men a while ago, so that we could all be fat and happy. And we surely are fat and happy. We have to be, or else…
Jo said that we needed to put anything that could be used as a weapon “in common.” We had to give her and the Committee for Safety all our metal and serrated knives, but Jo let us keep our plastic knives. We didn’t have a lot of food to use the metal knives with anyway, so no one complained much about it. Jo said that we didn’t need the weapons personally, because people could get hurt with them, and we could use them to defend our collective against all outsiders.
Of course Jo outlawed guns. She said that there were no men around anymore, so why would anyone need guns? Hard to say anything against that, am I right? 🙂 Jo asked why anyone would need a gun… after all, she said, women would never need to use a gun against another woman, and there were no men. So, I gave up my gun to the Committee for Safety, who now had hundreds of them. Jo said that was a good thing, because now she, and the Committee, were better equipped to protect us. Some suggested that we might need protection from closer to home, but never in public, and never out loud.
Jo changed how she spelled her name. It’s “Joe” now. She says that she likes the extra letter… makes her feel stronger, she says. Just an extra little letter. Seems pretty silly at first glance, huh? But as I think of it. “Joe” does seem just a bit stronger than “Jo.”
She and I spoke once before a meeting of the Executive Council. She said that if we use the “e” after her name, then people who don’t know her, might think she’s a man, and that would give us a strategic advantage. Even though everyone knows that men are gone now. Joe says that’s true, but why not let others wonder. So, we started to write “Joe” instead of “Jo,” and we let it hang out there, and we figured we’d let the other fat, happy women living in the the other collectives and communes around us wonder what it all meant. And we started to spread the rumor that we had a man.
Eventually — it was inevitable — we heard talk that other groups around Librefem were talking about The Man of Librefem, and about how he was more brutal, more cruel, harsh, bloodthirsty and merciless than any of the men who had disappeared in the Great Banishment. This allowed us some breathing room from raids from the outside, and our little collective seemed, briefly, to be safer and more secure.
Our little cooperative is better off than most. We live close to a big warehouse labeled Shop Rite. This massive building contains mountains of cans of food and other essentials that we can use to feed and maintain our people.
The Committee for Safety controls access to this building. They’re heavily armed and they prevent anyone except Joe and the other members of the Committee from going inside to see the vast wonders contained therein.
Joe and the Committee dole out food according to the Book of Deeds and the Book of Needs.
You and your children are in the Book of Deeds according to what you can contribute to our community. If your kids are young, vigorous and strong, then your family is expected to contribute more each week, and the Book of Deeds lists you and the vital weekly responsibilities you owe to the collective. The Book of Needs contains a basic list of the things that each fat, happy woman should obtain each week. She receives that basic basket of needs according to whether or not she has fulfilled her quota in the Book of Deeds that week.
But be careful! If you’re ever sick, and can’t work for a day or two, then you might not be able to fulfill your weekly quota, and your “needs” get docked accordingly. No one wants to be docked, because even if you overfulfill your quota, you won’t get more than your needs. After all, we have equality! Because men are gone.
There were rumors of strange goings-on underneath the roof of the great Shop Rite building, but no one could ever confirm or deny them, because The Committee controlled the entrance.
Someone, her name was Nan, I think, once said, “Why not let people go in and look around? Then we can tell everyone that there’s nothing unusual going on, and that we’ve seen it ourselves.” Nan had always been a “true believer.” She was always one of Joe’s most enthusiastic and vocal supporters and always applauded the most loudly when Joe made an important policy pronouncement.
Joe said, though, that Nan’s idea was unnecessary, because the Committee was in charge of what happened under that roof, and didn’t we trust them? We looked around at the Committee and realized immediately that we trusted them. We also quickly moved on to a new topic.
At the end of that Collective Togetherness Gathering — our new term for our group meetings — First Woman Joe said that she would let members of the Committee walk through the building and report back to the people of Librefem. They did that, and reported back that all that was going on under the Shop Rite roof was in the best interest of Librefem. Nan disappeared shortly after the Collective Togetherness Gathering, and was never seen again.
As I said above, along with getting rid of men, we implemented equality. That means that no woman can have or earn more than any other woman. Joe said it was only natural. Inequality, she said, was something that men brought about. She almost spat when she said the dirty word, “men.” Women, she said, are better, so they don’t have greed or competitiveness, and they’d never want to have more than any other woman, so equality was simply the proper, the normal way for things to be.
Joe once said that raids from outsiders were becoming more and more common, and she was thinking that it might be a good idea to call the “Committee for Safety” something like the “War Council,” or the “Defense Group” or something like that. Something that might make us seem more prepared to defend ourselves against the outsiders.
Also, Joe said, we were approaching the end of the supplies in the great Shop Rite building. That seemed pretty scary to us, because we all knew that was where all our food came from.
