Men Explain Things to Me


Do works about equality and social justice make you so sad and pissed off? It’s so hard to power through, and it’s all I can think about for weeks after. Still, this was worth reading. It’s always nice to have facts confirm your suspicions about weird elements of your life.

The best parts of Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit:

“Women’s liberation has often been portrayed as a movement intent on encroaching upon or taking power and privilege away from men, as though in some dismal zero-sum game, only one gender at a time could be free and powerful.”

“Credibility is a basic survival tool.”

“A woman is beaten every nine seconds in the country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. It’s the number one cause of injury to American women…”

“In 1990, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported, ‘studies of the Surgeon General’s office reveal that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four, more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and cancer deaths combined.'”

“the confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant”

“Clearly the ready availability of guns is a huge problem in the United States, but despite this availability to everyone, murder is still a crime committed by men 90 percent of the time.”

“billions of women… being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives”


Carbuncle a severe abscess or multiple boils in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.

Eve-teasing a euphemism used throughout South Asia for public sexual harassment or molestation (often known as “street harassment”) of women by men, where Eve alludes to the very first woman, according to the Biblical creation story.

antediluvian of or belonging to the time before the biblical Flood, or an idea that is ridiculously old fashioned.

Any other feminist works you’d recommend? I want an updated Backlash.

10 thoughts on “Men Explain Things to Me

  1. I LOVE Rebecca Solnit’s writing. I’m in the middle of Field Guide for Getting Lost. Her writing is a reference point that I return to over and over.


  2. I recommend: Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine (it’s funny and very informative, great for people who like popular science/neuroscience), Jessica Hopper’s First Collection of Criticism By a Living Female Rock Critic (if you like music/pop culture), and Cynthia Enloe’s Banana’s, Beaches, and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. All are super smart and accessible and help me think through big issues that intersect with gender and power. Also, Women Don’t Ask is a book about gender and negotiation that changed my life (and my students’ lives). It presents eye-opening research about negotiation that does not blame women or make them responsible for their circumstances. (I’m an English/women’s studies professor, if that’s not obvious…)


  3. @Abby, Women Don’t Ask should be required reading!! I love that book and always refer back to it. So good. I’m really glad you teach it to your students.


  4. Second the recommendation for Delusions of Gender! Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders is not quite as accessible — pretty dense in places — but is really eye-opening about global feminism, not just upper-middle-class white American feminism.


  5. I love Rebecca Solnit so much. Because you are in SF, you may also be interested in her modern SF atlas, INFINITE CITY:
    Other feminist works (some of which are also funny, to help balance out the rage): Caitlin Moran / HOW TO BE A WOMAN, Roxane Gay / Bad Feminist, Gail Collins / WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED, Kate Bolick / SPINSTER.


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