“Men Explain Things to Me” is a feminist essay collection by Rebecca Solnit named after her essay that became famous for describing the phenomenon of mansplaining. Besides mansplaining this anthology on feminism also covers a variety of other topics such as Virginia Woolf, sexualized violence and same-sex marriages.
Knowing that it has become a beloved part of the canon of feminist writing in recent years, I had very high expectations for this book. And I am sorry to say that unfortunately it just wasn’t able to live up to them. It’s not a bad book in any way but it just didn’t live up to the imaginations of great piece of feminism that I had in mind.
Overall I really enjoyed reading “Men Explain Things to Me”. Only about 130 pages long the essay collection was a short and quick read – both qualities that I love in a book. The edition I own is also simply beautifully designed, from book cover to font. It was a real pleasure to read such a pretty book although it sometimes bothered me that highlighted quotes we’re interesting the flow of a sentence. Still this book is one of the prettiest I own.
The essays included in collection were well-written and interesting. I particularly enjoyed “The Longest War” in which Solnit discusses rape, femicides and other forms of gendered violence and shows how these instances are not isolated incidents but a structural problem that (should) concern everyone in society.
However, in the end “Men Explain Things to Me” was a rather mediocre read for me. Not a bad book but simply not as outstanding or mind-blowing as I had expected it to be. Still I enjoyed this book a lot and if you’re looking for some nice, well-written essays to read, this collection might just be it for you.
I can also recommend reading this review of “Men Explain Things to Me” written by Jude Ellison Sady Doyle that covers the term mansplaining in more detail and points to some problematic aspects of the book that I have missed, such as Solnit’s ethoncentric, white feminist comment on a woman wearing a burka.
Have you read “Men Explain Things to Me”? If yes, what did you think about it?
If you love reading short and quick books as well, you might also be interested in this post where I talked about short novels that I love.