“If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.” — Camille Paglia
Thus the doyenne of contrarian-libertarian feminism. In my sourer moments, I’d tend to blame her mentor Harold Bloom for this sort of off-the-cuff bombast. But Bloom is dead and, frankly, he was too dyspeptic and diffident to blame for any of Paglia’s fevered rantings. Still, a generous-minded sort, I wonder if Paglia wasn’t on to something. But I wonder more intensely about what Paglia’s conjecture leaves out.
So, here’s a thought experiment for you…
Man-in-Hole, a one-act play
Dramatis Personae: Narrator, Man-in-Hole, Woman
Scene: an open field somewhere in Europe, during the Upper Paleolithic era. There is a lot of tall grass, and a dense forest bordering the field on three sides. There are lots of holes. Occasionally, a male head pokes up from one of them, eyes level with the rims of the hole, scanning the horizon, then dropping back down again.
Voice of Narrator (imagine a mixdown of James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Ian McKellen):
Fifty thousand years ago, before the dawn of civilization, non-stick skillets, and Twitter, mankind lived a harsh existence, one that was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. It was a man’s world — quite literally, for women had not yet come into existence. Please consider the predicament of one such man in his hole.
Man in hole peers out of hole, looking around, emits a low growl aimed at no one in particular.
Man in Hole:
Man in Hole sinks back down into hole.
Yes, Man-in-Hole lived a lonely, sorry existence, reduced to growling at other men in other holes, throwing rocks at them for no reason in particular, scratching his crotch and occasionally eating whatever bug or rabbit happened to accidentally wander into his hole.
Rabbit wanders into hole. Man in hole grabs it and pulls it down. Munching and slobbering sounds.
And God looked down at Man-in-hole and saw he was lonely and created . . . No, actually God did not do anything because Man-in-hole was lonely. He wasn’t lonely. Man-in-Hole was too oblivious to all emotions save anger, hunger, and boredom. He was only interested in peeking out of his hole and growling and throwing rocks and scratching his belly and chewing on the occasional rabbit. Therefore God said, “This shit’s fucked up” and that’s why God decided to create him a companion. The companion’s name was Woman.
Woman enters wearing an attractive peasant dress with a flower in her hair. She smells nice.
Hello. [pause] I’m a woman. What’cha doing out here?
Man-in-Hole, peeking up above the rim:
I mean, what are you doing in this hole? Where do you live?
Your house, I mean. Like, where’s your grass hut or something?
Man-in-Hole hisses at her and rolls in the dirt at the bottom of his hole.
You mean, like, this is where you live?!? Wow, just . . . wow. Listen it’s getting pretty chilly. I think you should, like, put on some clothes or something? Aren’t you cold.
Man-in-Hole grunts and rolls even more vigorously in the dirt.
No, no, no, that’s . . . ok so you don’t “get” clothes. Like, what do you do? What’s your job?
Man in Hole stands up, turns to another Man-in-Hole in the distance, screams loudly and beats his chest, throws a number of rocks at him. Other Man-in-Hole does the same. They both yell at each other, and then sit down at the bottom of their respective holes.
You mean that’s all you . . . Never mind, never mind. I’m concerned about you! How do you eat? What do you eat?
Man in Hole holds up a rabbit’s foot and a bug antenna.
Man-in-Hole scratches his head. Man-in-Hole Farts.
Man-in-Hole laughs, sounding midway between Pee-wee Herman and Beavis.
Jeez this is a sad kind of life you lead! And, like . . . what do you do when you have, like, uh, you know . . . “urges”?
Rabbit runs by hole. Man-in-hole grabs it and takes it down into the hole.
What…wha…OH MY GOD NO NO NO STOP! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT RABBIT?!?!! OH MY GOD GIVE ME THAT RABBIT! GIVE ME THAT RABBIT RIGHT NOW! OR I’LL . . .
Woman successfully wrests rabbit from Man-in-Hole. Petting rabbit before she lets it go, she says:
Oh there there now, poor bunny bunny bunny are you alright? You with the soft big bunny ears? It’s alright now. There you go. [turning to Man-in-Hole]. Liiiisten….. I think you might need a little help with . . . life goals, okay? I mean, you’re here, I’m here . . . Let’s face it we are both on the wrong social-evolutionary path, right? [Under her breath:] You more than me, that’s for sure… So here’s what I propose. Let’s go gather some tall grass. There’s a lot of it over there. Then I’ll help you with building a nice grass hut, okay? You can still keep your hole, but c’mon you’ll be above ground, you’ll get light and stuff, we can get some furniture, some wall coverings, maybe a dream-catcher or two? Whadd’ya say?
Man-in-Hole stares uncomprehendingly at Woman.
And, you know I’ll like keep you company. [Flirtatiously] You know, like, “keep you company.” [Winks]
Man-in-Hole stands there, thinking about what Woman might mean, and suddenly smiles when he gets it. He leaps out of his hole, runs away, comes back with a huge armload of tall grass, grabs woman and pulls her offstage.
Wow! Nice hut, babe! And listen, if you invent the wheel, build aqueducts, design St. Peters, and invent Twitter, then maybe I’ll even…..you know? That thing that you like?…..
House Lights Dim
(Much credit and love goes to Eileen Quirk, who first came up with the whole “Man in hole” concept. Rest in laughter, Eileen.)