Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit


Rebecca Solnit’s book of essays Men Explain Things to Me, which includes her most famous essay of the same name, is a must-read. Each essay uses the right amount of humor to discuss feminism and contemporary society, and a topic that can be annoying and uncomfortable: mainsplaining.

“Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercise men’s unsupported overconfidence.”

She also discusses the global human rights crises that is violence against women, but which makes it incredibly difficult for women to even be taken seriously as victims.

“The pandemic of violence always gets explained as anything but gender, anything but what would seem to be the broadest explanatory pattern of all.”

She discusses the lack of credibility women have, and have always had, simply because of our gender. The amounts of proof and witness we need to prove, for example, harassment or assault, like say Dylan Farrow whom nobody seems to believe when she repeatedly tells her story of her adopted father Woody Allen abusing her. Everyone continues to make a fuss of adoration about Woody Allen and no one seems to want to listen to Dylan Farrow. Why is that?

“Generations of women have been told they are delusional, confused, manipulative, malicious, conspiratorial, congenitally dishonest, often all at once.”

Solnit is a historian and activist and her work is well-researched and impactful on topics that are on-going in modern society, not going away any time soon (clearly); there are too many good parts of this book where I found myself nodding along, more than I could include here, without just saying bottom line it is a great read. As a woman and a reader I felt so grateful for the women using their voices.

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