Joe asked us to approve the formation of “Exploratory Brigades.” These Exploratory Brigades would go out beyond the borders of Librefem and see whether they could locate and bring back stuff from other places.
We knew that there were other settlements of fat, happy women all around the country, but also that vast swathes of the country had been abandoned because of the threats from natural disasters and wild creatures.
It was rumored, for example, that the entire region of California was all but deserted, but that crops were plentiful because the climate was just right. However, the area had a lamentable tendency to earthquakes, so we fat, happy women got the hell out because who needs that?!?
We heard many of the same things about the region of Florida. Warm, inviting, sweet weather! Palm trees, oranges, almost never any snow — don’t get me started on snow! — what a beautiful place it must be! But none of us knew how far away it was! And we were all afraid of having to traverse whatever distance it was without some serious protection. The protection that Joe and her Committee of Safety — or War Council, as it was now known — offered to us every day.
The problem was that we were in what had previously been called “Connecticut,” and the thought was that California, or Florida, was very far away. We didn’t know this for sure, because our schools had taught us the vital subjects like “Women’s Studies” and “Gender and You,” and “What Woman Are You?” and “Are You Even a Woman?” and the like… shedding fluff like “Geography,” “Math,” and other useless trivia. The educational nonsense that we discarded was known to be “mannish” stuff. What an ugly word! We used that awful word to describe anything that was brutish, thug-like, stupid, primitive, un-evolved, undesirable, or that went against our collective.
Joe and her colleagues atop what she now called The Supreme Council said that they would investigate the mannish subjects to see whether there was anything important in them. She, or Vice-Chairfem Pat (Joe was no longer the “First Woman” as was her first title, but the “Chairfem.”), periodically came back and reported that there was nothing there of any interest to us.
It seemed as if it would have been nice to know, though, just how far California or Florida was. I mean, I’d have liked to know… just out of curiosity. Joe had explained once, though, that curiosity was mannish, and we weren’t supposed to exhibit any.
Anyway, we approved the Exploratory Brigades — unanimously — and we sent them out to… well, to explore. The first two brigades never came back, and we never heard from them again. Later rumors said they had located the great, golden land of California months later, and had simply chosen to stay there, settle down and start new collectives. Other rumors were more sinister. One had it that the first Brigade went out, and was set upon nearly immediately by hordes of fat, happy women who slaughtered them and ate them.
The third Exploratory Brigade, though, went out and came back with reports of vast tracts of uninhabited lands — west of what we now called, simply, Backeast — where the lands were like prairies, and abounded with vast herds of buffalo. These buffalo, said the Exploratory Brigade’s leader — Jean — were good eating, if you were able to catch them, kill them and cook them.
The Brigade had originally set out with twenty fat, happy women, and returned with only eight. Twelve fat, happy women had succumbed to starvation, other raiding parties composed of other fat, happy women, or wounds suffered hunting buffalo. The returning fat, happy women said that the going would be really tough, but that there was plenty of food, even if obtaining that food was particularly dangerous.
As a collective, we voted — unanimously — to disband the Exploratory Brigades forever. Joe even suggested that we decree that the very term “explore” was mannish and should never be used again. We voted unanimously to expunge the term “explore” from our vocabulary.
The woman, Toni, who had first suggested that we form the Exploratory Brigades, disappeared mysteriously after the vote to disband. Some said that she’d killed herself; some said that she was murdered by… well, next topic.
This became our reality. It was a fat, happy reality. We women never worried about the brutishness of men anymore, and we understood that it was important to say that our lives were contented and fulfilled. Our lives were contented and fulfilled.
But… now there were ugly rumors. If only, some said, we could get men back, things would be better. Men were stronger, some said, and it seems, nicer, wiser, less prone to violence, more stable… some were whispering that men were … better people. We don’t say that out loud, because that means death.
But, you know, I’ve heard of these… men. I’ve heard whispers from some women that they once knew men… before the Great Banishment, before scientists figured out how to make more people without, without… well, I shudder even to think of it! And I won’t say it! Without what some have called The Great Joining. Why on earth we woman would want to … join with a man is completely beyond me! Have you heard what’s involved?!?
So, leaving that aside, I do wonder what it would be like to be enfolded in the grip of someone whose first and foremost desire is to protect me. Man! it seems like it would be a nice thing! To sleep a worry-free night, safe and sound, knowing that someone much bigger than I am is there, and that he cares deeply about my happiness and my safety? Wow!
Ever since the Great Banishment, though, I haven’t had that for even a moment, let alone one entire night.
Maybe, we should let men come back…
(1) I just formulated it, and here’s a first hack at some wording for it: The biggest eventually take over and eventually establish a hierarchy pretty much like what you see everywhere.
The definition of “biggest” can mean — largest in size, or something more abstract. Like: the one, or ones, with the biggest brains, or the one, or ones, with the biggest weapons, or some combination of factors, which result in the ability of one individual or group to establish some kind of hierarchical (power?) superiority over another.