Six years earlier.
Judith Fenwicky tapped on the microphone to bring the meeting to order. With this group of people, she found it particularly hard to stop them from talking so she coughed loudly. The chattering eventually stopped and the people seated around the large oak table looked to her. She took a deep breath and looked down at her carefully arranged notes.
She left the notes untouched and looked back up directly at her audience. “Scientists, world leaders, and distinguished guests, we have a problem.” She paused, hoping for a dramatic effect, but the guests showed no reaction. Judith was a scientist, not a speaker. “The world has gone through yet another long, devastating and pointless war. I have assembled you here to address this problem.”
“The problem of war?” the Prime Minister of India said with a smirk on her face. “That is quite a lofty goal.”
“My goal is even loftier than that. I seek to address the problem of all violence and aggression.”
Some of the guests sat up straight and leaned forward. Some rolled their eyes and slouched back in their chairs.
“I ask you, what is the cause of all this violence?”
The President of the United States stood and said, “There were a few nations, some represented here today, that threatened aggression toward the free nations of our world. The Unites States cannot—”
“With respect, Madam President,” Judith interrupted, “that was merely a symptom of the problem.” The President was clearly not used to being interrupted and began to speak more, but Judith continued over her. She would lose the room if the President started one of her blathering speeches. “I ask you, what is the problem that caused this war and all wars before it?”
The guests sat silently for a moment.
“Religion,” someone said, but Judith couldn’t see who. She waited for more responses.
“All of these problems have contributed to wars in the past, but none of them have been the single cause of all wars. But I’m not here to speak only of wars. What about the crime that is rampant in our streets? What causes that?”
“That’s easy,” the London Chief of Police said, “Poverty.” Most nodded in agreement with her.
“Poverty causes the desire, but not all poor people resort to violence.” Judith breathed slowly to calm her nerves. “Ladies, I’m asking you to identify the core problem. What is the root of all violence and aggression in our species since before recorded history?”
The assembled women looked around the room. No one responded to her question.
“Men,” she said. “The core problem is men. Aggression. Violence. Wars. All caused by men.” In the next few moments she would either be laughed out of the room or start the next stage in human evolution. “We stand at a unique point in history when three factors have come together to solve this problem, forever.”
“Do you propose to take the aggression out of men?”
“No,” Judith answered. “I propose to take the aggression out of the world. I propose to take the men out of the world.”
“You would eliminate violence with more violence?”
“There will be no violence. I said there are three factors that have come together at this point in history. These factors may never converge again.” She waited for someone to ask. No one did, so she cut her eyes to one of her assistants.
“What are the three factors?” the assistant asked.
She pushed a button to display information on the screen behind her. “The recent series of world wars has radically reduced the population of males.” The screen showed dates and population counts. Each date corresponded to a major conflict and a reduction of the population. Eighty-three percent of the losses were men.
She pushed another button and the screen showed Mars, a green and blue globe. “The terraforming of Mars has made it a habitable world.”
“How is that relevant?”
“Please wait and all will be clear,” Judith said. “And then the third factor, which I will announce tonight. But first, let me ask you, what purpose do men serve? Why do we still need them?”
The women contemplated.
“They’re good at building things.”
“There are just as any many talented female architects, designers and construction workers in the world today,” Judith said.
“They make good soldiers.”
“There are many women in the military. But why do we need armies in the first place?” Judith asked. “We have armies to deal with the violence of men.”
“Sex is a right bit more fun with them involved,” the President of Australia said.
“Exactly,” Judith replied. “And what is the purpose of sex?”
“It’s a great stress reliever. The other night, after a long battle with Congress, I took the First Man and we—”
“Thank you, again, Madam President,” Judith said. “The purpose of sex is reproduction. The last purpose of men is reproduction.”
She pushed the button again and the screen showed a picture of two human cells. “After years of work, my team of biologists, geneticists and chemists have made a change to human egg cells.” She turned and pointed at the screen. “Two altered female eggs cells can be combined to form an embryo.”
The egg cells on the screen combined into one cell, and then began to divide into two and then four and then eight. “Men are no longer needed for reproduction.” She waited for this to sink in.
