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In a world... with today's technology and level of development there is a Mad Scientist. A woman, to be exact. One day she concludes that men are responsible for all evil in the world and starts to bioengineer a virus. Super advanced virus, because she's a genius. A virus to solve all the world's problems - in her wicked understanding.

She succeeds and the virus starts spreading, very stealthy, via air and water and all the other possible methods of infection. Soon after the entire earth population is infected. And then, in one day, the virus activates and all male humans die, almost instantly. Females are also infected, but virus doesn't kill them, only causes to never ever be able to give birth to a male baby. Basically, only women are left on earth, forever.

How will the world change? Will the civilization survive? What are the consequences?

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closed as too broad by fi12, Hohmannfan, DaaaahWhoosh, Dan Henderson, Frostfyre Mar 17 at 18:20

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Additionally, keep it civil. I deleted some very unfunny offensive remarks that may have been intended as humorous but were assuredly not. – HDE 226868 Mar 15 at 21:48
Sounds like Y: The Last Man. In fact, I'm pretty sure that series explored exactly what you're asking about. – user867 Mar 16 at 5:19
For something related, though not quite the same concept, see Neal Stephenson's Seveneves. – Michael Hampton Mar 16 at 7:19
Are you familiar with old polish comedy "Seksmisja?" This is exactly what happens. – Feanorek Mar 16 at 13:19
up vote 32 down vote accepted

This would result in a quick (within 3-4 years) end of the world scenario (for human civilization, that is).

Important: Attention all up and down voters. All the content of this answer is revised and edited. Both types of voters are encouraged to rethink their vote

Here is how the timeline of changes which would occur.

15 seconds of male population death: Tens of millions of cars, buses, lorries, trucks etc will crash or get off the road, causing a very high death toll of women, baby girls and (possibly) pet animals.

1 minute after the catastrophe: This global disaster (traffic accidents), along with immediate death of all men in homes and workplaces would cause a global hysteric reaction all over the world. Considering that landlines and mobile phone lines would still be operational, there would be a massive overload of communication channels as women all over the world call their loved ones or for emergency help services.

10 minutes after the catastrophe: There is global panic, hysteria and confusion as the extent of loss is realized. A lot of suicides and heart failure deaths are expected as lovers, newly wed brides and young mothers learn their loved ones are dead.

30 minutes after the catastrophe: A lot of women die in hospitals due to panic, failure of emergency services and ensuing confusion.

1 day after the catastrophe: With traffic jams all over the world, a lot of women would die due to hunger. Also note that circus animals (including lions and tigers) would have escaped by now. Zoo animals are getting frustrated and panicking due to hunger, noise and confusion. Mega mammals such as elephants, hippos and rhinos would be testing the strength of their enclosures by now.

2 days after the catastrophe: Many power stations and communication channels fail all over the world leaving the world in darkness (at night) and cold (for regions where it is winter). In mega cities, most bakeries and stores have been raided by now by hungry women and most supplies have been consumed, leaving little behind. Wild animals such as elephants, hippos, rhinos, tigers and lions would have broken out of their fences as the electric fencing has failed. The carnivores find a feast in the form of billions of dead men on the streets all over the world, while the herbivores panic and try to flee out of the cities in search of vegetation.

5-10 days after the catastrophe: Exhaustion of food supplies in cities starts to tell on the women and with communication channels failure, there would be large scale riots and panic as the survivors try to search for more resources and move out of the cities. By now the billions of corpses are starting to decay, creating unimaginable stench and fear. Also by this time, security measures in power plants would begin to fail. This would not result in Chernobyl-like disasters, but Fukushima-like disasters. Basically, the water in coolant systems would heat up, and with no fresh water supply, the water would turn into steam which would create massive (but non nuclear) explosions. The explosions would not be lethal, but the fallout would have severe negative implications. (See Aftermath: Population Zero for detail).

