The 3 Lies Women Tell Men to Push Their  Agenda

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Rational Male" by Rollo Tomassi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What lies do women tell men? Why do women lie to men in the first place?

According to Rollo Tomassi, the author of The Rational Male, there are three lies women tell men: 1) men are privileged, 2) women are mysterious, and 3) women like nice guys. He argues that women tell these lies to dominate men as part of the “feminine agenda.”

Let’s examine each lie in turn along with the underlying truth, according to Tomassi.

Lie #1: Men Are Privileged

Tomassi says that the first lie women tell men is that any action or belief that threatens women’s dominance is “male privilege.” The lie of male privilege, says Tomassi, is designed to guilt men into sacrificing their interests to the further advantage of women. Men are always encouraged to “check” or give up their alleged privilege and to empower women—sacrificing their interests in the process.

However, Tomassi believes the truth is that women are in control. They shape the overarching narrative and social conventions in our culture, which all serve women’s interests. This is why, Tomassi says, it’s common practice to ridicule or attack anyone who makes a statement or action that challenges women’s priority—calling them sexist, juvenile, or out-of-touch.

Digging Deeper Into Privilege

Although Tomassi argues that women, not men, enjoy privilege, it’s not clear what his definition of privilege is. A commonly accepted definition is an unearned special right or advantage available to people because of their membership in a particular social group. Using this definition, let’s examine Tomassi’s claim about female privilege on two levels: the institutional privilege that plays out in a broad cultural context and interpersonal romantic relationships. 

First, in terms of institutional privilege, women earn 84% of what their male counterparts earn, with Black and Hispanic women earning less than White women. Among human trafficking victims, 71% are women and girls. Also, women make up only 27% of Congress even though they make up 51% of the population. Further, women are at greater risk for rape and domestic violence, pay more for clothes and personal care items, and face hiring barriers in multiple industries, including tech, business, and the media. So, arguably, women do not enjoy key advantages men enjoy, which limits their social mobility and influence.

On an interpersonal level, both men and women report power imbalances in their relationships. However, how these imbalances manifest show that the stakes are higher for women. Women who say they have less power in a relationship often report being subjected to coercion and abuse. In contrast, men who say they have less power often describe their partners as controlling but don’t report any physical or emotional abuse. 

Lie #2: Women Are Mysterious and Unknowable

Second, women promote the lie that they are complex and enigmatic. They perpetuate the lie of the unknowable female by saying one thing and doing another—their default mode of communication. Furthermore, Tomassi argues that whereas men clearly say what they mean, women don’t. They allow emotions to dictate their reactions, which keeps men constantly guessing about women’s true intentions.

The only way to accurately determine a woman’s intentions, Tomassi advises, is to observe her actions. He contends that women’s behaviors provide the only evidence of their motivations—and that their true motivations often lie beneath their conscious awareness, so men are wise to never trust the justifications women give for their behaviors. 

(Shortform note: Tomassi insists that women communicate in a manner that is consistently and often intentionally misleading and that men should therefore trust only women’s actions. However, he provides no supporting evidence for this claim. There’s mixed research on this topic. According to one poll, women are twice as likely to lie as men, which researchers attribute to women having more empathy and being “nicer” than men. By this logic, women lie because they want to shield people from unpleasant truths. Other research shows that men are more deceptive than women, consider themselves better liars than women, and get away with lies twice as much as women. That said, all of these generalized findings obscure nuances of communication and don’t lead to clear conclusions about any one gender writ large.)

Lie #3: Nice Guys Are Unique and Women Want Them

The last lie women tell men is that they want “nice guys” who, they say, are few and far between. Women disingenuously lament that most men are cocky meatheads locked in an outdated version of masculinity. This leads them to be insensitive, overly aggressive, emotionally distant, and out of touch with what women want and need. 

Tomassi says this is blatantly false. In reality, he explains, most men are “nice guys”—caring, compassionate, supportive, and accommodating to women’s needs—because they’ve been socialized to display qualities that women say they value. In effect, Tomassi says, most men have become like women—in the misguided belief that doing so will make them more attractive to women.

But men disadvantage themselves, Tomassi explains, by being nice and embodying feminine qualities. Why? Because women are not actually drawn to nice guys. Rather, they are drawn to guys who stand out from the pack. Men who act cocky and selfish, Tomassi insists, will be noteworthy and will appeal to women most.  

Remember, women never say what they really want. So, even though a woman says she wants a nice guy, she actually wants a man who is confident enough to prioritize his own interests and beliefs—an indicator that he will be a good provider and protector.

The 3 Lies Women Tell Men to Push Their Agenda

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  • How women use a feminine agenda to manipulate men
  • Why sex should never be a transactional arrangement
  • Why men don't need long-term relationships

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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