Sally Miller Gearhart was a professor at San Francisco State university in the 1970s.
In 1982, she wrote a paper called: “The Future – If There Is One – Is Female”.
It’s subsequently been reprinted 100 times, in 13 languages.
She gave a lecture on her vision for her improved future of the world.
Her main point was: “The proportion of men must be reduced to, and maintained at, approximately 10% of the human race.”
We may wonder, why ten percent specifically?
This idea was first expressed by another feminist, Lois Waisbrooker, in 1892.
She wrote: “Horse breeders who produce purebred bloodstock often recommend that no more than the top 10 percent of all males be allowed to reproduce, to continually improve a given breed of horse.”
Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin was less generous to men: “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.”
(More emotional and not quite so practical, perhaps.)
Gearhart explains that the way to reduce the male population to 10 percent wouldn’t involve culling existing males, she recommends ‘ovular merging’, which would ensure mainly female babies are born.
But even if it is practical, she hasn’t allowed for the law of unintended consequences.
People always think there’s a simple way to solve any problem, however big, they never allow for the fact that a solution always creates a new problem.
Take China for instance, Mao Zedong decided it was overpopulated so, like Gearhart, he had a simple solution: every family would only be allowed one child.
But in China, every family wants a boy most of all.
So, if they had a baby girl, they had to get rid of it so they could try again.
In 1997, the World Health Organisation claimed that: “More than 50 million women were estimated to be ‘missing’ because of the institutionalised killing and neglect of girls due to Beijing’s population control programme”
Most of these girls were just abandoned: “More than 95% of babies in state-owned orphanages are healthy baby girls, a high percentage die within a couple of months because of poor conditions and health neglect in orphanages.”
The unintended consequences are that there now many more men needing wives than there are wives for them.
“Over the next 20 years, a predicted excess of 10 – 20% of young men will emerge in large parts of China who cannot find wives. These marriageable-age husbands-to-be are known as ‘gung gun’: ‘bare branches’ or ‘bare sticks.’”
Those are the kind of unintended consequences no one thinks of when having large, simple, sweeping ideas.
Ideas like open-plan offices (sold in at the time as ‘hot desking’).
Sure you save money on overheads, everyone can sit at one long table, and it takes up less space and costs less.
But what message does it send out?
That you and your work are not important enough to deserve an office.
And so, everyone picks up on this message: creatives, traffic, planners, clients.
If the work isn’t important enough to warrant an office, it can be done like a conveyor belt.
Brief it in this morning, look at ideas this afternoon.
You’re not sure you like the campaign?
No problem, we’ll see more tomorrow morning – this stuff isn’t important, so it’s easy and fast to churn out more.
And we have the unintended consequences of saving money on offices.
For proof, just look at the advertising we see all around us.