Let Me Tell You, Since Obviously You Are Too Female To Understand

I have to share this with y’all (okay. . . all three of y’all who read this blog). Found at Dark Orpheus. It’s long; bear with me, it’s worth it.

Men who explain things
Every woman knows what it’s like to be patronized by a guy who won’t let facts get in the way.
By Rebecca Solnit

April 13, 2008

I still don’t know why Sallie and I bothered to go to that party in the forest slope above Aspen. The people were all older than us and dull in a distinguished way, old enough that we, at 40-ish, passed as the occasion’s young ladies. The house in Colorado was great — if you like Ralph Lauren-style chalets: a rugged luxury cabin at 9,000 feet, complete with elk antlers, lots of kilims, and a wood-burning stove. We were preparing to leave when our host said, “No, stay a little longer so I can talk to you.” He was an imposing man who’d made a lot of money in advertising or something like that.

He kept us waiting while the other guests drifted out into the summer night, and then sat us down at his grainy wood table and said to me, “So? I hear you’ve written a couple of books.”

I replied, “Several, actually.”

He said, in the way you encourage your friend’s 7-year-old to describe flute practice, “And what are they about?”

They were actually about quite a few different things, the six or seven out by then, but I began to speak only of the most recent on that summer day in 2003, my book on Eadweard Muybridge, the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.

He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”

So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingenue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book — with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.

Here, let me just say that my life is well-sprinkled with lovely men, including a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened and encouraged and published me; with my infinitely generous younger brother; with splendid male friends. Still, there are these other men too.

So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, “That’s her book.” Or tried to interrupt him anyway.

But he just continued on his way. She had to say, “That’s her book” three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a 19th century novel, he went ashen. That I was indeed the author of the very important book it turned out he hadn’t read, just read about in the New York Times Book Review a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was stunned speechless — for a moment, before he began holding forth again. Being women, we were politely out of earshot before we started laughing.

I like incidents of that sort, when forces that are usually so sneaky and hard to point out slither out of the grass and are as obvious as, say, an anaconda that’s eaten a cow, or an elephant turd on the carpet.

The whole piece, from the L.A. Times, can be accessed here.

Rebecca Solnit is the author of many books including A Field Guide to Getting Lost, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West and Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I have something to say about this, in particular a later paragraph in the article, but I shall save that for another day in the interest of not over-taxing my dear patient friends.

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3 Comments

Filed under lifestuff

3 responses to “Let Me Tell You, Since Obviously You Are Too Female To Understand

  1. Jan

    This looks good, but I’m going to come back tomorrow to read it all. Thanks.

  2. Just went and read the whole thing — will be interesting to read your take on it.

  3. Pingback: A Story of Injustice (Mostly) And Justice (A Little) « Wyrdbyrd’s Wyrld

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