Read Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again by Norah Vincent Online


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.A journalist's provocative, spellbindinHaving 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.A journalist's provocative, spellbinding account of her eighteen months spent undercover will transform the way we think about what it means to be a man 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 11 1/2 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....

Title : Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670034666
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 290 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again Reviews

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-03-26 00:09

    Onvan : Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again - Nevisande : Norah Vincent - ISBN : 670034665 - ISBN13 : 9780670034666 - Dar 290 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006

  • Becky
    2019-04-02 05:14

    This book has a great premise -- a woman attempting to live as a man, to gain access to the "secret lives" of men. This could have been a very successful magazine article. As a full-length book, though, it's awash in pseudo-insights that range from maudlin to downright offensive. The author comes up with nothing anybody with half a brain didn't already know: "masculinity" is just as much of a potentially crippling construct as "femininity" is. Big surprise.The author seems to try hard to empathize with men, but after reading the chapter about the bowling league, I came away with a nagging sense of the author wanting to come out and say, "These poor men. The poor dumb brutes. They just can't help it!" The rest of the book wasn't much better -- in fact it was worse. Especially the chapter about visiting strip clubs, which was so cliched as to be repulsive.And why on earth would someone in the author's situation -- attempting to do research -- join an Iron John men's group? Or a monastery? That's fringe stuff, and unlikely to give the author a true cross-section of "typical" masculine behavior. Even the jobs the author takes on as a man aren't typical jobs.The women the author dated while she was posing as a man made me embarrassed to be a woman. I do know women who are like that, but I have to say, they are NOT representative of my experience or of my self.Probably most telling of all is the delight the author seems to take in the big reveal: "Guess what? I'm really a woman!" I find it amazing that nobody she deceived was hurt to the core -- or beat her up. How lucky for the author!This book is the worst kind of self-serving, quasi-intellectual stuff. I wouldn't call it feminist. I wouldn't even call it humanist. The whole human race looks pretty irredeemably messed up after viewing it through this author's eyes.

  • Ryan Andrew Murphy
    2019-04-13 07:04

    A transphobic tirade masquerading as feminist adventure story? That was my first thought of what to say about this book (to highlight its most serious problems), but of course there's more to it than just that. Vincent (a "conservative lesbian" according to is a skilled narrator with a seductively casual style which she, unfortunately, uses to thread her tale with dubious normative and essentialistic asides. Reading her "sympathetic" descriptions of male experience was, at times, i confess, so enjoyable that i had to read several passages two or three times before my critical faculties recovered from the shock of recognition. But eventually i became suspicious of this persistent tickling: why is she so keen to speak out about the "suffering" of men trying to pick up women at a bar? It reminded me of the "black conservatism" of John McWhorter ( a good linguist, but problematic writer)... Both make much of the pitiful spectacle of privilege - but dubiously suggest that since the privileged are pitiful, they're not also powerful. That is, they imply that racism and sexism are no longer extant systems of oppression, but have been reduced to sad epiphenomena of the futile resistance to progress - if only it were so!Vincent's interesting but irritating book seems deeply invested in the binary (male/female) concept of gender; it reifies the very categories it (ostensibly) seeks to understand. She's right that patriarchal socialization stunts men's emotional growth, but by promoting essentialistic and binary ideas of gender, she's steering in the wrong direction if we wish to overcome this problem.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-04-01 06:12

    Norah Vincent, unfortunately, does no such thing. And that is the irritating thing about this book. When she is specific, talking specifically about what she experienced and the stories she is told by the men she interacted with, it's pretty darn good. But then, every time, she extrapolates from that to tell us about how what she experienced is what all men experience. Keep it small and personal, and let your readers draw their own conclusions. Because many of those grand philosophical statements were based on pretty shaky anecdotes.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • sylas
    2019-03-30 04:17

    This book infuriated me. I would like to give it negative 3 stars. Unfortunately that's not possible.Vincent makes broad generalizations about various groups of people based on their gender, race and class. I found her perspective to be incredibly elitist and classist; her analysis of her experience "living as a man" is deeply rooted in her unexamined privilege as a middle-class, non-disabled white woman.My fury kept me from completing this book. The final straw came when she disgustedly referred to a potential date with the slur "liminally autistic". I literally threw the book across the room.Read it if you want to, of course. Just know I thought this book was offensive trash.

  • Petra X
    2019-03-28 04:08

    This is a proper three-star book. It is enjoyable but lacks the distinction or pleasure-factor that would elevate its rating higher. The most interesting part was her interaction with the monks. The author cross-dresses etc to be a man among men not for the thrill of 'passing' as it were. She doesn't either entirely succeed or convince. The book seems to be a collection of interesting articles rather than an exploration of an alternate self, in other words, it lacks depth.Finished 2007

  • Ben
    2019-03-26 04:17

    Reading other people's reviews on Goodreads I pretty much agree with what most other people have to say, at least the moderates among them. However, I will say this: it seems that the people that disliked the book and wrote reviews about it didn't throughly read the book. In particular, they did not read the end of the first chapter where Norah has her disclaimer: "I conducted and recorded the results of an experiment is not to say that this book pretends to be a scientific or objective study. Not even close. [...] What follows is just my view of things, myopic and certainly inapplicable to anything so grand as a pronouncement on gender in American society."So, I recommend the book; I found it funny and enjoyable reading. But please keep in mind that you shouldn't try to glean too much from it. I think the real purpose is to get the reader to think about gender issues. And to possibly say something insightful about one's one experiences. At this I think the author succeeded.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-20 03:55

    While it's clear that Vincent likely carries lifetime subscriptions to Bust and Ms. and carries a certain generational badge in her feminism, I find the book useful for its willingness to cross what I've always considered the last frontier of feminism - getting past the us v. them and moving, however slowly, towards a more mutually understandable social world. Her insights into the infinitesimally small ways in which we cue gender in social settings are fascinating reading, and the gradual opening of her worldview shows more than anything the true impact of her experience. Well worth a read for anyone who wants to see how feminism is evolving, and for women just plain curious about how the other half lives.