10-15 days after catastrophe: By now the stench in the cities would be unbearable. Any woman unlucky enough to be left over in the cities would be almost certainly dead due to lack of food, failure of services (including electricity and gas) and the growing unhygienic conditions. Most of the urban survivors would have reached villages and rural settlements by now and a stable social system would finally start to emerge by now.

1 month after catastrophe: The fallout from nuclear reactors would be spread through rains and winds, affecting hundreds of millions of survivors. Efforts would begin to be made for salvaging stored sperms in sperm banks. It is unknown if those stored sperms would still be viable, considering the lack of maintenance and electric failure (most probably not). The currency system which had been working by now, would start to fracture and fall by now. The world would start returning to barter system now. Also, gold which was so prized before the catastrophe, would begin to lose its charm now, as there are no men to admire the beauty.

6 months after catastrophe: The only good effect of the human male extinction would begin to show now. Wildlife in all areas of the world would start to recover and proliferate. Also, there would only be around 30% or so survivors within the female population. Tech advancement and social structures would have crumbled. Also, the removal of male population might have some long term implications on the sex drives of women. Readers can imagine the consequences themselves. I would not go in detail of such sensitive issue here.

2 years after catastrophe: If there was any success in salvaging the sperms (very low probability), the world might have another generation of women. The tech level of the world is nearly that of 100 years go, except that some remnants of technological age (guns, clothing, shoes etc) linger on until supplies exhaust.

10 years after catastrophe: Wild carnivores would start becoming a threat now. Tigers, leopards, jaguars, bears and wolf packs would now be expected to be encountered once in a while.

15 years after catastrophe: Old times (with men) are completely forgotten by now. Wild animals are greatly feared. The only human settlements are in rural areas. There is no technology of old times left anymore. Parties of women occasionally visit former cities once in a while in search of salvaging useful consumables.

And that would be the state of affairs until most of the first generation dies in 30 years or so, with no hopes of repopulating Earth again.

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Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Tim B Mar 16 at 16:47
Could you expand on your reasoning for why so much infrastructure would collapse? Even in male-dominated occupations, there are some women these days. I expect most nuke plants to have at least a few women who'd know how to safe the nuke plant they work at, and would actually do that instead of having hysterics for 10 days. Even if they had male children who were murdered in this way, I think some of them would manage to get the job done re: nukes. The early part of this answer reads like women are pretty much helpless and can't step up and run the world. – Peter Cordes Mar 16 at 19:12
Comments deleted (other than one asking for clarification). If you want to discuss this answer, use the chat room that was already created. Thank you. – Monica Cellio Mar 16 at 23:09
Comments deleted for a third time. Use the chat room for this answer for further requests for clarification or other comments, rather than posting more comments. – HDE 226868 Mar 20 at 22:05

A world where all men die is very unlikely to be able to sustain a civilization as we know it for any reasonable length of time.

  1. In such a scenario the birth rates will drastically decline, even if some type of in vitro fertilization is used to impregnate some of the women. Furthermore only about half of the embryos will survive because of course a considerable fraction of them will be male. This will lead to a massive decrease in world population.

  2. A large fraction of the worlds population dies at once which leaves many problems. The synchronized death of all men will generate power vacuums and loss of important services such as medical care and electricity supply.

  3. Many societies have a patriarchal system that would collapse entirely with the death of all men. Here women often lack the know-how to sufficiently full fill jobs that were occupied by men prior to their death. In these regions of the world infrastructure is likely to collapse completely.

  4. Most likely there will also be riots and revolts amongst women who have lost their men and children. This could further incapacitate social structures.

  5. Assuming all men went with their normal day-to-day business when they died, there will be incredible chaos all around the world. Men dying while driving in cars for example will cause incredible traffic problems and likely a high death rate amongst women as well.

  6. Furthermore the dead bodies would begin to rot within a fairly short timeframe, possibly too short for the leftover population to remove them before they contaminate ground water and spread diseases.

