The increasing banality of Solnit’s writing

Meghan Murphy was also unimpressed by Solnit’s rhapsody on her own hippitude. (Do I like to beat everything to death? Yes, I do, why do you ask?) Meghan Murphy does excellent unimpressed.

The increasing banality of Solnit’s writing might explain why she published a 1700 word letter in The Guardian, in response to nothing and no one, never making clear why this and why now. Perhaps she has a hat from which she can pull hot takes, or perhaps a predictable and dull editor requested the polemic for clicks. A writer myself, it strikes me that these kinds of pieces are what happens when one runs out of things to say.

“Dear ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women,” she begins. Which ladies, we will never know. One presumes Solnit has never encountered said ladies, personally, as she declines to offer examples. But that’s not the point. The point was to offer herself a way to launch into an advertisement of her own perceived Cool Girl-ness — the “I have black friends” version of queer politics. Much of the piece documents Solnit’s humble participation in San Fransisco’s LGBTQ scene, where everyone was kind, which I suppose is meant to comfort women who have concerns about, say, violent men raping women in prison and the complete dissolution of female sport.

While also at the same time making them feel small and pathetic for not being as hip and San Franciscoish as Rebecca Solnit. The whole piece simply reeked of that “I’m better than you” just barely not spelled out implication.

She claims, “Transphobes are always warning us that if trans people live in peace and legal recognition and even have rights, there will be terrible consequences,” which has never been true, not even once.

That was one of the major faults of the piece: the outright falsehoods. Murphy then tackles the bit where Solnit says we’re all fine, and asks if “Jessica” Yaniv’s victims are fine, if the girls losing out on scholarships because boys are taking their places in sport are fine, if women in prison with violent men are fine.

It’s not only the fact Solnit seems to believe we should just take her word for it, but that she seems not to believe in listening to any woman who might like her word considered fairly and accurately as well. To refuse to seek out evidence to support your own claims is bad enough for someone of Solnit’s stature, but to actively misrepresent and lie about what other women say and believe is worse.

It’s all too typical though.

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