  • Loederkoningin
    2019-03-27 06:01

    Imagine you're able to pass as the oppossite sex. At work, in a club, when you're roaming the streets. That would be intriguing, exciting, yet odd and scary at the same time. What would you do? What would you like to find out? Where would you start? Norah Vincent made it happen, with the idea of studying men among their own, their interaction with females and both sexes' place in society. What I personally expected: sociological insights, remarkable - and worrisome - stories, eye openers and a good dash of amusement. Firstly, I applaud Vincent for having the guts to live in disguise for more than a year. I understand why that must have been an emotional rollercoaster. That being said, I'm not that enthusiastic about her approach. She seems to have started her project with some sturdy assumptions, she just loved to see confirmed. As her character Ned, she seems to have a thing for the troubled among us: he fishes in all the murky waters. When you visit a trashy strip club, wouldn't it make quite the story if you stumbled upon a dandy? Her descriptions of these raunchy places are unsettling, yes. But these are not the sort of "revelations" I had put Vincent through the entire process of becoming a man for. She finds that most men really are twisted and behave disturbingly. The women? She dates ones that bitterly refer to men as "meat with a pulse" and feel the urge to hostily discuss abortion (on a first date, yes!). Don't get me wrong, I can sense where these women are coming from, I just can't relate. As a girl, would you go through the entire process of hooking up with a potential love interest over the Internet, only to verbally slaughter him over a coffee? I didn't think so either. Now what are the chances of Ned meeting these women over and over again? Oh yes, do we live in a fucked up world in which Mars and Venus are equally frustrated. But this conclusion is altogether too simplistic. A woman in disguise, living in a mens' world...these ingredients should at least guarantee a little humor and refreshing insights. Hell, in Hollywood, they'd base six seasons of a sitcom on this. I personally think Vincent's experiment didn't have to leave such a bitter taste in my mouth, or hers.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-18 05:21

    I love this book!! I have read it over twice now, and I know I will re-read it often. The situation is that the author begins a quest to learn more about what it is like to be a person of the opposite sex. Don't we all wonder about this at least occasionally? Don't men and women often shake their heads in total bewilderment of the curious, unfathomable - even bizarre and seemingly irrational - behaviors, thoughts and feelings of whatever sex you are not? Wouldn't you like to understand or at least be able to decipher the amazing creatures whose bodies are strange and different and who act in incomprehensible ways? Well, I do! And this book answers the question for me of what men are REALLY like when women aren't around! This book is so much fun to read. Norah Vincent has the guts and the curiosity - and the sensitivity - to pull off this amazing disguise. You won't believe until she tells you, in great detail, but she is actually able to assemble a disguise that enables her to be totally accepted as a man - and I mean to the extent that she is able to infiltrate a men's bowling league, the dating scene, a high pressure job that will sound familiar to those of us who have seen the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross", an "Iron John"-type of men's retreat, and a monastary. But this isn't just a parlor trick. The author is acutely sensitive and compassionate, with an eye for detail and a heart full of wisdom. She brings new understanding to us women about how men live and how they deal with their emotional pain. It is a sympathetic, humorous, well-written and enlightening book, one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in a long time. Go read it right now!

