I’ve just finished reading my first novel of the genre called DickLit (as opposed to ChickLit).
The book by Mark Mason is called ‘What Men Think About Sex‘. My initial reaction, one chapter down was,
Whaaaaat? It’s fiction?
and immediately felt cheated.
Despite its seemingly nonfiction (meandering into ‘self-help’ territory?*cringe cringe*) title, it is an out-and-out fiction story set in the form of diary excerpts of the protagonist.
The story itself is quite readable and Mark Mason even manages to pull off making The Clare Jordan Five and Three-Quarter Feet Handicap Stakes sound believable. The above is a contest between two men to seduce women whose names or seduction locations start with the letters C, L, A, R and E. All because the common object of their affections bears the now-offending name of Clare Jordan. Don’t ask. It sounds bizarre but in a funny way, he manages to make it work.
On the other hand, I hate it when writers pull stunts like that, making a book sound like something else in its title. I only bought it because the blurb described it as the male ‘Sex And The City‘ which at least half of you know (assuming an equal gender-ratio split in the readership of this blog) was originally a newspaper column.
I was mildly surprised at how like ChickLit it was. I even flipped over the cover to check that I hadn’t misread what may have been a ‘Marcy’ or ‘Margaret’ Mason. No such thing….an ordinary, if not pleasant-faced man stared back at me from the book’s inner flap. The format is even like Bridget Jones’ Diary!
Okay, enough about what I don’t like about the book…but when did I say I didn’t like it? Such homogeneity with the female standpoint is reassuring.
Except, what is it with men and guilt? A particularly intriguing excerpt from the book goes on about the Guilt/Temptation trade-off. It says that men can and do feel guilt about succumbing to temptation. Exactly why they do succumb then and what’s worse, doggedly chase after such temptation-laden situations is not answered.
“Because he does. Sorry I can’t be more cogent than that, but I’m concentrating on Bloke Feelings at the moment, not Bloke logic. Which is by the way, your answer. Concentrating on feelings instead of logic is precisely what blokes do when Temptation’s hovering.”
That’s cool, really is, since women have libidos too and yes, we give in to temptation too.
What stands out to me is that none of the women I know who cheat, have experienced the kind of soul-searing Guilt that Mason describes. It’s not exactly that they are callous, but they’ve accepted their own folly and somehow made their peace with it.
It may be a fact that there are probably fewer women in such situations than men (okay, let that just be opportunity rather than character tilting the stakes). Be that as it may, shouldn’t it be easier for an average man to reconcile this conundrum? Either be strong enough to withstand temptation & wise enough to avoid it. Or lay your guilt to rest. And yet it appears, they carry it around like a festering, burdensome sore, never resolving it and mostly adding to it.
The old adage,
All men are dogs!
…used to sound to me like Anticipatory Bail. Ever notice that it’s only cheating men who say that? A sort of ‘I can’t help it, I’m a man’ thing.
Somehow I’m not sympathetic. Truly womanlike, I want to say, good job he can’t get out of the guilt then. He deserves it. Consider it my repartee to the guy who told me,
Why do women have periods? Because they deserve it!
At least I only bleed once a month. Guilt bleeds you every waking, conscious minute and if you don’t know how to tackle it, the rest of your life is an endless pursuit of distractions from your own thoughts.
How about the book itself? I guess I liked it. A small part of me, the cynical one still holds out asking,
Do real men, I mean the ones walking around everywhere really think like this? About love and a special someone and the need for a ‘spark’ over and above good looks?
And then I think of two, three men I know and I have to say, at least some of them do.