Men Explain Things to Me

Men Explain Things to Me

eBook - 2014
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A landmark essay that went viral, inspired the word?mansplaining," and prompted fierce arguments.
Publisher: New York : Haymarket Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781608464579
1608464571
9781306777254
1306777259
9781608463862
Characteristics: 1 online resource (145 pages)

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There are different kinds of explanations. A woman may not want you to explain why it's advisable to have your foot on the brake when you start a car, but if you're seen having a drink at noon with an attractive younger woman, she will damn sure insist on an explanation. In this case, to explain is to admit guilt. Your best course is to deny everything, no matter how preposterous the denial may seem, but do not explain. If it was her long-lost sister, she'll find out eventually.

"Never contradict, never apologize, never explain" should be your maxim. And never, never complain. If you complain, things don't get better. They get worse. Oh, and always answer a question with a question, when possible. You can always say, "I don't know, what do you think?" Never compare one woman to another, if either one of them can hear you.

a
AQUILEA777
Apr 12, 2019

Marxist/anarchist authoress blames men for all the world's ills, especially their annoying habit of trying to be helpful (women explaining things to men is OK), pp 8,12,back. Grammatically challenged ("older than us" p 1, "younger than me" p 8, "later than me" p 11). Speaks of human "genders" (words have gender; human designation is "sex").
--- Sees men as presumptuous fools who must be put down, eg pp 3-4. Solicitous men are idiots, p 8. Male arrogance is as obvious as "an elephant turd on the carpet," p 3. Solnit says she is far more accomplished than most women, but still feels oppressed, p 5.
--- Says women did not acquire human status till mid-1970's, p 6. Most women are in a war to be human beings, pp 9-10; men are waging a "war against women," p 34. [In the old days, women were honored and protected. Agitators like Solnit said women should compete without any protective patronizing, and should have unrestrained sexual freedom. These demands led to some of the results that Solnit now deplores.]
--- Sees rape, murder, and explaining things, as aspects of same male domination, pp 6,13,14. Men murder simply because they're men, eg pp 23-24. Says 1,000 women are killed in US every year by husbands and boyfriends. (25,000,000 unborn baby girls have been killed in US since Roe because their mothers chose to abort them.)
--- Says pro-life stand is like rape, which Republicans defend, pp 31-32. (Democrats called Bill Clinton's victims "bimbos" and "trailer trash"; Hillary led the anti-woman smear campaign.)
--- Commends gay men for undermining masculinity, p 35. Says "intelligence is not situated in the crotch," p 8.
--- I quit at p 41, but will make a few further observations.
--- Women use every artifice to entice men, then blame them for responding.
--- When they're in a jam, women break into tears and want men to save them. They despise men who aren't stronger and smarter than themselves.
--- At home women are despotic. They dominate their children and tyrannize over their husbands. Men try to persuade with reasons; women attack your character and manhood.
--- Trump made a quip about grabbing women, yet won White women by 10 points. Why weren't they shocked and resentful? Because women tell jokes about male anatomy too.

u
uncommonreader
Apr 02, 2019

Journalistic feminism. While I do not disagree with Solnit's points, she could have gone further and looked at the underlying causes of misogyny. She is perhaps overly optimistic.

KatieD_KCMO Mar 29, 2019

The essay after which this collection is named is only the first among the many excellent pieces that appear in this book. Solnit slides down the "slippery slope," from casual sexism to violence against women, arguing that ideas beget culture and culture tells us what is normal and acceptable and what isn't. Quick and powerful read. Highly recommend.

The essay after which this collection is named is only the first among the many excellent pieces that appear in this book. She slides down the "slippery slope," from casual sexism to violence against women, arguing that ideas beget culture and culture tells us what is normal and acceptable and what isn't. In America we now have the language to describe, and the legal tools to fight against, casual sexism, sexual harassment in the workplace, domestic violence, etc., but we still struggle to see the big picture, which Solnit paints for us clearly. Domestic violence (once seen as a private problem), workplace and street harassment--anything based on the idea that women do not have bodily autonomy, is part of the larger cultural problem of violence against women. Sexual harassment, domestic violence situations, etc. are not isolated incidents.

