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

Author: Norah Vincent
4.0
All Reddit 64

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

4.0

Review Date:

Comments

by J9AC9K   2017-08-19

You're referring to Self-Made Man , a great book IMO.

by da_chicken   2017-08-19

I've read that book . It's alright, but I feel like she conflates some of the particulars of her choices with her generalizations about men.

The things she does:

  1. Joins a bowling league. This one is the best. I think she learned the most here. By the end I think she groks male bonding and male friendships. She even stays friends with them after revealing her identity (which she does in most of the sections). She ends up being pretty shocked by the depth of relationships she always assumed were superficial because men don't discuss everything. I feel like she comes closest to being a man here.

  2. Works as a regional door to door salesman. I could not relate to this one and don't know what she was trying to do. I hate that hyper alpha bullshit. It was a shitty job in a misogynistic environment (the women she worked with experienced a lot of sexual harassment). I think she got a glimpse of the boys club mentality, but I don't think she understood the dynamics all that well. I feel like she confused the structure of the job, which reminded me of multi-level marketing schemes with high turnover and high pressure, for a hierarchy in the business world. I don't associate being cutthroat hyper-alpha as being male, though. To me, that's just being a sanctimonious prick and being able to get away with it because nobody wants to confront you about it. I feel like she could have learned a lot more about regular men working a job site in construction or trades. I think her problem was that she has no relevant experience to do any of that. If she wanted the real alpha predator male experience, she'd have to join a biker gang or go to prison, but that's not exactly a good idea.

  3. Dating. This one was a bit bizarre. She talks about getting shot down a lot more than she thought, and about how difficult women make it to approach them. I remember her being really surprised with how rude women were to her. I don't think she understood how hurtful it is when you get shut down hard. Once she's on the dates with them, it's not that different from what she's used to, but she says that she doesn't feel any appreciation from women for much longer than she's used to for the effort she puts in. She says that the women, like, blatantly try to manipulate her with sex or affection or attention in very ham-handed ways. She is a lesbian, so she's had experience dating women before, so I think it surprised her how women behave dating men. She also seems a little surprised when she finds that hetero women genuinely seem to like men. They're honestly not looking for women in the body of men. Going in as a lesbian I can understand why she might point it out as being a bit surprising. She eventually has a short sexual relationship with one of the women (after she's revealed her identity, obviously) but by that point it has basically lost all relevance to her purpose.

  4. Going to a strip club. She used this to try to understand male sexuality, but all she did was talk about how disgusting they were and how it harms everybody and not just the women. Personally, I hate strip clubs, but I feel like she didn't get it. Her takeaway was that strip clubs exploit men as much as they exploit women, but, again, I don't feel like she came close at all to understanding male sexuality. I mean, she says she explicitly goes to the worst places she can find, and then she's surprised by how shitty the people are. I feel like her bias came through here more than anywhere else, and she didn't try to understand men here. She just tried to copy the experience. Without the hormones to back it up, I don't feel like this was a particularly informative thing to do. She genuinely sympathizes for the men there, but I don't think she empathizes with them in any real way.

  5. Joined a cloistered monastery. This kind of pissed me off because the whole thing was done under false pretenses so it wasted the monastery's time, and it's not an experience that very many men will relate to. Her takeaway was that men who sacrifice their social lives have a lot of emotional pain. Well, no shit. By this point I think she was experiencing a lot of problems with her own identity, and gets her emotions confused with her relationship with her mentor and friend.

  6. Joined a weird anger management or self help support club... thing. Basically they go on a camping retreat, but it's like 30 guys so it was pretty strange. I had a hard time relating to this one, too, because I have no anger problems and because I'm very self-aware, and nobody in this group seemed to have a lick of self-awareness. She was shocked that a group of men who have no therapeutic guide and have an obvious history of difficulty expressing themselves have difficulty expressing their emotions. By this point she had done all this too long, and the stress had really gotten to her and she starts to crack. She builds this fantasy that they're going to discover she's a woman, kill her in the woods, and hide her body. This whole event came across as very confused and actually kind of creepy because of her fantasy. I can't remember if she actually took a psychoactive drug on this retreat or if she just felt like she did. Either way, she got pretty loopy.

Overall, #1 and #3 were great, but the rest were poorly thought out, poorly planned, poorly executed, or otherwise poorly done. Her anecdotes about walking down the street and how she has to act to pass as a man are interesting. She talks about wanting to experience what it's like to have all the social power, and then is shocked when she finds she suddenly finds a huge number of restrictions on male behavior. How the only emotions you're allowed to express are laughter and anger, etc. I think she honestly thought being a man would be a free ticket to do whatever she wanted and wouldn't be judged by society because... patriarchy I guess? I don't remember her ever using that word, but I feel like that's what she driving at. Overall, she seems surprised by the fact that men are human beings and actually not made of stone on the inside. Given her starting point, that's not that unfair as a revealing conclusion, but it's not exactly earth-shattering, either.

At the end of the 18 months, she basically has a breakdown of some kind. She said she checked in to a mental hospital for awhile. Apparently she was losing her grasp on her own identity. The stress of pretending to be someone else for such a long time just undermined her. She used her time in the mental hospitals as material for her followup book.

by skyclown   2017-08-19

In no particular order

I'll stop for now, if you want any more message me.