You can't rely on men for much, goes the common view, but at least you used to be able to rely on them – or the younger ones, at least – for a decent amount of sperm. Not any more, it seems. Sperm counts are down by a third, and falling. So we can now add that to all the other things at which they are useless. Men, eh? A gender that, besides being emotionally illiterate, cannot these days even fulfil its basic biological function.
Since I'm lacking the necessary tools – pipette, test tubes, and microscope – I'm not in a position convincingly to challenge the data on the sperm issue. All I can say is that I'm a father of four whose married sons and their wives have gone into production at a rate that would satisfy even Henry Ford. Ditto their friends. At social occasions round our way, most of the attendees are wearing BabyGros. Maybe, we men have swapped quality for quantity. Measure that, Mr and Ms Boffin.
But it's the rest of the thesis of male uselessness I'd like to address, and especially whence it came. Exhibit A is television advertising, the now apparently compulsory underpinning of which is that men are terminally incompetent, and only roused from their natural indolence by football, beer, and leering at women. Next time you tune in, watch them and imagine the boot being on the other gender's foot – with ads suggesting that women will botch any given task, and are only interested in jewellery, cocktails, and flirting. Seems prejudiced? Of course.
Exhibit B is the output of certain columnists, of which the British press seems to have a surfeit. First are the women columnists who, turning from their usual theme that murder is wrong and genocide not to be encouraged, play to their gallery by churning one out on how that week's chosen ill can be traced back to men.
Second, and even worse, are the self-deprecatory male ones who, like some old lag in the dock, cough about their sex's failings, ask for a multitude of other offences to be taken into consideration, and plead chromosomes in mitigation.
Now, can we put a stop to this primary school gender finger-pointing and behave like grown-ups?