Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Podcast Interview with Norah Vincent

Here is our podcast interview with Nora Vincent, the author of Self-Made Man : One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back. Norah talks about living as Ned, why boys need fathers, and the next stage of feminism. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here (you don't need an iPod!) or you can listen on iTunes by clicking here.

There's some very cool music by Audra and the Antidote -- check out the words to the opening tune. Hope you like it, and if you have any comments, let me know.

I don't mean to sound like Oprah but you must read this book!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that I am really
old "66" but, when you mention songs I have no idea what in the the world you are talking about! I know who the new age singers are and maybe like a song or two. But the music today is just so much noise. I still like Bob Seger, Eagles and ZZTop plus some country songs. It seems to me you need to feel you have to keep up with your peers.

8:51 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am most of the way through the book, and found it to be pretty interesting. It seems that "Ned" spent most of his time on the very fringes of male society, except for the bowling league. The most heartrending chapter was the one in the monastery.

There were certain things she could never get at, such as the very physical and urgent male sex drive, but she comes close to understanding it.

She took some gratuitous swipes at the military, which I thought were unfair. She would have likely felt otherwise, had she gone to the trouble of trying to understand military life.

9:02 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You and Glen may wish to consider setting up the distribution of these wonderful podcast MP3s over a "bit torrent" feed, so that in the initial hours when demand is off the charts, that actually will help facilitate downloads instead of slow them to a crawl as your server gets hammered.

Awesome interview, though.

9:12 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger David Foster said...

A question for those who read the book:

A New York Times reviewer commented that it provided a sympathetic portrait of the "white trash" men in the bowling league.

Did the term "white trash" appear in the book, or was this an editorial comment by the NYT reviewer? I'm guessing the latter.

9:22 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen:

I'm listening to the podcast, and let me just write that, in addition to the fact that you are a VERY good-looking woman, you have an incredibly HOT southern accent.

Don't tell Glenn I wrote that ;-)

9:33 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should really look into using bittorrent to distribute the mp3 files. I'm barely getting 5k/sec which means I can't stream it.

9:59 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Glenn said...

I don't know how to do a BitTorrent feed. Can you steer me to a good tutorial?

10:20 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Goemagog said...

You never asked for examples of how she could/would apply what she learned.

Goe, googled it.

10:40 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Here's a good over view:

What you need is a torrent client (I use Azerus).

You create a "torrent" file which is a small data file that contains a hash of the "big" file you're wanting to distribute, and which contains a reference to the "tracker"

Then you upload that torrent to a "tracker" -- a server that coordinates all the clients. You can host your own tracker, but it makes sense to have the tracker "password" protected before someone can upload a torrent, because otherwise you'll wind up with "script kiddies" uploading torrents for illegal file sharing.

Anyway, that's it. The torrent file is a pointer to the tracker. Then you host the file on your computer.

As people swarm on your file, the tracker will start to send them to each other for bits of the file that each of them have already obtained. Imagine if you have a group of students and they want to copy a 10 pages of notes without a copy machine. So they split the notes up, and the first person copies page one, and makes that available to someone who doesn't yet have page one but who just finished copying page 4. I'm not explaining it will, but the "gist" of it is that the HARDER people hit the file, the more shared bandwidth is available and utilized to distribute it. It really addresses the "hammered server" problem which, as proprietor of instapundit, you're probably well aware of.

Best regards.

10:53 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


As far as I know, the "white trash" reference only appeared in the NYT's reveiw. I never saw it in the book. Unlike the Times's reviewer or his readers, it seemed to me that Norah would have more respect for her fellow bowling buddies etc. than to call them by such a term.

11:05 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

I agree; Helen's accent reminds me of home. I like California, but I miss Southern accents.

David: I haven't read the book, but I found this great Internet tool to help answer questions. It's called Google. There is an excerpt of Vincent's book here that includes the terms "white trash" and "trailer trash".

Since the elitist liberals at the New York Times did not introduce the term in the context of this book, you don't have to be offended by it.

11:17 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

As a woman just starting the difficult task of transition (that's "sex-change" to most people), I'm really glad that Nora came out of the experience intact.

