‘Men Explain Things to Me: And Other Essays’ by Rebecca Solnit

I first heard about this book when a friend of mine mentioned it in one of her presentations at university. I immediately scribbled down its name promising myself to buy it at some point in the future when the work load wasn’t so massive and my bank account didn’t look too miserable. I eventually got around to buying it a week or so ago and I have devoured every word it has to offer. This is not a difficult task since the book 130 pages long and Solnit’s writing pulls you in from the start.

Comprised of seven essays, Solnit explores issues from mansplaining, marriage equality, rape culture, obliteration, violence against women, power, and everything in between. As Caroline Criado-Perez on the back of the book notes “Solnit’s book does what the best feminist writing does: it makes me angry. And it makes me believe we can, and we must, fight for change.”

It did just that; it made me angry, it made me want to shout back and fight for change. Solnit has a wonderful way with words that inspires you to take action, to not give up hope, to be angry, yes, but to use that anger to fuel a revolution against misogyny. Like most feminist writing I did have to take a few breaks as the subject matter is often harrowing and (as previously mentioned) anger inducing, but each time I was quickly drawn back into it.

I would highly recommend these essays, go read them, join me in my anger (and my hope that we can win this fight against the patriarchy and misogyny).

4/5

Some quotes worth noting:.

“Some women get erased a little at a time, some all at once. Some reappear. Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.”

“Billions of women must be out there on this seven-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever.”

“Rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. Rape culture affects every woman. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape.”

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Running on Caffeine

December has arrived and semester one of my masters is coming to a close. There’s a mix of excitement and exhaustion in the air. The Christmas spirit is becoming infectious, but there are still a few deadlines looming before we can fully relax and be merry. 

Life as a publishing student has been filled with many emotions: joy, anxiety, and everything in between. Mostly, for the last few months I have been running on caffeine as early mornings are still proving difficult for this perpetual student and night owl. 

This semester I have learnt that publishing is truely the industry for me. Working in this book filled world is becoming less and less a distant dream as I edge ever closer to the reality of it all.  I’m ending the year and the first semester of my masters with the comforting knowledge that I have an internship waiting for me in May and the possibility of a couple more. 

Christmas will be a much needed break, but I know that semester two will be just as exciting and quite possibly just as stressful. There will certainly be a few more grey hairs by the time I graduate, but they will come with the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve chosen the right career path. 

As ever, positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes.