In the story there had been a nuclear war, and the only man left alive was Miller, a pacifist and a college professor whose main interests were art, literature and music.
Miller stumbles across what are apparently the only women left alive, several naive teenage school girls under the domination of what Sheckley pretty much describes as a stocky, square-jawed, man-hating lesbian.
This woman, claiming men were the cause of every problem in the world (which I have heard before more than once), drives Miller away with a spear and stones, saying she will learn to reproduce without men and found a better world.
Miller, realizing he can no longer be a pacifist or civilized, picks up a club and heads toward the camp to brain the dyke who tried to kill him. The girls, the last line of the story tells us, are then in for a big surprise.
Apparently the idea that “men are the cause of all the problems in the world” is not a current one, but it has now become the dominant paradigm in the United States.
Not just men, but white men, are supposedly the cause of all the evil in the world. The corollary to this belief is that women are good. You can see this portray in the media all the time, in which men are bumblers and women competent.
This simplistic men bad/women good viewpoint ignores the fact that men are responsible for both a great deal of good and evil in the world – and so are women.
The only feminist I am familiar with who understands all this is Camille Paglia, who although a lesbian, is not a man-hating one and apparently has no axes to grind, unlike the leftist ones who are essentially the founders of modern feminism.
That idea that women and not just men are responsible for good and evil is illustrated in the Hindu myth of Kali, who is both creator and destroyer, just as women are. The closest to a modern version of this myth in the West is the Borg Queen from “Star Trek.”
Also throughout history nature and the earth have always been considered feminine (“Mother Earth”). The corollary to that is the sky is masculine.
My view is that nature is female and civilization is male (all fetuses are originally female until hormones turn some into males). Indeed, without men there would be no civilization. As the humorist P.J. O’Rourke noted, without men civilization would last until the next oil change, and Paglia derided women who denied what men have done as “grass hut feminists” – without men, such women would be living in grass huts.
These days, unfortunately, we are living in a country which is too lopsided toward women – specifically, the bad things women do. Examples: if a pregnant woman wants the baby, it is a human being; if she does not want it, it is not human and can be aborted. Whether or not it is human is based on what she feels. This is lunacy.
Another example: the father has no say in whether or not the baby can be aborted. He has no legal rights. Still another: a woman can have a baby and raise it by herself, even though this is not economically viable and she has to be supported by everyone else (even if she deludes herself she is a “independent woman”).
Society is in fact, in some ways, heading back towards the feminine and nature, and away from the male and civilization. Both men and women are in some ways starting to act more like animals than civilized human beings, i.e., married, monogamous, forming families, gainfully employed.
These destructive things are in many ways the result of leftist feminism, which, like all leftism, wants to destroy, believing all the non-existent Rosseauian goodness of human nature will just pop up. The exact opposite will happen: civilization is a thin skin on top of a bad of unpleasant human nature, and without it all the bestiality of humans will explode. You only need to read the Marquis de Sade to understand this. Or else look at the whole of history.
There has never been a matriarchy in history, but lets imagine if there was one today. We can see the beginnings of it. Many women are unfortunately more concerned with safety than liberty, so they try to remake the entire world so it’s made out of Nerf.
A modern-day matriarchy would be one in which there is no liberty, only safety and security (more accurately, at least the attempt, which ultimately fail); the attempt would be made to turn little boys into little girls through Ritalin and the repression of typical boy-play; and women would have total control over their reproduction, including the lunacies I outlined above.
Marriage would collapse. Many women would not understand why, but blame their problems on men and become bitter, hateful and vengeful. Does this sound familiar?
All of this is happening right now, and it’s clearly not a viable world. In fact, it’s a world going backwards nature and Paglia’s grass huts. Under a matriarchy, civilization would not go forward, but backward, contrary to the hallucinations of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
Many women, of course, don’t want to believe this. It hurts their feelings, as if feelings are the arbiter of reality.
The way things are going now, a lot of men are withdrawing from protecting and providing for women. Why should they? What are they getting in return? Respect and appreciation and gratitude? How about contempt?
If men withdraw from doing these things for women, what might happen? There is also the possibility there might be an attempt, through the force of law, to make them.
Of course, men, who are far more productive than women, are unwillingly being taxed to support women (most especially the ones who have decided to marry the government instead of men). So in a sense men are not exactly slaves, but more like indentured servants - pretty much for life.
Might it get worse? Sure. If a man doesn't work he pretty much starves and has no place to live.
Sheckley's story is not the only fictional attempt at a world without men. John Wyndham's had one called "Consider Her Ways," and Keith Laumer had a funny one, "The War With the Yukks." John Boyd had a novel, Sex and the High Command.
Of course, there have been quite a few fictional attempts at a world without men.
Besant, Walter The Revolt of Man (1882).
Chambers, Robert. The Gay Rebellion (1913).
Johnson, Owen. The Coming of the Amazon (1931).
Beresford, J. D. A World of Women (1913).
Charles Eric Maine World Without Men (1958) (aka Alph, 1972; pseud. for David McIlwain).
L. Sprague de Camp Rogue Queen (1951).
Sam Merwin's The Sex War (1953).
Poul Anderson "Captive of the Centaurianness" in "Planet Stories," March 1952.
Kettle, Pamela. The Day of the Women (1969).
Bruce McAllister, "Ecce Femina!" in "Fantasy and Science Fiction," Feb. 1972.
Thomas Berger Regiment of Women (1973).
Edmund Cooper Gender Genocide (1972) (published as Who Needs Men? in the UK.
Edmund Cooper Five to Twelve (1968).
John Norman's Gor series.
Frank Herbert Hellstrom's Hive (women = socialism = hive societies).
Parley J. Cooper The Feminists (1971).
In nearly all of them, no matter how old they are, women are fascist/socialist, hive-minded, incapable of creating and maintaining a civilization, blame their problems on men, try to enslave them, try to destroy them, try to enslave them and use them for breeding, are cruel and violent, promiscuous...sound familiar?
As Ezra Pound wrote, "The artist is the antenna of the race," and there is the old observation, "Art imitates life."
All the problems we have today, existed in the past. The solutions existed, too. Men fixed them.