Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bushido Book Review: Self Made Man by Norah Vincent

Every now and then I manage to tear myself away from my Dungeons & Dragons informed taste in novels (I'm re-reading The Wheel of Time) and actually read something of social relevance. Of late I've read two great books, one novel and one non-fiction. It's the latter I'd like to mention here.

I recently finished reading Norah Vincent's Self Made Man and I was, frankly, stunned by what I read. It's such common knowledge, especially among progressives, that white American men live the most charmed life on Earth. Which is true, of course, but it's not always a cake walk being a guy in our society and Vincent does a brilliant job of laying out the particulars. She does an excellent job comparing and contrasting her feminist beliefs to the reality of the male experience and results aren't very pretty for either sex.

Not only does she disguise herself as a man but she does it in some of the most testosterone-charged environments imaginable. Living through a bowling league, a strip club, a Catholic monastery and a pressure cooker sales job lets Vincent bear witness to the worst that men have to offer. And yet, she still finds room for sympathy and understanding even in the face of all that troubled manliness. Vincent's book goes many miles to remind all of us that our patriarchal society doesn't benefit any of us, even men, except occasionally in the most superficial of ways. And we all, men and women alike, pay a high cultural price for that little sliver of white male privilege.

As a final example of Vincent's astuteness, she finally puts into writing one of the greatest truisms about the American male: We're all, on some level, Johnny Cash fans. Amen, sister!

2 comments:

gifted-1 said...

I also read this book and was riveted! Normally, I don't get to spend time with books that are void of lines like:
"And the hungry little caterpillar", "Little Mouse…" or "Once upon a time"

I try to think of myself as an open minded and accepting person ~ that is, unless you're talking about white men. Normally, I take issue with them running (ruining) the country, but this book really did open my eyes to some hardships men face.
Thanks Norah!

Samurai Sam said...

Love the man, hate the patriarchy!