Norah Vincent is a woman with balls.
Wait, that sounds really loaded, but in this case, it’s true on a number of levels.
Norah Vincent is a woman who lived as a man for a year and a half. She hired a makeup artist to teach her how to apply a five o’clock shadow every day. She trained with a voice coach to sound like a dude. She bound up her boobies. She wore a crew cut. She joined a men’s bowling league. She lived in a monastery. She joined a men’s movement group. All of the usual titillating details you would expect a cross-gender adventure to have are, of course, present in the book. And I love me some titillating. Even just the word is so fun to say, right? Go ahead, say it with me: Titillating. Uh-huh-huh-huh. Doesn’t it make you feel like Beavis and Butthead? But I digress. None of the people she was around as “Ned” ever knew she was a woman unless and until she told them. And you find yourself getting nervous for her and her charade. It’s hard to root for a hero who is being so deceitful, but you want her to find out what she finds out.
Anyhoo, titillating details aside, what I took away from the book was so much more profound and thought-provoking. Mars and Venus? Eh, whatevs. Norah’s observations of men when there are no women around, and the way she articulates them to the reader, left me gasping for air at times. I would have to set the book down, look away, and really absorb the magnitude of “Oh my God!!! I get it now!” that I kept feeling as I was reading. Anyone who is in a relationship with a man, or works with men, or is a parent to a little man-in-training, and even men themselves, will gain to understand volumes about the current male condition and sociology that no psycho-babble book could ever teach you. I was riveted. And I think you will be, too.
Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent