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


  • Gijsbert Pols


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


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.

Author Biography

Gijsbert Pols

Gijsbert Pols taught Dutch literature at the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Amsterdam and published on Dutch and German fin-de-siècle literature. In autumn 2013 he will defend his PhD on Lodewijk van Deyssel and Arno Holz.




How to Cite

Pols, G. (2013). Men Don’t Tell? Masculinity, Sexual Abuse and Narrative in I, Jan Cremer. Journal of Dutch Literature, 4(1). Retrieved from