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Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit



If you want men to leave you the hell alone in public, read this book. The title not only indicates you will not be afraid to yell at them if they harass you, but reading it also gives you the inner strength of 2.5 Gloria Steinems, which means you will yell at them if they harass you.

From the very beginning, Solnit puts it out there:

Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being.

Yeeeeees, Rebecca Solnit, speak to usss. This book is my jam, and it makes me want to read all of her stuff, because this one is hella short and only gives you a glimpse of her thoughts, fantastic as they are. People kept asking me if it's funny, and no it is not -- HOWEVER. I brought it on my church's women's retreat, and right before a session began, I told the woman sitting behind me the story behind the title, which meant our speaker tried to begin, but was interrupted by whoops of laughter for approximately 30 seconds from my section.

The book is composed of mini essays, each speaking to a different area of feminism. They are all excellent.

It's not that I want to pick on men. I just think that if we noticed that women are, on the whole, radically less violent, we might be able to theorize where violence comes from and what we can do about it a lot more productively. Clearly the ready availability of guns is a huge problem for the United States, but despite this availability to everyone, murder is still a crime committed by men 90 percent of the time.
What an excellent point, Rebecca Solnit. We should be talking about that, and yet rarely do. Hmmmmmm. (I would like to note that I do not think this is a problem with men; I think this is a problem with cultural expectations of men)

She talks about marriage equality and Virginia Woolf and obviously mansplaining, and somehow fits in more in this, again, very tiny volume. She quotes Blackstone's 1765 Commentaries on the Laws of England, which is horrifying:
By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of her husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called in our law-French a femme-covert...or under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture. For this reason, a man cannot grant anything to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence.

Solnit makes you start to rethink the everyday, which is what the most valuable writing does. We should have a national discussion about this book.

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