A Negotiation

Time for my seventh entry in the 12 stories in 12 months writing challenge. This month the prompt was “Men and Women.” That’s an easy one. Probably more than 95% of all the stories ever written are about men and women. But the word count was 300. That’s hard. I’m a fan of short, the shorter the better, but 300 words is really short. I wanted to avoid any kind of love story because it seemed too obvious for the prompt. I decided to go with a big theme so I wouldn’t have to waste any space with setup. The original draft was still quite a bit too long. I cut a lot to get it to 300. Let me know what you think.

                Women said, “OK, enough is enough. We’ve been going like this forever. We need a change.”

                “Don’t be silly,” men replied.

                “We’ll strike without change.”

                “Perhaps we can negotiate. What are your demands?”

“We demand the opportunity to work in the same jobs as men,” women answered.

                “We can arrange that. At least for most jobs,” replied Men.

                “All jobs.”

                “Not right away,” Men protested. “You have to prove you can do all the jobs.”

                “Good. We will. We also demand that women’s work be respected and done by men as well.”

                “Wait a minute. We can’t force anyone to respect something. That’s not how respect works. Nor can we force people to take jobs they don’t want.”

                “But it’s only fair. . .”

                Men interrupted, “Life isn’t fair. If any men want to be nurses or secretaries or do housework, we won’t stop them, but that’s the best we can do.”

                Women asked, “Who will do all of the women’s work?”

                “Women will. You can’t just stop doing the work you’ve always done. It will take time to transition. Society will break down otherwise.”

                “But how can we do men’s jobs if we keep doing women’s jobs?”

                “You’re the ones who wanted to do our jobs,” Men answered. “You’ll have to figure that out.”

                “Then you’ll have to compensate us if we’re doing both.”

                “That’s just absurd. Teachers and nurses already get paid. We can’t pay you for housework or child rearing, they don’t generate any revenue.”

                Women said, “So, you’ll allow us to work in men’s jobs, if we can prove we’re qualified. But you won’t do women’s work, or respect it, or compensate it. Is that the best we can get?”

                “It is.”

                “I guess we’ll have to take it,” Women said.

                “We think that went well.”

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