||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Friday, January 01, 2016
A man who explains things, to Solnit especially
Rebecca Solnit got triggered, as they say now, back in 2008 and wrote Men Explain Things To Me. The essay burned slowly around the fringes, and then it flared up into a
What is going on is this: first, a femineeste will say something devoid of logic, self-contradictory, authoritarian, bigoted, and/or whining. (If we are very lucky, "or" rather than "and".) Someone like me will read this evil pile of wrong and will, himself (or herself), get triggered. Our protagonist takes the femineeste's claim that she is an equal, at its word; but the original work remains unequal, by dint of remaining an evil pile of wrong. Logically, the femineeste's essay must be a mistake, and its author uninformed. So an educational lecture ensues; perhaps in person, as in the opening anecdote of that essay, but more likely on the interweb.
Solnit's position is that sometimes, the lecture is, itself, wrong, or at least debatable; and when that happens, it's not a real lecture. It's an argument, dressed up as a lecture by an arrogant jerk. I hasten to add that this much is fine, as far as it goes. Solnit also understands that mens and womens is different and that mens' arguments in this vein share a certain style. I won't argue with this, either.
But sometimes the femineeste in question has presented herself a pompous jenny - and that is what has happened here. This essay objects to HUAC, not because it was anti-freedom but because it was anti-communist; so, its author is revealed as pro-communist. While this is going on the essay jets off from Aspen to Berlin, for claret with Extraordinary Gentlemen (Tariq Ali, in this case) - which my (non-communist) essays, personally, don't allow me to do. Forgive a Man Who Explains, not knowing the femineeste personally, if he has sketched out a mental composite of the author, wherein she is a smug and condescending hypocrite who likes to pull rank.
If the essay invokes the metaphor of "war" - which it does - then it deserves to be confronted on the same plane as war. If the essay relies upon rhetorical tricks, like invoking the death of Maria Lauterbach as if her fate was anything like Solnit's, then its author is deserving of a rhetorical trick or two herself.
To sum up, this puffed-up femineeste deserves to be put in her place, which is the place of the communists she supports - and I'm not talking about a European dinner-party. Since she doesn't like it when men especially educate her on how her essays were annoying, that seems the most effective way to get under her skin. I hope every gathering she attends from now on contains at least one man with the will and means to explain things to her.
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