"Men Explain Things to Me" by Rebecca Solnit & ginger beer lime shandy
Over the weekend, Serena Williams won her her 21st Grand Slam when she took yet another title at tennis' most revered tournament, Wimbledon. Yet much of the conversation surrounding her win focused less on her undeniable talent and more on her body — or the body images of her competitors — and perceived personality flaws. I've always felt such reactions were B.S., but having just come off reading Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, I'm more frustrated than usual.
The seven essays in Men Explain Things to Me touch on a variety of topics related to feminism (not necessarily the "bad" kind), including but not limited to the way men explain things to women with the assumption the women are ignorant (that essay is said to have inspired the ever-useful term "mansplaining"), the way women's voices are systemically discounted or delegitimated and, relatively positively, that sometimes women's voices today are heard louder and more clearly than ever in the past.
As Yuri Hobart of Bookswept acknowledged in her review (which is what inspired me to pick this book up), some sections of Men Explain Things are emotionally challenging, particularly those that zero in on violence against women. And there are other parts that illuminate how entrenched our society is in patriarchy that could elevate your blood pressure.
In my view, that's not bad. Sometimes it's good to gin up a little anger, and hold on to it.
It may seem surprising, given all I've just written, but Men Explain Things did not leave me feeling dejected. Of course, I didn't come out of it feeling particularly hopeful, either. Rather, I felt educated. I appreciated the way Solnit identified and explained the societal factors that negatively impact women in terms that are clear and easy to understand. Sometimes I think recognizing those factors is the first step.
A funny anecdote from when I started reading this book. "This is the woman who inspired 'mansplaining!'" I exclaimed to my husband. "What's that?" he said. That took me aback. He has the luxury of not knowing what it feels like to have someone explain to you things that are basic, or even things of which you have more knowledge, simply because you are a woman. So I womansplained it to him.
There is a lot in Men Explain Things that readers will take issue with — I had several such instances myself — but I still think it's an essential read for the modern feminist. It's also essential for the person who disregards feminism as a mid- to late-1990s movement, something outdated or no longer needed. And the sad thing is that the people who need to read this the most are those who are least likely to. That's why I paired it with a ginger beer lime shandy — the ginger beer provides the main flavor, but it's a strong and spicy one that turns a lot of people off. But approached with the right attitude and a good amount of lime and simply syrup, it can please even the greatest ginger beer hater.
GINGER BEER LIME SHANDY
- ice cubes
- fresh juice from one lime
- 3 teaspoons simple syrup
- ginger beer
Make simply syrup by combining one part water and one part sugar in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then simmer, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a clean jar to cool. Can be made ahead.
Chill a tall glass in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until frosty.
Place 2 to 3 ice cubes in base of glass, then squeeze in lime juice. Pour in 3 teaspoons of simple syrup, or to taste. Slowly pour in ginger beer until glass is full and topped with some foam. Stir lightly, then drop a sliver of lime into the drink and place another on the rim for garnish. Drink immediately.