…”how many books that are published these days speak to the modern male experience of life? How many address the issues around what it is to be a man today, and a young man in particular, with all the attendant crises that come with manhood?
“The modern publisher is fond of categorisation. This is understandable when there are so many books and because of the need to sell to supermarkets (who like things to be as easily indentifiable as fruit and veg). Consequently, books are placed into brackets like gift, literary, self-help, sport and so on. But the one that got me thinking about all this is women’s fiction, broadly defined as stories that speak to women about their experiences of life today. It encapsulates everything from the fun and frivolous to more considered and intelligent matters. By its nature, women’s fiction is a broad genre. But it’s also an important one that acknowledges inherently that the reading of fiction has a great impact on emotional intelligence. A male equivalent of the genre simply doesn’t exist, or at least in decent numbers.”
“New research reveals that chick lit ‘heroines’ like Bridget Jones make women feel worse about themselves.
Most women assume that a dose of Bridget Jones can only make them feel better about themselves.But new research has revealed that spending time with self-scrutinising chick lit characters like ‘our bridg’ is actually more likely to have a negative effect on women’s confidence and body image.
A study by Virginia Tech university has found that reading books in which the lead character worried about her weight made women uncomfortable about their own body image.”
If Chick lit depresses you there are books that can help: https://spywriter.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/the-best-medication-is-a-book/
SpyWriter Jack King, the author of:
Agents of Change, WikiJustice, The Black Vault, and The Fifth Internationale.
Quick answer: By reading women’s fiction.
“In the Herald recently Dr Byrski wrote that men lose out badly by not reading fiction by women: “… does this account for some of what so many of us women see as emotional ignorance, and men’s inability to express their feelings or to attempt to understand ours? … So could men benefit from reading women’s fiction? I’d say without a doubt that men’s relationships with women would benefit profoundly. …
But can women’s literature help men? Byrski’s point is that it influences women over a lifetime of reading, by helping develop an intuitive understanding and providing a shared vocabulary which allows for the expression of emotions.
Perhaps women are more drawn to that kind of writing because they are naturally more emotionally literate, or more receptive to being taught. If men don’t read it in the first place then perhaps they are less attuned and less teachable.
But you can turn that on its head. If men are by nature less emotionally intuitive, then maybe they need to make a more conscious effort to learn. Literature is one obvious teacher and has the great advantage of allowing the reader to engage with emotional issues without the storm and stress of direct personal involvement.”
SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com
“As the popularity of fiction aimed at young adults, such as the Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, continues to grow, it is important for readers and parents to note the ethical subtexts of the books. …
Elman found little to empower the ill in the nearly 100 “teen sick-lit” books she reviewed. Instead, the authors’ framing of their ill characters tended to set them apart as abnormal. The will to live for the sick protagonist was often equated to the desire to have a traditional heterosexual relationship, often with healthy counterparts. Characters that did not adhere to traditional gender roles tended to be ostracized or encouraged to conform. … Elman believes the emphasis placed on the effects of illness on the girls’ bodies related to the importance placed on women’s sexual attractiveness by society.
‘Teen sick-lit,’ which mostly arose in the ’80s’, stands in contrast to the progressive young adult literature of the 70s, which often dealt with issues of racism, homophobia and other injustices,” Elman said. “‘Teen sick-lit’ reinforces the idea that an individual must adjust themselves to society in order to succeed, regardless of preexisting cultural barriers, as opposed to taking action to create a more just society.”
Jack King “A new King of thrillers”: http://www.SpyWriter.com
“If men read so little fiction, and so little of what they do read is written by women, does this account for some of what so many of us women see as emotional ignorance, and men’s inability to express their feelings or to attempt to understand ours?
The men whom I most appreciate have high levels of emotional intelligence and sensibility, they listen, contribute and empathise, they embrace difference and are prepared for their own vulnerability. And they all read fiction written by and about women.
It’s well known that in old age women fare better than men, and single women fare very much better than men who, either by choice or bereavement, live alone. Men suffer higher rates of depression, are more socially isolated, less able to ask for and accept help. Henry David Thoreau’s observation that ”most men live lives of quiet desperation” is never more true than in relation to ageing men.
As we age our individual circumstances affect the quality of our lives: health, wealth or the lack of it, housing, mobility and family background all play a part. But, as the recently released Australian study of ageing so clearly demonstrates, attitude is everything and so often men’s social and emotional lives are paralysed in age while women’s flourish.
So, could men benefit from reading women’s fiction? I’d say without a doubt that men’s relationships with women would benefit profoundly. And would they live more sociable, contented and emotionally rewarding lives in old age? I don’t know the answer to that but I think it’s a fascinating question.”
Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. http://www.SPYWRITER.com
“Can classic literature shed any light on twenty-first century love?
What influence does reading about love in literature have on ‘real life’? Does it simply create expectations of unachievable ideals, or does is present us with useful insight? Does it hinder our emotional development or help it? Are we better lovers for delving into Lady Chatterley’s Lover, or reciting Shakespeare to one another?
Ultimately literature encourages us to question this idea of ‘love’ presented in Valentine’s cards, suggesting that it’s okay to be different. It tells us that love happens in the most unexpected ways. Shakespeare said it first: ‘reason and love keep little company nowadays’, and ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’. . Love is not logical, it isn’t biological (you can disregard this week’s Science feature), it’s improbable and unpredictable. But that’s why it’s so exciting. Love is messy and that’s what makes it so great. In life and in literature.”
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“Raised in a wealthy slave-holding family in Richmond, Virginia, Elizabeth Van Lew developed strong abolitionist sympathies as a young adult, particularly after attending a Quaker school in Philadelphia. After her father’s death in 1843, Van Lew convinced her brother to free their slaves, many of whom stayed on as paid servants. When war broke out, Van Lew and her mother began visiting Union soldiers held in Richmond’s brutal Libby Prison, bringing them clothing, food and medicine. She helped men escape, smuggled out letters for them and gathered valuable information about Confederate strategy from both prisoners and guards.
In late 1863, Union General Benjamin Butler recruited Van Lew as a spy; she soon became the head of an entire espionage network based in Richmond. With the help of her servants—including Mary Bowser, an important spy in her own right—Van Lew sent coded messages to Union officers, often using invisible ink and hiding the dispatches in hollowed-out eggs or vegetables. She convinced new members to join her covert ring, including a high-ranking official at Libby Prison.
By war’s end, Van Lew had become a pariah in her own community but earned the respect of General Ulysses S. Grant, who appointed her postmaster of Richmond. She spent her final days in poverty, having used up her family’s entire wealth on espionage activities. The family of a Union officer she had assisted during the war—who happened to be the grandson of Paul Revere—provided for her until her death in 1900.”