Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit

Norwegian title: Menn forklarer meg ting

Good morning book friends!

I’ve ventured a bit off my normal path of reading and after a recommendation from my sister I decided to pick up this essay. Apart from being an essay I suppose you can view it as a form of important and optional chainmail which is 126 pages long. I was encouraged by my sister to pass it on to someone who might appreciate it and/or would like to learn about its content. I’m planning on mailing it once I’ve finished this review. The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.

She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”


This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women. 

Whilst reading Men Explain Things To Me I started to wonder if I was exceptionally naive or just haven’t experienced a whole lot of ‘mansplaining’. Maybe I’m too young? Or maybe I’m good at shrugging it off? Maybe I don’t pick it up like other people do? It might very well be that I’m just that navie. I’d like to believe that I’m not but when you read a book like this you automatically start thinking. Solnit present several examples, historical and modern, of mansplaining, and I have heard several similar examples. I find it interesting how you can view things from different angles without viewing things one way or the other. I really liked that Solnit clearly states that she knows great men and aweful women several times during her essay. She doesn’t take the ultimate stand claiming all men to be bad which I feel that quite a few feminists sometimes actively express. I haven’t experienced this myself but it’s a notion I’ve picked up around in different discussions.

Another factor might be that I haven’t surrounded myself with men who does a whole lot of ‘mansplaining’. Sure there’s topics I don’t know too much about, but in terms of ‘mansplaining’ I feel that it has a lot to do with the way things are said and which tone of voice you use when explaining things. Maybe I’ll see more of this when I start working a full time job? This makes it sound like I barely surround myself with people. I swear that I do, haha, but maybe I’ve just gotten lucky with people around me or maybe I’m too naive to pick it up. I’ll be so honest to say that when topics which doesn’t touch my interest is brought forward I have a slight tendency to zone out. Like, I’m listening with half an ear but not much more. Maybe this could explain something? Or am I just making excuses right now in order to explain why this concept isn’t that familiar to me? I’ll have to take some time to think about that.

Then there is the fact that this book is written from an American perspective. I know that this is a greater issue in America than Norway but I know that this issue isn’t unfamiliar for Norway either. Overall we see this topic getting attention in Norwegian newspapers all throughout the year and especially after the #MeToo movement in 2017. I feel that it’s wrong of me to say that #MeToo participated in limiting ‘mansplaining’ i Norway but I would love to! In many ways I think America is more open to ‘mansplainin’ because Americans, and I know this doesn’t go for everyone, has kept their standard gender roles in a greater scale than Norway. According to the World Economic Forum and their report on Global Gender Gap for 2020 Norway is ranked 2nd in the world on gender equality. However, Norway shouldn’t shout too loudly about this achievement. Yes, we can be proud of it but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that inequality still occurs in favor of one gender or the other. It would be quite interesting to acquire some more information about this, so if you have anything, please feel free to give me a nudge!

Men Explain Things To Me is a thoughtprovoking essay that will make you look closer at different relations in your life. My thoughts wandered to friends, fiance, and family whilst I read this book, and I think it is important to have these small mental ‘check-ups’ from time to time. I’d recommend this essay for everyone from feminism newbies and hardcore veterans!

Published: 2017

Genre: Non Fiction Essay

Theme: Feminism

– The Book Reader

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