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Men Explain Things to Me


3.90  ·  Rating details ·  39,794 ratings  ·  4,410 reviews
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 n
Paperback, Updated Edition, 159 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Haymarket Books (first published May 20th 2014)
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Shelley yes, many times. For instance, I was on the Board of Directors of a non-profit. When I would offer suggestions, there would be a silence. Often in the…moreyes, many times. For instance, I was on the Board of Directors of a non-profit. When I would offer suggestions, there would be a silence. Often in the same meeting, a man would offer the same suggestion and the response would be "That's a great idea". They could not seem to "hear" the idea if it came from a woman. I observed this happening when other women spoke up as well...(less)
Lyn Jensen Strange dichotomy you've got going here--it either hates on men or it empowers women, there are no other possibilities. How about neither? Criticizing…moreStrange dichotomy you've got going here--it either hates on men or it empowers women, there are no other possibilities. How about neither? Criticizing men isn't hating on them. Women don't need a book to be empowered. If you're a woman, you know all about "mansplaining" even before it had a name. If you're a man, and can't handle criticism, then you're not much of a man.(less)

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3.90  · 
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Emily May
Feminism has - and probably will always have - a special place in my heart. Overall, I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but when I do, it is often in the form of feminist essays. And I just think I may have been spoiled by better essay writers than Solnit.

Men Explain Things to Me was a natural choice for my TBR, but the writing quality is just okay, not very evocative or engaging, and the ideas are very basic. Compare this to Roxane Gay or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Bad Feminist, Hunger, We Should
Paul Bryant
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so depressing that I had to read this one at the same time to prevent me from spiralling down into despair.

You may have heard of the title essay, which is funny and deservedly famous. But in the second essay the floor suddenly drops away and we’re falling into the vile pit of misogyny. The second essay is called “The Longest war” and is about men hating, silencing, injuring and killing women.

Ah misogyny, men hating women. It’s like oil – every time you think we may be running out o
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this essay and others by Solnit all prior to their inclusion in this slim little tone with the exactly right-sized lettering on its cover. I am hugely adoring of her writing, so this review is less about the essays themselves (all fantastic) than the fact that it is a discrete volume you can, and should, be toting around in public.

Ladies, read it on the subway.

Two nights ago I was coming home from a lovely summer's walk to a favorite bookstore, where I snapped up the book. I took it ou
Dec 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
not really sure why i even finished this book. probably one of the biggest and earliest red flags for me was when she said that "violence doesn't have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender." that's cool and all but as a woman of color i'm exponentially more likely to be assaulted than a white woman and part of the reason behind that is because of fetishizing — done primarily and more or less inducted into the world i live in by, you guessed it, white men.

Patrick Brown
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The titular first essay is required reading for humans, especially men. I enjoyed (is that the right word?) the rest of the book as well, though I felt the essays were best when they were most direct. My only quibble with the book is that the essays weren't meant to appear together, which led to some unfortunate repetition, right down to quotes from primary sources that appear in multiple essays. Still well worth the time.

One note: The best part about reading this as a book? No comments section.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Navessa by: Deborah Markus
This collection of essays is a relatively quick read at 130 pages. And no, it’s not just 130 pages of funny anecdotes depicting unwitting men explaining things to Solnit that she already knows. In fact, after the introductory essay, there’s no further mention of such behavior.

What follows is what I would call a crash-course in why feminism was so important in the past and also why there’s still a critical need for its existence today.

So prepare yourself before diving into this. Solnit’s knack
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This slim collection of essays, was an effective and accurate representation of feminism and how the female gender still suffers today. It was timely and apropos, when you consider everything that is happening under the Trump administration. There were sections of this book that were dry and hard to get through, however Men Explain Things to Me is feminism lit on steroids. Rebecca Solnit gets down and dirty, climbs into the trenches, illustrating multiple inequities that women of today still suf ...more
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
"Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men."