It's difficult enough "faking male" when you have a masculine bodily frame and male hormones. I can't imagine what it would be like without those aids, and the constant brainwashing you do to yourself since childhood, telling yourself you can't really be female.

Now it's easier for young girls in this horrible situation : the medical research over the last 10 years has shown that the brain is sexually dimorphic (ie Male and Female brains differ far more than we thought) and that it's possible to be neurologically Intersexed (Male brain in female body, or the reverse). So many transition now in their teens - they're usually aware of their situation by age 5, after all. If they can afford it, it costs an average of $100,000, usually none of it covered by insurance, and by a recent ruling of the IRS, the surgery isn't tax-deductable.

To voluntarily go into a situation of "Gender Dysphoria" is horribly dangerous, as Nora's now well aware, but obviously wasn't when she started. To manage it for 18 months is a staggering achievement. But please don't do it again! Any person with Transsexualism (Neurological Intersex) could have told her how incredibly risky her experiment was. Gender isn't a "lifestyle choice" or a "social construct", it's a biological setting that you mess with at your own peril.

Nora, I'm just glad you're OK now. If you find you have any unleasant long-term effects, there's some online support groups that could maybe help - feel free to e-mail me for details. Mainly women who have been there and done that, but for rather longer than 18 months. We try to help each other, and spouses and partners too. By your actions, you qualify.

Very best wishes, Zoe

11:26 PM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the new podcast Dr. Helen, but I fear poor Ana Marie may have been disappointed you guys nearly forgot to, y' know, mention her book, or mention it's title, or praise it :) I'll listen and see if you got round to talking about Norah Vincent's book this time.

1:06 AM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,

Thanks to you all (y'all, maybe) for the podcast and references to the book. We need much more of this to counteract the rot that has set in.

I am reasonably well aware of differences in the "feminist" viewpoint. It appears that the movement branched early, and the radical "men are no damn good" activists have been far more successful in shaping the culture and discourse than the more balanced, less strident side. I'm pleased to see some indication of reversal, if that isn't just wishful thinking. And I have a serious question:

As the radical fems have mostly co-opted "feminist," what is an appropriate, unambiguous alternative term for people like Nora and all the other men and women who see [whatever we call it] objectives as much more inclusive (another co-opted term, sorry) and fair?

I don't think this is a trivial issue. There is an ongoing war of words, something activists understand well, and every time one uses a branded label like "feminist," there's a set of preconceptions and conditioned responses to overcome (No, not THAT kind of feminist!) before communications can begin. Here's a timely opportunity to create the next big buzzword and move the center.

4:30 AM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the excerpt and found a question:

So what?

This excerpt must be for women and the unnecessarily overeducated.

This is how guys are, mostly. It certainly isn't news to guys.

If the rest of the book is in this vein, I don't see the benefit, except to congratulate Vincent on her courage and determination.

8:17 AM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

A few more things:

I can assure you that being a Lesbian in a male body is really awful. I know, personal experience.

And I wish Norah Vincent's book was on the reading list of any psychologist or psychiatrist studying Gender Dysphoria.

She's absolutely correct regarding the likely (almost certain) biological basis - though many influential people still believe it's psychological, despite a complete lack of evidence there.

Worse, some influential religious groups believe it's not a biological syndrome, nor a psychiatric condition, but a moral evil worthy of persecution.

This book might just make the task of education a little easier. Might even save some lives, by reducing the persecution.

Thanks for publicising this. I wish Dr H. and her partner, the inimitable Instapundit, all the best. (And thanks for past Instalanches, Glenn, hope I'll blog well enough to earn a few more in future).

All the best, Zoe

9:24 AM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good podcast!

Probably I'm just scared cynical by the James Frey scandal, but I couldn't help wondering while reading Norah Vincent's book whether she had made it all or mostly up. Like other commenters here, I wondered why she didn't write more about everyday things, like just having lunch with normal guys or women, or in mixed company...or how guys behave in elevators, or at car dealerships, etc. Vincent culls details in a way that seems consistent to me with fiction: she tells only the interesting quotes and facts, and doesn't bother setting the scene very much.

I don't know. It's all so difficult to believe. I guess I believe, but if the Smoking Gun folks were to prove it's fiction, I'd not be terribly surprised.

