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Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into…

Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back (2006)

by Norah Vincent

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1,233536,447 (3.49)28
  1. 30
    Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin (espertus)
    espertus: A classic book on a white man's experiences disguising himself as a black man in the American South in 1959.

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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Like many of the other reviewers, I found this very shallow. I have read similar books in which a man tried to live as a woman, and was curious as to whether the other direction works better. It doesn't. At least not in this case.

I came to even question the author's basic social competency. For example, how much insight should it take to get that if a group of women are sitting in a bar interacting with each other that a stranger butting in and trying to flirt with one of them is going to get rejected? She reports that it took a long time for any of them to show more than a profile. This is body language 101. They were there as a group to enjoy their group, not to get hitched up to a guy. But she interprets it as personal rejection. The whole dating chapter showed mostly that she doesn't have any experience of male-female relationships from either side.

The different venues she chose for exploring masculine life were generally not everyday life for the men involved. A few hours once a week doesn't do it. Especially not if there are class differences as well as the gender one to be overcome. Spending time in a monastary was just a very peculiar idea. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Nov 27, 2016 |
Wow. A woman passes for a man to gain insight into male culture and what it means to be male in modern America. Much more insightful than the Mars/Venus analyses. Interesting to students of psychology, sociology, or Women's Studies. Especially valuable to men ready for introspection, loving wives, and caring mothers of sons. While it is true Vincent is not a scientist, she doesn't for one moment pretend to be, but instead repeatedly reminds that this is as much a memoir as it is an experiment.

I've bought the 'sequel' [b:Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin|3860427|Voluntary Madness My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin|Norah Vincent|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1220241038s/3860427.jpg|3905551], and despite the fact that I try to avoid depressing and intense books I look forward to it because of this author's talent. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
this is an interesting character study on gender, but also on the author. i wasn't quite as excited with the ending of this book as i was with the beginning, but there is so much of interest in here, and it's well written, so that i'd recommend it to anyone who wants to think more about gender, masculinity in general, and how both fit into our culture.

the deception that takes place in this book (and, for me, the coming clean) can be really uncomfortable. however, it allows her to discuss not just her perceptions but others' as well, and to see the difference in how she's received when viewed as male or female. it made me think a lot about how misgendering someone regularly can make someone feel, and what being forced to assume the bodily persona of someone else must feel like for transgendered people, and how that must fuck with their heads.

this grabbed me pretty much right away, and covers a lot of territory (although i still wanted to hear more of the everyday issues she went through - how many hours a day was she ned; how did her girlfriend feel about this; when she lived as ned, was it all the time or did she go back and forth between ned and norah; how long did it take to become ned? some of this is vaguely touched upon, but i'd like more of that to be woven in (ideally), or (at the very least) put in a separate chapter.). she does make a couple of surprising statements in the beginning (implying that all lesbians are more butch than straight women or lumping lesbians together in general) and used the word "gypped" once. but this is obviously her viewpoint and observations, and many of them are not just interesting but useful.

this was a fast, intriguing read. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 29, 2016 |
Author Norah Vincent does something pretty daring and potentially dangerous: she pretends to be a man to see how the other half lives. She joins a men's bowling league, hangs out at seedy strip clubs, works at a mostly male company, lives at a monastery, and infiltrates an Iron John men's group. I can't agree with her revealing herself to some of the men she befriended; there's just something emotionally unethical about lowering the boom like that. But as a woman reading this book, I found some of her insights about men revealing and sad. I was also surprised she suffered a bit of a breakdown afterwards, but considering the mental and emotional stress of passing as a man, it makes sense. An intriguing and different take on gender differences. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
One of the best books I've ever read about gender roles and society.
( )
  Schlyne | Nov 12, 2015 |
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But this my masculine usurped attire . . .
Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as haply shall become
The form of my intent . . .
Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.

— Twelfth Night
Were it not better,
Because that I am more than common tall,
That I did suit me all points like a man?
Lie there what hidden woman's fear there will,
We'll have a swashing and a martial outside,
As many other mannish cowards have
That do outface it with their semblances.'

As You Like It
To my beloved wife, Lisa McNulty,
who saves my life on a daily basis.
First words
Seven years ago, I had my first tutorial in becoming a man.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670034665, Hardcover)

Following in the tradition of John Howard Griffin (Black Like Me) and Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed), Norah Vincent absorbed a cultural experience and reported back on what she observed incognito. For more than a year and a half she ventured into the world as Ned, with an ever-present five o’clock shadow, a crew cut, wire-rim glasses, and her own size 111/2 shoes—a perfect disguise that enabled her to observe the world of men as an insider. The result is a sympathetic, shrewd, and thrilling tour de force of immersion journalism that’s destined to challenge preconceptions and attract enormous attention.

With her buddies on the bowling league she enjoyed the rough and rewarding embrace of male camaraderie undetectable to an outsider. A stint in a high-octane sales job taught her the gut- wrenching pressures endured by men who would do anything to succeed. She frequented sex clubs, dated women hungry for love but bitter about men, and infiltrated all-male communities as hermetically sealed as a men’s therapy group, and even a monastery. Narrated in her utterly captivating prose style and with exquisite insight, humor, empathy, nuance, and at great personal cost, Norah uses her intimate firsthand experience to explore the many remarkable mysteries of gender identity as well as who men are apart from and in relation to women. Far from becoming bitter or outraged, Vincent ended her journey astounded—and exhausted—by the rigid codes and rituals of masculinity. Having gone where no woman (who wasn’t an aspiring or actual transsexual) has gone for any significant length of time, let alone eighteen months, Norah Vincent’s surprising account is an enthralling reading experience and a revelatory piece of anecdotally based gender analysis that is sure to spark fierce and fascinating conversation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

For more than a year and a half Vincent ventured into the world as Ned, with an ever-present five o'clock shadow and a crew cut--a perfect disguise that enabled her to observe the world of men as an insider. With her buddies on the bowling league she enjoyed the rough and rewarding embrace of male camaraderie; a stint in a high-octane sales job taught her the gut-wrenching pressures endured by men who would do anything to succeed; she frequented sex clubs, dated women hungry for love but bitter about men, and infiltrated all-male communities including a men's therapy group and even a monastery. She ended her journey astounded--and exhausted--by the rigid codes and rituals of masculinity.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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