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UnlikelyLibrarian

She Reads

Wading and ranting my way through the books all "women are supposed to read"

Men Explain Things to Me: A Ranting Review

Men Explain Things to Me - Rebecca Solnit

I'm a firm believer in the rights and empowerment of women.  I'm actually a firm believer in those things for any human which is why this "new classic" of feminist literature rubs me the absolute wrong way.  It is everything that I fear about modern feminism which is to say that it strays so far into generalizations that it devolves into men bashing. It actually doesn't stop there and goes on to bash entire political parties.  While it makes some legitimate points and has a plethora of statistics, they are not worth the effort to wade through the hatred that seems to bleed off every page.

 

Intellectually, I don’t understand how the new feminist movement has strayed so far from the original.  Take, for example, the three most oft cited legacies of the women’s movement: the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, suffrage, and prohibition.  Rose Schneiderman, who perhaps gave the most rousing speech regarding the Triangle tragedy in 1911, talked not specifically about women but about the atrocities of all factory workers, including men, women and children. It would help usher in labor reform in the US that still stands today.  The right for women to vote? It was actually initiated by a man in 1878. It was only 40 years later when women banded together (with men!) to make it a reality. And prohibition, perhaps the historical event most frequently attributed to women, actually started as religious reformation by rural Protestants.  When women took up the banner of prohibition, it was not merely for their own sake but for the sake of the the family unit as a whole and the perceived degradation of American moral values. My point being that feminism, in its original carnation, was about the rights and empowerment of all. Men and women worked together to impart changes that have altered the entire history of our country and changed the fabric of society into what we know today.  To forget that basic tenet is to cause a gender division that divides nations rather than accomplishing a lasting legacy that benefits all.

 

To generalize the genders as this book does only adds fuel to a simmering fire without offering any suggestions for solutions. Men are not all evil.  Women are not all saints. Respect for individuals and the empowerment of all individuals seems to have been forgotten in this new crop of feminist literature (including this book very specifically) and, sadly,  it's our society as a whole that will pay the price for that apathy.

"“It isn’t a choice when you don’t have the freedom to say no. A yes doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s the only answer you’re allowed.”"

Grace & Fury

Let It Simmer

Grace and Fury - Tracy Banghart

I’ve posted quotes from this book before but now that it’s finally been released to the masses, I implore people to send any teen girls they know to read it. It’s one of those titles that, while it entertains (there’s a fight to the death island, guys!!!), there is this subliminal theme that manages to teach without being preachy. Every girl I’ve passed it along to returns it with “yeah, it was okay…” and then a week later comes back with “hey, you remember that book? Well, I’ve been thinking about it and…”

 

 

It’s about family values and loyalty, it’s about defying convention, it’s about following the rules (and breaking them) and learning how to define yourself when the world is against you. It’s about rebelling when you have no rights, the true definition of freedom for women, and finding confidence and strength in yourself. AND YET IT’S NOT BORING AS HELL!!

 

 

It’s a short book, a very fast read, and one that won’t be an instant hit but will be one that keeps people thinking and talking long after because you realize something else about it every time you remember a single scene. While I recc books all the time, it’s super rare I actually PUSH one and I’m totally doing that here. Read it. Be a bit disappointed. Then let it simmer and you’ll understand