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The Manipulated Man (German: Der Dressierte Mann) is a 1971 book by author Esther Vilar. The main idea behind the book is that women are not oppressed by men but rather control men to their advantage. A third edition of the book was released in January 2009.
The book argues 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.
Vilar writes, “Men have been trained and conditioned by women, not unlike the way Pavlov conditioned his dogs, into becoming their slaves. As compensation for their labours men are given periodic use of a woman’s vagina.” The book contends that young boys are encouraged to associate their masculinity with their ability to be sexually intimate with a woman, and that a woman can control a man by socially empowering herself to be the gate-keeper to his sense of masculinity. In addition, Vilar states that this has happened and 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 therefore they are given more leeway in society than men. The concept of “gold-diggers” is referenced, with Vilar stating that is a fundamental trait of women as a whole. Furthermore, it is stated that to help control men, praise is only given to a man when a woman’s needs are met in some way.
Vilar claims that women can control their emotional reactions whereas men cannot, and that women create overly-dramatized emotional reactions to attempt to control men and get their way. She says that women “blackmail” men, with emotion blackmail being their most common tactic, and use sex as a tool.
The book argues that women use traditions and concepts of love and romance, which are seen more positively than sex, to control men’s sexual lives. Vilar writes that men gain nothing from marriage and that women, who are out to get men’s money, coerce them into marriage under the pretense that it is romantic.
The book closes with Vilar stating that it would be difficult to change the situation, as women are unsympathetic to the plight of men along with not wanting to give up their comfortable position in society and that men need to see past the deception and emotional blackmail and call it out before any meaningful changes can occur.
The Manipulated Man was quite popular at the time of its release, in part due to the considerable press coverage it received.
The author Esther Vilar appeared on The Tonight Show on February 21, 1973, to discuss the book. In 1975 she was invited to a televised debate by WDR with Alice Schwarzer, who became known as the representative of the women’s movement at that time. The debate was controversial, in particular due to its high aggressiveness, and at some point Schwarzer claimed Vilar was “not only sexist, but fascist”, also comparing her book with the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer.
According to the author, she received death threats over the book:
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.
According to research from the Spanish Book Institute, the Spanish translated version (under the title El Varón Domado) was the third-most popular book sold in Spain in 1975.
Jump up ^ E. Vilar, “Der dressierte Mann”, radio-interview (in german) ARD, November 7, 1971. Retrieved in December 19, 2011.
Jump up ^ Excerpts from the debate can be seen in the documentary about Alice Schwarzer, available in the “Deutschland – Lenker und Gestalter” series of 12 DVDs released in Germany, and in a recent Schwarzer interview aired in September 27, 2011, and available in the ARD website. The full-42 minute debate can be obtained directly from WDR in DVD here.
Jump up ^ Im Clinch (in german) Der Spiegel, February 10, 1975. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
Jump up ^ Frau gegen Frau (in german) Die Zeit, June 16, 2005. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
Jump up ^ Esther Vilar, The Manipulated Man, revised edition, August 1998
Jump up ^ Folha de S.Paulo, Ilustrada, p.5, January 28, 1976 (in Portuguese) – Retrieved December 29, 2011.
Vilar, Esther. “Author’s Introduction to “The Manipulated Man””. Misogny. The Absolute.
Pinter & Martin, English publishers
Categories: 1971 books Criticism of feminism Gender studies literature German books
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