Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things to Me - Rebecca Solnit

Story Time!

I think it was when I was sixteen, maybe seventeen, that I returned to school after a much needed summer break, and two of my teachers decided that our class would do some exercises in working as a team. In school I have always been that person that does most of the work in group-projects and have always had good grades, something that most of my classmates know. And I am not saying this to make myself look good; it is relevant to this story. Because, one of the exercises we were to do was this: Everyone was to hold on hand on rope (which ends were tied together, making it into a circle). Then, we were all to close our eyes. When we did that, we were supposed to make the rope look like a square, still with our eyes closed and everyone having one hand on the rope. Naturally, everyone spoke, but no one really had a good idea on what to do. I, on the other hand, did have an idea. One that I knew would work. And so, I tried to make myself heard. In the end, I yelled. Still, no one listened. So I gave up. Instead I told my male friend who stood next to me, my idea. He understood it would work. And so, he told everyone to shut up and listen to me. And they did. I told them what we'd do, and within a minute, we had our square.

Now, what was the point of me telling this story? Because this is what Solnit, in one of her essays, explains. How women's ideas are overlooked, or voiced through men. And I think many women have suffered through this. I did, because people would listen to me first when a male friend decided the plan was good enough. Of course, this is not the only topic Solnit touches upon in Men Explain Things to Me. She goes into much tougher subjects as violence against women. Given my rather long story, this behavior, not listening to women, might have gruesome consequences.

One Christmas, he was telling—as though it were a light and amusing subject—how a neighbor’s wife in his suburban bomb-making community had come running out of her house naked in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. How, I asked, did you know that he wasn’t trying to kill her? He explained, patiently, that they were respectable middle-class people. Therefore, her-husband-trying-to-kill-her was simply not a credible explanation for her fleeing the house yelling that her husband was trying to kill her. That she was crazy, on the other hand....

Imagine that, huh?

Solnit has an engaging writing style, and Men Explain Things to Me is good. However, for people with basic knowledge in feminism, it's not much new information. And, unfortunately, it might be a bit too aggressive in certain parts for people without knowledge to feel this is meant for a good purpose. Basically, it offers insight, but not very deep, into the world of inequality and the treatment of women. Overall, a decent read, with dark humor that appealed to me, but at the same time nothing new.