Norah Mary Vincent (September 20, 1968 - July 6, 2022) was an American writer. She was a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a quarterly columnist on politics and culture for the national gay and lesbian news magazine The Advocate. She was a columnist for The Village Voice and Salon.com. Her writing appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, New York Post, The Washington Post and other periodicals. She gained particular attention in 2006 for her book, Self-Made Man, detailing her experiences when she lived as a man for eighteen months.
Norah Mary Vincent was born in Detroit, and grew up both there and in London, where her father was employed as a lawyer for the Ford Motor Company. She attended Williams College, where she graduated with a BA in philosophy in 1990, before undertaking graduate studies at Boston College. +more She also worked as an editor for Free Press.
Vincent's book Self-Made Man (2006) retells an eighteen-month experiment in the early 2000s in which she disguised herself as a man. This was compared to previous undercover journalism such as Black Like Me. +more Vincent was interviewed by Juju Chang on the ABC News program 20/20 and talked about the experience in HARDtalk extra on BBC on April 21, 2006, where she described her experiences in male-male and male-female relationships. She joined an all-male bowling club, joined a men's therapy group, went to a strip club, dated women, and used her knowledge as a lapsed Catholic to visit monks in a monastery.
Vincent wrote that the only time she has ever been considered excessively feminine was during her stint as a man. Her alter ego, Ned, was assumed to be gay on several occasions. +more Features which had been perceived as "butch" when she presented as a woman were perceived as oddly effeminate when she presented as a man. Vincent asserted that, since the experiment, she had more fully realized the benefits of being female and the disadvantages of being male, stating, "I really like being a woman. . I like it more now because I think it's more of a privilege. ".
Vincent also stated that she had gained more sympathy and understanding for men and the male condition: "Men are suffering. They have different problems than women have but they don't have it better. +more They need our sympathy, they need our love, and they need each other more than anything else. They need to be together. ".
Vincent's book Voluntary Madness (2008) relates her experiences as an inpatient in three institutions for mentally ill patients: "a ward in a public city hospital, a private Midwestern institution, and a pricey New Age clinic." She criticized doctors who she claimed were inapproachable, noting that too many relied on drugs as therapy, while others addressed only the symptoms instead of their underlying causes.
Vincent's book also addresses the question of pseudopatients and those who remained ill because of their lack of willingness to cooperate in their therapy.
Vincent later wrote two novels: Thy Neighbor (2012), described by The New York Times as "a dark, comic thriller," and Adeline (2015), which imagines the life of Virginia Woolf from when she wrote To the Lighthouse until her suicide in 1941.
Personal life, views, and death
Vincent, a lesbian, was briefly married to Kristen Erickson, but they soon divorced.
Vincent was described as a libertarian who was critical of postmodernism and multiculturalism. She did not believe that transgender people were the sex they identified as, leading her to be accused of bigotry. +more In an article for The Village Voice, she wrote: "[Transsexuality] signifies the death of the self, the soul, that good old-fashioned indubitable 'I' so beloved of Descartes, whose great adage 'I think, therefore I am' has become an ontological joke on the order of 'I tinker, and there I am. '".
Vincent died via assisted death at a clinic in Switzerland on July 6, 2022, aged 53. Her death was not reported until August 2022.
Self-Made Man (Viking Adult, 2006) * Voluntary Madness (Viking Adult, 2008) * Thy Neighbor (Viking Adult, 2012) * Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)