War is one of the biggest costs of patriarchy. It encourages a version of masculinity that relies on dominance and violence and justifies patriarchal systems of power on a global scale. Indeed, war is one of the lynchpins of patriarchy—and as such, it is sold to boys and men as their ideal, just as beauty is sold to girls and women. Although we have many stories that reflect on the glory men earn in war—the hero come home, the grand sacrifice made meaningful in the light of patriotism—only a few count the costs of war outside this narrative. And rarest of all are those war stories that, rather than reinforcing our ideas of masculinity proven via military service and sacrifice, ask us to question all of it: war itself, a masculinity based on violence, and a society that encourages both. Michael Lund’s Eating with Veterans is such a collection of stories.
The love and nurture of your authentic self is a radical thing in a patriarchy, especially for a woman. Patriarchy teaches women to reduce our sense of self, to become small physically and emotionally. We are encouraged to hide ambition in the cubbyhole of marriage, to seek validation of our internal sexuality from an external world that wishes to chew it up and spit it out rather than validate it, and to never listen to our internal voice, the one that says, this is my truth. A girl growing up in our current patriarchy, awash in these messages yet also fed their anecdote if she is fortunate—has a lot to figure out. And she must do so within the context of social media, which I have nicknamed Patriarchy’s Playground—a place where a girl becoming a woman must navigate the line between self and other while still learning, and becoming, who she is. The more she knows about the pitfalls that await her, the better. And the more she learns the radical art of self-love, the less vulnerable she will be to a world that wants to chew her up and spit her out.
The term mansplaining, unlike gaslighting, has entered mainstream conversation: according to Lily Rothman at The Atlantic, it first appeared online shortly after Rebecca Solnit’s piece in the LA Times, “Men Explain Things to Me.” Ms. Solnit didn’t use the term in her article, but she described a prime example of mansplaining, in which a man described her own book to her without acknowledging that she’d written it. The term is used so widely that it is misused: sometimes it’s used so broadly that it could apply to any situation in which one person is condescending to another, and sometimes it is completely misdefined, as it is in many of the definitions in the urban dictionary, one of which asserts that man-hating women use the term to spread their man-hating. Despite these misunderstandings, mansplaining is easy to spot, as any woman who has experienced it can tell you.
She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality?, edited by Helen Hye-Sook Hwang and Kaalii Cargill, brings together the voices of women and men who have vital news to share: we need the Divine Feminine to heal ourselves and our planet, and She knows it. Now it is time for us to know it—to re-member her (as She has been dismembered, historically and methodically, for millennia). The voices in this anthology are varied—some urgent, some lyrical—but, like the Divine Feminine Herself, the many are also one. And their message is clear: the spiritual is political, and it is time to act.
Kristen Green’s Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is compelling, timely, brave, and so deeply necessary that its presence next to me, its pages still warm from my hand and its messages stoking the fires of change in my belly, is palpable. This book is personal, in more ways than one. It is political, in more ways than one. I hope it tops the best-seller lists for months to come, for it is a book we desperately need to read as a nation.