Rebecca Solnit is my new BFF


Mansplaining is genius.  I love her writing – her focus.  Since my blog is Mindfulness at 70, I find her commitment to mindfulness exemplary.  She is always looking and listening and monitoring how she really feels about what she sees and hears.  She is a watchdog for feminists and environmentalists; she is a very interesting person.

She is, of course, not my real BFF.  I just wish I could spend some time with her.  I read her current posts and have read some of her books.  I don’t agree with everything, but her opinions are always thoughtful and grounded in fact and observation.  She seems to have lived an interesting life full of unique and common experiences.  She’s an intellectual with a lot of street cred.

I really got into Ms Solnit when I stumbled across “mansplaining”.  I’ve been railing against it since I was 10 years old and now I had a great name for it.  Men always taking the floor and explaining (in many wrong ways) to women in all aspects of life.  Hogging all the comments in a meeting, forcing Elizabeth Warren to shut-up in the US Senate, interrupting women.  The list goes on and on.

This “mansplaining” is, of course another embodiment of aggression against women.  It is not physical and it does not involve sexual violation — yet it is part of the culture’s categorization of women.  We are second.  The man needs the job more than you.  She would not shut up and listen.  She was asking for it.  All part of the on-going war to keep women in their place.

Can “mansplaining” be that much of a problem when we have so many incidents of sexually inappropriate behavior and sexual violence?  Yes, it all comes from the same place.  Men are entitled to behave this way.  To speak this way, to touch this way.  To demand they remain in charge. To hang onto power.

Solnit states,  Are people finally making the connection between sexual misconduct and men’s perpetual domination of most professional spaces. I do hope that sometime someone who’s having a high-profile creep masturbate at her takes out her camera-phone and makes the career-killing humiliating video or even livestreams it. The perps do this to prove that they’re powerful and she’s powerless, powerless too often even to get people to listen and believe. That they are invulnerable and beyond accountability, and too often they have been right.

I hope we are making the connection and that we concentrate on overall equality rather than punishing individual “famous” men who transgress.  We need , we must, do better.





I BLOG AND HOPE TO DISCOVER WHO I AM Reflections on Is it too late to save the world? Jonathan Franzen one year of Trump’s America The Guardian, November 4, 2017

I never thought I would look to Jonathan Franzen the popular writer for writing advice. I really have not taken to his work and find his prose overblown and obtuse. But, I found myself taking notes on an essay he wrote about many things including writing essays.

The essay is a form I am drawn to and it fits the style and length of a Blog well. Further, in the new journalism or literature or literary journalism, very personal obsevations — reference to the “I” are no longer frowned upon.

In his recent article in The Guardian, Franzen postulates,

Writing or reading an essay isn’t the only way to stop and ask yourself who you really are and what your life might mean, but it is one good way.

I Blog because I do want to discover who I really am and what life means to me. I wish to consider ideas and events that have importance to me and codify my own thoughts and feelings about them. Writing is a voyage of discovery.

Franzen goes on to state,

One of the mysteries of literature is that personal substance, as perceived by both the writer and the reader, is situated outside the body of either of them, on some kind of page. How can I feel realer to myself in a thing I’m writing than I do inside my body? How can I feel closer to another person when I’m reading her words than I do when I’m sitting next to her?

This feels true to me. I feel close to the writers that I read and am always interested in their life and career, process and purpose. I believe I have been privy to something “real” about them and I respond to their voice. I know that finding my own voice is paramount in any writing.

The answer, in part, is that both writing and reading demand full attentiveness. But it surely also has to do with the kind of ordering that is possible only on the page.

Every essay, even a think piece, tells a story. There are two ways to organise material: “Like goes with like” and “This followed that.” Sort it into categories, grouping similar elements together: Like goes with like. This is, at a minimum, a tidy way to write.

And suddenly I felt I had taken a tutorial on essay writing and was more at home with the format than ever before. I’m making sense of my world; I’m asking questions that resonate with me and I’m finding my way through the answers.

With the advent of the internet anyone and everyone can offer their thoughts, wishes and dreams to the public. But I believe substantive responses to other writers and questions is called for. Don’t just like or thumbs down something. Why do you think this way? Disect the information and organize your answer with your own voice and find out what you really think — or maybe who you really are.