Men Don’t Tell? Masculinity, Sexual Abuse and Narrative in I, Jan Cremer

Gijsbert Pols


This article seeks to discuss masculinity and sexual abuse from a narrative point of view by examining the Dutch autobiographical novel I, Jan Cremer (1964). In its extensive celebration of its protagonist’s physical strength, social autonomy, aggression, emotional restraint and excessive promiscuity, I, Jan Cremer, generally recognized as an icon of sexual liberation in the sixties, can be seen as exemplary for dominant narratives on masculinity. As such, the book also demonstrates the incompatibility of these narratives with the idea of sexual victimhood, especially if the perpetrator is a woman. A close reading of the novel demonstrates how the first-person narrator forcefully imposes his masculine self-image on his victimized self, up to a point where the narrative becomes inconsistent.


Masculinity; Sexual Abuse; Female Offenders; Narrative; Dutch Literature

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