She uses the example of family trees, where maiden names are erased, and sometimes lineages only depict the males of the family, leaving out the mothers, wives, sisters, daughters.
She also writes about the war in Argentina in the 1970s and 80s, where countless people were “disappeared”, and how the mothers of the disappeared were the ones who gathered in public to protest.
is the origin of the term, something I only learned seeing the word in circulation – when it first became a thing there were lots of little articles about it everywhere, and examples of when women had been mansplained to were shared across social media. I’d heard of Rebecca Solnit a bit, so finding out more about her work certainly appealed.
So, once I knew where the word came from, I was curious to know more.
With this essay she is writing about a cultural occurrence, but also about a personal experience.
The first instance of explaining occurs at a party, with people she knows, and some she doesn’t, and it’s a wonderful example of a personal, female experience that can be translated into the wider context of our current culture and society.
The wind is blowing it against her, showing some of the shape of her body, but all we see are her hands at the top, trying to peg it down, and her feet below, jarring in their pointy high heeled shoes.
This painting and others by Fernandez are printed at the start of each chapter to illustrate some point in the following essay. Solnit discusses how easy it is for women to be obscured, hidden from view, made to disappear.
Though the book is under 200 pages, there are six ‘Other Essays’ in this volume.
They all centre around gender, feminism, equal rights, freedom. It starts with an analysis of an untitled painting by the artist Ana Teresa Fernandez, in which a woman is obscured by the sheet which she is pegging to a washing line.