Men Explain Things to Me

Men Explain Things to Me

Book - 2014
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In her comic, scathing essay "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. She ends on a serious note because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, "He's trying to kill me!" This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf 's embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
Publisher: Chicago, Illinois :, Haymarket Books,, [2014]
Branch Call Number: 305.42 SOL
Characteristics: 130 pages :,illustrations ;,20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Fernandez, Ana Teresa


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Jul 11, 2020

Some really good insights and profound thoughts but wordy in some places about Virginia Woolf books.

Jul 10, 2020

I scan the current activity page to see if anything sounds interesting. If a title sounds intriguing, I’ll look at the comments and ratings. This quirky title sounded like an appropriate one for a book of humorous anecdotes, so I started reading the comments. The first was from another reader in the Tulsa system who gave it a casually paternalistic review. After reading the book myself, I doubt that this reviewer had read the book. But farther down the list was a review (tagged as offensive) that showed that the book had severely bruised the writer’s male ego. Utterly misogynistic, replete with puerile criticisms of the author, it forced me to read the book to find out what these reviewers found so threatening. It turns out that the book is a collection of essays fairly accurately describing the relative positions of men and women in the world, certainly in America. The first essay, which gives its name to the title of the collection, describes the problem the second reviewer has, an inability to recognize the value of women’s thoughts or knowledge, assuming all wisdom resides in the male of the species. Perhaps because my first gainful employment was under the supervision of a woman, I have been well aware of their capabilities. Although I was brought up in a time when the philosophy was that the man made all the decisions (you know, as Christ is head of the church, so man is head of the household), I’m old enough to have outgrown that silly stuff.
The Virginia Woolf essay was a bit tough for me as I’m not familiar with feminist writers, but the essay about the real meaning of marriage equality was a real eye-opener. Men, read this book. Your head won’t explode, not even in Overland Park.

👫The author misinterprets what is going on when men explain things to her. It isn't really meant to convey useful information, but as a form of social interaction. You can see this easily, if you observe men. When do two men get together, without talking about some subject where they pass the time by explaining it to each other? Popular subjects are cameras, stereo equipment, guns, cars, sports, boats, golf, and others, none of which they really know a great deal about, compared to a specialist. Really, go to the gun shop, and you can find men talking about whether a right-handed barrel rifling is better than left-handed, when it makes no difference at all.

It's the same impulse that makes kids learn all the dinosaurs and call them by name, or floor you with their knowledge of Pokemon, if that's still a thing. You can listen to sports talk radio and hear some of the most hare-brained ideas imaginable, from men who seem to be sane and not actually intoxicated, but, hey, they're just trying to make contact and get some kind of a reaction. It's not a real attempt at an explanation. Nobody objects to a real explanation. If you're trying to drive my car, and I tell you you have to put your foot on the brake before it'll let you shift out of Park, that's an explanation you can use. My general policy is only to explain things in response to a direct question, or in an emergency situation. I've avoided a lot of trouble that way. Of course, a moment’s inexactitude can avoid hours of explanation.

Apr 12, 2019
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Apr 02, 2019

Journalistic feminism. While I do not disagree with Solnit's points, she could have gone further and looked at the underlying causes of misogyny. She is perhaps overly optimistic.

KatieD_KCMO Mar 29, 2019

The essay after which this collection is named is only the first among the many excellent pieces that appear in this book. Solnit slides down the "slippery slope," from casual sexism to violence against women, arguing that ideas beget culture and culture tells us what is normal and acceptable and what isn't. Quick and powerful read. Highly recommend.

The essay after which this collection is named is only the first among the many excellent pieces that appear in this book. She slides down the "slippery slope," from casual sexism to violence against women, arguing that ideas beget culture and culture tells us what is normal and acceptable and what isn't. In America we now have the language to describe, and the legal tools to fight against, casual sexism, sexual harassment in the workplace, domestic violence, etc., but we still struggle to see the big picture, which Solnit paints for us clearly. Domestic violence (once seen as a private problem), workplace and street harassment--anything based on the idea that women do not have bodily autonomy, is part of the larger cultural problem of violence against women. Sexual harassment, domestic violence situations, etc. are not isolated incidents.

"So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over a thousand homicides of that kind a year--meaning that every three years, the death toll tops 9/11's casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular kind of terror...If we talked about crimes like these and why they are so common, we'd have to talk about what kinds of profound change this society, or this nation, or nearly every nation needs. If we talked about it, we'd be talking about masculinity, or male roles, or maybe patriarchy, and we don't talk much about that." pg. 23

Aug 24, 2018

I think she tries much harder than some feminists to be balanced and not totally berate men but I also think that she misses the point that men can also be abused. It is not ALL about women. However, it is probably mostly about women and a lot of what she says is true.

Marlowe May 29, 2017

I found this to be a frustrating, yet important, read. As a woman, I have encountered too many instances where a man thinks I need something explained. That as a woman, clearly I should defer to his manly expertise. However, I never considered the roots of this phenomenon, or the true depth this problem runs. The long held belief that men are superior to women, and as a result can control our lives. That men can control our voices, our actions, and ultimately control if we live or die. This was a very thought provoking read that I highly suggest to all women AND men. Feminism too often these days is confused or garbled or straight out degraded out of its true meaning: equality. Solnit gets straight to the point, offering a plethora of examples of how women's voices and bodies are still controlled by men, and how this gender inequality must stop.

cals_joe Mar 15, 2017

Powerful collection of essays.

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