Thursday, November 22, 2007

Norah Vincent- Self-Made Man

I was drawn to this book because of my sociological interests. I was interested not only to see what it is like for someone to experience the world from a male perspective, but also to get some kind of glimpse into the mind of someone brave (and devious) enough to attempt- and succeed- at such a thing. My feelings when reading Black Like Me, which is clearly a similar experiment- were that I did not get a clear idea of what kind of person was undergoing such an experiment and what drove him on and helped him through it. So I suppose that along with the sociological information, I wanted some kind of psychological background on the experimentor and the experiment itself so that it is not simply a series of data (although I found Black Like Me to be profound and remarkable, and I don't wish to demean it in any way).
I feel that this book did an admirable job of conveying not only the psychology behind the experiment but the results of the experiment itself- and I was very glad to hera the feedback of some of the people who discovered that they had been tricked and responded with honesty about their reaction.
Of course any single experiment can not encompass an entire gender or even an entire group of people, I think that it did give me some insight about what I had presumed about men. I don't think about it all that often- I tend to think of the world in feminist terms- such as what men have done to women, what women can do to assert themselves, the history of misogyny, etc. When I think of men I generally think of them being the same as women, with slightly different sensitivities and psychological frameworks (and of course, different hormones, which explains a lot) and I feel tremendous pity for men's balding, etc. in the same way I feel tremendous pity for the fact that women have to endure menstruation, pregnancy (for some women), and massive cancer rates for breast, ovary, etc. that far outweight prostate cancer (although men of course have heart disease, etc. to deal with). However, my awareness of male social structures was essentially based on assumption; while this book reinforced some of what I had prevously thought, it also made me question some things and probably caused me to widen my perspective about male relationships and the position of men in today's society (particularly an increased awareness of the pressure men are under- in specific ways- to be physically ideal just as women are). While I have always known this, it placed it into a context that I found very easy to relate to and that I really enjoyed.
Finally, I am extremely impressed that not only did Norah Vincent have the guts to attempt this, but that she succeeded and continued, especially considering the uncomfortable elements she experienced.
Flipping through it, I am reminded of the amazing wit in this book that I had forgotten about, which makes this book not only informative and interesting, but truly entertaining and amusing at the same time.

No comments:

Post a Comment