  • Leajk
    2019-04-02 03:58

    Perhaps my minds was set against this book from the moment I got it, it wasn't what I had asked for. It was given to me by my brother as a Christmas present. Maybe he thought I needed something more modern and pro-male than some of the books I had on my Christmas wish-list (which included The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men (view spoiler)[it should be noted that this book was written in the 1600s as a defense of women, not an attack upon men(hide spoiler)] and A Serious Proposal to the Ladies). My initial reaction to reading the book was frustration and anger just as many other reviewers here, and even now after I've calmed down, I can't help but to feel that this is at the very least a very uneven book. Perhaps it has something to do with the varying emotional involvement Norah Vincent had during her stint as a man. During the first chapters I was enraged, in the middle I was indifferent, but by the end of the book (in the monastery and the men's group) I was quite fascinated and intrigued. So I'm going to do a chapter by chapter review to disentangle the book with its strengths and weaknesses. Note: I noticed that the review got really long so I've added spoiler tags for each chapter to give a overview. All the chapter titles that are within the parethesis are mine, added as guidance for future readers and in jest since I thought Vincent's titles were a bit too... aggrandising.Chapter 1. Getting Started (or Why are we doing this?)(view spoiler)[Perhaps I'm being overly academic with a book that is not, but I had two main problems with the introduction:A) Background Norah Vincent is a self-proclaimed dyke who grew up as a tom-boy, experimented with men during college and with cross dressing once during her wild partying years. Now she's a stable writer. This is a intriguing and perhaps perfect background for someone who's about to write a book about being a man. But the background is far from complete. Does Vincent work as a regular writer outside of this project? Will she still meet her normal friends dressed as a woman or will she be dressed 24/7 as a man? Where is she living while she's bowling or working. Vincent dedicates her book to her wife, yet there is only a brief mention of her in the first chapter and none in the dating chapter. Knowing more of her relationship with her wife and her friends would have given the reader more perspective on her emotional back-up. How much emotional support did she receive during her project and how much was she in fact as alone and lost as her alter-ego Ned sometimes seemed to be?Also how much has she researched her topics beforehand? All this is left quite blank. This is a strange fit for a book where a lot relies on the readers sympathy for and understanding of Vincent's alter-ego Ned. B) Hypothesis I become confused as to the real purpose of the book was. A lack that I feel muddles the whole book and makes it less coherent than it might otherwise have been. I saw one professional reviewer lauding the book for its 'lack of agenda', but I'd say that that's a different thing. Having an agenda can ruin a documentary attempt and make you miss important evidence. To have a clearly stated question and hypothesis on the other hand might make you look for certain things, but it also makes you more focused. As a true researcher however you should also be open you're hypothesis being wrong, in fact if you belong to the Popper-camp, it's your imperative to try your hardest to prove your favourite hypothesis wrong. Since Vincent, as far as I can see, neither has a clear question nor a hypothesis, the purpose of the book becomes unclear and there is no theme during the chapter discussions, nor resolution or final analysis in the end.This is possibly linked to the complete lack of any type of general research, statistics or other type of background or context. The book is a personal subjective experience, yet Vincent falls into the trap of generalising her finds far beyond the context she's in.Other reviewers have written about Norah Vincent's entitlement as a middle-class white woman and I completely agree. As a Swede I can't help but add that she has a purely American perspective. She never puts any of her experiences in a larger perspective, and especially not an international one. A lot of what she writes about in this book feels foreign to me not only since I'm a woman, but also since I'm a Swede. (hide spoiler)]Chapter 2. Friends (or Bowling is a white-trash pass time or Only men can be true friends)(view spoiler)[So with little background on what Vincent is hoping to gain by the experience, we see her enter a bowling league with a team called The Tea-baggers. They consist of self-proclaimed white-trash who turn out to be a group of easy going, non-racist, honest workers who tell sexist jokes while loving their wives above anything else. All this is very touching, especially Ned's friendship with one of the guys, Jimmy, who's wife is dying of cancer. However in the end this is more a reportage about class and survival in America, than about gender. I can't help that the other side of the story is missing. How does this bottom-of-the-food-chain-status affect the women living there? Does it make them adopt more stereotypical female roles and hobbies, just as the men who turns to bowling and strip clubs? Only with that perspective I feel that I could truly draw any conclusions about the behaviour of the bowlers. It is also in this chapter the dumbfounding gender-stereotyping begins. When Ned arrives at the bowling alley he's feeling very insecure about his first time 'proving' himself as a man. When he arrives to his group Jimmy gives him a firm hand-shake, which relaxes Ned. It's a very nice gesture indeed, but Vincent interprets this as saying that all men are more sincere and friendly then women, who's hugs and hand-shakes are always limp and insincere. What??? This and some later comments about women, such as the description of how backstabbing and unsupportive women always are when it comes to sports, makes me wonder how her friends felt when this book was released. (hide spoiler)]Chapter 3. Love (or Blind-dating past 30 sometimes sucks)(view spoiler)[Oy vey, where to begin? The absolute low point of this book. It is the only point in the book where I feel Vincent's homosexuality working actively against her. She professes at the start that she, as a lesbian, thought that dating women would be the easy part. By the end of the chapter she practically despises all women. She writes: “Dating women as a man […] made me, of all things, into a momentary misogynist” She goes on to say that the experience made her understand why men rape women.Seriously. She justifies rape by saying that women are just too hard to date. Just this part made me want to throw the book away forever and ever. I think I did throw the book at something, but luckily for this review I carried on for some mysterious reason.Luckily I've been blessed with fantastic male friends, family members, boyfriends, and met some really nice lesbians, otherwise I would almost be inclined to believe, after reading The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists and this confession coming from a lesbian, that in order to date women you have to hate them deep down inside. I'm happy that Norah's dating life has been so much more hunky-dory than Ned's. (In fact I now imagine it being something likethis .) But her horrible dating experience as Ned is so far from my experience that I feel very sorry for her that's her lasting impression of the heterosexual dating world. Ned first tries to pick-up women at bars, but soon becomes dejected by the constant rejection he meets. (He does not, by the way, connect the fact that the way he have heard his new male friends talk about women might have something to do with the fact that women might be more apprehensive when approached by a man than by a woman.) He then takes up Internet-dating instead and meets a string of 30+ bitter women. To have this represent the hetero-dating world as a man, is a bit like drinking vinegar and then claiming that you don't like wine. I'm sure that there are a lot of men who identify with this description of constant rejection and humiliation in the dating world. But so would a lot of women. I can assure you. Not all women live the SATC life. And again a lot of people of both genders would not agree. Not all people turn to either bars or the Internet in their search for love. People who do turn to bars or the Internet might be a lot more selective about bars and/or Internet sites than Ned was. They have different incentives and more time. Not all people are still dating when they're 30+. The ones who still are might use their circle of friends to look for love. And so on and so on.Let me start by saying that having experienced both American and Swedish dating and I by far prefer the Swedish experience. While some of my Swedish friends glamourise the American traditions of the man picking up his date, opening her car door, pulling out her chair, paying for her dinner, etc., I for one felt immensely incapacitated by it. Even when my gay male friend did it. It wasn't until we got to know each other better that I could