The Dance of Deception
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If there is one word that can be used to describe The Dance of Deception by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, it is "all-encompassing" In recounting stories from her past, Lerner makes some invaluable insights into the whole of human behavior, most specifically into the realm of human deception. Although she does not tout her book as a self-help book, Lerner does believe that writing this book is essential to helping its female readers learn more about themselves and what motivates their deceptive behavior.
Why are People Deceptive
Why do people lie? Although this question is not posed outright in the beginning of Lerner's book, it ultimately the question that she is seeking to answer. According to Lerner the reasons that women lie are numerous and varied. She argues that women believe they need to protect people, most importantly men. Lerner explicates this point after watching the Anita Hill debacle in 1991. Recounting a similar situation in her own life-being pursued by a male in an authoritative position-she comes to the realization that although this man's behavior was inappropriate, she chose to protect him by not speaking out against him. She poignantly notes "Silence is a lie.".
Thus, Lerner's life story unfolds, as does her structured analysis of why women deceive. She does note that while society has taught women to believe that deceit, in any form, is wrong, there are invariably deep seeded reason for why most women lie: "At the center of a woman's life is the quest to discover, speak, and live her own truths, to cease living a life dictated and defined by others-that is a life lived in another person's story". Lerner argues that in completing this process women are often placed in a position in which deception is necessary to achieve this goal.
The Role Deception Plays
After reading the book, it seems that the author has two main points:
- The most important point in Lerner's Dance of Deception, is for women to understand the role that deception plays in their everyday lives. Lerner notes that not all forms of deception are inherently evil nor should they be banned from the functioning of human society-which is what many parents teach small children.
- The second point that Lerner makes, but not in an overt manner, is the importance of thinking about one's actions. Although this concept can be applied to either men or women, Lerner promotes the idea that if women look more closely at the reasons for their action, they will begin to see a pattern develop. From this pattern they will be able to predict what their behavior will be in certain situations.