The chasm had become visible

Via Amazon.com.

Via Amazon.com.

[Trigger warning: discussion of violence, sexual assault.]

About a month ago, I was traveling. Whenever I travel, I hunt for books. The title of one particular book screamed at me from a shelf in the Harvard Co-op: Men Explain Things to Me. I dove for my credit card.

Men Explain Things to Me is an anthology of essays by San Francisco journalist Rebecca Solnit. The title comes from the first essay, a 2008 Internet classic that I’ve referenced before, but hadn’t read in full until I bought the anthology. In it, Solnit relates how a resolutely clueless man cornered her at a party, pontificating to her about a book he had not read but that she herself had written, all the while ignoring a friend who kept saying, “That’s her book.”

Solnit observed: “Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about.” Her sentence inspired a neologism: “mansplaining.”  Continue reading

The Vatican explains

The Vatican’s International Theological Commission recently published a document entitled: “‘Sensus Fidei’ in the Life of the Church.” Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service, in an article reprinted at NCR, summarized its argument: “the document emphasized the importance of assuming church leaders are correct, trying to understand the basis for their teaching and, in particular, for praying, regularly receiving the sacraments, studying and being an active member of the Catholic community before claiming to be able to discern that a church teaching needs adjustment.”

Kelly Stewart, an NCR Today blogger, had a different way of summarizing the argument. Her June 30 post about “Sensus Fidei” is entitled: “Church leaders’ condescension an affront to Catholic laity’s intelligence.”

Stewart wrote that the document “prompted me to revisit Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Men Explain Things to Me.’ Solnit’s 2008 essay is something of an Internet classic, famous largely for the feminist portmanteau, ‘mansplaining,’ that it inspired: ‘Men explain things to me, and other women,’ she writes, ‘whether or not they know what they’re talking about.’” Continue reading