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Men Explain Things To Me (Updated Edition) (2014)

de Rebecca Solnit

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1,480619,424 (3.96)2
"In her comic, scathing essay "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. She ends on a serious note-- because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, "He's trying to kill me!" This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf 's embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women"--… (més)
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I like Solnit a lot as a person. She exults in the power and exactitude of ambiguity, of aimlessness, just like I do, and her writing style shows it -- it glides, sentence by sentence, thought by thought, her arguments accruing force as they grow. She is very convincing. Her feminism is absolutely gospel. She is passionate, honest, and relatable.

Sometimes the essays felt like speeches, long soliloquies made up of very powerful and powerfully-arranged facts, but it came off like she was standing on a stage with a megaphone shouting at an audience of people as they all nodded their heads. ( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
I came into this book thinking it was going to be comical. It is not. Good ideas and well-written, but the author is a little too self-referential to her other works for my taste. ( )
  emma_mc | Jul 22, 2021 |
One more addition to the raising of awareness of what is at stake for not only women, but all who are not in positions to protect themselves and men too. The first essay is sharp and funny, those in between make painful points, many of them international, about the slow shifting -- it's almost as if we have different time zones -- I mean centuries long ones, between different parts of the world. The last essay opens out and points the way to new thinking.

My own 'theory' of all this is not that men are awful, but that for thousands and thousand of years the situation was this: young men and women mated, the women got pregnant, the women had babies, the women died having babies or of other things, their children died ditto, the women died of grief (some men too), the women died and died and died. Women just plain were not reliable. That's how it was. Men died a lot too -- any injury no matter how slight was life-threatening. But women appeared to the men, who had to get out there and find stuff to eat, build things and so on, as hopelessly unable to contribute a whole lot more than keeping themselves and the children they bore alive and while they were at that task and hanging about the hearth, they could cook and do stuff near home while keeping the children alive. Ok? Tens and thousands of years. That didn't make women less 'people', but . . . somehow . . . along the way it did. Somebody had to stay home with those children.

There is also the problem of sex. For a brief moment young people bloom, ripen, whatever, and lust abounds (but . . . not for long for women as this results in pregnancy and the round of what was, frankly, terrifying and often miserable for everyone.) Many men have adored their women and their children and have suffered, although not in quite the same bodily way. Solnit like everyone else fails to lay this background out in its brutal reality. The basis for feminism is that given modern medicine and birth control and all the rest, the cycle is broken. At least for now and we can hope forever. This is immeasurably huge, right? Men (and yeah, esp white men here in the US, but men all over the world, not white) are freaked and weirded out. Solnit makes the point in the final essay that the change is happening but slowly slowly.

My point is, these are good essays, all of them, relevant but this background is essential. You have to start from this place and that enables you not to sit and look at men as simply evilly conniving to subjugate and ruin women's lives. I'm not excusing anything!!! I'm looking at the origins, a situation become a cultural bias!! The book I recommend if you are interested is [The Woman That Never Evolved] by [[Susan Hrdy]]. And men don't know what will happen if they do take on women as equal to themselves with all the rights and privileges thereof. They are terrified. That's where, in my opinion, feminism needs to go next. Imagining the future not only for themselves for everyone -- and that is where Solnit ends up too, bless her. I will be reading lots more of her work! ****1/2 ( )
  sibylline | Jun 27, 2021 |
Unfortunately none of the essays in this book were as good as the first one and that one wasn't quite as good as the scathing (and hilarious) article that the author wrote in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal still unfolding and unfolding around us like a shitty version of the Hellraiser puzzle box (or the Lament Configuration if you prefer). It's depressing that most of these essays didn't touch me, not because they were disjointed or disconnected, but because if you're reading this book, you're already so familiar with the heartbreaking points that she was making that this just felt like attending a Feminism 101 class with a group of post-graduates. All necessary, all important, but, fuck, we know all of this. We want them to know already. ( )
  jobinsonlis | May 11, 2021 |
"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 teller 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."

I actually finished this book last year but couldn't figure out how to review it. It can get depressing, as she relates jaw-dropping truths, such as: (1) "the more than 11.766 corpses from domestic-violence homicides between 9/11 and 2012 exceed the number of deaths of victims on that day and all Americans soldiers killed in the "war on terror" (2) Spouses are the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the United States.

It is perhaps pertinent to read this now especially (unfortunately, gendered violence is perpetual for now) as we see 40% rise in domestic violence cases globally due to lockdown measures. People are being stuck at home with their abusers. Partners, spouses, children suffering in the millions.

The essays are about rape culture, sexual entitlement, victim-blaming, but it also has essays on Virginia Woolf, the violence of IMF, the erasure of women in the maintenance of patrilineal ancestry, and more (including "mansplaining" of course, as per the title). There were times I felt that she was not particularly sensitive in terms of how she addressed racialised gender violence, such as when she vaguely gestures to "middle-eastern countries" as the extreme example of gendered oppression. So read it with criticality! Rebecca Solnit writes beautifully, and I always enjoy her writing that is simultaneously lyrical as it is urgent, and filled with the fire of recognition. Recognition of injustice, suffering, and the immediacy of action needed to face the despair that saturates our society.
( )
  verkur | Jan 8, 2021 |
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For the grandmothers, the levelers, the dreamers, the men who get it, the young women who keep going, the older ones who opened the way, the conversations that don't end, and a world that will let Ella Nachimovitz (born January 2014) bloom to her fullest
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I still don't know why Sallie and I bothered to go to that party in the forest slope above Aspen.
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Please don't combine this edition with earlier editions. This edition has additional essays.
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"In her comic, scathing essay "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. She ends on a serious note-- because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, "He's trying to kill me!" This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf 's embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women"--

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