A Man’s World

<i>Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey Into Manhood and Back Again</i> by By Norah Vincent. Viking. $24.95.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


One night, on a dare, Norah Vincent dressed up as a guy and went out on the town. That voyeuristic, jarring glimpse of how the other half lives intrigued her, and a social experiment was born. For 18 months, Vincent donned a suit, glued on a 5 o’clock shadow, and adopted a slow swagger to become “Ned,” a convincingly typical middle-aged guy. She then infiltrated exclusive male spaces from strip joints to a Catholic monastery to get an inside look at the intimate lives of men.

What she discovered was a rigid set of nearly universal rules that keep men from expressing weakness, need, or affection, lest they be seen as wimps, sissies, or gay. It may be a man’s world, but touching each other or crying in public is still off-limits. Even when Ned went on a series of remarkably successful dates with women, he got mixed messages to be confident yet not cocky, down with feminism yet chivalrous. Only when Vincent revealed her disguise did things change. A bowling buddy confided in her about his marriage and after a monk warmly embraced her, she sighed with relief, “See, now I can hug you.” Women also let down their guard once the beard came off. “I always thought you weren’t very hairy for a man,” admits one of Vincent’s adamantly straight dates before hopping into bed with her.

Self-Made Man is not as revelatory as other works of undercover journalism such as Black Like Me or Nickel and Dimed. But it still says a lot that it took a woman to provide such a sharp and entertaining analysis of what it’s like to be a man in the post-feminist world.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate