‘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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