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The Manipulated Man by Esther Vilar
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it was amazing

A Masterpiece of Unmitigated Misogyny
H.L. Mencken defined a misogynist as “A man who hates women almost as much as women hate one another”. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the only truly woman-hating book ever to be written in modern times – or at least ever to be published by a mainstream publisher – was penned by a female hand.

Turning feminism on its head, Esther Vilar views women as “dim-witted parasitic luxury items”, living at the expense of productive male breadwinners. Women, in her cynical gaze, are little more than overpriced prostitutes. However, compared to the street prostitutes whom they so despise for undercutting their prices, they lack even the virtue of honesty about what they are doing.
“The old saying that a woman’s fate is her body is true insofar as fate has a positive meaning. But in the negative sense, it is better applied to men. After all, a woman profits from her anatomical peculiarities whenever she can, while a man is an eternal slave to his.”
The Wealth of Women and the Fundamental Fallacy of Feminism
With wit and style, Vilar exposes what may be regarded as the Fundamental Fallacy of Feminism - namely the assumption that because men earn more than women, this means men are better off.

As Jack Kammer observes:
“Looking at men in business and government and saying they have all the power is like looking at women in the supermarket and saying they have all the food” (If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules: p21)
Just as women shop for the whole family, men earn money and exercise power for the benefit of their whole family.

The fundamental fallacy of feminism is therefore twofold. It ignores:
1) The greater effort and risks men undertake in return for higher wages; and
2) The fact that much of the money earned by men is spent on and by their wives and girlfriends

As Schopenhauer observed in ‘On Women’, his own much-maligned masterpiece of misogyny:
“Women believe in their hearts that a man’s duty is to earn money and theirs is to spend it.”
Vilar, perhaps inevitably given the satirical and polemical style she adopts, does not cite any data in support of her assertions. Thankfully, however the data is available elsewhere.

Writers like Warren Farrell (Why Men Earn More) and Kingsley Browne (Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality) have documented how, in return for their greater wages, men work longer hours than women, in more dangerous and unpleasant conditions and for a greater portion of their lives – i.e. what economists call compensating differentials.

Thus, Vilar observes:
“The army of suppressed women eagerly awaiting the moment of liberation simply never materialised. As soon as the first American woman had climbed a telephone pole; the first female. plumber, construction worker, and furniture mover had been photographed and the photos printed in newspapers all over the world; the uproar died down. Why should it have gone any further? After all, it is not much fun to repair water pipes, to lay bricks, or to lug furniture. Unlike men, women can choose whether they want to do drudgery or not. It is logical that most of them decide against it.”
However, despite the additional work they perform and the higher earnings that result, men are not financially better-off as compared to women.

On the contrary, Vilar observes:
“According to statistics, it is the female sector of the population who spends the most money – money men earn for them”.
Similarly, in the introduction to the 1998 edition of her book, she writes:
“It is well established that women make the majority of purchasing decisions”.
Again, unfortunately, she does not cite sources. Again, however, the data is available for those willing to hunt it down.

For example, Bernice Kanner reports that women make approximately 88% of retail purchases in the US (Pocketbook Power: How To Reach The Hearts And Minds Of Today's Most Coveted Consumers - Women: p5). Similarly, Marti Barletta reports that women are responsible for about 80% of household spending (Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market Segment: p6).

A review of the evidence confirming women’s disproportionate control over consumer spending, albeit one focussing on the UK and now somewhat out-of-date, is also provided by David Thomas in Not Guilty: In Defence Of Modern Man.

In this case, the data comes from perhaps a surprising source – researchers in the marketing industry.

After all, whereas feminist academics are cloistered in ivory-towered universities at the taxpayers’ expense and hence free to manipulate, misinterpret, suppress or sugar coat their findings in accordance with ideological imperative, the researcher in the marketing industry has no such luxury.

Instead, concerned with the bottom line of maximising sales, marketing researchers are subject to the relentless falsification process known as ‘market forces’. If he falsifies his findings, the company for which he works is likely to go out of business, and he is likely to find himself out of a job.

