Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

I recently discussed third-wave feminism with someone who was trying to argue that it was an unnecessary and redundant movement. I basically said, "It's not all about Tumblr. This is the last bastion of feminism. Women are still under-represented in STEM, are still hyper-sexualized, are still blamed for their own rapes, are still told that their own bodies legally shouldn't be under their own control, are still treated like they don't have the faintest idea of what they're talking about solely because they are women." I know many critics of feminism like to say that "feminism" itself is a sexist name and should be called equalism. You know what the problem with that is? It nulls out the group that the movement is supposed to be calling attention to and makes it far too easy to say, "Why are you focusing on women's issues? We're supposed to be equal. Let's focus on things that benefit both genders" and shut down crucial dialogues about many unequal  aspects plaguing society.

I bought this book because it went on sale recently and I loved the title, MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME. That's a title that grabs attention and stirs up controversy before you even crack open the cover. Speaking as a woman on the internet, I've had men explain things to me more times than I can count. It's called mansplaining, and while there are different terms for this phenomenon, depending on who is doing it to whom, the most common dynamic I've seen is man reexplaining point to woman. Given the title, I thought this was going to be a humorous series of anecdotes. Basically Mainsplain: The Book. I could not have been more wrong.

The first essay lived up to my expectations, in which the author herself describes an incident in which a (male) acquaintance begins explaining her own book to her, not knowing that she wrote it. From there, however, MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME takes a serious nosedive, discussing the many other ways women are "silenced," particularly with regard to rape and victim-blaming. An important topic, but none that doesn't really relate back to the title or the expectations set by the Goodreads blurb, and one that was handled far better in Jody Raphael's RAPE IS RAPE.

There are some great points made in here, but she also frequently resorts to hyperbole, which does not really help with her arguments. She also meanders from topic to topic, with some of them, like a rant about how awesome Virginia Woolf is, seemingly out of place. I don't like Virginia Woolf, so this essay did not impress me. It's a shame. I was hoping to like it much more than I did.

2.5 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.