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In parts of the world where women are not allowed to do "men's" jobs, you'll also have a major problem when there's not just a partial loss of service, but a total loss of many services that the surviving half of the population is simply incapable of doing. That may be implicit in your point 2, but I think it will impact those areas more than places like the U.S. where there are at least some women actively pursuing all career fields. – MichaelS Mar 15 at 10:18
@MichaelS not incapable. Untrained. Don't even hint at gender bias. – Mindwin Mar 15 at 15:34
" Furthermore only about half of the embryos will survive because of course a considerable fraction of them will be male." No they won't. If genetic material is only being taken from women, there are no Y chromosomes for anyone to contribute. Unless quick care was taken to preserve the DNA of some men, the Y chromosome would be permanently extinct and men with it even if the virus was soon after cured and eradicated. – Shufflepants Mar 15 at 15:47
@Shufflepants: it can be safely assumed that many labs, sperm banks, etc. have DNA of men (humans, in fact) preserved and potentially ready to use. Whether that will lead to resurrection of men is another question... – Peter S. Mar 15 at 16:18
@Mindwin Capable is defined as "having the ability, fitness, or quality necessary to do or achieve a specified thing". I'd say "incapable" is a perfectly fitting and unbiased term to use for this objective observation. I am incapable of building a rocket, but I could certainly become capable through training. – TheBuzzSaw Mar 15 at 16:39

In order to give the maximum chance for continued survival of humanity, I'm going to suggest a few alterations to your scenario.

  • First: Don't make the virus kill instantly. Give an infected man about a month of obviously deteriorating health before it kills him. This will prevent a large amount of chaos due to things like pilots dying in mid-flight, workers in nuclear power plants and in control of a dead-man's switch for automatic deployment of ICBMs and the like from just dying off without warning.
  • Second: Don't infect the entire world at once. Have it start from one location and spread naturally until it finally covers the entire world. I'd give it a few years or even decades before it finally wipes out the last man on earth. This will give people a chance to see what's going on in time to prepare for the ultimate extinction of the male genome. It will also help mitigate such problems as mass spread of (other) diseases caused by the pile-up of rotting corpses.

Now, with those factors out of the way, the good news is there exists technology which would make it possible for an all-female society to survive and multiply. Experiments have been conducted which show that it is possible to impregnate an egg with biological material removed from another egg. The resulting embryo would by definition be female, since there is no Y chromosome in the equation.

Other experiments have been able to easily separate X chromosomes from Y in a single sperm sample. It works on the principle that Y chromosomes are generally smaller. You basically drain them through a fancy sieve. Some X chromosomes are also small, so what drains out of the sieve will be a mix of both X and Y, but what's left in the sieve will be all X. Good news for those looking to guarantee a female birth, though it would be much harder to do the reverse.

Finally, it's worth noting that there are actual precedents in nature for this. For example, the Blind Flower Pot Snake is a species which is always female. They reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning a single snake can impregnate herself and produce a whole batch of offspring, all female of course. (These snakes can quickly infest a region in this way, it only takes one sneaking aboard a ship to spread to a new area.)

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IIRC, there are some complicated epigenetic factors that may make your parthenogenetic scenario difficult, in humans. They have to do with the way your body arranges to have only one X chromosome active in any cell, regardless of whether it's XX, XY, XXY, etc. Unfortunately I don't have references - and may not have understood my reading. But I'd like to see your references for successful experiments - in mammals, since these mechanisms are different in e.g. reptiles. – Arlie Stephens Mar 16 at 0:23
@ArlieStephens - They were from Discover magazine, which I used to have a subscription to a number of years ago. Might be hard to find the exact issues, but I remember after reading both those articles I came up with the conclusion that put together they could potentially make men obsolete. I'm sure there are reasons why it would be more complicated than that, but I'm not a geneticist... – Darrel Hoffman Mar 16 at 0:26
Thanks for suggestions. This is something worth considering as killing every men at once seems a bit extreme, indeed. – Stimpack Mar 16 at 8:32

Disclaimer : I am no expert, so any point I bring could be false, but I believe I made enough search and reflexion about those elements for them to have some relevancy. I also intend this message as a comment, not an answer, but I lack the "reputation" to post it as such.

