Friday, January 05, 2007

Memoir of a Gender Spy

Have been on a non-fiction journey over the past week or so, since The Emperor's Children exploded in my face. It was interesting though to have my prejudices about the writing confirmed by the editor of an American literary magazine who emailed me to say:
Thank all the gods someone finally sees the Messud novel like I do. I can't read the damn thing, even the first paragraph, without wincing. I ran into your blog post via a search, stunned that the novel was getting so much praise.
But a lot of people do think it's wonderful, and there must be something in it, mustn't there? I will get back to it sometime soon and try to keep my mind open.

I finished Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man, which is a really remarkable book, both brave and intelligent. It put me in mind of a book I read as a teenager - Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Griffin was a white journalist who "became" a black man with the aid of a drug and skin dye. He then wandered for six-weeks through the racially-segregated Deep South, experiencing at first hand what it was to be black. The book shocked.

Journalist Norah Vincent becomes a gender, rather than a racial spy, and transformed with clothes and make-up, assumes the identity of her alter-ego Ned Vincent. to enter traditional male bastions - the bowling alley, strip clubs, a monastery, a male encounter group, and a hard-selling sales team.

You might expect some pretty ferverent male-bashing, but Vincent makes an effort to get behind the stereotypes and makes some pretty interesting observations including that girls can be nastier than boys when it comes to someone who stands in the way of what they want. They know where to hit where it'll hurt the most and their aim is laser-precise

She even dates women as Ned she says. She thinks that it is going to be the fun part but instead she learns a lesson is how humiliating rejection is and how it is a fact of life for most guys. she also finds out just how bitter and self-pitying mosr American women are with inflated sense of self-worth.

No comments: