Monday, November 1, 2010

Esther Vilar, crazy catty lady

In 1971, writer Esther Vilar banged out what she later called a "pamphlet written in great anger against the women's movement's worldwide monopoly of opinion." This pamphlet became a small book called The Manipulated Man. Largely forgotten today, the book has nonetheless been hailed as an underground classic by many in the Men's Rights Movement.

It's not hard to see why. It's an entertaining rant, written with style and verve, an interesting reminder of the passions (pro and con) that the women's movement inspired in women in its early-70s heyday. What really endears it to Men's Rightsers, though, is that it's full of catty, often quite vicious, attacks on women and enthusiastic paeans to the glories of men. None of these are supported in any way by actual evidence, of course, but that's rarely a drawback to MRAs. (You can buy the book on Amazon, though I bet that if you look around a bit you might be able to find a pdf of it for free, wink wink.)

Vilar pulls no punches:
Women let men work for them, think for them and take on their responsibilities - in fact, they exploit them. Yet, since men are strong, intelligent and imaginative, while women are weak, unimaginative, and stupid, why isn't it men who exploit women?
Zing!
Why do women not make use of their intellectual potential? For the simple reason that they do not need to. 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.
Oh, snap!
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.
Oh no she didn't!

As zingy as these zingers are, they don't actually describe any human females I know. (Well, ok, they describe a tiny handful of women I've known.) But as I read the book I realized that they described a non-human someone I know very well:

My cat.

Yep, by simply replacing the word "women" in the book with the words "cats," and making a few other minor adjustments, I discovered that Vilar's angry, anachronistic rant is actually a detailed and unflinchingly accurate description of life with my cat. Consider these altered passages:

It is true that cats get progressively more elegant, more well-groomed ... but their demands on life will always be material, never intellectual.
The sort of independence men have means nothing to cats, because cats don't feel dependent. They are not even embarrassed by the intellectual superiority of men because they have no ambition in that direction.
There is one great advantage which cats have over men: they have a choice - a choice between the life of an alley cat and the life of a dimwitted, parasitic luxury item. There are ... few cats who would not select the latter
A cat will always be pleased if a man turns to look at her ... . Her pleasure may be compared to that of a shareholder who finds that his stocks have risen. It will be a matter of complete indifference to a cat if he is attractive or looks intelligent. A shareholder is hardly likely to notice the color of his dividend checks.
A cat's greatest ideal is a life without work or responsibility - yet who leads such a life but a child? A child with appealing eyes, a funny little body ... that darling miniature of an adult. It is a child that a cat imitates ...  its helplessness, its need for protection. A cat must be cared for; it cannot look after itself. And what species does not, by natural instinct, look after its offspring?
A cat takes interest only in subjects that have an immediate personal usefulness to her.
True, true, true, true, true, and true.

It's too bad Vilar chose to market her book as an attack on women. She could have had a long and happy career as a cat whisperer.

More on Vilar in a bit.

22 comments:

  1. So if women go the traditional housewife route, they're parasites, and if they don't, they're unfeminine and stealing jobs from men. Darned if you do, darned if you don't.

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  2. There is lots of similar stuff written by women for women, "the rules" and others of that ilk have been very popular.
    This post is interesting, how the correctness of a message depends on which group recieves it. The marvels of politically correct sexism.

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  3. Feminist rhetoric relies heavily on these age old techniques for minipulating men. The shaming language, attacking the ego, playing the victim..

    I just typed "train your man" into google and it suggested "train your man like a dog", 69,000,000 results came up for "train your man like a dog".

    http://www.google.ie/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=www,google.com#hl=en&expIds=17259,17291,25532,26637,27284,27357&xhr=t&q=train+your+man+like+dog&cp=20&pf=p&sclient=psy&aq=f&aqi=g1g-o1&aql=&oq=train+your+man+like+&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=61d923389d31ad8f

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  4. You do realize that most feminists are as appalled by The Rules as you are.

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  5. @Eoghan

    You do realize that several feminists (including myself) agree that such dating advice is drivel, degrading to men, and perpetuates the infantilization of men as well....eh?

    You know people who throw shaming tactics stones, shouldn't live in shaming tactics glass houses....eh?

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  6. And look 19,100,000 for "train your woman"

    http://ca.search.yahoo.com/search?ei=UTF-8&fr=slv1-adbe&p=train+your+woman&type=

    Yup. Obvy men don't use degrading terms (sarcasm)...

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  7. The point was that the author of the minipulated man isnt just inventing things, women minipulate men and likely have done for a very long time.

    I know most feminists are appauled by "the rules", at the same time the movements main tool so far has been playing the victim and many men have fallen for it.

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  8. Men are only just waking up to it, its been happening for so long and so entrenched in male female relations its invisible to most..

    Anyway, I've only read a few pages of that book, tahsa has said she's getting me a copy, but Im still waiting...

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  9. "at the same time the movements main tool so far has been playing the victim and many men have fallen for it."

    Couldn't the exact same thing be said of the Men's Rights movement?

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  10. The mens movement points to specific leglislation, biases and attitudes, its in the same place that the womens movement was in some decades ago. It does point out the fact that men are abused, but again, thats just the same position that the womens movement was in decades ago. The two movements actually have a lot in common.

    As for men playing the victim, polemics victimise whatever group they are aimed at. Men are in fact victimised by feminist polmics and leglislation,pointing that out is not part of a game deceptive attempt to minipulate society, garner sympathy and raise funds as is the case with promoting the lie that abuse and victimhood are gendered.

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  11. @Eoghan --

    Keep your pants on cowboy, it's coming ;)

    And where's my CD? lol

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  12. ah speak of the she-devil ;)

    Hey, what do make of this conversation, is Esther Viler crazy and is the whole mens movement in disrepute because a few of them recommend reading her book?

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  13. Im just reading a bit of her book, she makes a point about consumerism that I have often made.
    If you look at the spending gap, the average woman spends x5 more of the family's budget in herself than her husband does, who ever heard of an oppressed class more pairs of more expensive shoes than their oppressors?!

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  14. @Eoghan---

    Hah! You know you love my forked tongue ;)

    Ok, in all seriousness--

    No, I don't think she's crazy. As a woman who is a mens rights supporter, I identify with her on a lot of fronts; in particular the fact that we are vociferously criticized for supporting mens rights and labeled as having a hatred for our own gender.
    She says in her book that women cannot criticize women, and this is largely true. Women, both feminists and non, tend to operate from a position of 'inherent gender rightness' which is merely the belief that the female sex is more sympathetic, more of the default position for 'right' (as in correct, not 'wing').
    I think this is what Vilar means when she discusses the clout women have with advertising and politics (i.e. if a publication isn't sympathetic enough to women, we will boycott it, if we boycott it, the advertisers withdraw due to low circulaiton or bad press...same with politicians, none can afford to offend women).

    Clearly I could go on for a bit here, and I might add more later, but to finish answering your question, Eoghan, I think that both sides of the argument would be remiss in ignoring any literature, especially that which was so influential at the genesis of what we know call the modern feminist movement. I think that on the whole, Vilar has valid points in many areas, not all, but many. To dismiss her out of turn is somewhat imbecilic.

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  15. She outlines something here that I have frequently seen feminists and younger women doing....

    "Young boys are also discouraged from masturbation by the use of guilt and shame (i.e. "I guess you're going back home to your hand tonight""

    Another common theme found in feminism..

    "When a man helps with the burden of household chores and raising the children, he is called a "good father". However, if he is the sole working parent and he does not help out with the children, he is labeled a "bad father".


    Going by her wiki page, the book talks about tricks that most men will be at least aware of if not experienced with , emotional blackmail, shaming language, sex as reward or lack of as punishment... and so on.

    Did you know that she is one of the people whos life and family have been threatened by feminists?


    It looks like a good read...

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  16. Interesting.

    A woman writes an alternative school of thought to feminism: and she gets called a "Crazy Catty Lady".

    I wonder Manboobz: What would you say about some of the things radical feminists wrote in the past?

    Would you call any of them "Crazy Catty Ladies"?

    If so: which ones?

    Or: Are you too frightened to do so?

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  17. I have no problem criticizing radical feminists. I'd say Andrea Dworkin was a crazy lady, though to call her "catty" would be a bit of an understatement.

    Here's a review I wrote of one of her books:

    http://articles.latimes.com/1997-03-16/books/bk-38664_1_andrea-dworkin

    And here's something I wrote about Gloria Steinem. It's not exactly flattering either.

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/reading-the-feminine-mistake/Content?oid=879148

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  18. What the hell happened in 1997 that grew you a set for a minute?

    The second link I dismissed as you are crticizing her stupid self help book, not the evil witch herself.

    Random Brother

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  19. @Bishopsinister:

    Wrong.

    Both links are hardly what I would call "criticisms": at least no where near the criticism that Esther Vilar got in this post.

    Neither of those two links criticize the "crazy catty ladies", they are simply book reviews: and boring ones at that.

    Irrelevant anyway.

    What MRA's do not understand is that Vilar's book is simply feminism: albeit cleverly disguised as "pro-male" dribble.

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  20. Notanmra

    "Vilar's book is simply feminism"

    Can you elaborate on that a little for me?

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  21. Actually, after reading this, I noticed some parallels between antifeminists and "antifelinists":

    They both tend to troll blogs and sites they don't like and share their violent fantasies with everyone there.
    If you listen to both women- and cat-haters on why they hate women respectively cats, it's usually because of their independence and the fact that just because you're a man/their owner, they won't take your superiority for granted.

    Women have been compared to cats throughout many eras, and they have been equally demonised in the Middle Ages. They're still being demonised nowadays, and often, when men talk about supposedly "bitter" and lonely women, they suppose these women own cats.

    It's no surprise that most cat-/women-haters are men, yet the most vicious misogynists/misofelinists are female - just like Ms Vilar (and I'm SURE she hates cats too!).

    Men who like cats are still considered "weak", just like men who fight for the independence of women (and I'm sure you know stories of both, don't you, David).
    In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was actual statistical evidence of a correlation between hatred towards women and hatred towards cats.

    I believe it was just a funny coincidence that you compared Vilar's description of hers...um, I mean, women in general to your cat, but actually, seen from this point of view, there are some stunning similarities, aren't there. I'm waiting for the first "I hate cats"-comments from Random Brother, nick and co.

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