The reports started leaking out of China about a new kind of flu, maybe a bioweapon, genetically engineered by a Chinese military lab, maybe released into the wild by sheer incompetence on the part of a scientists or bureaucrats, maybe released deliberately by the CCP, or by one of its enemies, or by a disgruntled political rival, it was impossible to say.
Of course the internet was all jokes at first; jokes about racism, jokes about zombie plagues, wingnut conspiracy theories. Everyone shopped their avatar to be wearing a Hazmat suit, and drew the virus as a sexy anime waifu and argued about whether it would even be possible, even in principle, to engineer a plague that only infected people of one race specifically. The bioterrorism dream, the woke nightmare of nightmares. No one trusted the official numbers or reports that came out of China, and no one was quite sure what to believe.
There were viral videos of Chinese collapsing in the middle of the street, but they were dubious, because you could obviously see their reflexes kicking in and preventing them from falling in a natural way. Epidemiologists wrote medium articles and twitter threads, and media outlets urged everyone to remain calm, and governments enacted travel bans or didn’t, whatever was best for the GDP.
The incubation period of the virus was two weeks, and the death count was climbing, and there were rumors everywhere that the CCP was massively underreporting the lethality of the virus to save face. The truth turned out to be far worse, and also far stranger than anyone had anticipated.
As the virus spread, it became obvious that there would be no containment, as new confirmed infections were reported in Singapore, Korea, the US, and Canada, and then many other countries thereafter. At first some nations were able to control it, but it continued to spread and be reintroduced.
Men and women alike fell sick, with symptoms that started like a flu, but that could suddenly mature into acute pulmonary and kidney failure. What took us a while to notice, a shamefully long time, perhaps partly out of denial, was that the virus was never fatal in men, and that it killed every woman it infected. No biological males ever manifested the acute symptoms, only the early flu-like affliction.
As the months went on, misogyny stopped being funny. Everyone had lost a daughter, or a mother, or a sister, or a wife. What could we do against the sad monotonic march of this plague through our families and institutions? Too late, far too late, we implemented a kind of unintentional Sharia law. Women had to be quarantined, hidden away from public life, or go out in hazmat suits more conservative and more regressive than any burqa. There was no God but Allah and the virus was his prophet.
Pornography became very precious, in a way, as a record of something we had lost. And despite the vast warehouses of hard drives full of it, we all had a morbid awareness that there would be no more of it. For most men, it became the only sexual access they could possibly have to a woman, and yet there was always the lingering awareness, the sense of regret: the girl in this video is dead.
What few real women remained became objects of impossible, insatiable desire, even the old, even the ugly, even the morbidly obese. Beautiful women accepted houses, cars, and golden treasures in exchange for even a single hour of company. There were stories, of course, of paradisiacal oases of women; billionaires’ underground bunkers, remote rural compounds with even sex ratios, untouched by the virus, far away in the mountains of Montana, or Alaska, in New Zealand or on some nameless Polynesian island. But these things were fantasies, of course, impossible dreams.
There was no shame in sex dolls anymore, in large part because there were no longer any women to shame us. It was the fastest growing market sector in the aftermath of the virus, and competition drove innovation, as each new iteration became more realistic and lightweight, with synthetic female voices and increasingly exotic materials, meant to simulate the feeling of flesh. The pharma companies started selling over-the-counter pheromone sprays, to make your bed or your sex doll smell like a woman. It helped with the loneliness, they said, not that most of us would ever smell a real woman again.
Everywhere you looked, everywhere you walked, if you stared into the face of another man you could see the same emotion, the same tortured eyes. We couldn’t save them. We were supposed to protect them. Gun sales were way up, as were suicides, quiet personal affairs, and many of us found, if not solace, at least an escape in the adrenaline thrill of wanton violence. But despite that, there was no anarchy. We continued to enforce the laws, we continued to live in society, and we learned to settle for less. Surprisingly, there were no great wars. No one at any level could be bothered to enlist or fight for a cause. There was nothing to fight for; there were no girls to impress.
Men turned increasingly to homosexuality and transexuality, and the cities all turned into prisons, or bathhouses, or something in between. For those who were not as straight as they thought, an effeminate boy, sprayed with synthetic female pheromones, layered in makeup and so on, could almost approximate those angelic creatures that were now only seen on screens. As one wag put it, “all films are snuff films.” And alas, our sudden dearth of women meant also a dearth of children. There were fewer and fewer youths each year, and there’s nothing less convincing than a post-wall femboy. Youth was plentiful for the moment, but soon it would be as scarce as femininity itself.
Libertarians are now the radical left. Feminism has become an impossibly abstract and decadent hypothetical, akin to the theological non-sequiturs of medieval monks: does the patriarchy oppress female bodies? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It’s legal to smoke indoors again, and it’s legal to drink in public, and it’s legal to run a casino in all fifty states.
And somehow, somehow, civilization keeps moving along. Most of us are so domesticated, such creatures of habit; yes there have been economic shocks, the total collapse of the publishing industry, the fashion industry, and the healthcare industry. Cosmetics have been more resilient than you would suppose. Instagram is gone and photography is a dead art. There’s nothing in the world worth taking a picture of, you know?
Our Manhattan project, or if you like, our Hail Mary, is to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to biotech research, to figure out how to use genetic science to splice human DNA into monkey eggs, to be gestated in artificial wombs. This needs to be done at scale, and the clock is ticking. Personally I don’t have much hope.
At least there are no more woke politics, because again, there are no more girls to impress. Insult was added to injury, maybe, when the virus that only kills women left all of the transwomen untouched, just like every other straight man, proof that nature or nature’s god is hopelessly regressive and transphobic.
There are no more women doctors, no more women senators or CEOs or board members, no more girls who code, no more “women in stem”, no more Title IX, no more sexual harassment seminars, no more #metoo hashtags, no more gender politics, no more female suffrage.
So it’s kind of a wash, really. Garçon, Garçon! Pour me another brandy, and light me a cigarette.