…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Esther Vilar, born Esther Margareta Katzen (1935 in Buenos Aires to German-Jewish emigrants) is an Argentinian-German writer. In 1960 she went to West Germany on scholarship, after studying medicine in the University of Buenos Aires, to continue her studies in psychology and sociology. She worked as a doctor in a Bavarian hospital for a year, and has also been a translator, saleswoman, assembly-line worker in a thermometer factory, shoe model, and secretary. She is best known for her 1971 book The Manipulated Man and its various follow-ups, which argue that, contrary to common feminist and women’s rights rhetoric, women in industrialized cultures are not oppressed, but rather exploit a well-established system of manipulating men.
In The Manipulated Man Vilar claims that women are not oppressed by men, but rather control men in a relationship that is to their advantage but which most men are not aware of.
Some of the strategies described in her book are:
Lure men with sex, using seduction strategies
Use praise to control men by administering it carefully
Use emotional blackmail as a means of controlling men
Use of love and romance as a guise to mask her real intentions and motives
In the Introduction to the 2006 edition she wrote:
People often ask me if I would write this book again. Well, I find it right and proper to have done so. But seen from today’s perspective, my courage in those days may only be attributable to a lack of imagination. Despite all I wrote, I could not really imagine the power I was up against. It seemed that one is only allowed to criticize women on the quiet – especially as a woman – and could only expect agreement behind closed doors. As we women have, thanks to our relatively stress-free life, a higher life-expectancy than men and consequently make up the majority of voters in Western industrial nations, no politician could afford to offend us. [Piers Akerman – Dumb women support Gillard] And the media is not interested in discussing the issues involved either. Their products are financed through the advertising of consumer goods, and should we women decide to stop reading a certain newspaper or magazine as its editorial policy displeases us, the the advertisements targeted at us will also disappear. After all, it is well established that women make the majority of purchasing decisions.
However, I had also underestimated men’s fear of re-evaluating their position. Yet the more sovereignty they are losing in their professional lives – the more automatic their work, the more controlled by computers they became, the more that increasing unemployment forces them to adopt obsequious behaviour towards customers and superiors – the more they have to be afraid of a recognition of their predicament. And the more essential it becomes to maintain their illusion that it is not they who are the slaves, but those on whose behalf they subject themselves to such an existence.
As absurd as it may sound: today’s men need feminists much more than their wives do. Feminists are the last ones who still describe men the way they like to see themselves: as egocentric, power-obsessed, ruthless, and without inhibitions when it comes to satisfying their animalistic instincts. Therefore the most aggressive Women’s Libbers find themselves in the strange predicament of doing more to maintain the status quo than anyone else. Without their arrogant accusations the macho man would no longer exist, except perhaps in the movies. If the press didn’t stylize men as rapacious wolves, the actual sacrificial lambs of this ‘men’s society’, men themselves, would no longer flock to the factories so obediently.
So I hadn’t imagined broadly enough the isolation I would find myself in after writing this book. Nor had I envisaged the consequences which it would have for subsequent writing and even for my private life – violent threats have not ceased to this date. A woman who defended the arch-enemy – who did not equate domestic life with solitary confinement and who described the company of young children as a pleasure, not a burden – necessarily had to become a ‘misogynist’, even a ‘reactionary’ and ‘fascist’ in the eyes of the public. Had not Karl Marx determined once and for all that in an industrial society it is us, the women, who are the most oppressed? It goes without saying, doesn’t it, that someone who did not want to take part in the cannonization of her own sex is also opposed to equal wages and equal opportunities?
If you do not have time to read the book, watch the short video: