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?
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.
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:
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.