For the boys on his bowling team and the women he dates, Ned is just another man, maybe a little baby-faced, a little urban, a very good listener. Well, Ned is actually Nora, the writer Nora Vincent who went undercover for 18 months as some kind of spy in the gender wars. She hacked into several male canned goods, strip bars, a Roman Catholic monastery and a male sex education group. She also found a job as a salesperson. She grapples with the deceit of a double life, the psychological pressures of separating identities, and the unexpected pressures of a man’s world. For example, as a lesbian, she thought it would be fun to meet women. It didn’t work that way. Walking, talking, dressing and passing the ball proved to be the easiest part as a man.
Later in the show, NBC canceled a controversial show about a priest who takes medicine but is first and foremost a self-made man, a woman’s journey to adulthood. Call us if you have any questions about women in a man’s world. Our phone number in Washington is 800-989-8255, or 800-989-TALK. The email address is TOTN@npr.org. Nora Vincent joins us now from our New York office. And welcome to talk about the country.
Conan: I want to ask you. Your first chapter is about bowling leagues. You dress up as Ned, and I guess this is your first time going in. You open the door to the bowling alley, almost having a panic attack.
Ms. Vincent: Yes, yes, that was indeed the scariest moment. This is the first time. I did a few small trips beforehand to write the proposal, but that was really the first kind of on-stage, ready, prime-time thing. ..TEXT: I really, have a feeling in a menswear store too, like walking into a body shop or barbershop, you know. As a woman, you know, your hair stands up straight. You feel like, well, this is not where I should be. So, of course, probably no one was really looking at me, but it did feel like all eyes were turned to me and stuck. I realized, well, there is no going back. i have to do
Conan: A guy named Jim greets you. You’ve never met him before, but the guy you’ve approached is about being on a bowling team. And immediately notice the fundamental difference between males and females.
Ms. Vincent: Yes, I was surprised that I thought men would be a bit wolfish when they met. You know, I always thought men were competitive and territorial. In fact, I found meeting strangers, and not just that night at the bowling league, it happened many times, a stranger’s handshake was incredibly inviting. Like joining a friendship that feels so old. And, you know, from my own experience, I’ve compared it to many handshakes I’ve had with women I don’t know.
In my opinion, it’s kind of fake there, and somehow, you know, you should be fine. You are socialized as a woman to be kind, but that’s not really sincerity. You are a little suspicious. In a way, we’ve been raised to compete with each other. So this seems odd to me, which I didn’t expect.