Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: "Men Explain Things to Me" by Rebecca Solnit

This book is a collection of essays that revolve around the theme of feminism and inequality and each looks at it through a different lens.  I thought it would stick more to the ideas presented in the title essay, which looks at mansplaining and silencing women's voices as a mechanism to allow for sexual violence within our human culture.  But it goes in different ways and all have different tones, which wasn't exactly what I was expecting.  I did appreciate the different perspectives presented.

I didn't really get into all of the essays.  They are all from 2009-2014, and some repeat examples or anecdotes that I either knew about from my own memory or had no clear idea of the topic.  I think if I'd read them when they were first written/published, I would have gotten more out of it.  But I was a little confused.  Also, there was an essay that talks about Virginia Woolf and one quote in particular along with another book I haven't read.  (I really don't know much about Woolf and what I've read, I didn't particularly enjoy.)  So I made my way a bit into that essay and then skipped the rest.  Woolf scholars might love that essay or not, I don't know, but I left it.

I did like the essay that talks about marriage equality and how it forces equality in all marriages - same sex or different sexes alike just because of the way it has redefined how two people come into a marriage.  No longer is the historical idea of 'man takes wife' accurate, which is pretty awesome. The final essay called "Pandora's Box and the Volunteer Police Force" was also fantastic.  It talks about how like Pandora, once the ideas of women's rights and LGBTQ rights are out there in the collective conscience - no one can just put those ideas back into the box.  It's out there forever and I love the use of that metaphor.

Note:  the link below is to an updated version of the book with two new essays.  This is not the edition I read, but I would think it is the one you'd prefer if you'd like to read this!

Men Explain Things to Me
by Rebecca Solnit
Haymarket Books, 2014
130 pages
Source:  Library


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