Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me is a close examination of the narrative surrounding gender and feminism and what it means to be a woman in the world today. It seems timely now, more than ever, when the President - a man who gropes women - is elected into office. Or when men like Brock Turner, who brutally rape women, are given lighter sentences (or not sentenced at all) because they’re futures are deemed more precious than their female victims’. But it’s more than that. It’s the microaggressions that women face on a daily basis, or the fear that’s instilled in us from birth.
Men Explain Things to Me is for the women who walk at night with their keys held tightly between their fingers. For the women who consciously dress to deter the male gaze. Or for women who are harrassed on the street or in the barrage of hateful comments on their Twitter feed. To be honest, this book is for everyone, not just women, men too. Allies and enemies alike need to rethink the shape our culture has taken and take active steps to change it.
With stories ranging from dinner party “mansplaining” to the massacre of students in Isla Vista, California, Solnit examines the problem at the core of these narratives: the silencing of women. Solnit manages to weave humor and heartbreak and truth in her essays, and finds light when all the world feels so dark. While it is easy to feel defeated, Men Explain Things to Me says we must gather the courage and strength to keep at the work of equality. Solnit ends her book with these lines: “Here’s the box Pandora held and the bottles the genies were released from; they look like prisons and coffins now. People die in this war, but the ideas cannot be erased.” Like the ideas of our feminist foremothers, the ideas in Solnit’s essays will not be forgotten.
- Lacey Rowland
Men Explain Things to Me is available for checkout now in The Book Ship Project library.
You can check out more work by Lacey over at Cutbank!
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