Men Explain Things To Me, Rebecca Solnit
I got mansplained while reading this book on the bus. I wish I were kidding. That is a real life thing that happened to me. He probably thought he was being friendly (don’t they all?) but he really didn’t like the title and thought it was too aggressive. “It’s a book of essays about feminism.” “Yeah, but why the title?” “Because sometimes men explain things to women that they don’t need explained to them.” The irony of our conversation, my contributions pushed through my teeth, was lost on him completely.
This book is excellent. This book is necessary. This book is a slim pamphlet of empowerment. It is a collection of essays dissecting violence against women, marriage equality, Virginia Woolf’s embrace of the unknowable, and that distinct and entitled power imbalance that leads to mansplaining. It feels like a challenge to read it in public. Nothing about sticking your nose in this book is shy or unassuming. You should do it anyway.
Just this week I found myself in that particularly modern predicament of arguing political ideas with a stranger over the internet. I have yet to recommend the experience but can’t seem to stay away. A stridently stubborn man had made some half-baked comments about street harassment to which I replied along with a treasure trove of smart, articulate, insightful women. Rather than concede the point, or even grant us the benefit of experience, he dug in deeper. If we, as feminists, can’t change everyone’s hearts and minds at least we can relish in the perverse joy of allowing someone to demonstrate exactly what kind of person they are.