on December 19, 2002
This is one of the most enlightening books I've ever read. Esther Vilar is one of the few women who dare to criticize their own sex and the way feminism is going. But she makes clear that she *does* want women to be emancipated - as long as they are willing to accept responsibilities the way men do. Vilar is able to explain why discrimination against women in the professional world is women's own fault: the pay cheque of a man who is prepared to support his wife for years is more valuable and necessary than the pay cheque of a woman who won't support a man and who insists on a money-earning husband.
Quote: "The 'woman with a family' - the woman who supports a healthy man and his children all her life - is practically unknown in the professional world. Who should be held responsible for this situation: employer or woman?" (to be found in the last but one chapter, the one about Women's Lib)
It may seem impolite when I say it, but it's a plain fact that most women only marry men who want to earn money and that women - at the same time - have the nerve to say that no man wants to stay at home anyway...
It's also a plain fact that Esther Vilar has been the victim of censorship (however "unofficial" censorship it may be): in the most important Western country, the U.S., The Manipulated Man has been removed from many libraries, most of her other work is not even sold in English. TV stations, magazines and papers in most Western countries constantly ignore everything Esther Vilar writes and says. Coincidence? Besides, there are many people on the Internet who claim that they've read her books, but deliberately tell lies about her books: e.g. they say that Vilar is old-fashioned and that she wants women to stay at home - a simple lie. Some anonymous people even insult Vilar's fans, using offensive words - the main characteristic of those haters is their unability to discuss the real *contents* of Vilar's books and to give reasons for their opinions...
...and so I really wonder how much time will pass until everyone finally realizes that *both* men and women can benefit from this book. I like the text on the back of the cover which says: "[...] But Vilar's intention is not misogynous. She maintains that only if men and women look at their place in society with honesty, will there be any hope for change."
on September 1, 2005
I first heard about this book while reading Fitzgerald's Sexploitation. It was so old that I did not even bother to put it on my wish list. Then, as the years went by, I talked to more and more men who treasured The Manipulated Man. One fellow even went so far as to pdf the initial edition and distribute it among to his friends. As a result of the accolades, I realized that I had to read the work for myself. All I can say is that I'm surprised it turned out to be as good as it is. Yes, it is too severe in some of its observations, but not as much as Sexploitation was. Villar, even when she overstates, makes far more accurate points about men and women than our media ever do. There is more truth in this slim volume than in all of the collected episodes of Oprah Winfrey. That women favor a material existence devoted to enhancing their own security and accentuating pleasure seems to be undeniable based on my life experience. It is a reality of which Villar makes us completely aware. Also, men really do evaluate women from an equal perspective which is the cause of considerable unhappiness to us. It is inconceivable, from our vantage point, that there are women out there who actually prefer shopping to sex, but that is no doubt often the case.
On just about every second page of this book, the author makes a profound insight. Therefore, I encourage you to take the time to read it. As you do, I'm sure you will wonder, just as did I, about the amount the hell Villar must have caught given the year in which it was originally released. Nothing as potent or virile, in regards to the social transcendence of women, ever before appeared. To Esther Villar, as a man, I say thank you. We are heavily in your debt.
on May 29, 2004
I urge men to read this book. It contains so many incredible nuggets of truth about the way things are today. When I finished it, I could feel so much 'conditioning' falling away from me. It put into words feelings I had only half-grasped, such as:
1. Knowing that I did not deserve the denigrating "all men are(...)" tone which so many women speak with these days.
2. Being told I 'should be happy' in a job, when I knew I was not.
3. Feeling ill-treated by women who I had shown lots of respect and kindness to.
4. Feeling that female friendship is paper-thin and is dropped in a callous, cold-hearted instant.
5. Being made to feel terrible by some women's manipulative, false tears and hysterics.
6. Being made to feel that material goods were incredibly important, when I actually felt that friendship, conversation, ideas, sociability, discovery and thinking are the important things in life.