accept him paying for my meals, but then I would also pay for some of his. In Sweden we simply have (or at least used to have before some people saw too many American rom-coms) a more gender neutral dating system. At an actual date I'd say the playing field is quite equal, both are trying to impress the other.Me and my boyfriend have discussed the issue of the uneven playing field of getting a date to begin with. He maintains that men have to work more, which is to some degree true. They are often the ones putting themselves out there and taking the initial risks of making contact. On the other hand, as I like to point out, at least they have that opportunity. During my dating career I would quite often see an attractive stranger that I fancied, and sometimes, empowered by my feministic ideals, I would take the leap and approach him. At best the man would seem midley confused and at worst very uncomfortable by me approaching them. It was never a great success. What I've learned now is that a lot of men will consciously or subconsciously judge you as being slightly weird or slutty if you approach them, and a lot of women will judge you as slutty as well for changing the rules of the game while they sit idly and wait. The point is that both men and women enforce the gender roles where men are the 'aggressors' and women sit still, without further choice than approval or rejection of what they're being offered. There are ways of getting past it, concretely by not sitting in corners with your friends as girls, but by splitting up and walking around, or merging with other guy or girl gangs. At a more general level norms about women's perceived slutiness when approaching men needs to be discussed. Perhaps the situation was made worse by the fact that many of the guys I fancied were slim indie guys. Perhaps it would have been easier with more 'manly' men. Or perhaps not. The point is that I don't know. Mainly because I never tried all the different types of guys there is to date. I don't have any conclusive statistics so I don't make the type of ludicrous conclusions that Vincent is apt to make.(hide spoiler)]Chapter 4. Sex (or Titty bars for poor folks) (view spoiler)[What can I say? I did learn that the lap dance are supposed to get men to actually come, this I didn't know earlier, otherwise I might really have preferred a dry academic report on the statistics of a place like that. Is it a shock to anyone that there are titty bars? No. Is it a exclusively male place? No. I'd be as interested in the women's background and perspective on these places as the men's. I once dragged a a very embarrassed male friend into a shady strip club with the hope of seeing some striptease, but seeing as we had arrived before any shows had started, we left without having seen anything. I don't think pole dancing or strip shows in themselves have to be bad. There is a great scene in How to Be a Woman where Caitlin Moran goes to a strip club in Berlin with Lady Gaga and has a blast. The difference between this experience and Vincent's is of course the standard of the place. The club (clubs?) Ned visits are all shady and with more focus, it would seem, on selling the jerking-of-lap-dance than presenting the striptease dance titillation. No one in Ned's type of club were enjoying themselves. The men were there to get away from their normal lives and the women because they had to. Both the men and women involved seem humiliated and let down by the experience. Once again, the conclusion could be that this is more a class than a gender issue. (hide spoiler)]Chapter 5. Life (or The homosexual repressions of a monastery) (view spoiler)[Ned enters into a monastery and this is where things gets interesting. Maybe it's because this is the first time the milleau is truly male exclusive and elusive to the outside world. (Though one might argue that there are nunneries as well, and that a comparison would have been interesting.)I could hardly go on reading a few pages into this chapter when Ned starts telling people that they are such 'queens', or that he could use a good cuddle, or that a 90 year old man is 'cute'.I enjoyed the analysis of how even in this supposedly intellectual and spiritual environment the macho manliness was still important in some ways and instilled in its members. As Vincent concludes the fear of homosexuality has a strong link to this mechanism. Ironically a least two of the monks that Ned meets are confirmed to be gay, but they both supress it.(hide spoiler)]Chapter 6. Work (or Door-to-door-salesmen wear suits) (view spoiler)[Again, as with the bowling chapter, this is very much a description of a certain socio-economic strata, rather than of male life. You have the 18 year old pregnant girl in tight clothes and the 20-something Bulgarian ex-pro tennis-player, both scrambling to make a living in the harsh realities of non-college-graduate employment world. Yet there are of course a certain element of manliness in the close identification between success and your role as a man. People constantly tell Ned to 'man up' when he's doing poorly as a salesman. He also discovers that when he changes his attitude from asking and apologising for things (as (s)he would do as Norah), to taking things without apologising, people respect him more as a man. Lastly the description of Ned's transformed sense of manliness when he puts on his suit is great. People see the suit, not the person. She writes about the suit as a signifier of maleness, and compares it to a certain type of woman:“A woman can be downright ugly on close inspection, and every desirable aspect of her fake, the product of bleach, silicon and surgery, but if she's sporting the right signifiers, she's hot. She is her disguise, not a person but a type. A suit, I found, does very much the same thing for a man. You see it, not him, and you bow to it.” It is a pity that Ned can never enter a Wall-street boardroom or CIA, though I guess we already have memoirs and confessionals from those places, and perhaps from women as well. (hide spoiler)]Chapter 7. Self (or Men's groups are angry, but also sad)(view spoiler)[Ned joins a men movement group. Again an exclusively male environment where women are not only excluded, but also seen as a foreign entity. Of course unlike the monastery many of these men are married and have contact with women daily, but the relationship is often strained and some of them have vivid fantasies about killing their wives through horrendous dismembering. For some the conflict seems to stem from their perceived role as providers and protectors which makes their wives burdens without any strength of her own. For me, a person who lives in a country where house-wives is as exotic as palm trees, this conflict seems so unnecessary. Why can't the men just tell their wives how they feel? I know it's not that simple, but I can't help but feel a certain unbecoming smugness over the fact that gender roles in Sweden have progressed past this provider/care-giver dicthomy. Or at least I hope so. I'll also probably use it as an argument the next time certain men in Sweden starts complaining that women in Sweden have emasculated men by joining the labour market. Would they really prefer this type of strain and burden instead? (The whole thing reminds me of the part of Dicken's David Copperfield (view spoiler)[where he first marries a cute, but ultimately stupid and careless woman, with economic disaster ensuing. When she dies he comes to his senses and marries a less beautiful, but still lovely and most importantly intelligent women, as a happy ending. (hide spoiler)])This is however mostly the chapter where one cannot help but to feel deeply sympathetic for the plights of manhood. Like a lot of other men that she meets during the book they are suffering from the dissonance between the unemotional norm for men and their own emotional needs. Vincent writes that a lot of her discomfort as a woman trying to fit into the male role seemed to be mirrored by the men she met. She remembers when her brothers used to cry as children and could ask for comfort when upset, but now the only emotion they seem to express is anger. This limitation of the male spectrum of emotions is a recurring theme and an important point. (Though as someone who've spent time with 'artistic' guys, I know there are places where guys do have outlets for their feelings, though still perhaps not in the same ways as women.)At the end of this chapter Vincent has a mental breakdown as a result of the constant switching of between being Norah and Ned, combined with the strain added by the remorse she feels for betraying people who she meets. Vincent is very open about her condition and it adds an extra layer to what she has gone through. However there is not much in the previous chapters that point to any constant emotional battle, so it feels in some ways less connected to the rest of the story than it could have done. (hide spoiler)]Chapter 8. Journey's end (or Analysis)(view spoiler)[If you want to read the short version of the book, read this chapter. This is where Vincent puts all of her experiences together and analyses her life as a man. (hide spoiler)]Bonus: When I Was A Boy by Dar Williamssums up my feelings on the subject pretty nicely.

