Journalist Norah Vincent and author of Self Made Man wanted to experience life as the opposite gender so she could write about it. She was a lesbian, not transgender, but her inquisitive nature made her curious about gender and identity. In 2003, she hired a makeup artist to help her paint stubble on her face to match her short, dark hair. She worked out to build the muscles on her back, wore rectangular-framed glasses, and strapped her breasts against her chest. And with the help of a Julliard vocal coach, she was even able to train her voice to sound more manly. Norah Vincent was determined. There was no stopping her from switching genders. But what she found in living life as the opposite sex wasn’t “male privilege” — instead, Vincent learned what it was like to be at an incredible disadvantage.  …

“I suspect people will go into this thinking oh, it’s written by a lesbian, she’s going to be male-bashing all the way down the line,” Vincent said during a phone interview. “But my experience was one that made me feel very vulnerable and made me feel a lot of pain and difficulty. While all of us in the post-feminist movement are convinced that women have always had it worse and men have always had it better, it took me stepping into their shoes to realize that that’s not true at all.”

Norah’s immersive journalism was anything but empowering. She felt alone and defeated as Ned. “Men are suffering,” Norah said. “They have different problems than women have but they don’t have it better. They need our sympathy, they need our love, and they need each other more than anything else. They need to be together.”

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