This book was brilliant. In this book Rebecca Solnit writes compelling essays about how men wrongly assuming that they know things and wrongly assuming that women don’t, even when they don’t know the information themselves, and the woman does. But then she goes on to tackle the issues that women deal with on a daily basis. She touches on the history of women and feminism and how far we have come, but she also notes that we have a long way to go. She brings up the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas trial from the 90’s and how people, mainly men attacked her credibility. I thought this was interesting especially with the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh from Dr. Ford. People automatically assume that she is lying and that she should of reported this 35 years ago. But I don’t want to get into my opinions on political matters, at the moment at least. So I am going to quote some of my favorite passages from the book, ones that are extremely important to note.
“Men explains 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 keeps women from speaking up and 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.”
“But explaining men still assume I am, in some sort of obscene impregnation metaphor, an empty vessel to be filled with their wisdom and knowledge.”
“Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being.”
“Representative Todd Akin (Missouri) made his infamous statement that we don’t need abortion for women who are raped, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
“There are exceptions: last summer someone wrote me to describe a college class in which the students were asked what they do to stay safe from rape. The young women described the intricate ways they stayed alert, limited their access to the world, took precautions, and essentially thought about rape all the time (while the young men in the class, he added, gaped in astonishment.”
“By marriage the husband and wife are one person: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband.”
“I also know a decent man who just passed away, age ninety-one: in his prime he took a job on the other side of the country without informing his wife that she was moving or inviting her to participate in the decision. Her life was not hers to determine. It was his. It’s time to slam the door shut on that era. And to open another door, through which we can welcome equality: between genders, among marital partners, for everyone in every circumstance. Marriage equality is a threat: to inequality. It’s a boon to everyone who values and benefits from equality. It’s for all of us.”
“When I was young, women were raped on the campus of a great university and the authorities responded by telling all the women students not to go out alone after dark or not to be out at all. Get in the house. (For women, confinement is always waiting to envelope you.) Some pranksters put up a poster announcing another remedy, that all men be excluded from campus after dark. It was equally logical solution, but men were shocked at being asked to disappear, to lose their freedom to move and participate, all because of the violence of one man.”
Back of the book synopsis:
“This slim book—seven essays, punctuated by enigmatic, haunting paintings by Ana Teresa Fernandez—hums with power and wit.”—Boston Globe
“The antidote to mansplaining.”—The Stranger
“Feminist, frequently funny, unflinchingly honest and often scathing in its conclusions.”—Salon
“Solnit tackles big themes of gender and power in these accessible essays. Honest and full of wit, this is an integral read that furthers the conversation on feminism and contemporary society.”—San Francisco Chronicle Top Shelf
“Solnit [is] the perfect writer to tackle the subject: her prose style is so clear and cool.”—The New Republic
“The terrain has always felt familiar, but Men Explain Things To Me is a tool that we all need in order to find something that was almost lost.”—National Post
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.
This updated edition with two new essays of this national bestseller book features that now-classic essay as well as “#YesAllWomen,” an essay written in response to 2014 Isla Vista killings and the grassroots movement that arose with it to end violence against women and misogyny, and the essay “Cassandra Syndrome.” This book is also available in hardcover.
Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of eighteen or so books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including the books Men Explain Things to Me and Hope in the Dark, both also with Haymarket; a trilogy of atlases of American cities; The Faraway Nearby; A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a columnist at Harper’s and a regular contributor to the Guardian.