Men Explain Things to Me and Other Essays

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Book List for a Class on Feminism

Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. This week in honour of summer coming to an end and it soon being the start of the new school year, we can create our own reading list for a topic of our choice. I chose feminism as I think both fiction and non-fiction are a great way to get people talking about feminism and see how it can affect different people.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Moxie is all about a girl finding her voice and finding a sense of unity with the girls in her school, crossing the usual cliques, and learning to stand up for what she believes in.

Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin
Since reading Who Runs the World? I’ve thought about it fair bit and would give it a lower rating than I did when I read it, but I think it would be a good book to show the “extremes” of feminism and how if there’s no men, it probably wouldn’t be a utopia.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Besides being a great book, The Hate U Give would be a great book to look at the intersectionality of feminism and racism.

 

Men Explain Things to Me and Other Essays by Rebecca Solnit
Got to have some non-fiction in a class on feminism. This is a short collection of essays and one of them is the origin of the term “mansplaining” so that would be an interesting thing to discuss.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
The three main girls are all different, Rosina is a Mexican-American lesbian, Grace is fat, and Erin has Asperger’s, but they come together to try and change things as another girl was run out of town for accusing the popular guys at school of gang rape.

I think all these books would prompt good discussions about feminism. They offer different takes on feminism and a lot of them have strong, complex female characters who are trying to find their place in the world but are trying to make things a little bit better at the same time.

What books would you choose if you were running a class of feminism? I’m sure there are many great books I’ve forgotten.

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REVIEW: Men Explain Things to Me and Other Essays by Rebecca Solnit

A short collection of feminist essays looking at rape culture, family, Virginia Woolf and everything else in between.

In 2008 Rebecca Solnit wrote an essay titled “Men Explain Things to Me” which struck a chord with people. Through other readers sharing their experiences, that essay was the catalyst of the term mansplaining. It’s was an interesting and relatable essay and it was great to see where the phrase mansplaining came from. As Solnit explains “I love it when people explain things to me they know and I’m interested in but don’t yet know; it’s when they explain things to me I know and they don’t that the conversation goes wrong.” I agree with that statement wholeheartedly and that’s what’s so frustrating about mansplaining.

The other essays are pretty good too. Naturally there’s some I like more than others for instance, I didn’t really enjoy the one inspired by Virginia Woolf’s writings as I’ve only read one of her books so don’t have much of a connection to her.

I like how Rebecca Solnit writes and her essays are all accessible, no matter what your background knowledge on the various subjects she talks about. It’s an interesting collection as they’re essays from 2008-2014 so some of the events she talks about I didn’t really remember, while others like the Delhi gang rape in 2012 are still fresh in my mind.

I did enjoy “Pandora’s Box and the Volunteer Police Force.” Written in 2014 it’s all about how feminism and women have got a long way to go but they’ve still made some headway. It’s also about the idea that the Pandora’s Box full of equality for men, women, LGBT+ people and all races has been opened and people won’t be able to stuff those who once were (and in many cases still are) back in a box and away from the general public. I don’t know if I’ve described it very well but I like the idea that the world is becoming a more tolerant place no matter what people may say or do and it can continue to, slowly but surely, get better.

That’s the thing with this collection of essays, like most feminist literature it makes you angry at the injustices in the world but it also offers a spark of hope that things will indeed get better. 4/5.