  • mr. kate
    2019-04-01 03:03

    what I have to say about this book is you should read it. and you should be very very angry. Vincent does a disservice to everyone by ignoring the complexities of our world. Her treatment of women and her anexation of trans-narratives prove her shortsitedness by proving once again that there is only one narrative that of the white middle class male. Generally she seems to be pandering to a straight white audience who want to believe that everything they ever thought about gender/sex was true.

  • Loren
    2019-03-31 08:10

    Full disclosure: I've cross-dressed once. I passed. I didn't change any of my mannerisms or jewelry. I wore my regular glasses and my regular jeans. People see what they expect to see. Wish I could upload the photo so you could see it too.In regard to Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man, let's begin by saying: girlfriend has issues. While she was ostensibly going undercover as a man to research how men (read: white heterosexual lower middle-class men) really are, a whole lot of the book is concerned with the Big Reveal -- telling the people she's duped that she's really a woman and that she intends to write about their misguided attempts to relate to her as a man. This is barely justified as a postmortem of how well she passed and how she might do better at it. Mostly it just seems mean.For instance, in the chapter on dating, she goes on at some length to paint the straight women whom she met online as damaged, distrustful, manipulative, self-deceptive, and needy. After she reveals herself as just another predator, several of the women still consent to have sex with her. I'm confused how the "psych!" makes the world a better place, or why she proceeded to mercy fuck the women who'd liked her because she was such a good listener. What exactly does that have to do with men?Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the chapter called Sex, in which Vincent trolls around the diviest strip clubs she can find. She repeatedly buys herself lap dances, then puzzles over what it is men get from them. She finds them embarrassing and degrading for both members of the transaction. Um...might I suggest that you don't have the equipment to fully appreciate the situation? In fact, only one of the dancers actually comments on her limp dick, and Vincent doesn't extrapolate that they probably all have discussed the creepy lurker who can't get off. The lack of self-awareness in the chapter was breathtaking.The book reads very quickly, which was a bonus. In the end, however, I didn't pity Vincent, who drove herself into depression after her year of using people. I also didn't feel the pity she did for the men who seemed so worn down by trying to live in the confines of their white heterosexual lower middle-class world. I felt sorry for the people who trusted her: welcomed her into their monastery, their self-help circle, their bowling league, their bedrooms. It would have been one thing for her to explore their milieux, gone on her way, and written her book. People come and go in one's life all the time. For her to insist on revealing herself time and time and time again, to rub people's faces in what fools they had been, seemed unnecessary and cruel.Perhaps the most telling part (and least explored by Vincent) was her desire at the culmination of the men's retreat to be cut by one of the men she'd befriended. She wanted to be physically hurt, to be punished for her deceptions. I couldn't help but wonder if she'd set up all of her investigations as a way to get herself bashed, either as a gay man who couldn't behave appropriately in the homophobic situations she enabled or as a transvestite woman breaching communities which have consciously and intentionally withdrawn from women. Was her depression at the end of the experiment simply the suffering she felt she deserved and couldn't find at anyone else's hands?I don't have any answers. This is merely my analysis of a flawed ethnography by an admittedly deceptive and captivatingly myopic narrator.Mostly I'm curious how she scored such a media coup when the book was published.

  • Brandon O'Neill
    2019-03-24 08:00

    Very interesting book. A New York liberal, lesbian, feminist takes on the role of a man to see what men are all about. As Ned, she joins a bowling team, works selling merchandise in a high pressure sales job, visits strip clubs, goes on dates, stays at a monestary for a while, and goes to meetings of a mens movement. Her insights into gender are interesting, and not something that I think too much about, to be honest. She thought that being a white male would open up all kinds of doors she felt were closed to her as a woman, but found out that isn't so. One of her conclusions, and I guess this could be good or bad news depending on who you are, is that the white male is just another stereotype now, not some all powerful exclusive club.

  • Spider the Doof Warrior
    2019-03-24 00:06

    This was a fascinating book. I'm not sure I totally agree with the conclusions she made about men and women, but if men and women are so unhappy why do they bother following these rules?Me, I'm an odd person. There's things I don't understand. I'm a gender shapeshifter myself, bisexual, an atypical female who doesn't like high heel shoes and squees over well done mushy scenes in movies. So, the male/female dichotomy confuses me. There's genitals, testosterone and estrogen and such, but there's also personalities. Are we really from different planets or do we just have different personalities and such? Do we follow the rules of culture too willingly?This book is good in the sense that Norah Vincent shattered some of her assumptions and that's always a good thing to do. She also sneaked into a men's movement retreat and these men talked about rescuing women and wanting to protect them.This makes me think I would not want that. The book also makes me think that I wish I had a man with a mixture of male/female traits. With long hair and a deep voice who can be himself around me and he'll let me be myself.That has nothing to do with the book, but it's what it makes me think of.Also, boys are more vulnerable than girls in a way, yet we try to toughen them up. Then they grow up with women who want them to be sensitive and FEEL and they don't know how because when they fell and hurt themselves someone said "be a man" instead of holding them liked they needed too.It depresses me that we can't be whole human beings instead of incomplete stereotypes.