Men explain things to me all the time, whether it be in person, online, in classroom, on dates, and at work. And my female friends tell me the same thing. Of course I have often been left wondering what it is about me that make these particular men believe I know nothing about the subject? It can't just be my gender,surely? It often is but often their actions are often racialized. This book
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It ... didn't go where I thought it would. It starts out strong, she ends on a decent note, but it meanders in the middle in a way that makes me wish it hadn't been a book at all. It's good writing, and the points she makes are important, but overall it was just a little, I don't know, unfocused? Lackluster? Something about the third quarter, all that Woolf/Sontag musing, that lost totally lost my interest. I was hoping for more connection, something sharper.
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ by: Navessa
"Having the right to show up and speak are basic to survival, to dignity, and to liberty."

Well, this is a really interesting analyze of these "little nothings" that imprisons women in straightjackets, unfortunately leaving the way open for physical or mental violence. You may not want to see it, but it's here, it does happen, and vigilance is mandatory in my opinion. As I sometimes ask my friends, what kind of world do you want to live in? Is it okay to let people act that way, to agree tacitl
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

As an old guy, I came late to the “mansplaining” thing, but now that I know what it is and also realize that I have been doing it for at least forty years (or so my wife tells me), I thought I’d read the essay that started it all, “Men Explain Things to Me”--and the other pieces in this brief collection of essays—and drink (as I like to do) from the source, from the ideational spring.

I am glad I did. I loved the essay, and enjoyed the eight others that followed. Rebecca Solnit is that rarity, an
The Subtleties of Power

Power tends to hide itself as a defense against any potential challenge to its existence. So democracy, it is said, is government ‘of the people’ not of the autocratic head of the local council. The greedy CEO is forced by his position to act in the interests of the corporate shareholder, or so he says. And men commit intellectual, and emotional, as well as physical violence against women because it is claimed to be their nature; besides, the world would be less organized
Do not be fooled by the cutesy title — this is a dark and serious book.

Men Explain Things to Me is a collection of essays about feminism, sexism, patriarchy, misogyny, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, poverty, class warfare and gender inequality around the world. It's a heavy load, my friends.

To say that I was under a misapprehension about this book is an understatement. A friend mentioned how amusing the title essay was, and I assumed the whole book was like that — funny stories about t
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Solnit's popular essay that was floating around the internet for a while was important enough for me to remember some years later when this book of the same name came out. I was hoping that this 124 page volume would be full of embarrassing stories of feet in the mouths of men. I bought this on a day of several of these interactions, hoping it would be an ally and coping mechanism. It starts off with that essay, but then goes into talking about the ways in which women are victims of sexism by wa ...more
Jude Watson
What a mixed bag. The title essay works best for me because it actually discusses the author's personal experiences with getting talked over by men although she obviously knows a great deal more than them about things. The Woolf/Sontag essay is interesting too.

Everything else reads like an intro feminism pamphlet with a focus on rape and DV, but with poorly done intersectionality, especially around race and colonialism. The more she talks about global issues with a sweeping brush, the more unco
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Update after re-read: this was one the first books on feminism I read.

It felt good to reread it! I definitely picked up on more things she was writing about out this time. At the same time, though, I had this feeling while reading some of her essays that she was the stereotypical white feminist that doesn't completely acknowledge other issues feminists of color, or trans women, might have.
I think feminism evolved a bit since these essays were written.
Deborah Markus
I didn't know this book was a collection of essays when I first sat down with it. I thought it was an expansion on the title essay. I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd known what to expect, so in case you didn't know, either: this book is a collection of feminist essays.

Some of the writing here makes for some pretty brutal reading. Much of it had me jumping up and down, shouting, "YES! FINALLY, SOMEONE ELSE IS SAYING THIS! IT'S NOT JUST ME! THIS IS TRUE!"

Passages like this one:

It's not t
Debbie "DJ"
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
When I bought "Men Explain Things to Me," I thought I would be learning about men's thoughts on gender roles/issues. Wrong. The title refers to how men have a confrontational confidence that no matter what the subject they are right. Solnit explains how this has silenced many young women in the same way as being harassed on the street. I found myself thinking of a male friend of mine. We've had many discussions, as he is Republican, and I, Democrat. There were so many times when he would "explai ...more
Whitney Atkinson
The first two essays in this book started out sooo strong. I was really enjoying it up until the middle, because then it got into some essays that went off on a tangent about politics and the justice system, which wouldn't be horrible if tied back to feminism, but the language became so dense that it lost my attention. Solnit is great at researching her pieces and matching her words with experience and personal stories, but a lot of times she would be ranting about things that happened in 2003 a ...more
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a funny collection of mansplaining, but a serious look at why feminism is still important in today's society.

