Feminists’ big lie about women’s oppression
Very few books attract the kind of attention that Esther Vilar’s The Manipulated Man elicited. The book went against the grain and challenged feminist arguments at a time when the West was suffering from the guilt of the realisation that patriarchal structures were oppressive to women.
The central thesis of the book is that all that feminists say about women’s oppression is a lie. It argues that women have never been oppressed. In fact they have, all along, strategised and oppressed men at every stage in their life.
Perhaps that is why feminists and gender activists rarely refer to this text. Scholars, unable to accept the psychological insights that the text brings to the gender debate, have remained tight-lipped. You could call it a conspiracy of silence.
We need to open up this debate in view of the gender wars witnessed today. It is a fact that not all of us have accepted the fact that women are an oppressed lot. Many people are questioning the basis of this argument.
It is, however, true that many of us have bought into the argument that relations of dominance and subordination in our society are driven by patriarchy. Feminists have convinced us to believe that sexual identity, the social and cultural processes underlying the creation of the categories “men” and “women”, are structured to advance oppression of women.
Esther Vilar turns this argument upside down. She argues that, on the contrary, women have trained men to become their slaves. What makes this text perhaps the most controversial and outrageous book ever published on gender relations is its stand on labour and production.
Its misreading of all the philosophies that have guided our understanding of gender is conspicuous. The author argues that man is always searching for something to enslave him. It is only in slavery that he feels secure and, as a rule, his choice falls on a woman as a slave owner, who exploits him in such a way that he feels safe.
Feminists, including Julia Kristeva, Helen Cixous and Luce Irigaray, have illuminated the internal contradictions in patriarchal structures. They attack ordinary notions of identity and selfhood. These scholars reinterpret traditional Freudian psychoanalytic theory and practice.
Their thoughts have roots in Simone de Beauvour’s Second Sex, which questions why women are the second sex or in post-modern terms why the woman is the “other”. Esther Vilar argues that woman has positioned herself to use her ‘‘otherness’’ to her advantage. While Kristeva, Cixious and Irigaray oppose the phallic symbols which have structured Western thought, Esther Vilar argues that a woman’s body is her source of power.
The Manipulated Man posits that woman, in contrast to man, does not engage her mind and body seriously. At birth, men and women have the same potential. But women do not use their potential and their mental capacity disintegrates. Why don’t women make use of their potential? “They do not need to because men are there to work and think for them.”
By the age of 12 most women have decided what to be. They plan a future for themselves which consists of choosing a man and letting him do all the work. In return they provide sex. Vilar attacks fellow women as having no interest in serious literature, politics and the conquest of the universe.
“A woman’s demands on life will always be material, never intellectual.” Anyone who wakes up ready to conquer the world will definitely despise one who is not interested in such pursuits. “Woman takes interest only in that which has immediate personal usefulness to her. Man’s curiosity is universal.” This, to Vilar, explains men’s condescending attitude towards women.
The author becomes even outrageous by arguing that women are happy when men turn to look at them. They dress not to impress men, but to hold them to ransom. Man has importance only as a provider. Woman is immune to the looks of the opposite sex.
“If a woman flirts with her husband’s best friend, her intention is to annoy his wife whose feelings do matter unlike those of her husband.” The author of this book argues that it is the female sector of the population that spends the most money. This money is earned by men for them to spend.
Manufacturers do not attempt to stimulate sales by advertising through display of handsome men. They use a beautiful woman. Men are simply providers and so the two sexes have almost nothing in common. “What, besides money, can bind a woman to a man?” she asks.
Man is looked at as a pathetic creature; some kind of Sisyphus. He has come into the world to learn to work and to father children and this will continue forever. Vilar wonders why a young man who gets married, starts a family and spends the rest of his life working at a soul destroying job.
The man living for himself, working only for himself, sleeping where he likes, is rejected by society! That is why the free unshackled man has no place in a society that is structured in favour of women.
This book raises many serious questions that call intellectual introspection: Is it true that man is dependent on women from cradle to grave? Do men prefer to subjugate themselves to a deity called woman? Do men trust women because they are their surrogate mothers? Is man happy only when he is praised by a woman?
Experts on language will find this book interesting especially in its revelations about the secret language of women. The author argues that when a woman says “I love you”, she simply means you are an excellent workhorse!
When she says “I don’t believe in women’s liberation”, she simply means I am not such a fool. I would rather let you do the work for me.” More outrageous to some readers would be the assertion that woman will marry a man simply because he is wealthy. Sex is a reward that she is ready to provide.
Esther Vilar has an interesting suggestion to men in this world: if you want freedom, do not rush into marriage. Nevertheless, man has been manipulated by woman to the level where he cannot live without her. He fights for his life and calls it love! Do you agree?
To access a copy of this book go to: http://dontmarry.files.wordpress.com/
Prof Kabaji is the Director of Public Affairs and Communication in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs email@example.com