Dr. Helen, I second the emotion above: you've got a great voice. Designing Women made a southern accent in a woman sound powerful and smart, but Diane Rehm has been undoing that for years, making it sound weak and stupid. Thanks for reminding us all that it can be otherwise, and for making a sound that is very alluring to those of us who are attracted to women.

9:59 AM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just finished listening to the podcast -- which I found to be interesting and informative and which confirmed my interest in reading Norah Vincent's book.

I just wanted to respond to the comments of your first poster who felt that at age 66 contemporary music had passed them by.

I'm just a few weeks short of being 63 and right now I've got Audra and the Antidote playing on my PC from their website and I like the music enough that I think I'm going buy some of of their MP3s (even though I do not own an iPod and have no interest in owning one).

10:12 AM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I think music is a personal preference really and has little to do with age--I sometimes share music with my 14 year old neice or my 50-70 year old clients. There are audiences for all kinds of music, regardless of age--glad you like Audra--I find her music entertaining and light-hearted!

10:34 AM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peggy Noonan used a different lens, more about class, in looking at men in her post 9-11 "Welcome Back, Duke".
She also had a couple of things to say about feminists--principally her younger self.

11:44 AM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Since people are making suggestions for future podcasts, mine would be that Glenn and Helen interview a reporter from the New York Times. Glenn has said many times that the New York Times is biased, especially about the war. He has also said that pervasive media bias is one of the biggest political developments in recent years. But the Times' references to Glenn Reynolds have been overwhelmingly positive and respectful. (The only negative comment that I ever found was by Paul Krugman, who disputed Glenn's comments about Sweden in a New York Times Magazine article. But even that objection was fairly respectful, in my impression.)

So if this problem with the Times is such a big deal, it would only be fair to interview a reporter to get to the heart of it. It should be one of the surreptitiously biased liberal reporters who is supposed to write objective stories. In other words, one of the many low-profile bad guys, not an op-ed writer or a conservative defector from the paper.

Bob Ellison: I also have trouble with Diane Rehm's voice, but it's not her fault. Late in her career she developed a voice disease called spasmodic dysphonia. She didn't go into radio with this problem, nor has she done nothing for it. She has had a lot of medical treatment.

12:18 PM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Another reason to interview a Times reporter is Jim Dunnigan's podcast comment that the Times is outright stupid about the war in Iraq and reads like the Onion. I would really be curious to see someone like Dexter Filkins or James Glanz challenged on that.

12:25 PM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. Professor Kuperberg, I know you were raised in Alabama, so you know that old saying: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

I know that you feel you "sticking up" for people treated unfairly (i.e., attacks on bias at the New York Times). But as you have discovered, other people find your approach abrasive, elitist, and snide.

How much better to kindly and directly state that you don't find them biased for reasons X, Y, and Z...without the snide asides.

I have watched you post on this site for quite a while, I know you are capable of being almost courtly in your manners.

Please consider being more polite. Folks would be less apt to call you a troll, and you might find more receptive ears.

12:44 PM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

It's not a "snide aside", it's a sincere suggestion for an interview. I'm not interested in making any flat assertion that the Times isn't biased. That would just be too convenient — people here would just say: Of course it is biased, and I must be an idiot not to see it. Maybe the Times is biased. If it is, let's see some face-to-face questions. I will only claim that the Times has done a lot for Glenn Reynolds. It has treated him with great respect. So it would only be fair to confront a Times reporter directly with these criticisms.

12:58 PM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, wrote in a post above:

"...Since the elitist liberals at the New York Times did not introduce the term in the context of this book, you don't have to be offended by it...."

Dictionary definition of "snide": "..slyly disparaging..."

You clearly do NOT believe that the folks at the New York Times are "elitist liberals," and the person to whom you addressed that comment does. How was that comment not snide?

Very respectfully, you may not be aware of how you come across in your posts, Professor Kuperberg.

I read one post where you swore up and down that you never insulted anyone personally, yet I read a post where you called an anonymous poster a coward (sure, you said that anonymity was the hallmark of the coward or something similar, but your intent was clear). Nor did you ever apologize for insulting a poster---not that you had to do so, but since you felt you had never insulted anyone personally on this site, it looked like you were "caught."

So I am starting to suspect that you don't know how you are perceived by others.

