In The Manipulated Man (1971), author Esther Vilar argues that women contribute nothing to society and, contrary to what feminists believe, women are not oppressed but shrewd manipulators skilled at controlling men for their own benefit.
- Women manipulate men to take care of them
- Men happily oblige because thanks to indoctrination and societal pressure they don’t know any better
- At the core, women are stupid and men are the only ones who move society forward
About the Author:
Esther Vilar studied medicine at the University of Buenos Aires and emigrated to West Germany in 1960 to continue her studies in psychology and sociology. She worked as a doctor for a year and then had a string of jobs before making a name for herself as a critic of the feminist movement.
1. Men Have It Bad, Women Have It Good
Vilar says it’s the opposite of what feminists say:
It’s men who “have it bad” and women who enjoy an easy life.
For example, Vilar points out that:
- Men go to war, women do not (or don’t have to)
- Men retire later in spite they have a shorter life expectancy
- Men have no say in whether or not to have a child (women decide whether to abort or keep it)
- Men support women (the other way around is exceedingly rare)
- Men work all their lives (women temporarily)
- Men are poorer than women
My Note: A mix of truths (albeit still generalizations), and an unsubstantiated claim
Some of these statements were true, or partially true at the time Vilar wrote.
At least when looking at society in general, rather than looking at individuals.
Some of these claims are still true today like men having little say on whether or not to have a child.
But for “men being poorer” there was no data and I have no idea how she came up with that.
I’m personally also unconvinced by her conclusion that “women have it easier”.
In my opinion, it would be equally possible to make a list of why women have it harder than men.
At the end of the day, life is what you make it to be and what you focus on. And it’s not written anywhere men have to work harder all their lives, or “have it worse” than most women do.
2. Men Are Intelligent, Women Stupid
One theme of the book that some readers are speechless about is Vilar’s claim that men are strong, intelligent, and imaginative while women are weak, unimaginative, and stupid.
My Note: Some unsubstantiated claims
It would be easy to dismiss this claim as “nonsense”, yet I believe it’s only fair to give it a proper analysis, which we will do in the “criticism” section.
- Are happy to do house chores because it’s “at their level”
- Will not pursue sciences even when given the opportunity and freed of house chores
- Couldn’t care less about politics
- Only have material demands, never intellectual
- Are not embarrassed by men’s intellectual superiority because have no ambition there
- Only care about what immediately impacts them
- Are unemotional: they just pretend of having feelings
- Are intelligent
- Advance the sciences
- Are interested in technical machinery
3. Men Shouldn’t Treat Women Like Equals
Men often mistake women as being at their same level, says the author.
So they give them the right to vote (ugh!), access to universities, and try to free them of house chores by inventing all kinds of systems and machinery.
But women still don’t do what men thought they would do.
They don’t go into politics, they don’t advance the sciences and they don’t busy themselves with any meaningful intellectual pursuits.
4. Women Enslave Men
Another theme of The Manipulated Man is women’s enslaving of men.
But one might wonder: if men are intelligent and women mostly stupid, how can they enslave men?
To this contradiction of sorts, Esther Vilar replies that women enslave men by leveraging their stupidity and looking childlike.
Men feel compelled to look after women because… Who would it otherwise?
The second pillar of enslavement is society-conditioning.
Men simply grow up with the idea of having to take care of women and they never challenge it.
And society then self-reinforce that idea. If a man doesn’t work, provide, and take care of a woman, then he is considered a failure.
The pressure then keeps him there, working even in jobs and positions that he despises.
The third pillar is indoctrination.
Who takes care of children?
It’s women, and women indoctrinate them into the ways of society, such as: taking care of women.
Read here for a complete list of enslavement tools:
How Women Enslave Men
- Conditioning from childhood
- Social conditioning: it’s masculine to work, feminine to do nothing
- Pressure from society (not providing is seen as a failure)
- By looking silly and child-like on purpose (leverage his protecting instincts)
- Pretending that housework is difficult
- With their stupidity, they become inscrutable to more intelligent beings
- Make him feel smarter and stronger (and like they can’t do stuff themselves)
- With sex (she needs it less than him)
I agree that women have developed several tools for controlling men.
But so have men, which is part of how the sexed engage in sexual conflict.
However, I disagree with the idea that women always win, and by default.
Sometimes women are also victims and manipulated, and not always the manipulators.
Men also play games and manipulate, after all.
For more, read on:
For a more correct review of how women actually control men, see:
5. The Exception of The Emancipated Female
Esther Vilar finally makes an exception to the rule of parasitic women’s style of living.
The exception is the “emancipated” female.
However, the exception is more appearance than reality, as the author proceeds to dismantle the idea of emancipation.
She categorized emancipated females as follows:
- Has to work because he can’t manage to sustain her
- Cannot have children
- Is ugly
- Is actually emancipated
- Has a particular interest in a certain career
Only beautiful women can be truly emancipated though because an ugly woman has no sexual market value, no leverage, and never really had any other option.
The emancipated female still takes advantage of the system though.
To begin with, it’s easier to raise quickly through the ranks for the simple fact that she is a woman. Since there are so few women around, she stands out.
And still, she makes a big show of how hard it is being a woman in a man’s world and how many headwinds she had to face.
The women who actually achieve a lot provide great help for the majority of women who keep living on a man’s dime.
They can point their finger at them and say “look what I have given up (to stay at home and be with you)”.
I loved “The Manipulated Man“.
And for when it was written, it was brave, courageous, and provided a much-needed counterweight to feminism.
Yet, there is also much to criticize:
1. Tin Foil Hat Level of Conspiracies
Conspiracy theories sometimes are correct.
But rarely so when they paint against the grain of human nature and social dynamics.
Here are some conspiracies in The Manipulated Man that left me a bit cold:
- Women manipulate male children into serving other women (why would want women to handicap their own children? Makes no evolutionary sense!)
- Women all pretend that house chores are dull, but they actually like them (data? Evidence? Surveys?)
- The press all conspires to paint men as rapacious wolves (a “WIIFT” is missing. What’s in it for the press to conspire against men?)
I don’t think there is any “female design” to indoctrinate men, and I don’t think the press all converge into sharing an ideology that is good for one gender and terrible for another.
Why would male journalists want to handicap themselves?
Sure, some of them do it because it’s a sexual strategy. But it’s a weak form of sexual strategy, and many men are aware of that.
Also, I don’t buy the idea that people can be so easily manipulated into doing things that are obviously bad for them.
If you do your own research you will realize that influencing people to take action that goes against their beliefs and interests is far from simple (check The Social Animal for example).
2. Staying at home only good for her?
The author paints the choice of staying at home for the woman as only good for her and her selfish needs.
And it never really considers that it might actually be good for everyone.
Instead, here is a possible different view: it’s good for her, it’s good for children, and it’s good for society too since those children grow up with more supervision.
And that means, in turn, less crime, better education, and a better future for them and society.
I’m not saying this is the truth, I’m only saying that the choice of the woman staying at home is not as simple and clear-cut as the author makes it out to be.
3. Overall, poor understanding of human nature & power dynamics
The Manipulated Man is genius as it is politically incorrect at times.
For example, when it explains that (many) women are not interested in intellectual pursuits and focus instead on what’s practical and useful (for them).
However, in other passages, it is equally poor in basic psychology and human understanding.
For example, the author says that women don’t care about men and only want to impress other women. She says women dress up for other women, not for men.
So here I say it: it’s just plain wrong of Esther Vilar to say that women don’t care what men think.
Women do care, and care a lot, about what men think.
As a matter of fact, we could probably say that what men think, for women, is a matter of procreation and non-procreation and, therefore, a matter of life and death.
4. Factually wrong in several instances
The complete lack of scientific basis in “The Manipulated Man” surfaces in several factually wrong passages.
For example, I quote:
(..) But women are not capable of the unconditional love a child should have. This can easily be proved. Women only care for their own children, never those of others.
Without any emotion – love, hate, or malice – she is bound to the man who works for her.
