Self-Made Man (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
From a very early age, Norah Vincent was a tomboy nicknamed Ned who detested girly things, and since then the issues surrounding gender have always fascinated her. As a journalist, this ongoing curiosity about the world of males prompted her to put on a disguise and delve for a year and a half into a world where few women have ever been before. Taking her old nickname Ned, she dons men’s clothes, “grows” a beard, wears a prosthetic penis, increases her body mass, and deepens her voice. Vincent, a former Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist, is a lesbian but makes it clear from the beginning that she is not a transvestite, a transsexual, or a cross-dresser. She stresses that she strongly prefers being female, does not feel trapped inside a female body, and was very happy when her male alter ego Ned departed permanently.
Ned’s disguise consists of a beard of chopped up wool crepe painted on meticulously with an adhesive called stoppelpaste, an increased upper body wrought from large amounts of protein and lifting weights, breasts strapped into extra tight sports bras, a flaccid prosthetic penis fit into a jock strap, voice lessons from a Julliard coach, and a spiffy new wardrobe of the latest male fashions. In an effort to provide Ned with discrete experiences, she devises a plan that will ultimately posit “him” in such diverse settings as a bowling alley, strip clubs, bars, and offices and such all-male environments as a monastery and a...
(The entire section is 1807 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
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Chicago Sun-Times, January 29, 2006, p. B4.
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(The entire section is 49 words.)