I like science fiction as much as anyone here, but we have to bear with absolute limitations :

There are actually many "impossibilities" with the base of your scenario which boils down to one sentence "there can be no virus/bacteria capable of such perfection in any single domain, let alone all of them".

synchronicity : I belive there is no concievable way such a "virus" can synchronize the death of all the males with as much precision as you state. If anyone with knowledge of the technical solution for do it I would be delighted to read.

Absolute contamination : there is at least one tribe living on an island in the indian ocean completely secluded from the rest of humanity for centuries. Your virus would need to spread through animals/insects too to reach them, and even then it would take possibly a long time to reach them. I suspect a few other populations would be hard to reach too.

Perfect fatality rate : I dont think there can be a virus that is both capable to perfectly defeat/hide from the immune system and kill almost instantly (even though it's a delayed instant-kill). Even a virus as deadly as HIV have rare extremely cases of people being immune to it (and it take "forever" to kill). So considering that for the non-immune, the virus perfectly fullfills his role (kills males, prevents male births) a "caste" of immune males and females would rise from the chaos and, unless "local" social evolution turns them into some kind of "impure" that should be hunt/killed/persecuted, the humanity would repopulate with a new "breed". Darwin 1, mad scientist 0.

Other elements for people to take into accounts in their simulations : Even if the virus remains undetected by scientists before "triggering", lots of competent female doctors would be able to, while trying to save/autopsy the male doctors dying next to them, discovers hints if not proofs that the virus was human-made (it's already suspicious enough that it kills only males to prompt for investigation). Either a reaction similar to the awareness raised after past genocides would happen, or the survivors would embrace the "mad" views of their "liberator". She ends up either a god or a monster for the rest of human history.

If you consider a version with male survivors, women's social position in general wouldn't necessarily rise above men's. Males become more rare and needed for the survival (at least compared to "non-immuned" females, ironically the virus made to free women could trun those not immune to it into lower beings). In some places it could lead to women taking the lead and reducing men to the situation of inferiors, but constitution differences, especially motherhood, and past social norms would translate, I suspect, in the majority of cases in men having a superior or at last safe position and women having to fill the more risky or lower roles.

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Interesting take on the situation. However, sine the OP is advancing the premise that the virus did work as advertised try to answer the question, not go off on a more reasonable tangent. Don't get me wrong, I agree that the scenario is extremely unlikely, but your answer is not useful to the OP. – AndreiROM Mar 16 at 13:57

This is relatively straightforward. I'll skip past the problems of mass deaths (covered in enough detail in other answers) and go straight for the survival-of-the-human-race issue.

Since women are still capable of giving birth, the problem is egg fertilisation. We have a large number of male corpses which can have sperm harvested (assuming the women work fast enough). IVF is now incredibly efficient, so harvesting sperm from even a small percentage of dead men will keep the world going for a good long while.

Longer-term, techniques already exist for direct DNA injection into eggs and stimulation of the egg to kickstart development. This will remove reliance on stored sperm. There will still be reliance on maintaining stores of male cells as a source of DNA, with enough sources to avoid problems with in-breeding, but this is a solvable problem.

Of course that depends on societies being able to harvest sperm and run IVF on that kind of scale. This will almost certainly wipe out all non-industrialised societies around the world.

So the human race is still going. Society is going to have other problems though...

As far as relationships go, the Kinsey scale is a sliding-scale from "fully homosexual" to "fully heterosexual". In the complete absence of men, women are probably more likely to "settle" for other women (this is fairly well established for both sexes in prisons), but there are likely to be many women who don't.

Since there are no men, and states can't discriminate based on sexuality, single-parent families will become the default. Pregnancy is no longer a sexy romantic thing - it becomes entirely medicalised. Since it will be state-controlled, some states will inevitably use this to discriminate against women of various backgrounds. As always, the rich will be isolated from this and can do their own thing.

