(Thanks to publishers: Pinter & Martin)
Author's Introduction [to "The Manipulated Man"]
Over twenty-five years have passed since the publication of my book The Manipulated Man - a pamphlet written in great anger against the women's movement's worldwide monopoly of opinion. The determination with which those women portrayed us as victims of men not only seemed humiliating but also unrealistic. If someone should want to change the destiny of our sex - a wish I had then as I have today - then that someone should attempt to do so with more honesty. And possibly also with a little humour. I would like to take the opportunity presented by the re-issue of my book to answer two questions which I am asked again and again in this context.
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 criticise 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. 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, then the advertisements targeted at us 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 become, the more that increasing unemployment forces them to adopt obsequious behaviour towards customers and superiors - then 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 feminism 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 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 arrogant accusations, the macho man would no longer exist, except perhaps in the movies. If the press stylise 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 didn't 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 canonisation of her own sex is also opposed to equal wages and equal opportunities? In other words, if I had known then what I know today, I probably wouldn't have written this book. And that is precisely the reason why I am so glad to have written it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the handful of people who have stood up for me and my work. Typically, most of them were women.
The second question I am often asked is about the topicality of the opinions I expressed then. To what extend is what I described over twenty-five years ago still relevant to the "new woman" and the "new man"?
Here is a list of issues which I recognised in the original book to be men's most significant disadvantages compared to women.
- Men are conscripted; women are not.
- Men are sent to fight in wars; women are not.
- Men retire later than women (even though, due to their lower life-expectancy, they should have the right to retire earlier).
- Men have almost no influence over their reproduction (for males, there is neither a pill nor abortion - they can only get the children women want them to have).
- Men support women; women never, or only temporarily, support men.
- Men work all their lives; women work only temporarily or not at all.
- Even though men work all their lives, and women work only temporarily or not at all, on average, men are poorer than women.
- Men only "borrow" their children; woman can keep them (as men work all their lives and women do not, men are automatically robbed of their children in cases of separation - with the reasoning that they have to work).
As one can see, if anything, the female position of power has only consolidated. Today a career in the military is also open to women in many countries - but without conscription for all.
Many achieved for themselves the right to practice their job for the same number of years as their male colleagues - however, the retirement age was not increased for all of us. And now as before, it does not occur to the underprivileged to fight against this grotesque state of affairs. Only as far as the sixth point is concerned, has there been a significant change. In the more entertaining spheres of work, there are more and more women who happily and willingly work and still keep their jobs despite having the children they nevertheless desire. But only a few of these women would be prepared to offer a life of comfort not only to their children but also the children's fathers, supported by their often substantial salaries; and fewer would further be prepared, in case of a separation, to give up their home and offspring and support the next admirer with what is left of her income.
Also, men would not like it: emancipation may be fine, but to be "kept" by a woman is still not acceptable - housekeeping and raising children is not worthy of a "real" man. Sadly, women's manipulation of men is as topical today in the UK as it was back then, but so are the measures which could be used to end it - to the benefit of both sexes.
In the meantime, however, there are already a few feminists who are talking also about men as human beings, so the continuation of this discussion may not have to be conducted quite so loudly.
Esther Vilar, August 1998
The Slave's Happiness
The lemon-coloured MG skids across the road and the woman driver brings it to a somewhat uncertain halt. She gets out and finds her left front tyre flat. Without wasting a moment she prepares to fix it: she looks towards the passing cars as if expecting someone. Recognising this standard international sign of woman in distress ("weak female let down my by male technology"), a station wagon draws up. The driver sees what is wrong at a glance and says comfortingly, "Don't worry. We'll fix that in a jiffy."
To prove his determination, he asks for her jack. He does not ask if she is capable of changing the tyre herself because he knows - she is about thirty, smartly dressed and made-up - that she is not.
Since she cannot find a jack, he fetches his own, together with his other tools. Five minutes later the job is done and the punctured tyre properly stowed. His hands are covered with grease. She offers him an embroidered handkerchief, which he politely refuses. He has a rag for such occasions in his tool box.
The woman thanks him profusely, apologising for her "typically feminine" helplessness. She might have been there till dusk, she says, had he not stopped. He makes no reply and, as she gets back into the car, gallantly shuts the door for her. Through the wound-down window he advises her to have her tyre patched at once and she promises to get her petrol station attendant to see to it that very evening. Then she drives off.
As the man collects his tools and goes back to his own car, he wishes he could wash his hands. His shoes - he has been standing in the mud while changing the tyre - are not as clean as they should be (he is a salesman). What is more he will have to hurry to keep his next appointment. As he starts the engine he thinks, "Women! One's more stupid than the next". He wonders what she would have done if he had not been there to help. He puts his foot on the accelerator and drives off - faster than usual. There is the delay to make up. After a while he starts to hum to himself.
In a way, he is happy.
Almost any man would have behaved in the same way - and so would most women. Without thinking, simply because men are men and women are so different from them, a woman will make use of a man whenever there is the opportunity. What else could the woman have done when her car broke down? She has been taught to get a man help. Thanks to his knowledge, he was able to change the tyre quickly - and at no cost to herself. True, he ruined his clothes, put his business in jeopardy and endangered his own life by driving too fast afterwards. Had he found something else wrong with her car, however, he would have repaired that, too. That is what his knowledge of cars is for! Why should a woman learn to change a flat tyre when the opposite sex (half the world's population) is able and willing to do it for her?
Women let men work for them, think for them and take on their responsibilities - in fact, they exploit them.
Since men are strong, intelligent and imaginative, while women are weak, unimaginative and stupid, why isn't it men who exploit women?
Could it be that strength, intelligence and imagination are not prerequisites for power but merely qualifications for slavery?
Could it be that the world is not being ruled by experts but by beings who are not fit for anything else - by women?
And if this is so, how do women manage it so that their victims do not feel themselves cheated and humiliated, but rather believe to be themselves what they are least of all - masters of the universe?
How do women manage to instill in men this sense of pride and superiority that inspires them to ever greater achievements?
Why are women never unmasked?
"If a young man gets married, starts a family, and spends the rest of his life working at a soul-destroying job, he is held up as an example of virtue and responsibility. The other type of man, living only for himself, working only for himself, doing first one thing and then another simply because he enjoys it and because he has to keep only himself, sleeping where and when he wants, and facing woman when he meets her, on equal terms and not as one of a million slaves, is rejected by society. The free, unshackled man has no place in its midst."
"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."
"If praise is applied in the correct dosage a woman will never need to scold. Any man who is accustomed to a regular and conditional dosage of praise will interpret its absence as displeasure."
"Someday it will dawn on man that woman does not read the wonderful books with which he has filled his libraries, and though she may well admire his marvelous works of art in museums she herself will rarely create, only copy."