The assertion that women have no emotions or feelings is nonsense.
If that were the case, women would all be classified as psychopaths. But they’re not.
5. Poor Understanding of Social Dynamics
The Manipulated Man never stops considering the transactional element of human social dynamics.
Esther Vilar never considers that the “contract” between men and women is just another transaction, which often results in both parties being, if not really happy, at least “cool with it”.
And some men are actually happy with the non-written contract of “I support you, you take care of the house and let me have sex”.
While some other men are actually pimping it by giving women resources while banging them without any hustles.
Instead, she lumps all men-women relationships into the category of “women manipulate men”.
And that’s taken me to the other critic:
6. Simplistic view of society
The gender roles and society described in The Manipulated Man are extremely simplistic and very black and white.
It’s reminiscent of communism and Marxism.
And indeed the people who glorify this book are often part of their own cult.
All nuances are lost here.
Reality is complex, exceptions abound, and people have countless and sometimes even competing drives… Any black-and-white theory is almost bound to also be wrong in many aspects.
6. The “women are stupid” assertion
To be clear: it’s not true that women, on average, are less intelligent than men.
However, it is a fact that men are responsible for more scientific discoveries and groundbreaking new products.
Many women indeed are eminently practical and, on average, less interested than men in philosophical theories, scientific pursuits, and new discoveries.
And some women are indeed content to settle for less and let their men do the work.
That much is true.
But not that women are stupid.
There is no real difference in IQ between men and women.
7. The “Women Bad, Men Good” Nonsense
It’s true that men pursue more scientific discoveries and are more active in advancing society.
However, it’s also true that they pursue more weapons of mass destruction and start and engage in more destructive endeavors that set society back.
In a nutshell, men both build more and destroy more.
So far, overall, the trend has always been towards more advancement than setbacks.
But it’s up to all of us to keep it that way.
The Manipulated Man Reception
On the other hand, it has, of course, managed to royally piss off feminist movements, with the author receiving a number of death threats -which is shameful-.
If you speak German, this is a video interview of Esther Vilar with Alice Schwarzer, a famous feminist leader in Germany (a nation where feminism is huge).
Schwarzer told Vilar that she is not only sexist but also fascist.
Calling people who disagree with some aspects of feminism “fascists” is a typical feminist power move
The Manipulated Man Quotes
These are some of the most shocking, entertaining, eye-opening, or utterly nonsensical quotes I have found in the book (I let you pick which is which):
On the wedding ring as branding:
Apart from a wedding ring – worn to show that he is being used by a particular woman for a particular purpose – a proper man wears no ornaments.
On “the system” screwing up men:
No matter what a man’s job may be – bookkeeper, doctor, bus driver, or managing director – every moment of his life will be spent as a cog in a huge and pitiless system – a system designed to exploit him to the utmost, to his dying day.
On men stuck working for women:
(…) but he will never be able to say, Ì’m bored. I want to do something else!’ The woman who is exploiting him will never permit him to look for something else.
The definition of “woman”:
What is a woman? A woman, as we have already said, is, in contrast to a man, a human being who does not work.
On women growing more stupid as they age:
Women do not use their mental capacity: they deliberately let it disintegrate. (…) It is not essential for their survival. Theoretically it is possible for a beautiful woman to have less intelligence than a chimpanzee and still be considered an acceptable member of society.
By the age of twelve at the latest, most women have decided to become prostitutes. Or, to put it another way they have planned a future for themselves which consists of choosing a man and letting him do all the work. In return for his support, they are prepared to let him make use of their vagina at certain given intervals.
On women’s practical nature:
A woman takes interest only in subjects that have an immediate personal usefulness to her. For example, if she reads a political article in the newspaper, it is highly likely that she wants to cast a spell on some political-science student, not that she cares about the fate of the Chinese, Israelis, or South Africans.