As Vilar puts it:
“The advertising man does not idealise women from any masochistic tendency. It is purely a question of survival. Only his exploiters, women, have sufficient time and money to buy and consume all of his products. To supply the woman inhabiting his ranch home with purchasing power, he has no choice but to cultivate legions of other women who have as much satisfaction as his own wife in spending. They will then buy his goods and keep his wife in pocket money. This is the beginning of a vicious cycle.”
Consumers are conventionally viewed as the victims of advertising, manipulated and deceived into wasting their money on the latest pointless unnecessary fad by evil advertising executives and commercial businesspeople. Vilar turns this logic on its head.
“Who is really being exploited[?] Is it the creature whose innermost wishes are sought out, coddled and fulfilled, or is it he who in his desire to retain the affections of the woman, seeks out coddles and fulfils them?”
Thus, Vilar observers:
“It is interesting that nearly the only products sold are those of benefit to women: sports cars (with which to entice her), luxury goods (for women), or household appliances (also for women, since the house actually belongs to her – man is, in fact, a homeless creature, moving constantly between office and house).”
How, then, is it that men earn more money than women but women spend more than men? The answer lies in sexual and romantic relations between the sexes which function to redistribute wealth from men to women. Indeed, the entire process of human courtship seems designed to achieve this end – from the social obligation on the man to pay for dinner on the first date to the legal obligation imposed upon him to financially support his ex-wife and her children for anything up to twenty years after he has belatedly rid himself of her.

Housework: Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness?
Feminists would no doubt claim that this analysis ignores women’s so-called ‘unpaid labour’ in the home from which husbands purportedly benefit. However, Vilar questions whether husbands actually benefit from the housework undertaken by their wives.
“Men, who in fact prefer the plain and functional, every day find themselves more deeply entangled in the undergrowth of superfluous ornamentation and all kinds of embellishments.”
Ultimately, however, “he has no need of lace curtains or rubber plants in the living room”, nor of pink carpets and flowered wallpaper.

Frankly, most men have better taste.

Again, Vilar’s intuitive supposition is supported by data.

The feminist claim that women do housework primarily for the benefit of their husbands is falsified by the fact that, it is not only married women who do more housework than man, but single women as well.

Thus studies have found that single women do between one third and one half more house work than do single men (see Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality: p169; citing data from South & Spitze 1994; see also Key Issues in Women’s Work: Female Diversity and the Polarisation of Women’s Employment: p48). Indeed, as recently as the 1960s, single women did as much as three times as much housework as single men (Key Issues in Women’s Work: p48)

Yet clearly single women living alone are not doing housework for the benefit of anyone other than themselves. Therefore, that women do more housework than single men suggests that women simply value the product of housework more, or dislike doing it less, and that they do housework primarily for their own perceived benefit rather than that of a husband.

Indeed, it is doubtful that the husband receives much benefit, since married men, far from benefiting from the housework performed by their wives, actually end up doing only one hour less housework per week after getting married than they did when they were single (Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality: p169; citing data from South & Spitze 1994). This is hardly a benefit commensurate with the financial support they are expected, indeed legally obligated, to provide for their wives.

Housework therefore seems to be, not so much, as the feminists would have it, unpaid labour, as it is overpaid laziness. A person is no more entitled to remuneration for cleaning their own house than they are for cleaning behind their own ears in the bath.

(see my blog post: Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Really Work.)

Children as Hostages
Much the same analysis can be applied to childcare provided by women.

After all, women have children out of choice - unlike men, who are denied any say over whether to abort a foetus yet nevertheless obliged to pay maintenance for the support of the resulting offspring for the next couple of decades.

Presumably, then, women regard child-rearing as inherently rewarding. Otherwise, why would they choose to have children?

Vilar, however, goes further. She describes offspring as “hostages”, and indeed “Children as Hostages” is the title of one of her chapters.

On this view, offspring, from a mother’s perspective, serve a function analogous to a hostage taken by a kidnapper in order to demand ransom money in return for their release. In other words, they represent merely a further excuse to demand monies from the unfortunate father, ostensibly for the benefit of the offspring, but in reality for the benefit of the mother herself.

While this view may seem extreme, it has substantial merit.

It is indeed women who are overwhelmingly awarded custody over offspring (a form of sex discrimination resulting from gender stereotyping about which the feminists are curiously and uncharacteristically silent); and child maintenance is paid typically to the mother, rather than direct to the child.

Moreover, whereas there exist extensive draconian mechanisms to ensure the prompt payment of such monies to the mother (including private debt collectors and imprisonment for debt), there are essentially no mechanisms whatever to ensure that the money paid is actually spent for the benefit of the child. Instead, the mother is at liberty to spend the money however she chooses (e.g. clothes, handbags, perfume, cigarettes).

(Again, I elaborate on this issue in my blog post, Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn't Really Work, in the section entitled Why Childcare for Your Own Children Isn’t Work Either.)

Meanwhile, Vilar sees feminism as missing the point entirely.

Feminists were interested only in the purported privileges of a small minority of relatively privileged men i.e. “the highly paid positions of men and not the ‘prerogatives’ of, say, soldiers”.