Society has evolved the way it has, with two roles, Breadwinner and Childcarer. Women find themselves with the Childcarer role, like that role, and want to keep it. The question is: how much do men enjoy the Breadwinner role in today's rather brutal capitalist system? - in the "Iron Cage" as sociologist Max Weber called it. Vilar raises men's consciousness of the fact that they are stuck with the worst role in life.
And to say "That's just the way things are" is a lie, a cop-out, and simply lazy thinking. Forget all old ways of doing things; we must make the future we want.
If your heart leaps with joy on Monday morning, you don't need this book. Otherwise, you do need it.
Thankyou, Ms Vilar, this is such a brave book. I still love women, but I am also much stronger and more aware of what is going on. I will enjoy my freedom so much more now!
on August 24, 2001
I was first given this book by my father several years ago, when I was something like 16, before I had any real experience with women. At that time, I couldn't tell whether Esther is joking or being serious, so I pretty much disregarded what I read. (Interestingly, my mother was rather upset at my father for having given me the book.) Now, after 2 years with a girlfriend that is a prototype of the female that Esther describes, I see how utterly and completely serious she is. The Manipulated Man is about truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Although Esther does write casually and does make contradictory statements in multiple places, the overall message couldn't be healthier. Women are in an advantageous position, and they are exploiting men because they can. That's natural law - they do it because it works. And we, the men, despite our alleged intelligence, are stupid enough to let women walk over us. We're getting the raw end of the deal, and we're accepting it because we were manipulated into thinking that this is what we are supposed to do.
on December 8, 2002
One of the best books of social criticism of the late twentieth century. This tome is perhaps one of the most insightful and clever exposes of the myth that human society is "dominated" by males. Esther Vilar (b. 1935), a physician and playright now living in Spain, reveals the incredibly manipulative and Machiavellian practices of her own gender. The bottom line? Women do not have to be clever, educated, or intelligent: So long as men are willing to compromise their own careers, finances, and physical selves to gain sexual access to females, women do not need to exert themselves. Instead, women allow men to live as worker-drones. The bizarre irony is that men are actually allowed (and encouraged) to believe that males are "in charge." Through cold calculation and an acute, business-like detachment, human females deliberately allow themselves to be thought "helpless" and "deficient." Why? Because pitying males satisfy there own silly egos by actually believing they are "rescuing" the ladies. This clever ruse only allows women the ability to attain their own ultimate goal of staying home, having children, and imbibing in trite social activities. A superb book that not only exposes the absurdity and hypocrisy of "feminism," but will convince any well-read and worldly male to avoid marriage (Is it any wonder this book is not printed in the US?). This book cannot be recommended enough. Vilar's easy-going yet razor-sharp writing style--when combined with her pithy observations about female power--will prove unsettling to any male with the guts or the brains to actually read her book. Outstanding!
on March 5, 2003
I am a woman but I have to say that yes, I know women who are like this.In fact I know a lot of women who are like Vilar described.
The reality is much more complex, and it is different from country to country. I come from Eastern-Europe, and there it is normal for women to have a full job and to take care of the household as well.Also the women from there do not have all the domestic facilities from the Western-Europe or from USA.It is not easy for women from there and not always the men will help them. There, I would say that is the revert situation.
Finally I think, taking advantage is not just a female characteristic, it is human.
on August 30, 2013
I recently finally got around to reading this book. I have been interested in gender issues for decades, because I both want the relationship between men and women to improve issues and, as a person with a lifelong commitment to human rights, I am deeply concerned with injustice regarding both genders. I try to go out of my way to read books that are controversial and I am glad I read this one. If you are a person that likes reading books that are full of stuff you easily agree with, this is not for you. I am not surprised that this women was the target of so many threats.
From almost the first couple of pages I knew this book would be misunderstood and labeled a misogynist screed that should be shunned or destroyed. Not that there aren't things in it that people could well consider misogynist, but that is not the point of the book. To understand the book you have to start with the dedication.
"This book is dedicated to all those whom it does
not mention: to the few men who refuse to be
manipulated, to the few women who are not
venal and all those fortunate enough to have lost
their market value because they are either too
old, too ugly, or too ill"
This dedication is important because illustrates several things.