Women's liberation has often been portrayed as a movement intent on encroaching upon or taking power and privilege away from men, as though in some dismal zero-sum game, only one gender at a time could be free and powerful.
But, we are free together or slaves together.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auth-f, x2016-read
Men Explain Things to Me is a collection of essays about the experiences of women in America. There are nine essays in this collection, with the first giving this book its name. I cannot write about this book without saying that even though none of the concepts, sentiments or facts are new to me, I still found myself getting emotional while reading. I was reminded of a number of my experiences over the years, from my childhood onwards, that made this a slow and, at times, difficult read.
Note: T
Book Riot Community
Everyone on Book Riot has been saying how amazing this book is and I am finally getting around to reading it. Amazing doesn’t cover it. Thought provoking, sure. Rage inducing, definitely. Necessary reading, absolutely.

-Kristen McQuinn

from The Best Books We Read In November 2016:
Nenia ✨ Literary Garbage Can ✨ Campbell

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I recently discussed third-wave feminism with someone who was trying to argue that it was an unnecessary and redundant movement. I basically said, "It's not all about Tumblr. This is the last bastion of feminism. Women are still under-represented in STEM, are still hyper-sexualized, are still blamed for their own rapes, are still told that their own bodies legally shouldn't be under their own control, are still treated like they don't have

Men Explain Things to Me, more baldly stated, could be Men Belittle Me. This is a book about sexism; however--and this is a crucial point--despite that provocative title, it’s not a misandrist book. Solnit stresses the idea a few times throughout, starting on page two:
Here, let me just say that my life is well sprinkled with lovely men, with a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened to and encouraged and published me, with my infinitely generous younger
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short collection of essays that start in a humorous way, but take a darker and more serious tone.

What started as why men explain things to me, and how they explain everything to women, and how this control leads to all sort of violence against women.

Rebecca does a great job at shocking the reader and forcing us to recalibrate our thoughts. She shows how patriarchy n the status quo are enemies to woman everywhere.
Julie Christine
I need some time to absorb this before I can write a quality review, but reading Men Explain Things To Me filled me with nauseating recognition, righteous, helpless anger, and yes, that last djinni in the bottle, hope.

I'm really struggling to channel my outrage over the kidnapped girls in northern Nigeria and the world's continued apathy over the subjugation of women and girls everywhere. In reading METTM and reliving all the stupid, maddening ways I've been condescended to, all the times I've
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chords, nerves: the thing is still circulating as I write. The point of the essay was never to suggest that I think I am notably oppressed. It was to take these conversations as the narrow end of the wedge that opens up space for men and closes it off for women, space to speak, to be heard, to have rights, to participate, to be respected, to be a full and free human being.

If you come across an ignorant person who pretends that sexism does not exist or that feminism has no merits, please direct t
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the title of this and truthfully I thought it would be Solnit relating or interpreting the difference in how men and women approach an issue, a problem, a situation. I can always use that, tone-deaf as I tend to be, as I have taught myself to be. I am curious about how men think, but that is all. I don't weight it differently...or at least I hope I don't weight it less than my own view.

This short book of essays or blogposts is rather thoughts from a female point of view which I am alrea
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
What an inspirational book! Rebecca Solnit writes brilliantly about mansplaining — although she doesn’t like that term — but the true value of this slim volume of essays comes with the way she connects the dots: mansplaining, rapes, las madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, the lauding of a rose-colored “traditional marriage,” and domestic violence all emerge from a belief that women aren’t full citizens, worthy of respect, of the right to speak, of the right to her own opinions, of the right ...more
Onaiza Khan
Such an enlightening book. A must read for everyone, men as well as women.
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Rebecca Solnit is an American author who often writes on the environment, politics, place, and art. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper's Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She is also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and to LitHub.


Other books in the series

Essays (4 books)
  • Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)
  • The Mother of All Questions
  • Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters
“Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don't.” 154 likes
“Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.” 98 likes
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