I'm not saying cannibalism is the only option. If we're talking animalistic, magnetism, the old horizontal tango---there are other ways to dispose of the sperm vehicles. Sure, arachnids control their own widowhood: half of all Chinese mantises have copulations that end in the death of the male. In turn, though, the male has adapted to be even more opportunistic (i.e.: sneaky, surprising, unwanted) in their couplings. So perhaps hanging the threat of execution over the proceedings wouldn't be enough to combat bad behavior.
Powerful men seem only to look to the animal kingdom when it is convenient for explaining things like "boys will be boys." When saying that the alpha male cannot be expected to keep it in his pants when presented with the young, the fertile. But if a man can yearn to be a snarling pack animal then I would be a kangaroo. I'd take you out in one kick, and I've always liked hopping. Plus, the kangaroo has two vaginas and the ability to suspend its own pregnancy. I could stop a growing fetus at its blastocyst stage. Kangaroos do this when they're waiting for warmer weather, waiting for the rain to come, waiting to feel safe once again.
I'm not saying that, post-coitus, our only options either involve me eating your innards or embryonic stasis, I'm just saying that it's important for you to know that, if this door closes, I will one hundred percent open the fire exit, the one with the blaring alarm that no one remembers the code to turn off. I'm saying that if you close this door that's been open since my mother's mother was getting it on, then you better be prepared for pretty grisly consequences.
Because in the end I'm no kangaroo, all downy hairs and fawny eyelashes; I'm not even a praying mantis, eating the male who dared try to get it on with me. If we do the boom-chicka-boom-boom and, god forbid, one of your little swimmers catch on, and we live in this dystopian reality where the powers that be say that the choices afforded to animals in the Outback don't exist under our Star Bangled banner---in that instance we aren't humans, or mammals, or even terrestrial creatures. We are anglerfish (like the one in Finding Nemo with the light on its head) and you are the scrappy, sperm wielding parasite I have to support with my own food, my own beating heart. In exchange for this supposed chance at a legacy you are nothing more than a growth on my side. It took decades for scientists to even find the male anglerfish, overlooking the unremarkable growth on the body as just some other ornament picked up on a female's trans-oceanic travels.
And perhaps you're okay with leeching, unwanted, shedding entire parts of yourself. Male anglerfish, once they burrow into the soft flesh of a female host, lose fins, eyes, organs. In the pursuit of fatherhood they give up everything they are, becoming a worm on the side of a floating, glowing queen of the deep.
What I'm saying is that if you want to rewind us down to our base parts then we should introduce some risk. If I am nothing more than the ovaries I carry, then I will also become sharp teeth, strong maw. In the end there are still too many of us naked primates on this soft green earth, and it is only good and just to root out the source of the problem. Spiders cannibalize on the flip of a coin, so how about heads I win, tails you lose? Would you walk into my parlor?
KATIE AVAGLIANO graduated from American University's MFA program and lives in South Jersey, where she wanders the Pine Barrens and teaches college writing.
12th July 2022
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