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Use a Woman to Ensnare a Man


Disciplines > Warfare > The 36 Stratagems > Use a Woman to Ensnare a Man

Stratagem | History | Discussion | See also

This stratagem number: 31

This group: Stratagems for Desperate Straits
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Employ an attractive woman to seduce the leader or senior men in the enemy camp.

Send several women who together may distract several key officers. They may also sow discord by showing affection to more than one man and encouraging them to act against one another to win her attention, respect and affection.

Women may also play lower-level roles where they are not noticed but act as spies, gathering invaluable information. They may also be able to sabotage key targets without suspicion.

More broadly, use anything that will attract and so distract the enemy from the more serious business of war. This can include offering money, land, drugs and other things that trigger desire and greed.


This is the thirty-first stratagem of thirty-six.

Group name

Stratagems for Desperate Straits

Alternative names

Scheme with Beauties

The Beauty Trap

The Strategy of Beautiful Women

Or even:

The Honey Trap


When besieged in Pingcheng, the emperor Gaozu's advisor, Cheng Ping sent a painting of a beautiful concubine to the enemy commander's wife, along with a note saying the emperor was going to surrender and offer the concubine to the commander. The commander's wife, mad with jealousy and fear, persuaded her husband to lift the siege and return home.

In the second world war, the French Resistance movement used beautiful women to seduce Nazi officers, gain useful information and otherwise help the Resistance.


While we are often rational thinkers, our hearts easily over-rule our heads. If the leader of the enemy receives a beautiful woman he may become so in love with her that all else becomes forgotten.

Evolution has made us seek replication of genes first and men in particular are programmed to pay attention to potential mates (and also to beat off other men in the process). 

Attractive women who gain the attentions of enemy men can not only cause conflict between the men as they vie for attention, they may also multiply this by making the local women jealous, causing intrigues, breaking up marriages, and so on.

It is not uncommon for powerful business people to be attracted to and by certain women. Even if this is not a deliberate ploy (which could be a hazardous tactic), the result is at best a distraction from business matters. The principle of distraction can be applied in many other ways, for example by tempting them with what appears to be an easy business gain but which is harder than it seems.

See also



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