April Book Review0
Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back Again by Norah Vincent; 3.5 stars (out of 5)
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 (she pretends to be a man, and uses her acceptance as a man to enter into a man’s world) 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 screw 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 every day 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.