The book I read that was ‘written by a journalist’ was “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit. She’s written a clutch of books around human rights and environmental issues alongside being a regular contributor for the Guardian newspaper, political blog TomDispatch and LitHub.
The book is a collection of essays which starts with the most well known one, describing a dinner party instance when a pompous man describes her own book to her, and refuses to believe she can possibly have written it. This is the essay which is credited with the origins of the word ‘mansplaining’, although Solnit herself says that she did not create it and it is never written in that essay.
That essay was first published in April 2008 on TomDispatch, and to be honest, it felt like the feminism journey had carried on from here and it was now out of date. Yes, men still explain things to me and others. Yes, some people are not aware of it but the conversation has moved on since then – which is a great thing. It read more as a marker in time rather than a rallying cry, which is the innate problem with the written and published text. As soon as it’s printed, it’s out of date.
In a world where a suffragette musical is being made and has been crowdfunded by 250%, as Suffrageddon: The Musical, a place where there are Women’s Marches, international support to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland and so much more support for women, it’s clearly a precursor, an historical anecdote about that conversation in which it was recognised that this bloke was rude and ignorant. You can read more on Suffrageddon here, by the way. It’s going to be at Latitude for all of you who are going this weekend!
As a collection of essays, the topics covered range from Virginia Woolf to equal marriage. All of these were interesting to read, possibly the most interesting being the equal marriage one and the ‘threat’ when we allow same sex marriage to exist. This was a nicely argued point – that same sex marriages are by definition, equal in that two men are seen as equal where a man and a woman may not be, in the eyes of the law. Therefore, for same sex marriages to exist and be equal by definition, that follows that marriage between a self identified man and woman are also equal. Solnit words it better than I do!
It’s such a slim collection that I read it in an afternoon, sitting in the garden in the sunshine. It’s thought provoking and the essay which mentions Woolf reminded me that I have never read anything by her – perhaps it’s time to start! Any recommendations?