Friday, May 10, 2019

Book Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit


Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Published in May 2014 by Haymarket Books
Genre: Non-fiction, essays, feminism, current events
Format: Kindle, 100 pages, own
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.

She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”

This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.

My Thoughts:

This is a very short collection of Solnit's essays from around 2014 and before. Her essay "Men Explain Things to Me" is my favorite and the one essay the propelled me forward head-first into her thoughts and brilliant ideas on society.

Here's just one quote from this essay: "...the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men.

Every woman knows what I'm talking about. It's the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keep women from speaking up an from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men's unsupported overconfidence."

I have experienced this many times in my life from school to work to even at home or meeting new people in a friendly setting. This happens all the time. And my more career-driven friends have experienced it in their fields and jobs.

She has other essays that discuss global economics, politics, and culture. Solnit is a thinker, an old-soul. I can't believe I haven't read more by her. The best thinkers are those who can see the past, learn from it, and offer hope for the future. She tells it like it is, but she is no cynic and her hope is inspiring. 

I just picked up her newest collection of essays and look forward to the wisdom and insight she'll no doubt supply.