21 October 2008

Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man

Do you remember my post a couple of weeks ago, in which I went wandering the University library and randomly grabbed books that looked interesting?

One of them was "Self-Made Man". It's inspired me to start a new section of my blog: Books Everyone Should Read.

"Self-Made Man", by Nora Vincent, is about the 18 months that she spent in drag, living, working, eating, reading, and playing as a man. The book opens with her decision to "go guy" for a year, and examine traditional gender roles, and the social construction of masculinity. She begins by joining a bowling league, where she learns not only how to bowl, but important lessons about how men relate to one another and themselves. Later, she goes on to date as "Ned", sharing with the reader her experiences of rejection as a man and how it was both similar and different from her experiences as lesbian woman. "Ned" also works as a travelling salesman, exploring the money/masculinity/sex tie- "Holy Sheep!" From here, Ned went on to spend several months in a monastery, contemplating vows and homophobia, and culminated Ned's journey in a men's retreat.

Nora Vincent, as Ned, gives a highly educational but extremely accessible look into how men's views of themselves and the world around them are constructed by not only the larger culture, but by themselves and other men. I recommend "Self-Made Man," highly for men with an introspective bent, women who want to better understand the men in their lives, and... ah, hell, I think everyone should read this. Seriously.


A thoughtful, entertaining piece of first-person investigative journalism . . . Self-Made Man transcends its premise altogether. . . . So rich and so audacious . . . [I was] hooked from Page 1. -- David Kamp, The New York Times Book Review

Eye-opening . . . Self-Made Man will make many women think twice about coveting male ‘privilege’ and make any man feel grateful that his gender is better understood. -- The Washington Post

Vincent’s account of how she ‘became’ a man is undeniably fascinating." -- Los Angeles Times Book World

[Vincent] can be as perspicuous and exact as Joan Didion or Gloria Steinem at nailing a hitherto disregarded truth about the sexes in a single elegant and witty phrase. . . . This is a brave and often fascinating book, with Vincent . . . offering us perspectives that are entirely fresh and new. -- The Times,London

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