It would be really hard to open jars, but we could do it.
Men, who needs them?
Since current medical technology has all but rendered male contribution to reproduction obsolete, it seems the broadest answer to that question would be, sadly: no one.
From every stage of reproduction, from egg fertilization to fetal development to child-rearing, fathers can be absent. They can be at home, at work, on a plane, scuba-diving, doing a happy little jig in prison, living or dead. Doesn't matter.
One only has to look at the genetic contribution of men and women to their offspring by weight for proof of this. A father's spermatic DNA contributes 3.3 picograms to a new life (0.0000000000033 percent of a gram). That's roughly equal to just one pound of male contribution since the beginning of Homo sapiens 107 billion babies ago. Meanwhile, a mother gives nine months worth of oxygen and minerals from her own blood and bones, billions of bacteria that protect a baby's skin, digestive system and general health, and 6-8 pounds of body weight per baby. That's the difference between getting $20 from your Nana on your birthday, and winning the Powerball lottery.
If a woman wanted to have a baby without a man, all she'd need is some sperm and the equivalent of a turkey baster to auto-fertilize herself. Since sperm can be frozen almost indefinitely and there's already enough frozen sperm in circulation to sustain multiple future generations, there's no reason to keep ol' Kyle around for freshies.
And when the frozen stuff runs out? No problem. We've created artificial sperm. Created from a complex cocktail of chemicals, it's capable of tricking an egg into thinking into forming an embryo for those times when it used to be raining men, but now it's drought-ing them.
Ultimately then, since science has castrated the reproductive necessity of males, the question of whether mankind actually needs them comes down to ethics and logistics. All we need to answer it then, is a little cost-benefit analysis.
For that, let's defer to Greg Hampikian, professor of biology and criminal justice at Boise State University. He's already done a little analysis of his own, which he published in the New York Times a few years back.
From that article:
It’s true that men have traditionally been the breadwinners. But women have been a majority of college graduates since the 1980s, and their numbers are growing. It’s also true that men have, on average, a bit more muscle mass than women. But in the age of ubiquitous weapons, the one with the better firepower (and knowledge of the law) triumphs.
Meanwhile women live longer, are healthier and are far less likely to commit a violent offense. If men were cars, who would buy the model that doesn’t last as long, is given to lethal incidents and ends up impounded more often?
Recently, the geneticist J. Craig Venter showed that the entire genetic material of an organism can be synthesized by a machine and then put into what he called an “artificial cell.” This was actually a bit of press-release hyperbole: Mr. Venter started with a fully functional cell, then swapped out its DNA. In doing so, he unwittingly demonstrated that the female component of sexual reproduction, the egg cell, cannot be manufactured, but the male can.
When I explained this to a female colleague and asked her if she thought that there was yet anything irreplaceable about men, she answered, “They’re entertaining.”
Gentlemen, let’s hope that’s enough.
Of course, part of being entertaining includes having penises, which can, in all honesty, be pretty fun. We'd miss those. But given the staggering mass and variety of sex toys on the market and the fact that most women tend to be attracted to lesbian porn anyway, it's feasible that men's status as sexual entertainers may not even be relevant in time. We might miss the scuff of their beards or the smell of their Old Spice, but that's nothing a little steel wool and some … Old Spice can't eventually solve.
And as for what would happen to society if it were to be overtaken by ovaries? According to Argentinean writer Ricardo Coler, who has studied and spent time with matriarchal societies, many societal issues that plague most of the world today (sexual assault, decades of war, mass depression) are absent in cultures lead by women, and both men and women seem to actually be happier being governed with feminine values.
Yet, even the definition of "governance" is different in a female-dominant world. As founder of the International Academy HAGIA for Modern Matriarchal Studies Heidi Goettner-Abendroth put it to Dame magazine, "The aim [of matriarchy] is not to have power over others and over nature, but to follow maternal values, i.e. to nurture the natural, social and cultural life based on mutual respect."
In terms of costs and benefits, we're gonna file that one resolutely under "benefit."
We know your on your knees screaming, "Oh god, won't someone please think of the children?!" right now. Thing is, someone has thought of the children, and it turns out that what affects a child's development the most is poverty, not the gender of his or her parents. So, the little lab grown kiddos made of artificial DNA would probably be just fine.
Now, all of this constitutes a fairly bleak and insensitive view of a world without men.
In reality, we're pretty sure society would falter without fathers, boyfriends, husbands, sons and professional sumo wrestlers … at least temporarily. All living women who had known the immense joy of romance, friendship or familial love with a male would probably be pretty, pretty bummed. No jars would ever be opened, spiders would go on un-killed, and the world might become overrun by cats. Plus, no gay guys = nothing is fun, ever again. For us in the present, it would really suck ass if all the men ghosted the Earth.
But these women's children, and their children's children who grew up in a world without men? Eh. They'd be fine. They wouldn't know what they were missing.
The weird point of this all is that there's little empirical evidence to support the case that mankind would die out if Elvis truly left the building. Looking at this through the coldhearted lens of science, it seems that after the initial shock, humanity would recover and move on.
Look, someone even made a fake documentary to try to picture what that would be like … albiet, there are less cats in here than we would have expected …