13 April 2008

Men who explain things

"[. . .] the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered.

Men explain things to me, and to other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men. Every woman knows what I mean. 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.

This syndrome is something nearly every woman faces every day, within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me."
Today Rebecca Solnit ~ who regular readers will know is among my heroes ~ published this column in The Los Angeles Times. This time Solnit nicely connects too common, self-assured, ignorant, dismissive and, well, erroneous pronouncements over dinner table or cocktail party chatter with pervasive willingness to dismiss women and their claims and statements in broader contexts of culture and politics. The "longer version" of the essay that appears at TomDispatch.com under the terrific title "The Archipelago of Arrogance." As always, Solnit is right on the money.

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Blogger Sarah K said...

Thank you for this post. Just the other day, after one more encounter where I was told that I was overreacting, I decided to blog about the issue of how the subject of domestic violence is skirted by these very men. Rebecca Solnit's article describes my experience, and being reminded of certain examples happening right now made me wipe my brow. Sometimes, I believe I am going crazy, because I am told so much that I am not seeing things "correctly".

13 April, 2008 16:30  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

SK - My pleasure. The ability to listen, as well as to see is one that needs cultivating. But you are not mad; angry maybe, but not mad. And if you are interested in Solnit, I highly recommend both her Hope in the Dark and Storming the Gates of Paradise. She is a terrific role model - even for old fellows like me. JJ

PS: By the way, I like a lot of the new B&W shots you've posted. Keep up the good work.

13 April, 2008 19:13  
Anonymous Holly White said...

I found myself here after reading the entire exchange about Solnit at the advice-lady's website.http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2008/04/rebecca-solnit.html I found myself here to say "Thank you" for raising the bar of the comments post that was reducing oppression to a matter of private, psychological dysfunction. While not all oppressions are the same, to follow Amy's thinking, one might think that African Americans draw attention to themselves by being out at night in parts of city that have rates of violence.

Again, thank you for going to bat for a person like myself who is just finding her voice in this place of internet-thinking that can so quickly devolve to hate speech, ad hominim, and ruthless opinion.

22 April, 2008 21:46  

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