On men being better even at typically female jobs:
If one wishes to have an unusual culinary treat, generally one will not find it at home but at a restaurant, where, of course, the chef is male (LOL)
On men stupid enough to fight women’s wars:
Without thinking, men fight women’s wars, father women’s children and construct women’s towns. Women just sit back getting lazier, dumber and more demanding – and, at the same time, richer.
On men unable to see women for the stupid beings they are:
(…) are incapable of seeing women as they really are: with nothing else to offer but a vagina, two breasts and some punch cards programmed with idle, stereotyped chatter;
On using prostitutes instead of women:
It would be more economical for a man to satisfy his sexual needs with a prostitute instead of rushing into marriage (‘prostitute’ in the conventional sense – strictly speaking, most women belong in this group).
On women and animals:
Women live an animal existence. They like eating, drinking, sleeping – even sex, providing there is nothing to do and no real effort is required of them.
On the nonsense of “female instinct”:
Unfortunately, this famous feminine instinct is really nothing but a euphemism for statistical probability. Women interfere and give opinions about everything (..) According to the law of averages, their forecasts will be correct now and again.
On women attending college to find a husband:
If a woman leaves the university with an engagement ring on her finger, she has earned her degree
Don’t Become a Butler
Watch out for the tendencies of women to task men and watch out for the rather common pattern of men doing everything for their girlfriends and wives.
Please read the “The Manipulated Man Criticism” section for a more in-depth overview.
- Misogynist & Often Too Harsh
I found some paragraphs and passages’ tones to be way too harsh (and needlessly mean). For example:
they (women) have a choice – a choice between the life of a man and the life of a dimwitted, parasitic luxury item.
(…) women are good for almost nothing.
- Nasty View on Some Professions (Doctors)
The Manipulated Man says that men are in a certain line of work because of female manipulation.
Doctors are one such example. I quote:
The fear of being rejected by society must be considerable. Why else will a doctor spend his life opening up nauseating growths, examining and pronouncing on human excretions? Why else does he busy himself night and day with people of such repulsiveness that everyone else is driven away?
I found that description very nasty. What if a doctor took pride in helping people? Is there no altruism in The Manipulated Man‘s world?
Can Be Eye-Opening
For men who have been buying too hard into the idea of having to provide for women, this book can be an eye-opener.
If they can move past their normal, knee-jerk pushback, that is.
Hard, Un-PC Truths
I have to hand it to Esther Vilar, she shares some unpopular truths. But the fact that they are unpopular doesn’t make it any less true.
- Women don’t need to be intelligent (at least the attractive ones)
- Many relationships are indeed a non-written exchange of sex for support
- Many women do position their relationships with men serving them
- Some emancipated angry women end up being so for lack of options
This is one of those (few) books that it’s really, really hard to rate.
The Manipulated Man has some genius content that you won’t read elsewhere.
And it can be eye-opening and useful to some men, helping them break free of relationships where they act as servants more than partners.
Even to men who have not been running around for women, it could still further open their eyes to some intra-sex dynamics.
It’s a great read after No More Mr. Nice Guy, in that sense.
On the other hand, it’s also terrible in many other areas.
From a mindset point of view, by painting a world where women have it easy and men do not, Esther Vilar provides an easy valve for men who want to complain.
Complaining might be simply a bad mindset of learned helplessness, or actual misogyny.
Scientifically speaking, The Manipulated Man is farcical. And it also fails in its understanding of basic facts of human psychology, including evolutionary psychology, and the true dynamics of the sexual marketplace.
Women don’t have the power they have over men only because they’re good manipulators.
Women tend to have more power because, on average “sperm is cheap and gestation is not”.
It would be too long to explain here the power dynamics of the sexual marketplace, but, in many areas, Esther Vila simply spreads misinformation.
In a nutshell: The Manipulated Man can be eye-opening, but it can also be a virus of misinformation.
I would give it:
- 4.5 stars for groundbreaking view on women manipulating men into “butlering” them
- 0 stars for scientific rigor, general misogyny, social and psychological mishaps, sweeping generalizations
That being said, would I recommend you read The Manipulated Man?
Get ready to discard a lot of information, then delve in and avoid becoming some bitch’s butler :).