“I’ll be the first to admit that the process won’t be as fun as traditional reproduction, but it will also mean no more unplanned and unwanted children. Fertilization will be done in controlled labs and the embryo can be implanted into one of the mothers’ uteruses. Since both egg cells contain only X chromosomes, only females will be born.”
No one laughed. No one screamed at her. Not one woman stormed out of the room.
“If they are no longer needed for reproduction, then why do we put up with all their bad characteristics?” Judith asked and nodded to one of her assistants.
“They’re violent,” the assistant said.
“They’re controlled by their sex drive,” a woman said.
“Most of them smell bad.”
Judith let them continue adding to the list. When they finished, a scientist from Russia asked, “How do the first two factors relate?”
“I’m glad you asked,” Judith said. “We have a relatively low population of men. The lowest it may ever be. I do not propose to eliminate the existing men. We can transport them to Mars and let them live out their lives. They can do it in peace or war, but they will not wage their violence on our world again.”
Judith took her glasses off, a move she had rehearsed many times. “Women of the Earth, I propose a new step in our evolution. Men may have been necessary to cause the aggression that was needed to make our species prevail over others, but now the world has been tamed. We can live in peace with each other. We can raise our daughters without fear. No more wars. No more violence. At last, peace on Earth.” Wide-eyed stares met her, and she feared she had lost the chance and made a fool of herself. Then the room erupted in clapping and cheers.
It had begun.
The world leaders began the political campaign and within a year the first ever Earth-wide vote took place. The population, 68% women, had grown weary of the endless war, death and devastation. The referendum passed, and surprisingly even many men supported it.
Judith worked tirelessly with her team to perfect the reproductive techniques. Within five years, they had a reliable system that safely allowed two women to have a daughter. Later that same year, the leaders of the Earth came together in a ceremony to send the last ship of men to Mars. Judith sat among the dignitaries and listened to the speeches.
Judith saw that no armed guards stood to protect anyone. The police functioned simply to organize and direct the crowds. They didn’t even carry weapons.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations began the final speech of the day. “The last purpose that men served has been eliminated, thanks to Dr. Fenwicky.” Judith nodded her head as the crowds of women clapped. “I ask you, what purpose do men serve now, but to kill and destroy? What purpose do they serve?” The Secretary-General’s question echoed off the buildings, unanswered.
The world hardly felt the loss of men. Science prospered without having to focus on weapons, hair loss or erectile dysfunction. Nations redirected the trillions spent on military and police forces into social programs and healthcare.
Judith spent the next year touring the globe, helping to set up reproductive centers. No more children were born from a man’s temporary lust. They came into the world wanted, loved and free from fear.
At the end of the year, Judith returned home happy, satisfied and exhausted. She longed to spend some time alone in her simple one bedroom apartment. She had been sad to send her husband off, but everyone had to make sacrifices. She parked in a parking deck across the street and stared into the dark alley that led to the back entrance of her building.
She had always gone the long way around before, fearing what may lurk in the alley. Now she strode confidently down it and placed her palm on the pad beside the door, standing in a pool of light with her back turned to the blackness.
The door slid open, and she walked down the hallway and into the elevator. She pushed the button for the 22nd floor. The elevator rose and a few seconds later a chime sounded and the door opened. She stepped into the hallway and walked the few steps down to her apartment. She placed her palm on another pad and the door opened for her.
She stepped over the threshold. It felt good to be home. After a few seconds of standing in the darkness, the lights turned on automatically. Everything was exactly as she had left it one year ago. No one had broken in. No man lurked in hiding, waiting to force himself on her.
Judith hung her coat up as her stomach growled loudly. She had slept through the flight and hadn’t eaten the meal. She opened the refrigerator and realized that anything left there wouldn’t be safe to eat. She didn’t feel like going out or even waiting for delivery.
She opened the cabinet and saw stacks of well-organized cans and jars. She picked one of the jars and twisted at the top with all her strength. It did not budge as her thin feminine fingers turned white with strain.
Her screams echoed in the night. She had forgotten their other purpose. They had all forgotten.