The early feminists, she argues, were bitter because they had failed to attract a man to support them and therefore had to financially support themselves – rather like men do, albeit without the additional obligation to support a wife and children.

Despite this additional burden, Vilar sees them as, morally, little better than other women. After all, it was only their lack of physical attractiveness, not moral scruple, that forced them into their relatively less favoured position.
“She is, compared to the usual female exploiter, comparatively respectable and honest. The fact that this honesty has been forced upon her (and you have only to look at her face to realize why she is so successful) is another matter altogether. There is no virtue in ugliness.”.
Now, however, feminists are no longer particularly ugly – not all of them anyway. On the contrary, feminists quickly became increasingly attractive (on the outside, that is).
“Enticed by the extensive publicity awaiting them, a number of attractive ‘emancipated’ women joined the movement… And although these attractive women could not possibly imagine themselves having the problems they were discussing (discrimination against an attractive woman does not exist, either in her profession or in her private life), they soon took on leading roles within the movement and turned it more and more into a branch of American show business.”
It may be protested that Vilar's views are outdated. She describes a situation where the majority of married women are not in paid employment. Obviously things have changed since Vilar first published her book forty years ago. (Fitzgerald’s delightfully titled Sex-Ploytation: How Women Use Their Bodies to Extort Money from Men purports to provide an update.)

However, things have changed less than one might think. In the UK in the 21st century, whereas 95% of married men work full-time, the majority of married women do not work at all, and, even among married women without children, only 58% work (Liddle 2003 p18).

Likewise, sociologist Catherine Hakim reports that wives earn, on average, between one fifth and one third of the total income of the couple and this pattern has remained stable in the latter half of the twentieth century. Likewise, she reports that, in the US, even those women who do work only earn about a quarter of the total household income (Work-Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century: Preference Theory: p111)

In short, although much has changed, the reality of women’s manipulation and exploitation of male labour has changed but little. This suggests, I would argue, that it is rooted, not in arbitrary cultural conditions, but in innate sex differences.

It is here that I part company from Vilar, who famously claimed, in a much-quoted passage, that:
“Men have been trained and conditioned by women [i.e. mothers, girlfriends, wives], not unlike Pavlov conditioned his dogs, into becoming their slaves”.
My own view is that the exploitation of men by women is not conditioned, but biologically-based.

Sociobiologists have shown that, since females make the greater initial investment in offspring (an egg plus 9 months gestation, followed by nursing) and males have a greater ‘potential reproductive rate’, it is males who compete for access to females rather than vice versa (Bateman 1948; Trivers 1972).

Indeed, as evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss has written
“The evolution of the female preference for males who offer resources may be the most ancient and pervasive basis for female choice in the animal kingdom” (The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating: p22).
Since it is innate and based in nature, the key female advantage, namely their control over, what might be termed in quasi-Marxian terms, the means of reproduction, is unlikely to be reversed.

Therefore, perhaps the only hope for the salvation of men lies not in social reform or revolution, but in technological progress which may eventually liberate men from the need for women.

With the development of virtual reality pornography and ‘sexbots’, soon men may be achieve sexual satisfaction without the expense and inconvenience of real women. Instead, these ‘virtual girlfriends’ will be designed according to the precise specifications of their owners, will not nag, cheat, spend your money nor even grow older and uglier with the passing years and can be handily stored in a cupboard when not required.

Given that, like all significant technological advancement, they will surely be invented, designed, built and repaired by males, women will be bypassed and cut out of the equation altogether. (See my recent blog post, Pornographic Progress, Sexbots and the Salvation of Man.)

Indeed, Vilar herself anticipates this development.
“If men would only stop for a moment in their blind productivity and think... surely it would take them only a couple of days, considering their own intelligence, imagination and determination, to construct a machine, a kind of human female robot to take the place of women.”
After all, technological progress has already rendered countless professions obsolete – from cobblers and blacksmiths to thatchers and telegraph operators. Soon perhaps the oldest profession itself will go the same way.

If this happens, women may find themselves reduced from their current privileged status to mere historical curiosities or museum exhibits.

For men, the future is bright. The REAL sexual revolution has but barely begun...

Bateman, A.J. (1948), "Intra-sexual selection in Drosophila", Heredity, 2 (Pt. 3): 349–368
Liddle R (2003) 'Women who won't' Spectator 29 November
South SJ and Spitze G (1994) Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households American Sociological Review 59: 327-347.
Trivers, R.L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871-1971 (pp. 136-179). Chicago, IL: Aldine

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Finished Reading
November 3, 2018 – Shelved

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