Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Men Explain Things To Me (by Rebecca Solnit)

This is a book of essays about contemporary feminism by Rebecca Solnit, and it's wonderful. It talks about the ways in which feminism is currently evolving, in part by putting names to things like mansplaining and rape culture.  (The story from the title is a classic -- Solnit brings up the topic of a book she has recently written, only to have someone condescendingly "mansplain" an important book that just came out on that same topic. Of course, the important book is hers, the guy hasn't even read it, and she can't get a word in edgewise to tell him it's her book.)

It's ultimately very hopeful -- it's easy to get caught up in the shittiness of the patriarchy with things like Leslie Jones being driven off of Twitter or the Stanford rape case. But Solnit talks about how revolutions -- even those that don't necessarily "succeed" in obvious or immediate ways -- can still effect change:

"[Susan Sontag] was making the case that we should resist on principle, even though it might be futile. I had just begun trying to make the case for hope in writing, and I argued that you don’t know if your actions are futile; that you don’t have the memory of the future; that the future is indeed dark, which is the best thing it could be; and that, in the end, we always act in the dark. The effects of your actions may unfold in ways you cannot foresee or even imagine. They may unfold long after your death."

And speaking of writers and thinkers who have had an impact long after their death, there is a whole chapter about Virginia Woolf that is just amazing and introduced me to "Professions for Women" which is a piece of writing you must read immediately.

At any rate, I loved this -- highly recommended for anyone who is interested in present-day feminism.

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