  • Frightful_elk
    2019-04-08 00:20

    This is an intresting sociological study of manhood from a woman's point of view. It's certainly a provocotive book, which offers a lot of food for thought, although Norah's own journey is not paticularly in depth or comphrehensive. She struggles a lot with the guilt of decieving people into thinking she is a man, and so her relationships as a man are only ever superficial. As soon as she begins to develop a closeness with anyone she reveals that she is female. While it is very easy to relate to her feelings, one cannot help but feel it is giving her a rather eschewed perception of what it is to be a man. She paints a rather lonely and tortured picture of the average man, but she goes to the extreme ends of male culture (strip bars, a monastry, mens self help group, a competitive work place) to find experiences and does not live a rounded of meaninful life as 'ned' her alter ego.That is not to say her accounts arn't revealing though! But more intresting I found was her discoveries about what and why her gender was important to her. Self confessed tomboy and butch lesbian, she expected to have no trouble being an average joe, but found when passing as a male she came across as effeminate and frequently stumbled into male culture faux-pas's. Being a man she found meant far more than just appearing to be so, she found she was being resocialised into her male persona, and as a female, the stress of this was eventually to great. So the meaningful thing I took away from this book is that manhood is not about how masculine or feminine you are, even living as a man will not make you one, it is a core part of one's identity. And when we try to live counter to our identity the results, as Norah found, are disasterous.

  • Tatiana
    2019-03-31 00:06

    my roommate (lesbian) said reading this book was like reading a book about penguins - fascinating, but completely useless for everyday life. my reaction was a bit stronger. i disagree with almost everything she said in the book, found her to be extremely close-minded about gender and sexuality (for a lesbian no less), and very condemning of women and defending of men in every situation she was in. i'm not sure exactly why she was so harsh on women, considering she is one and dates them, nor why she was so quick to defend men on everything they do, or side with them (there's one particular scene where she is trying to ask a woman in a group of women in a bar out on a date and the frustration leads her to believe she understands the feelings behind wanting to rape). i think gender relations, men and women are far more complex and have a deeper, more confusing history than she would have someone believe. and forget about anything more in depth than the average white american man and woman, whatever that means, she's not going there, nor does she acknowledge the trans movement and women previous to her who have passed as men and still do, or who actually live as men. bah.

  • Sara
    2019-04-12 01:17

    It's difficult to explain why I liked this book so much, and I will agree wholeheartedly with anyone who says they hate it. First of all, Vincent's tone may be off-putting. I had a difficult time immersing myself in the first chapter, and there were several spots in the later chapters that held me at a distance. She uses slang words for sexual parts in her everyday writing voice, which wouldn't be a difficulty if the rest of the book weren't so philosophically complicated and tonally academic. The integration of the two voices (polar opposites in formality) causes the book credibility problems, but if you can look past that, you'll find some stellar thinking. Vincent's foray into the world of men was absolutely fascinating, and made me sad for men in a thousand ways. I am a pushy broad, mostly by lifelong necessity, but I suffer from the same need for comfort that most of the people in the book suffer. Vincent does a lovely job of exploring those double needs (aggression and passivity) in all of us.

  • laura
    2019-03-24 07:06

    I read this book hoping for a lot of sociological insight - but the author is not a sociologist, nor is she necessarily a feminist. I see that I'm not the first reviewer on goodreads to note that she seems to oversympathize with men, and almost acts as their apologist in certain chapters. Still, there are very subtle differences she describes in detail about living life as a man instead of a woman that were so fascinating to me that reading the book was totally worth it. If, as a woman, you'd like to see what it might feel like to walk around for a day in a man's skin, you might like this. Similarly, if you are a man and you're interested in seeing how a woman interprets your point of view, you may like this as well. But don't expect a scholarly work that provides a lot of sociological context or gender theory, because this book gives neither.

  • Ashley
    2019-04-14 03:21

    This book explores men's emotions, and the possibility and necessity of a "men's movement" so that men can be free to be who they want to be and not just what they are expected to be. " wasn't being found out as a woman that I was really worried about. It was being found out as less than a real man, and I suspect that this is something a lot of men endure their whole lives..." Really interesting insight, especially the stay at the monastery and dating. The book has slow points but I would read it if not just for the insight into male and female communication and cognition differences, which are often misunderstood because of a lack of perspective.

  • Dan
    2019-04-17 02:04

    The premise of Self-Made Man is one that ought to grab your attention and be good for some entertainment value, even if the book were horribly mangled in its execution. Fortunately for me, Vincent did an excellent job in the balancing act, keeping her tale delightfully salacious while also sharing a new perspective on a question which has become monotonously tiresome in its everyday ordinariness. What is it that often makes men and women seem like such different species? To tackle this question Vincent, a self proclaimed dyke, goes undercover in realistic drag, living large swaths of her life as a man for a couple of years. This immersion style leads her to question a great many of her own assumptions along the way (a fact that seems to alarm many who have also reviewed this book), but which seems to me to provide a great deal more insight onto the question than other works that seem to throw up their hands and take a "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" outlook.Along the way, Vincent takes joins an all-male bowling league, takes jobs in several "testosterone-driven" careers, dates countless women and ends up going to an all male therapy retreat. If there was one major complaint I would take with this book, it would be that it seemed front-loaded. The earlier experiences were frequently ones that I could relate to more, whereas later experiences like the therapy group seemed to be dealing with some fairly damaged individuals. It got especially difficult at the end, trying to take away any serious message from people who just didn't seem to represent the larger population - either male or female. In deciding what to write about this book, I did some reading of the reactions of others. Many have blasted Vincent for being overly sympathetic of the men in her tale and for lampooning women. While I can certainly understand why this is felt, I take some exception to the criticism. In many cases, I felt the author was merely putting herself in the mindset, attempting to play the role as best as she could. Often when she claimed to better understand a certain behavior, I didn't always feel that she was endorsing it. Nor did she equate her negative experiences with some women as being entirely representative of womankind. I personally felt vindicated by some of the points that she elaborated in her book - often things that I have questioned myself, but never had a second opinion for. For example, her attention to the importance of eye-contact among men and the signals it conveys struck me as entirely true - something I've known instinctively, but never seen written down in black and white. Ditto for the male equivalent of the Madonna/whore paradox, which she chooses to call the warrior/minstrel complex. This being the idea that men are trained to act as hardened individuals, yet should somehow be equally capable of being attentive to and expressive of a large range of internal emotions.A great deal of her anxiety as her alter ego, Ned, was not so much that she wouldn't 'pass' as a man, but would end up passing as less than a man (i.e. an effeminate/gay man). This is obviously something I can relate to strongly as a gay man myself, and perhaps this biased me. But it was still refreshing to see a voice that straddled the line between the sexes, pointing out the ridiculous nature of the chatter we frequently hear of about men and women being worlds apart.

  • Sarah Nicole
    2019-04-08 06:55

    This book was eye-opening in ways I could never have imagined. I picked it up because I thought it would be interesting but I had no idea it would shake my very foundations as a feminist and make me reconsider all these ideas I'd had about the patriarchy and male privilege. It's really given me a lot to think about and I am grateful to this book for being so very thought-provoking. Most of this book's detractors think that its author spent too much time among atypical gatherings of men (a monastery, a men's movement retreat, etc) but that was exactly what she wanted to get a look at, men in specific different habitats, not just all men in general. So I'm not sure why these people are expecting something from this book the author did not even set out to do. I highly recommend this to everyone; it's a great, fascinating read.

  • Петър Стойков
    2019-04-19 05:56

    Авторката на книгата решава да се преоблече и да види какво е да си мъж в днешно време - и понеже е висока, лесбийка и добра актриса - и се удава доста добре в продължение на година и половина. Тя се записва в боулинг-клуб, намира си мъжка компания с която запива, посещава стрийптийз клубове, даже ходи на срещи с жени за да види как е романтичната страна на живота от гледна точка на мъжете.Изводите й са малко шокиращи за голяма част от обществото, особено "либералното" и феминистично настроено такова, както ще успеете да видите, ако прочетете ревютата на книгата в този сайт, особено тия които са с 1 звезда. Там обидени феминистки и борци за "социална справедливост" оревават света, че изводите на книгата не били правилни, че била плитка пропаганда и т.н. Което са глупости, разбира се - фактите са си факти и ако ги наричаш "пропаганда", проблемът вероятно е в погрешността на собствените ти идеи.А фактите, както ги вижда авторката от живота си в мъжка кожа са, че на мъжете изобщо не им е толкова лесно, колкото тя си е мислела доскоро, и колкото повечето жени, особено феминистките, си мислят. Че да си мъж означава да се съобразяваш с много повече неписани обществени правила, отколкото жените, да имаш много повече задължения и да отговаряш на много повече и на много по-строги социални очаквания.Книга, която много може да отвори очите на някои хора.

  • Shellie (Layers of Thought)
    2019-04-10 04:10

    I found this book in an international airport terminal's book store, and was really pleased to have done so.I have always been fascinated by men and how they think, feel, and behave. I always have felt to better understand a man or men would allow me to have better relationships with them. I believe that this is true.This book allowed me to do this and gave me further insight from the male perpective, ironically from a women experiencing what it is like to be a man by living as one. (By the way the process she goes through is very interesting.)The author does an amazing job giving the reader insight into what men are really like because she is sensitive and non-judgemental about the male experience. She is obviously an "evolved feminist" whom likes men, which contradicts the myth that lesbians hate men. I do recommend this book for anyone interested in human behavior, women or men whom are interested in the "male experience", or relationships.

  • John
    2019-04-08 04:24

    Fascinating insight into the world of men as viewed by a woman. Her conclusions are colored by her specific experiences, of course. I took exception to the chapter on sex. I don't think Ms. Vincent's experiences at bottom-of-the-barrel strip clubs can lead to much that reflects on the type of person who wouldn't go to one.

  • A
    2019-03-28 01:05

    Another late review. Well, OK...My rating on this is actually hovering between a 2 and a 3. The difficulty here is that Vincent has some skill as a writer and actually does give some insight on the differences between genders in our culture, but there is also something offputting abut her attitude and highly questionable about certain conclusions.Part of my issue is that going in, she seems to over-estimate the awesomeness of being a guy. Certainly there are some freedoms and expectations of power or competency that make it seem like an ideal position, but even as a patriarchy-believing feminist, it seems clear to be that these expectations and freedoms come with a price. Or at least they have for many men I know. There are also issues making these assumptions when you're dealing with working vs. middle class guys. It is also a bit disappointing that she doesn't expand her scope to, say, nerd or geek culture, areas of which can seem dominated by men but favor a very different sort of guy than working class bowlers or salesmen in a high pressure environment. While it does seem like her goal was to focus in on stereotypically "GUY" sub-cultures and endeavors, not looking at other types of guys limits understanding of masculinity as a whole.There is also her tendency to criticize women for being artificial, petty, and so forth--the usual laundry list of complaints uttered by frustrated men and women who have said things like "I just don't trust other women." I've been there myself, and I admittedly have a tough time conjuring sympathy for the mean girls of the world, but I learned that being a bitch and judging all women in retaliation is just self-defeating. Really, it's odd given her supposed renewed respect for her femininity.Generally, Vincent has a tendency to come off as self-involved and often unwilling to examine her blindspots. The book does, however, claim to be a memoir, the navel-gaziest of genres, so some leniency is called for. On the other hand, this is a memoir that attempts to tackle a social reality, therefore any solipsism on the author's part will be held to some scrutiny.To her credit, Vincent clarifies that total objectivity and gathering of data is not her goal. This qualifies some of what she says here and puts the focus on her increasing awareness of what it means to be a man in our culture. Where the book shines are the social interactions between her and the people she meets, her efforts to understand their experience, and the effort to understand herself in terms of gender. When she is not trying to be clever or asserting her ego, the book is actually quite interesting as an examination of masculinity.Because of that, I'd consider it an interesting read, at the very least, though there are probably far more substantial books on the subject.

