February 27, 2016

A Powerful Collection of Essays: Rebecca Solnit's "Men Explain Things to Me"



I had previously only read Solnit through her work “A Paradise Built in Hell”.
I didn’t really like that text – it felt like she was cheery-picking examples of people coming together in her described disaster-anarchy and she used two examples that she was personally involved in.  She was too close to her thesis to make what she was arguing compelling to me as a reader.

But there I go, trying to explain things about her.

What brought me to this text was I had read the titular essay on-line and I saw that it was being issued as part of a collection with some of her previously published works in other sites and spaces. I should have thought that what made the other noted work not succeed for me is what makes Solnit a very powerful essayist. Though these have been published elsewhere, they are a great introduction to her work. In these essays, she explores from multiple angles the violence that one gender has visited on another throughout time and cultures. Though she celebrates some of the movement we have had in naming the violence that happens between the sexes (and weasel sentences like that that deny agency to the men and creates an idea that the violence just happens) but she also acknowledges the distances that we still have to cross to eliminate the violence men visit on women and the lost cohort of women who are silenced and have been forever silenced. It is we men who have to fix it, and move from being all potential vectors of sexual violence to coequals, and as I type that, I know how much we still have to go.