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.
I have been writing about social justice issues for over four years now. When I began, I was a mother of a five-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter, a wife and stay-at-home mother, a former technical writer and current part-time professor making a fraction of what I used to make. I was also a former girl and young woman with plenty of personal experience with sexism, but none with racism or classism. I hadn’t thought much about being white, aside from the fact that my whiteness made me feel guilty and uncomfortable and I didn’t want to think about it much—and I took being middle-class absolutely for granted. I identified myself as female and heterosexual, and I knew I wanted to be a writer, but mostly I thought of myself as a mother. The identity of mother had been so all-consuming and overwhelming that I’d lost self to it, and I wanted the self back. I’d lived in four states in ten years, had health issues in the last three years, had written five drafts of a novel over a period of six years, and was exhausted. It felt like a time to end—which meant, of course, that it was time to begin.
Sometimes, in debates about sexism or other forms of discrimination—particularly online—people will use a tactic called gaslighting. The term comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight, in which an abusive husband repeatedly dims and brightens the gaslights in their home while telling his wife he has no idea what’s happening, causing her to question her sanity. In an argument or debate, a person using gaslighting will try to make his opponent think her perceptions are skewed or wrong. Gaslighting is not always conscious—it can be used unconsciously as a defensive reaction. However, it can also be used consciously, as a manipulative tactic.