Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Self Made Man

I'd heard about the book Self-Made Man, but had not given it much thought until last night. A woman named Norah Vincent spent a year and a half living as a man and this book is the result. I'd orginally assumed it was going to be a male bashing tome, but I watched an interview on TV with her last night and she seemed to have a balanced approach. She certainly carried off the appearance of being male, and I guess it helped that she's five feet, ten. She joined a male bowling league, went on dates with women, went to a strip club, and had other male type adventures. I don't know if it helped her that she's lesbian, but in the interview she revealed that at least some men took her to be gay, although they didn't know she was female.

Some points she made in the interview. 1. Males don't have it easier than women, just different. 2. Males bond with each other by picking on each other. 3. Males have a desparate need for intimacy with other men but are afraid to show it and don't really know how anyway.

As for these points, I agree with 1 and 2, although I think almost everyone knows 2 to be true. As for 3, I believe men do enjoy the friendship and companionship of other men, and that they need to get away from women sometimes (as women need to get away from men). However, I don't know about this desparation thing. I think women and men judge intimacy differently. My Ex used to badger my son to talk about what was bothering him, and he sometimes would do so and at other times would clam up. I told her more than once, sometimes men really don't want to talk about it, and sometimes that's for the best. The need to share "everything" with another person is, in my opinion, more of a feminine trait than a masculine one. Or am I just being sexist? Maybe women are like that too.

Anyway, I think I'm going to give this book a read. It sounds interesting.


RK Sterling said...

I read that book, Charles. It was interesting. I don't know that I learned a lot from it, but I did have a bit more compassion for men afterward, so I guess that's a good thing. :)

Lana Gramlich said...

Personally I think that gender "roles" &/or "traits" are just over-generalized pseudo-social constructs that hold no real basis in reality. Women aren't ALL into sharing/talking about problems (I'm a perfect example of that,) nor do all men NOT want to talk things through. Women can be aggressive & men can be sensitive. Everything is relative, all the time. Considering this, people must be considered as individuals first, not as Men, Women, Christians, Doctors, Scuba-divers, Trekkies or any of the other labels we constantly put on them.
Unfortunately we seem to live in a society that can only think in "either/or" extremes (i.e.; Republican OR Democrat, etc.,) but this is NOT reality. This social misconception tends to keep us all divided & therefore, down.
But I still love you. :)

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

It does sound interesting. However, I think the male experience differs from culture to culture from region to region...from generation to generation. It's always hard to capture a thumbnail. Still, thumbnails are fascinating.

I remember reading "Black Like Me" when I was in high school. That sort of experience always is fascinating to me.

Dave Hardy said...

People certainly aren't cookie cutter creations, nor do I think they are random agglomerations of socially imposed traits.

Watching my daughter grow, and comparing her to her male peers, I do see some generalized differences. Particularly in speech, physical activity and styles of play. Yes, she gets tea sets as gifts from relatives, but she also gets toy swords and cars. We really do try to let her be herself, and yep, she's a girl.

Lucas Pederson said...

I'll have to take a gander at this book. Sounds interesting. I'm not so sure I agree with #3 either. Of course, it's hard to judge becasue everyone is different. Some men are nmore sensitive than others and might feel the need to share their feelings with another man, generally for adivce or perhaps closure. Like I said, it's hard to judge what is what on that subject.

Steve Malley said...

NZ's gender roles are quite a bit stricter than I remember in the US. Think 1950's America without all the racism and commie-baiting.

It was hard to get used to, but not as hard as the lets-all-treat-each-other-the-same craziness of my late teens and early twenties.

Now if you'll all excuse me, I'm due to stand out in the alley and drink beer.

It's almost my turn to say, "Yup."

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm not going to share my feelings on this topic.

Susan Miller said...

I, too, thought of "Black Like Me", which is in my collection. Thank you for the book recommendation. I will be more apt to read it now that I know it is not a male bashing attempt.

Lana makes some great points, and at times it can be frustrating if any of us feel that we are being described by an extremist for either gender. Being a rebel without a clue has always given me the urge to resist the "shoulds".

Michelle's Spell said...

I'm going to check out the book. I think you have a good point about women wanting to "talk" everything through -- that is, if my female friends are any indication. My male friends are a mix -- some love to talk everything out, but most love to have a few drinks and call it a day. I'm thinking that's not such a bad thing!