Friday, November 10, 2017
Author Review: Rebecca Solnit
Men Explain Things To Me
The Mother of All Questions
AUTHOR: Rebecca Solnit
PUBLISHED: 2004, 2014, 2017
GENRE: Essays, Articles, Feminism
PREMISE: In three of her books, Solnit discusses various issues surrounding politics, feminism, and activism.
MY REVIEW: Over the past few months I've been reading through these three books by Rebecca Solnit. For those who have no idea who Solnit is, you probably know or have used a term she coined: Mansplaining. That term is credited to her essay Men Explain Things to Me. She's also a frequent columnist on many websites, including LitHub.
I specifically want to talk about Men Explain Things to Me though, because mansplaining has been a thing getting a lot of flack lately around the internet. Mostly from men, but not always. First, I'd like to point out, Solnit herself is not altogether pleased by how much the term has been overused. She says as much in some endnotes after the Men Explain Things to Me essay. So maybe put your misandry claims away, okay? Second, I think people frankly deliberately misunderstand what the term means. No, it does not mean men can't explain stuff ever. If a woman actually asks for your opinion and you are actually educated and know a thing or two about the subject, go ahead and talk about it! We won't care. Because that's not mansplaining.
Mansplaining is a man making the assumption that a woman can't possibly know this one brilliant thing they know and so proceed to condescendingly explain the thing to us. Yes, sometimes females do this to people too (geeks of all shapes and forms tend to do this to new fans I've discovered and guys, seriously, cut it out). But it is not quite at the same rate as men do it to women. I see you men going "well wait, then how do I know if I'm mansplaining or not?" It's very simple: did the woman ask for your opinion and do you actually know a thing or two about the subject? No to both or one of those questions? You are probably mansplaining. Stop.
Men Explain Things to Me is probably the best of all the essays. But there are a whole lot of really good ones. Hope in the Dark is also incredibly interesting to read at times because it features essays written during the Bush years and it's like a peek back in time to what was going on then. I'm still wrapping my mind around the fact that it's been over a decade since some of the early Bush years.
WHO SHOULD READ: feminists, those interested in social justice issues or politics
MY RATING FOR ALL OF THE BOOKS: Four out of Five satisfied nods