Being a man in a man’s world

Mary Balogh’s More Than A Mistress just didn’t work for me. I don’t think I’ll read Mary Balogh anymore or I’ll have to be really desperate because I have Ferdinand’s story (No Man’s Mistress) too as this is a “two novels in one volume” book. Anyway, the plot wasn’t that interesting and her characters didn’t grow on me. You know the latter matters more for me. The conflict didn’t constitute a dilemma unlike in Sherry Thomas’ Private Arrangements. Jocelyn and Jane’s incessant bickering towards the end didn’t help me either. And I noticed that I don’t like Balogh’s Hollywood sort of endings where the hero and the heroine are surrounded by a crowd in awe of their love while they just beam at each other and in this case waltz and share a scandalous kiss in public. Also Balogh’s sensuality rate is Warm whereas I would prefer Hot, though in this case this is the least of my concerns.

The only bits I liked were the ones with Jocelyn and Jane’s den. It was adorable how they spent time in each other’s company in a very domestic way, which included reading Mansfield Park!!! Fictional characters reading real fiction! 9GAG had a meme for this but for TV series instead of books: “That awesome moment when you favorite series make a reference to your other favorite series” or something like that. Except here More Than A Mistress is certainly not my favorite piece of fiction.

Though it’s worthy to mention the books criticism of masculinity stripped off of any regard for human emotions. Jocelyn shares a private (a very private) memory with Jane. It is so horribly disgusting that I can’t bring myself to repeat it here. But anyway, this horrible scheme that was intended to turn him into a man when he was sixteen simply kills the human side of Jocelyn.

You are yourself. You were a sensitive, artistic, romantic boy, who had been repressed and was finally cruelly seduced. That is all, Jocelyn. You have allowed your life to be stunted by those events. But there is much life left to you. Forgive yourself.

After this Jocelyn finds himself weeping in Jane’s arms. Now, does that make him emasculated?

friend of mine, who’s from the US, once told me that he had a male friend who was an activist campaigning against society’s pressure on men to be emotionless. It was something I had never heard or considered before. I felt like I had discovered the atom or something. It was a revelation for me. And after that day I started pitying men for they are not so better off than women after all…

Just as society has certain demeaning expectations of women such as being quiet, not too clever, motherly, ladylike and passive, the same goes for men too. They are considered man if they have a good job, an obedient wife, a son and a commanding, strict posture which must at all times be devoid of any emotion. “Men don’t cry…” How many times a movie or book has included this particular line in every living language? Personally, I love men who cry which makes me even more partial to anime (*cough* Rose of Versailles *cough*) because it shows crying men while still managing to make female fans swoon over their virility.

And of course this post calls for this piece of news (click here for the English version) on a certain initiative entitled “We Are Not Men” which emerged after the rape and murder of the artist and peace promoter Pippa Bacca back in 2008. This particular initiative is still and will always be very memorable to me.


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