Since birth is so medicalised, more extensive DNA screening seems almost inevitable. With that firmly established, actual germline DNA intervention also seems almost inevitable, especially as IVF banks run out of stored male-corpse sperm and have to start using more sophisticated methods.

Industry will keep raping the Earth, and economics will still be a crapshoot, because businesswomen aren't any better at this than businessmen. Wars might be reduced though, because most wars today are in non-industrialised or semi-industrialised societies, and we already know they've become extinct. Wars and armies won't completely go away though - women are not inherently any more peaceful than men, and the Margaret Thatchers and Indira Gandhis of the world will still play their power politics. So the mad female scientist will most likely find that although the faces at the top have changed, most of the evil she saw is still going on.

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Nice answer! A little optimistic, and you only hint at some of the more interesting bits, but very nice none the less! – AndreiROM Mar 16 at 14:01
Thanks for your answer. This is an interesting take on the problem, as it shows that in the long term things will go back to current state of affairs. – Stimpack Mar 16 at 14:11
@AndreiROM Thanks. I'm not sure "optimistic" is the phrase. Same shit, different gender, I think is the best way of expressing it. Hinting is pretty much all you can do at this kind of level, because any one of those paragraphs is the basis of its own dystopian novel, but I do think that with existing tech and enough incentive, the human race will survive. The female half, anyway. – Graham Mar 16 at 15:48
@Stimpack Pretty much, I think. The Black Death may have killed up to 50-50, with a non-gender-specific infectious disease, in a society where the only way to do major projects was to throw a few thousand peasants at it for a few decades. It certainly brought down the population significantly, but it didn't have much long-term effect on skills, technology or anything else like that. – Graham Mar 16 at 15:54
@Stimpack Re-reading that, I realised one major issue I didn't touch on. Religion. EVERY religion has men telling women what they can do with their bodies. In the absence of this entirely poisonous sexual politics, religion is likely to be significantly morally improved. However since the only way to reproduce now is through IVF, all anti-technology religions will become extinct in one generation. – Graham Mar 16 at 16:51

Taking a look at actual numbers in occupations we find: (all numbers for the US unless otherwise stated)

Just 3.7% of full-time firefighters/emergency responders are women according to the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services. So when fires break out all over the place from all the dead men crashing their cars into everything, there really wouldn't be anyone to put them out.

According to most reports, I could find only 11-12% of the police force is made up of women so the vast majority of the people you would count on most to keep order in a disaster like this would also now be dead.

Only 6 current governors are women, though there are 13 female lieutenant governors (with one overlap in Oregon) which means only, 18 states would have someone immediately available (assuming none died in various male related accidents) in a position of power to call upon those resources mentioned above and the 18% that is left of the national guard.

If any roads were still usable and (and that's a big if) only 5.4% of truck drivers are women and unfortunately since they are likely to be on the road at the time of the incident we can assume that most of them would die. It gets worse when you realize that other women can't even step in to fill the void because as much as 80% or more of the actual truck fleet would be destroyed when they crashed.

Whats worse, trucking moves 70% of all freight in the US, and 80% of all foodstuffs (including 90% of prepared packaged food) and 60% of all medical/pharmaceuticals.

Some industries we don't even tend to think about, but are critical to our society today would be basically wiped out. Only 0.8% of those working in the Tool and Die industry are female. Only 0.3% of the mining industry (which includes oil and coal) are female. And just 1% of those that service heavy machinery (what makes our everyday lives what it is) are women. The power might stay on in some areas as 22% of the utilities field is made up of women (though again that's 22% across the entire nation). But even if they did manage to maintain some infrastructure they would run out of fuel to power it.

With the loss of power comes a loss of easy access to knowledge though the internet and with the roads being impassable the women in the above industries as well as the just 9% of female construction workers would be far to scattered to make knowledge transfer viable. (Don't think they're flying, according to this paper only 16-17% of Air Traffic Controllers are women, and who knows what shape airports are in).