  • Donitello
    2019-03-22 04:03

    Unlike many of the people who, to my great surprise, give this book low ratings, I had no feelings of disgust or outrage toward it at all. This may be because I expected it to be neither a scientific work nor some sort of feminist Word Of God. I simply found the topic interesting, the quality of her work acceptable on all counts, and some of her experiences quite surprising (yet resonant). The most valuable insights I gained from this book are what she herself expressed as the two biggest surprises she encountered: 1) Among other things, she had expected to finally see what the "privileged" position of males in our society was really like. For the main part, she experienced no great privileges. 2) As a part of the "inner circle" of boys-only, she expected to hear numerous open expressions of disrespect for women. To the contrary, she was struck by the deep devotion many of the men -- even sexist Joe Six-Packs -- felt toward the women in their lives. These two insights were alone worth the price of the book, although there was much else that was eye-opening. The crappy way she was treated by the straight women she tried to date was amusing in a macabre sort of way. (And yes, that too resonated. Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I deeply regret to say that I AM acquainted with many women who fit these descriptions.) In addition, the moment-to-moment harassment of men to keep them in their "masculine" roles was news to me. Yet, once more, it rang completely true as I examined it.When she ended the book by declaring, "I'm glad to be a woman," I thought perhaps I heard the a faint trumpeting of the end of the "Lifetime Television" era of victim-based feminism. THAT would work for me in a BIG way.

  • Cass
    2019-04-09 02:00

    I abandoned this earlier this year, for some reason this morning I picked it up and started reading it again. It took me the day to finish, so I didn't give it my most earnest attention.It was a hard book to like because there was just so much vulgarity about it. On the surface I was expecting a deep incite into a female perspective of the male world. The book does deliver some really interesting stuff, but it is not whole. The book does not offer a well-rounded look at the male world, instead it tackles the really seedy stuff.I found the chapter discussing the inner workings of a strip club, even to the point the the author had a few lap dances, really depressing. It was a sombre section of the book, but I don't think it required a female to tell that story, and that is the big problem I have with the book.The author, a lesbian and feminist, paints with broad strokes. I read about how her male persona (Ned) hits up strips joints with a friend. The friend has a wife and kids at home, and I can't help but feel this is what she expects of all men.She joins a bowling league, goes on lots of dates, spends time in a monastry, joins a weird mens help group, and takes a job as a hardcore salesman. These are testosterone filled groups to be sure, but hardly representative of men as a whole. I struggled greatly with this.I really took great issue with the lives that she messed with as well. Dating women, even getting into the bedroom before revealing herself to be female. Something about all of it bothered me.She ends the book by checking herself in a mental hospital (which I just noticed is the subject of another book). I just don't get what is good about any of this.

  • Nicola
    2019-03-20 07:10

    In an undeniably fascinating piece of investigative journalism, Vincent poses as a man (with male clothes, sports bra and fake stubble, but no surgery) and details her experiences of work, socializing and self when perceived as the opposite gender.It’s an interesting read and Vincent makes many insightful observations about gender and society. Some of those observations are, admittedly, tough to read. This slightly gritty quality to the book is compounded by Vincent’s obviously hard emotional journey posing as a man – she says she never experienced fun or joy as her alter-ego ‘Ned’ and it shows in the narrative.Vincent is not a particularly skilled writer. Even with editorial input, she has problems with grammar and commas are rarely ever where they’re supposed to be. (I often pick about grammar in books, but I think that if you’re going to choose to become a writer, it’s only right that you learn how first. Anyway…) More pressingly, I found her choice to eschew social theory in recounting her experiences somewhat problematic. Vincent clearly has some background in women’s studies, but this may be a case of ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. Despite the fact that almost all of her observations illustrate how powerful the role of society is in shaping gender, she nonetheless throws out random and unsubstantiated essentialist claims that men and women are just different. She often shapes her narrative around women’s studies sociology (even using the term ‘spectral fag’, unattributed), but never actually uses any academic material directly.As a result, the book is a slightly uneasy mix of journalism, personal memoir and unresearched pop-sociology. Not without its flaws, it’s still worth a read.

  • Kstn
    2019-04-04 01:00

    some forms of socialization into masculinity explored through her donning of differnt male identities, such as the power-pumping salesman, the average-joe bowling night, the monk, etc. she even dates. the most interesting part for me were the surprising people reacted to her as him, how they reacted to her when they discovered she wasn't a him, how she reacted to being perceived as him. however, she strikes me as transphobic with many of her conclusions, and is pretty oblivious when it comes to race/class issues, in that most her conclusions are made into sweeping generalizations. at one point, she says something along the lines that racism doesn't exist anymore. didn't strike me as particularly anti-sexist either...but hey, despite the limitations, i read the hell out of it.