Since I know you an academic, perhaps your student evaluations will help you learn more about this subject. I have learned a great deal from mine.

As it stands, you often *do* come across as snide and disrespectful of other opinions. You do so, I realize, because you feel the discussion into which you are inserting yourself is unfair and one sided. But that doesn't mean that you aren't being just as unfair and one sided yourself.

I don't mean to anger you, nor to fence with words. I simply note that you are capable of fair, incisive argument without being unkind or disparaging to other beliefs and opinions. I have seen you do so multiple times.

Please consider doing it more often. The snide and snarky word games are beneath a person with your background and accomplishments.

You have much that is positive to contribute.

Sorry to prattle on, as one poster put it....

1:39 PM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this post and could not help thinking: "What bizarre condescension."

40 years of screaming at men, fantasizing rape and domestic violence crises, and endless BS from Marxist feminists, and now, some dyke wants to tell us what it's like to be a man.

Man hope is that the next stage of feminism is the ash heap.

Don't need your help, sister.

2:28 PM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I sort of had the impression from the post that Vincent was suggesting that it is odd and difficult to be a man, and that her experiences made her much more sensitive to that side of the gender divide.

I promise you that Norah Vincent isn't screaming at men nor attacking them...not in this post nor in her book.

I understand your anger, but I think it is misplaced. There are plenty of feminists who deserve your ire. NV is not one of them.

3:29 PM, January 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. H.

Welcome to the roil ;)

I'm glad to see that you're interested in covering these topics. You might contact Wendy McElroy regarding her experiences in promoting related subjects. These issues tend to attract an especially livid type of partisan. My advice would be to understand who'll you'll be dealing with should you continue to pursue this subject.

as to feminism..

I suspect that one of the basic difficulties in coming-up with a proper feminist sub-type, or a new term entirely, is that moderate forms of feminism look a lot like humanistic moral/social/political perspectives. Reasonable people might regard this as good news. But there are vested factions on both sides, and neither is especially interested in seeing the term feminism applied to more moderate goals.

8:23 PM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

greg, whether the NYT says nice things about Glenn is irrelevent to the question of bias. The claim has never been that the NYT or any other organ of the MSM never has anything nice to say about non-liberals or that they like people the farther left they go. It's a false dichotomy.

8:34 PM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

AVI: I'm not saying that any claims about bias are right or wrong. Maybe everything that Glenn Reynolds says about the New York Times is completely correct. What I'm saying is, if you badmouth people who go out of their way to be nice to you, then you should at least engage them directly. I think that that advice applies to this case.

For example, the New York Times article, "With Incessant Postings, a Pundit Stirs the Pot" gave Glenn 1350 words. It was almost all positive, it had a full personal interview, and it had admiring comments from other bloggers. The one negative comment was countered by the journalist himself in the next paragraph. You should understand that an ad in the Times that's the same size as that article costs thousands of dollars.

I'm not even saying that the Times needs any particular fair treatment from Glenn or anyone else. If anything, the question is who is taking the high road, and who will be respected for it in the long term.

1:12 AM, January 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm...does any of this have anything to do with the Norah Vincent book? Just asking.

1:57 AM, January 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best line in the podcast was Glenn's crack about "it's not nine single women for every man, it's the same woman nine times over".
Too true ...

12:54 PM, January 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting point Norah makes about not having a male child with her female partner, due to probems caused to boys by absence of a father figure - is this not really just an absence of the imposition of social constructs, rather than anything fundamental to the male being as such? Is this absence objectively such a bad thing, or is it merely perceived as such by a sexually-soicliased majority? Surely the point of this is that the majority of inherent "maleness" is a result of socialisation rather than genetics. Perhaps what we should be aiming for is not to encourage this traditional socialisation, but to encourage a greater openness, honesty and awareness of self, whatever the perceived implications?

3:30 PM, September 26, 2006  
Blogger sfc mac said...

Hey, I think men are great! Every woman should own one!

11:43 AM, December 05, 2008  
Blogger Chap said...


I found the book on the discount pile and finally decided to read the thing. The podcast link is dead--probably because of your husband's hosting shift to PJM--and the iTunes link only goes back to November of that year.

Any chance of resposting the podcast?

11:33 PM, December 20, 2008  
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