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The Art of Seduction: more than manipulation
on July 17, 2012
Hmm. I feel like a lot of the negative reviews (my focus) are caught up in labeling this book somehow misogynistic and manipulative at its core. And I certainly agree to an extent: the language that Greene uses is definitely suggestive of manipulation and in many ways focuses on upsetting the power balances that naturally occur in relationships. But I think that those who focus on this point entirely are very cynical. In our modern age, we have lost touch with art. We have lost touch with patience. Even writing this review was a matter of pointing, clicking - and I am running more on a general feeling here than I am attempting to make careful points.
So, to answer to those who labeled this book dangerous, misogynistic, manipulative, superficial, etc., I'd like to make a few points. Greene is careful to explain that "the art of seduction" originates in the feminine mystique, and that men have adopted it because they recognize the great power that it holds. So, good job ladies. Sure, society still has a ways to go in order to truly honor any REAL notion of equality between genders, but if you see a man reading this book, it is because he is trying to master the art that originated in the depths, mysteriousness and natural power of femininity. (And besides, how difficult is it to seduce most men? Many of us are simple creatures.) The arguments about misogyny also seem to originate in our societal attitudes towards sex - but this book is not about how to get laid. Certainly, sexual interactions play a role in seduction, but this book is more about how to win people over.
Now, the manipulative part. The language in this book certainly suggests that manipulation is really they key to seduction. Greene labels the seduced "victims" and "targets", etc. But here's the thing, in my humble opinion: our society is excessively individualistic. We have all been socialized to think of how to "get what we want". And look at the TREMENDOUS deficit in emotional capital that we find in Western society... This book does not talk about seduction in terms of magically forcing people to do what you want. It talks about LEARNING HOW TO FULFILL THE NEEDS OF OTHERS in order to GREATLY increase your personal seductive allure. According to Greene (and for the sake of argument only) seduction is about learning to be more focused on the other person than ourselves. It is a reality that EVERY last one of us has needs, and to a large extent it would seem that altruism is an ideal that is beyond the grasp of humanity as a whole. Period. Whether it is a woman chasing security, or a man seeking gratification, we ALL have needs that long to be fulfilled. Those whom Greene labels as the MOST anti-seductive are the people who think exclusively of their own needs. What if your need is to find the woman of your dreams, and because of your deep love, keep her in your life? Well, this book suggests ways to keep the mystery and spark that we ALL love in a relationship alive and burning. Are there people out there with far shallower needs than are bred by the lofty ideals of love? Absolutely, most of us included (if we really take a good look at ourselves in the mirror). The manipulative language in this book, is perhaps, an effort by Greene to seduce the reader. He appeals to our self interest by labeling those we wish to seduce as targets and victims, and then proceeds to teach us how to step into the mind and heart of that "victim" in order to find creative ways to fulfill the desires of that person. What you do with that knowledge and power will determine whether you are a manipulative scumbag/gold-digger, or a person who is simply trying to improve your social interactions with NOT ONLY the gender of your preference, but people in general.
What I was most struck by in this book was the chapter on "the Anti-Seducer". This chapter really forced me to look at some of my behaviours and to realize, that ultimately, I am acting a large part of the time out of selfishness. My failures in the relationship realm come down to selfishness. But Greene has helped me understand where that selfishness is simply a real need to move forward with my life, or an utter inability to empathize with others. I would venture that most of us have problems with recognizing the distinction in ourselves and others' behaviours.
The book is easy to read and intriguing, and surprisingly enough seems to work. It's a long read, so I would recommend taking notes on anything you find particularly interesting for your own review at a later date, just as a refresher. That's enough of my windbaggery! Hope you all find what you're looking for.