All posts tagged: Men Explain Things to Me

Celebrating International Women’s Day

I made a resolution in 2016 to return and read Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me once or twice a year, just to keep that clear voice and perspective front of mind.  International Women’s Day seemed to be a special moment this year to act on that resolution. I took time today during my lunch break to read, once again, of the silencing that occurs when men talk over women.  As Solnit phrases it, “Being told that, categorically, he knows what he’s talking about and she doesn’t, however minor a part of any given conversation, perpetuates the ugliness of this world and holds back its light.”  We are living in an age when our civic discourse shows just how serious the impacts of this silencing can be.  Solnit ends the postscript to the original essay by noting, “Having the right to show up and speak are basic to survival, to dignity, and to liberty.” I think about this dynamic a great deal.  When I’m learning from and celebrating the accomplishments of women, I am …

Joy is a Fine Initial Act of Insurrection

Over the past 15 years, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit has written three collections of essays that have recently been published (or republished) by Haymarket Books as a trilogy for our times. This inexplicable week we’ve just experienced seems as good a time as any to consider Solnit’s thoughts on hope in the face of despair, and to take the long view which she favors. In the first of the series, Hope in the Dark (originally published in 2004), Solnit talks about the demands of hope and then notes that joy is a way to support the work which hope demands. “Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism.  And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” Though initially written during the Iraq war of 2004, I thought of how much more our politics in 2017 aspire to make us fearful, alienated, and isolated — seen most recently with Donald Trump’s Long Island speech about cities as “bloodstained killing fields.”  Hope and …

Letting Experience Be Larger Than Knowledge

I just completed reading a thoughtful collection of essays by the writer Rebecca Solnit.  Titled after the first in the collection and her best-known essay – Men Explain Things to Me – these nine pieces written between 2008 and 2014 explore multiple topics including the gender wars and male privilege, the use of violence as a way of silencing speech, abuse of power, a new twist on marriage equality, and more.  Through them all, Solnit pushes the reader to consider perspectives that are likely to be outside their  comfort zone. A colleague forwarded the link to the Men Explain Things to Me essay several weeks ago after I referenced Solnit’s book Wanderlust: A History of Walking. (Also highly recommended.) The essay begins with the comic scene of a man explaining Solnit’s most recent book to her – even though he never read anything more than the New York Times book review of her work. But as noted on Solnit’s website, she ends this essay “on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing …