Saturday, June 25, 2016

Book Riot- Men Explain Things to Me

Book Riot has a challenge called Read Harder, where they have a list of genres to read from. It’s a good way to push myself into reading genres that I’m not used to, or don’t generally read.

Personally, I tend to stick to either classic literature or fluffy fiction, so I decided to do this, at the beginning of the year, when I was full of zeal for putting my life back together.  This weekend, I read a book that fit into the category of Nonfiction Book About Feminism, or Dealing with Feminist Themes. Last year (or two years ago?) my sister gave my Bad Feminist for my birthday. Side note: if you have not read that book, you need to. If you identify as a person, you need to read that book.  This year, I picked up Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit. I think the library hates me. It’s very overdue at this point, because I keep rereading my favorite essays.

My favorite essay, Cassandra Among the Creeps, starts out: “The story of Cassandra, the woman who told the truth, but was not believed, is not nearly as embedded in our culture as that of the Boy Who Cried Wolf—that is, the boy who was believed the first few times he told the same lie.” It’s hard to believe that this book was published before the Stanford Rape Case, before Brock Turner the cultural attitude of misogyny and entitlement was put on display.

The book starts with a funny story about man-splaining. Which I’ve experienced too.  I think most all women have. My first year teaching, a dean walked over, interrupted my lesson planning, and proceeded to give me patronizing (and frankly wrong) advice about my ESOL accommodations. He did not care, know, or hear me say that this is a specialty of mine. A field I have achieved 200 hours in, even before graduation.

Women are routinely silenced. Feminism, “the radical idea that women are people,” is still needed. I have much to learn, and society resists changing. But it does. Slowly…

In the final essay, Solnit writes: “Feminism is an endeavor to change something very old, widespread, and deeply rooted in many cultures…That so much change has been made in four or five decades is amazing; that everything is not permanently, definitely, irrevocably changed is not a sign of failure.” Keep fighting…

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