Sunday, September 18, 2022

Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters by Rebecca Solnit


Rebecca Solnit is one of my favorite essayists, and she has such a knack for simple but powerful language that often reading her works makes me want to curl up in envy and despair of ever being so poignantly articulate. WHOSE STORY IS THIS? is one of her strongest collections to date. It's a work about feminism in the #MeToo era, and how the biggest obstacle to equality exists in the silent architecture of our society, in all the implicit biases and coded norms that remain uncontested and unchecked.

Some of the topics in this essay: how men are allowed to selfishly devote themselves to their art and expect someone to take care of them for the greater good while women are still expected to be caretakers; the problem with glorifying the confederacy and other problematic figures of the past; the expectation that women and people of color are supposed to make things comfortable for white cisgendered men and not inconvenience society with the inconvenient truth of their inequalities; and the tie to sexism and capitalism, when women are coded as commodities that incels believe themselves entitled to possess.

It's a fascinating, well-done, and eye-opening collection, powerfully written and timely as always. As with other essays of this type, I suspect they're written more for the people who will already agree than the people who should read them but won't (because, I mean), but even if you already agree, she provides such a useful toolbox of ideas and phrases to pour your beliefs into the setting concrete of plain language, giving them a substance they might not have in your own head.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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