Thursday, August 23, 2012


I love this essay by Rebecca Solnit. It's about the tendency of many men to explain things to women even when they have no idea what they're talking about. The comments on the article are really interesting too. There's a few men in there bitching that it's not fair to make generalizations, but I think that while of course not all men engage in shameless mansplaining, many do. And it's bullshit. It's annoying and disturbing, and it's a sign of male privilege, of growing up believing that you know more than the person you're speaking to, that your opinion is fact and will be respected by everyone, regardless of their view on the matter.

I get mansplained to all the freaking time, particularly at work. Whenever it happens, I get a flash of jealousy - what must it be like to be so in command of the facts, so sure of what you have to say?! The jealousy is then replaced by shame at being wrong, and being so so wrong that I have earned a good five minutes of conversational steamrolling. Then, when I look up what was being discussed and discover that I was actually correct, I get angry. Mucho angry. I'm not always right, of course, especially since I am not a detail-oriented individual (read: I often talk out of my ass, a fact that contributes to the fact that I always back down when interrupted), but I'm no dodo.

I make an effort to take a balanced view of things, to understand all sides of a story as best I can. But I am having some serious righteous one-sided anti-man anger these days, the likes of which I have not experienced since college. Part of it is the elections stuff (all dumb and shouty), the fact that the Republican party has gone threateningly wackadoo and is hatefully anti-woman. Part of it is  this week's shitstorm on "legitimate rape". That deserved attention, sure, but mostly it drew attention to semantics rather than the fact there is a LONGSTANDING AND ONGOING GLOBAL EPIDEMIC OF SEXUAL ASSAULT. And that is the all of it.

I try to explain this to the men in my life: look at me. You love me, yes? Do you understand that I believe I will be assaulted in my lifetime? That the odds are decent that I will? That I have to take a deep breath and look behind me before I open my front door at night, muscles tensed, that I do the same before I walk down a dark block, before I take a beer from someone I don't know at a party? (Ok yes I know I'm not supposed to do that one ever, but sometimes it just happens.) And I'm a lucky person - lucky! - for not yet having been sexually assaulted. That is seriously messed up. There are many messed up things in the world, and I get hepped up about many of them (the murder rate of young black men in urban areas, the suicide rate among veterans, the neglect of LGBTQ youth), but more than anything I get hepped up about this.

And I have no answers or solutions. Who does? Those lesbians who create communes in the woods where men aren't allowed? It's not a terrible idea, but I have many wonderful men in my life, one of whom I very much enjoy sleeping with, so backwoods communal ladyloving is out.

Anyway, this post could go on forever and ever because my anger will perpetually unspool. But it is real, it is strong, and it is a constant thing in my life. In short: Dudes, get your shit together. JUST F***ING STOP F***ING WITH WOMEN. Thank you.


Michelle said...

<3 u G

also, if you have contact information for the above mentioned lesbian commune, help a sister out.

Vanessa said...

This week feels kind of revolutionary. So many people I know are writing really amazing, insightful, moving things about all of this. It's a bit like, enough is enough, finally, and so let's fucking talk about it. I am feeling a lot of feelings about it, too. Solidarity.