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Philip Wylie's "The Disappearance"...What Would You Do?

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    mbuggiehposted 2 years ago

    According to the cover flap of  a recent edition of Philip Wylie's 1952 science fantasy/science fiction novel THE DISAPPEARANCE:

    "On a lazy, quiet afternoon, in the blink of an eye, our world shatters into two parallel universes as men vanish from women and women from men. After families and loved ones separate from one another, life continues in very different ways for men and women, boys and girls. An explosion of violence sweeps one world that still operates technologically; social stability and peace in the other are offset by famine and a widespread breakdown in machinery and science. And as we learn from the fascinating parallel stories of a brilliant couple, Bill and Paula Gaunt, the foundations of relationships, love, and sex are scrutinized, tested, and sometimes redefined in both worlds. The radically divergent trajectories of the gendered histories reveal stark truths about the rigidly defined expectations placed on men and women and their sexual relationships and make clear how much society depends on interconnection between the sexes."

    What do you think would happen to our world---particularly the United States, if in an instant the world of men included no women and the world of women included no men? If we suddenly and without explanation of any kind found ourselves in single-sex societies?

    1. bBerean profile image59
      bBereanposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Do we quote the Flintstone's theme song, "we'll have a gay old time", or depending on your orientation do we quote the Eagles, "this could be heaven or this could be hell"?  wink

      1. gmwilliams profile image86
        gmwilliamsposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        That would be the definition of hell for me.  We need both sexes in socety.  Variety is the spice of life.  Single sex societies would be too monotomous for me.

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          mbuggiehposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Wylie, writing in the 1950s, also suggests that things we take for granted would be disrupted in a uni-sex society.

          He posits, for example, that an all-male society would populated by ill-fed and unkempt males; would be at first lawless and then ultimately totalitarian.

          He posits, a female society as bereft of the kinds of knowledge needed to make any society work; knowledge such as manufacturing, farming, law enforcement; would be at first incapacitated by its lack of knowledge, but eventually reorganize and function as a democratic and egalitarian society.

          1. MizBejabbers profile image91
            MizBejabbersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            Does he really think women would be helpless! That sounds like the hypocrisy of the 1950s. A society of helpless women? So soon he forgets Rosie the Riveter, the women's ferry pilots of WWII, and other courageous and stalwart women who held down the industries and kept the factories running as well as the home fires burning while their men were fighting overseas. He forgets the stalwart women who helped their men tame the frontier, like sodbusters and hill farmers. Some even farmed by themselves without a husband or man around. Without them this country could never have moved westward. He was clueless as to the future when women would break the glass ceiling and work on Wall Street, in other big corporations, drive heavy equipment, and work on highway crews. I hope he has lived to see this day.
            Oh, yeah, how could it be egalitarian if it were only women?

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              mbuggiehposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              Yes...Wylie was accused many times of being misogynistic, but I am not convinced of this even after reading "The Disappearance".

              After reading the book, I suspect that while he harbored an opinion of women typical of men AND women of his generation, he also saw women as a strong civilizing force; a strong moral force without which men cannot function.

              And, after reading the book, I was also struck by how open he was---contrary to typical women and men of his generation, to female sexuality as distinct from male sexuality and as central to women's lives; a sexuality divorced from romance and maternity.

              Interesting read.

            2. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              And yet there is truth there, too.

              How many women work the oil rigs in the gulf?  Can more be trained before the oil stock run out?  How many work in the refineries, turning the nuts and bolts? 

              How many women engineers are there?  Women capable of teaching engineering?  Can more be trained before the food runs out? 

              The point is that there are lots and lots of jobs (construction, oil, electrical distribution {how many female linemen are there capable of rebuilding the electrical grid by climbing those massive steel towers}, engineering of all kinds, auto mechanics, tire stores) that women can handle but the sex is grossly underrepresented at current levels.  That means that those jobs will go unfilled for months to years while people are trained; months and years that society doesn't have.  I mean, how long can you wait to replace a power line hit by a drunken driver, when that line provides power for a million people?

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                mbuggiehposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Exactly---and this was particularly true in the early 1950s when the book was written.

                What is interesting is that Wylie has no faith in men to maintain a free society; no faith that men would be able to maintain a democratic society without women to provide some moral underpinning to such a society.

                Wylie posited women as living and breathing moral compasses whose absence makes it impossible for men to maintain not only a democratic society but everything that goes with it such as public education.

                1. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Yes, in the 50's it was even worse, although for some time after WWII women held a lot of factory jobs.  Still, the heavy outdoor work just has not attracted many women, ever.

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        mbuggiehposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Why would you think that in a uni-sex world the automatic response of humans would be a turn to homosexuality?

        Wylie suggests that while some people will engage in opportunistic homosexuality, most will not because they cannot as human sexual orientation is "hard-wired" and not as fluid as we might like to think.

        Wylie also suggests (writing from the 1950s) that a uni-sex world might open up spaces for homosexual visibility and even---at some level, a certain level not of disdain, but of jealousy, of homosexuals in a uni-sex world.

  2. MizBejabbers profile image91
    MizBejabbersposted 2 years ago

    It reminds me of a song we used to sing in grammar school:

    Reuben, Reuben I've been thinking,
    what a grand world this would be
    if the men were all transported
    far beyond the Northern Sea.

    There certainly would be no balance in the world. I don't know about the homosexual thing, however, there seems to be enough of it in our segregated prisons. I wonder if the microcosm would turn into the macrocosm.