1) The generalizations she talks about in the body of the book are not intrinsic to the nature of the genders, but instead rampant problems she sees most people passively accept. In fact she repeatedly asserts that women are the intellectual equals of men. She is not trying to denigrate women or men, but label outrageous and sinister behaviors most people take for granted or are even proud of.
2) The book is rightfully called misogynist in that she does in fact have the deepest contempt for the behavior and character of many women, but she does not see women as irredeemable, just shamelessly exploitive. She wants women to be better people.
3) The book is also misandrist in very much the same way it is misogynist. She has genuine contempt for many men, their gullibility and piteous state. As you go through the book, you will see her praise the potential of men and many things men do, but it is always within the context of a life wasted and a mind hobbled by gender manipulation.
4) She similarly sees women as wasting their lives in the ignoble pursuit of manipulating men. She is very frustrated by the lack of genuine ambition, creativity and curiosity women show. Despite the fact that she was an academic, it is clear she is deeply frustrated by the number of women who have chosen to be pseudo intellectual or vapid because it was the easy way through life.
The book is largely a catalog of the ways that women cheat themselves out of real accomplishment by choosing to live their lives through the control of men, and the ways men denigrate themselves to being servile to women. If you don't believe that men are servile to women, she gives ample examples that are as ubiquitous and well known as most of our popular customs. If you can read this book without drowning in rage and with the understanding that she is not referring to every member of either gender, but to behaviors that are simply far too common and easily accepted, I think most people will get a lot out of it. Unfortunately, I don't think most people are capable of being that open-minded.
It is also important for people to realize that she is not just an antifeminst reactionary. Though rad fem theorists were the ones she fought most vehemently with, all of her criticisms apply equally well to traditionalist roles. She does not want to go back to any good old days. Just the opposite. She wants men and women to transcend the roles that traditionalism and feminism are prescribing for them and become full human beings strong enough to resist manipulation or the temptation to manipulate.
Finally, I found the book and easy read. She explains her concepts reasonably well. Her styles is straightforward and clear. Her thought patterns, though not always logically tight, are coherent and easy to follow. The book itself is not very long and is reasonably well organized though she does drift a bit off topic in some sections.
That explained, the book does have problems, and there is good reasons i did not give it 5 stars. Even 4 stars might be a bit generous, but I will go with that because negatives aside it offers real things worth including in gender conversations.
1) It is a work of opinion not scholarship. This disappointed me. She cites a lot of opinions about how men and women work and what they do. I know she is largely correct on these points because of research I have read in other places that support her claims, but most people won't have read this research and i don't blame anyone for doubting her claims regarding things like male psychological vulnerability to female cries of distress and the objectification of women by women for the purposes of status competition. The book needs annotation and in fact that would not be that hard to do.
2) As I said earlier, you have to grit your teeth through the generalizations. "Not all men are like that" and "Not all women are like that", are perfectly legitimate criticisms of the book, but I think the dedication is key to understanding that her universal appearing claims were never meant to be universal.
3) The book is from the early 1970's. Men's and women's roles have changed somewhat since then. Some of the things she says are not as true as they used to be, particularly with regard to women becoming a creative force in society. Nevertheless, TOO MUCH of the book is still relevant today. If anything the vanity industry and the guilt manipulation of men as predators has grown.
4) The book is a polemic. The author is clearly pissed off and trying to be provocative. When she says things like, a good looking woman can have the functional intelligence of a chimpanzee and still be considered a respectable member of our society, she is going to get rage from some and laughs from others. That makes for exciting writing but such intense emotion can undermine serious discussions of what is a reasonable issue to raise, how much of our tolerance of stupidity in pretty women hurts both men and women.
