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Men Explain Things To Me

And Other Essays

By Rebecca Solnit
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Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things To Me (2014) is a collection of essays that examine the range of misogyny in our culture, from everyday microaggressions to legal systems that fail to punish rape. Solnit explains how sexism perpetuates itself, and what we can all do to eliminate it.

Key idea 1 of 6

Men explain things to women because they think their knowledge and expertise is superior.

Have you ever found yourself listening to a man explain to you how things really are? If you’re a woman, you undoubtedly have.

Men often assume (perhaps unconsciously) that they’re more intelligent or knowledgeable than women, so they feel the need to teach them in a condescending or patronizing way. This is also known as mansplaining, a combination of “man” and “explaining.”

The New York Times dubbed “mansplaining” Word of the Year in 2010, and it had entered mainstream political journalism by 2012. The author didn’t invent the term, but she’s credited with popularizing it. She herself feels the word is a bit unclear, however, as it seems to imply that all men do this. Women do it too, though far less often.

Mansplaining occurs because of sexism and men’s arrogance regarding women’s knowledge, reliability and expertise.

Even an established writer like the author isn’t safe from this kind of subtle, everyday sexism. In fact, a man once interrupted her to tell her about a great book related to a subject they were discussing, implying he knew more about it than she did. As he kept talking, the author realized he was telling her about her own book.

More extreme manifestations of this phenomenon occur in other parts of the world. In some countries in the Middle East, a woman’s testimony of rape doesn’t have weight unless there was another man there to witness it. A woman’s word is considered less reliable than a man’s word.

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