Besides all the other problems people have outlined (3.5 billion dead bodies being one of the biggest!!). I feel the above shows that this would be a bleak and ultimately fatal event for the Human Species. No amount of work will be able to bring enough women together who have the expertise needed to run a research/medical facility (and related entities, farms, food production, electricity, building maintenance, etc... remember nothing happens in a bubble) for the amount of time it would take for them to overcome the problems they would face with total lab reproduction. There is 0 hope for survival.

I would like to point out as one other poster did, if the disaster were of a more moderate per-portion (all males dying but without instantly crippling roads/airports trucking), the scenario becomes much more hopeful and there is a high likelihood of survival for the remaining females.

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Best answer so far. The other answers are fun but this one speculates based on actual statistics. Thunderous applause – TheIronKnuckle Mar 18 at 11:24

Seems there is the immediate problem of 3.5 billion dead bodies that need to be removed to avoid immediate health problems, plus severe damage caused by men like drivers (you said death is almost instantly), workers in power stations, possibly the whole crew of an oil tanker, incapable of doing what they are supposed to do. Hard to estimate what kind of damage would be done in the first week and how fast the women would get things under control.

Some things have time. If there is no industrial production for even a few years, no problem. There are plenty of products of all kind around, and only half of them are needed. For example, there will be plenty of cars around even if no new ones are built for some time.

There will be huge damage to food production, but then as long as only 50% or slightly more of food production is lost, the women would be fine. I suppose there are enough women capable of handling the food production, and capable women from other areas would help out.

Electricity and other infrastructure would be a problem. Electricity starts with getting coal / oil / uranium, transporting it to power stations, and reliable transform it into electricity. On the other hand, earth could survive on a hugely lower level of electricity.

I'd say that after twenty years everything should be running fine again. Young women won't train to become hairdressers but electricians, car mechanics, fire fighters and so on. It will sort itself out.

Finally, there would be about 40 years time for some huge medical progress to make reproduction without male support possible. Maybe 50 to 55 years with huge loss of population. Or to find a cure for the virus. That's what needs to happen for humanity to survive long term. I hope they are clever enough to save all sperm samples available in case they can't make reproduction without males work, but find a cure for the virus.

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I forgot about the oil tanker, chemical tanker and evry heavy transporter out there... The number of women in this field of work is insignificant. Welcome to the era of black seas. – MakorDal Mar 16 at 7:40
How will a 50 or 70 year old woman reproduce? Haven't you heard of the term 'menopause'? – cst1992 Mar 16 at 11:55

Did any women answer this question? I see no feminine points of view. I think once the initial shock is handled, women would work together. They are fairly good at cooperation as opposed to competition for available resources. Assuming they had reproduction handled, I see a radically changed world where the arts begin to flourish, the environment begins healing, and the number of wars radically decrease. The question was asking how would things be different, not if you think it was possible. Female oriented societies are in general less focused on rank and power consolidation, and more focused on all members flourishing. And without the constant threat of war, rape (1 in 5 American college girls are still raped), and violence, society would find a new footing.

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This answer deserves a downvote just for the "1 in 5 American college girls are still raped" lie. It was debunked. Also for "Female oriented societies are in general less focused on rank and power consolidation" - that's not entirely true. – Creative Magic Mar 17 at 7:51
s/that's not entirely true/that's entirely not true/ – akostadinov Mar 17 at 11:54
Female oriented societies are in general less focused on rank and power consolidation Sorry, but I just have to ask: do you even know what you're talking about? – Nolonar Mar 17 at 19:12
Your answer would be accepted better, if it explained how the society of mostly untrained and greatly depressed people could recover from all the technological disasters and infrastructure breakages. "Helping all members flourish" does not explain how it is possible, if possible at all. – Roux Mar 18 at 11:59
Roux - I have no idea why you think half the population is "untrained." Can you explain your prejudice rationally? And have you ever seen a disaster? Folks don't sit around crying - they get on with life, get food, and survive. – user3641998 Mar 18 at 18:40

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