So in sum, the book is good food for thought for people seriously interested in social justice and gender issues, but only if you can do a better job keeping your cool than the author did. The book needs to be understood in context and looked at as a source for interesting ideas rather than a scholarly work that uses tight logic to make an irrefutable case. It is not a book for the easily offended but for the intellectually adventurous.
on August 4, 2000
Man begins life fearing woman's power and thereafter struggles to win her approval. Men are fantasists who will do anything to believe they have this. It is predominantly men who have created defences against the cruelties and harshness of nature from buildings to medicine; men who are driven in often-meaningless, soul-destroying, dangerous or life-threatening work while his partner has the easier life in his house, spending his hard-earned money on leisure, attracting the attention of other people or often taking half of it (would one so easily allow a thief into one's house?) with the best divorce lawyer his money can buy; men who are often tortured about "not being man enough" by being shamed out of expressing affection or being intimate with each other and thus suffer in isolation from low self-esteem and shyness while accumulating other problems out of this fear; men who are most tormented by the need for sexual release with the opposite sex and are thereby so easily used then abandoned by women once their economic utility is over; men who are inclined to crime and violence out of desperation and the need to support family while being more likely to be presumed guilty of cruelty; men who so often fear not being attentive enough to women and protect them from violence or hurt. Yet feminists hypocritically reap the benefits of these exploitations and often ignore, tease and humiliate men about their deep insecurities and struggles.
A pity that Vilar states she did not have space to detail the countless ways in which women manipulate men; perhaps a sequel or an appendix suggesting further reading on female tactics is in order?
Where is Vilar now? Has she received further death threats from members of the gentler and girlier sex?
Check "Beyond The Brain" by Stanislav Grof for a very plausible explanation of the sources of man's fear of woman and suggestions for the way out for all.
on June 8, 2002
Vilar's polemic slashes at the fabric of society. She states clearly and simply what many men and women suspect but dare not say: that men are women's slaves, not the reverse. Anyone interested in the gender wars must read this book. Anyone in Women's Studies, who truly< wants to study gender, must read this book, if only to be exposed to another point of view. True enquiring minds will find this book astonishing. Dogmatic minds will, of course, not even bother to read it.
Is Vilar's version of things correct? Is this the truth? For me, it is as much the "truth" as anything MacKinnon, Dworkin, Steinem or Faludi might write. The difference is that radical feminist writers receive national exposure and speaking engagements for their radical views, while Vilar, equally radical, receives death threats and near-anonymity. If men are really the oppressors then why can MacKinnon and Steinem publish and speak openly, while Vilar is thoroughly suppressed? ....
... Vilar's work, far from reinforcing traditional stereotypes, blows them wide open. She characterizes men as industrious and intelligent, but dupes. She writes that women are vapid and lazy, but also in command. It's enough to set Dworkin groupies AND conservative senators foaming at the mouth. Far from bolstering "traditional" viewpoints, it offends dogmatists on both sides of the fence.
The only unfortunate aspect of the reprint is that the material is dated. Although it is possible for a sympathetic reader to find present-day examples and view contemporary phenomena through her lens, it's annoying that the examples in the book seem to apply better to the 1950's than the year 2000. There is a new foreword by the author in which she states that nothing has changed in thirty years, but I would have preferred that she had updated the book to clearly demonstrate that argument, rather than leaving it to the reader. Vilar claims that the changes brought about by Women's Liberation are superficial, and she has a chapter on the topic, but the rest of the book hasn't caught up. As such, her work is less convincing than it could be.
on December 11, 2005
Ignore the negative reviews by what appears to be a coordinated effort by some within the feminist community. I'm beginning to think the only positive reaction to a book regarding men would be where the men are both docile and servile.
Every book that dares take a sympathetic perspective of the male experience is vilified by the same reviewers over and over. Books by Warren Farrel, Thomas Ellis, etc. are repeatedly denigrated by the same individuals (see L. Saxon).
The perspective of the negative reviewers can be paraphrased with: all things feminine are wonderful, nurturing, artistic, graceful, etc. etc. etc.; all things male are violent, aggressive, repressive, and are the roots of all evil. It's easy for anybody with an open mind to see-this obviously leaves out the feminists-that this is pure hogwash and lunacy. It reveals a stunning ideological narrowness that should be equated with fanaticism.
Their narrow minded perspective, with it's black and white world view is all too reminiscent of G W Bush. I'll bet that makes them shudder!
This book, unfortunately, is all too accurate regarding the female and male of the species. It's not a pretty picture.