Men Explain Things to Me

“Feminism is an endeavor to change something very old, widespread, and deeply rooted in many, perhaps most, cultures around the world, innumerable institutions, and most households on Earth — and in our minds, where it all begins and ends.”

“Pandora’s Box and the Volunteer Police Force” from Men Explain Things to Me, p. 140
By Rebecca Solnit
Published 2014
Labels: Contemporary, Non-fiction, Quotes, , ,

Post-Reading: Men Explain Things to Me

This book is a collection of “Men Explain Things to Me” and six other essays written by Rebecca Solnit between 2008 and 2014. She guides readers through history, current events, statistics, and anecdotes, all of which are grounded in feminism. She specifically addresses the danger of our habits, from the personal to the political and beyond, of silencing women, and of discrediting women. She explains her urgency by writing, “Having the right to show up and speak are basic to survival, to dignity, and to liberty” (p. 15). There are difficult portions to get through, such as when she focuses on violence against women, but Solnit’s own passion for addressing and righting these wrongs is felt deeply, and this mission drives the essays forward.
One of my favorites is “In Praise of the Threat: What Marriage Equality Really Means.” Solnit agrees with conservatives who argue that same-sex marriage is a threat to traditional marriage, and in fact celebrates this very threat. Traditional marriage, if that is to mean marriage between one man and one woman, is historically an unequal partnership. Feminists fought to reject the hierarchal structure of traditional marriage, and now we are seeing even further progressive changes in the definition of marriage equality. In “Worlds Collide in a Luxury Suite,” Solnit briefly discusses the impact of Western economic ideology on the rest of the world, and the devastation it has caused. The essays are varied in topic but ultimately address a single issue, feminism, “the radical notion that women are people” (p. 152). The variety demonstrates the complexity of feminism, how everything is interconnected, and why the good fight must be addressed on so many fronts. This is the first I’ve read anything by Rebecca Solnit but I’m now in. A reader has recommended The Faraway Nearby, which I plan to pick up very soon.

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