"So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over a thousand homicides of that kind a year--meaning that every three years, the death toll tops 9/11's casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular kind of terror...If we talked about crimes like these and why they are so common, we'd have to talk about what kinds of profound change this society, or this nation, or nearly every nation needs. If we talked about it, we'd be talking about masculinity, or male roles, or maybe patriarchy, and we don't talk much about that." pg. 23

WARNING: The following content is banned in Canada.

This is why I never explain anything to women, if I can help it. I let them ask the questions and answer only the question, like being interviewed by the police. Submitted for your approval: I was at the auto parts store, buying a gallon of Prestone. A woman, a perfect stranger, asks me whether the store brand isn't just as good as Prestone. Now I could give some kind of answer about the superior corrosion-resisting properties of Prestone or whatever bullstuff, but I say, I'm sure the store brand is fine. (A true statement.) She asks me why I'm buying Prestone, then. I say, my father used Prestone, and I use Prestone. Also a true statement, but far from an explanation.

Now this exchange really worked out in her favor, because she was looking for validation to buy the store brand, and I gave it to her. I probably left her with the impression that I didn't have any good reason to buy Prestone, but I don't care what random people think about my antifreeze buying habits.

Of course, you must remember that when a woman asks you a question, often she's not interested in the answer. She is using the form of a question to get some point across to you. An example is, "Why did you hang that picture so high on the wall?" The translation is, "That picture is too high." The correct answer is, "How high did you want it?" Now, if you say, "I looked on Martha Stewart's website, and that's how high she said to hang it," you will at least get credit for trying, because you got it from a woman. If you quote the American Institute of Architects, though, that's worse than wrong.

One thing I have had some success with lately is the Socratic method. As you know, Socrates held that everyone knows everything already, and all you need is a wise teacher to bring out this knowledge by asking questions that will bring the student to understanding by figuring it out for herself. Of course, Socrates' students weren't willfully obstinate, and really tried to follow his line of thought. And Socrates was wise enough to know what questions to ask. Your mileage may vary.

It makes perfect sense that women don't like men to explain things to them, since they often refuse to explain things to men. How many of us have heard this, or said it? "Well, if you don't understand, I can't explain it to you."

I saw a movie recently in which the British comedian Terry-Thomas was accused of being a misogynist. "What's that mean?" "Someone who hates women." "Well, I hate getting up in the morning, but I'm not bedridden."

When a woman marries a man, she thinks he'll change, but he doesn't. That is her tragedy. When a man marries a woman, he thinks she won't change, but she does. That is his. That's intuitively obvious...to even The Most Casual Observer.

d
dirtbag
Aug 24, 2018

I think she tries much harder than some feminists to be balanced and not totally berate men but I also think that she misses the point that men can also be abused. It is not ALL about women. However, it is probably mostly about women and a lot of what she says is true.

Marlowe May 29, 2017

I found this to be a frustrating, yet important, read. As a woman, I have encountered too many instances where a man thinks I need something explained. That as a woman, clearly I should defer to his manly expertise. However, I never considered the roots of this phenomenon, or the true depth this problem runs. The long held belief that men are superior to women, and as a result can control our lives. That men can control our voices, our actions, and ultimately control if we live or die. This was a very thought provoking read that I highly suggest to all women AND men. Feminism too often these days is confused or garbled or straight out degraded out of its true meaning: equality. Solnit gets straight to the point, offering a plethora of examples of how women's voices and bodies are still controlled by men, and how this gender inequality must stop.

cals_joe Mar 15, 2017

Powerful collection of essays.

JCLAmandaW Dec 28, 2016

An excellent collection of essays that anyone interested in learning more about the effects of our culture on women should read. While some essays are rather blunt, others require more thought as she delves into historical context behind sexism and gender roles. Overall a short book and a great read.

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