Vilar writes, "Men have been trained and conditioned by women, not unlike the way Pavlov conditioned his dogs, into becoming their slaves. Vilar states that this has been going on for some time. The author says that social definitions and norms , such as the idea that women are weak, are constructed by women with their needs in mind. Vilar explains how it works: if women are viewed as weak, less is expected of them; and therefore they are given more leeway in society than men.
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Shelves: , feminism-and-other-politics Originally published in , during the height of the Womens Movement, this book was actually quite popular and controversial in its day. Over time, like so many books popular in their own age, the notoriety has dwindled. But the book seems to have developed a small following within the mens movement and the darker recesses of what is often called the manosphere. To her credit, Vilar is a clear, articulate writer, good at conveying her points and only a chore to read when she hammers at them too much.
The basic gist of her thesis is that women are parasites, manipulating men into doing the work for them, so they can live free of worry in domestic wastefulness. While this idea will immediately make most feminists like myself gag, quite a bit of what Vilar presents meshes with most feminism, and Vilar has identified herself as a feminist.
She takes a basically constructionist, non-essentialist view that women are not born with this attitude but are taught. The general notion that the traditions of paternalism and chivalry are in fact negative and destructive to adult relationships is also in keeping with general feminist views. Where she diverges from most feminism and probably why she drew so much criticism is where she places the primary blame.
It is not men who force this system onto women, but women who use what ostensibly seems a subordinate position to subjugate men. Topping from the bottom, so to speak. Men are, after all, the ones who do the work, the ones who are expected to provide, to take the risks, to bear the hardest physical burdens. On the one hand, women are stupid and uncreative, yet they expertly manipulate men through a covert matriarchy, while men believe they are really in control.
It might be that much of this manipulation is unconscious, but to do it well requires some brainpower. And though she seems quite convinced that men have accomplished a lot more, she also dismisses them for needing to subjugate themselves to a god or a woman Daddy and Mommy.
Her argument often hinges on broad generalizations that are, unsurprisingly, questionable. But come on. I could go on, but you get the picture. But Vilar has no problem blithely dismissing that text as merely copying the ideas of men, focusing on what they wrote of women, rather than women themselves.
Part of why Beauvoir was doing was analyzing how women has been cast as the Other. By men, mostly. But Beauvoir does, in fact, cite a few female writers. Vilar dismisses educated women everywhere as trained parrots, mimicking what the men have done while creating nothing of their of their own.
Considering that, as she says, men are responsible for the culture and everything, what else is one supposed to do? What other legacy have I, as a woman, got to draw from? Oddly, this criticism puts her in close company with radical feminists of a separatist bent, who she also criticizes for dithering over details. She ends on a pessimistic note, not believing men or women will have the guts to free themselves of this system, a system I am not sure works precisely as she imagines it.
What is bizarrely absent is any discussion of violence, coercion, and abuse, issues that have always been a touchstone of feminism. She does not even, like many MRAs nowadays, divert the issue to abuse sexual and otherwise against men. On either end, it is unfortunate that she avoids it and weakens her overall argument. Mostly I wanted to pick something apart in more depth than most fans or detractors have bothered to do. At least then I could laugh a bit more at the ridiculous things being said.
The Manipulated Man