Who will own the stories?

Whose Story Is This?
Forfatter: Rebecca Solnit
Forlag: Granta Books (Storbritannia)
POWER / Whose Story Is This? encourages each of us to change the world by changing what story we choose to tell and who it belongs to.


The Political Essay Collection Whose Story Is This? by Rebecca Solnit is a summary of the last feminist campaign year in the light of the past and the future with a closing letter addressed to "The March 15, 2019, Climate Strikers". Among the prominent women in the book, Solnit mentions author Rebecca Traisters Good and Mad, author Tara Westover with the autobiographical book educated, MeToo activist and actor Rose McGowan, politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The book has been created in the aftermath of metoo, where women's stories were heard and had implications for those involved. In light of metoo Solnit wants us to get to the bottom of it if stories and struggles we tell and fight for when it comes to issues like abortion, racism, climate change, anger, violence and white power.

As I read, I think back on her Call Them By Their True Names from 2018, where she writes that we can change the world by changing the history and language we describe it with – by just "calling them by their true names". In the new book, Solnit claims that in order to change who tells the story and who decides, we must first change whose history we choose to tell – hence the title Whose Story Is This?.

White men

Solnit writes that men's anger is a public safety issue – whether it is domestic violence or mass shootings. Recently, Norway was exposed to the latter. During the Eid celebration on August 10 this year, a 21-year-old Norwegian right-wing terrorist decided to fire at the Al-Noor Islamic Center mosque in Bærum, inspired by Christ-church and El Paso
terrorists. Before the attack, he killed his 17-year-old step-sister, who was adopted from China.

This is the story of terror, white power and racism. During questioning, it was stated that "he wanted to scare Norwegian Muslims". Thanks to the two heroes Muhammad Rafiq (65), who held him down and Muhammad Iqbal (75) who struck him in the head, he failed in his attempt to kill some of those present in the mosque.

It is rarely emphasized that there are only men in it
right-extreme movements.

The terror in Norway, New Zealand and El Paso is not the story of – or about – the terrorists, but the story of how words and attitudes from white men in positions of power create actions. Solnit thinks here specifically of Donald Trump, but also others before him.

Solnit writes that when Trump became president, there was talk of not normalizing authorities and lies. But the many lost lives that can be attributed to misogyny and racism have been normalized nonetheless. The task has instead been to "normalize" them and break the silence around these topics: to create a society where every single story is heard.

Solnit writes that we live in a time where there is a struggle over the stories. Emphasis is rarely placed on the fact that only men in right-wing extremist movements, she writes.


Solnit highlights a sensational incident from June this year in which Marshae Jones, a pregnant woman from Alabama, was arrested for murder because her five-month-old fetus was hit and died when Jones was shot in the stomach by a female work colleague. [Alabama's legislation gives a fetus the same rights as a child. The Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, has banned abortion under any circumstances – including rape and incest, editor's note]

The woman who shot Marshae Jones, however, was not arrested, as the police believed that it was the pregnant woman's fault that she had ended up in an argument. That pregnant Marshae Jones is a poor African-American is relevant to the unfair treatment she receivedyears. The case received a lot of attention in the US and arouses disgust and contempt in me – I get really angry.

The case against Marshae Jones (screenshot abc news)

If it had been about a white and rich woman instead of a black and poor one, I'm sure the case would have looked completely different.

I want to draw on the Anna Delvey case from this year as an example of white power at its best:

Anna Sorokin, who is Delvey's real name, pretended to be a German heir with 60 million euros in fortune and lived for several years in Manhattan's elitist circles without being revealed. In reality, she was a 28-year-old Russian immigrant with debt collection bills. Among other things, she persuaded a bank employee to lend her $ 100, but on May 000, 9, she was convicted of defrauding hotels, restaurants and banks, which gave her a sentence of 2019-4 years in prison.

Rebecca Solnit

When I read about the Delvey case and saw a picture of her as slim and beautiful, with natural reddish brown hair, milky white skin and innocent blue eyes, I thought she would never have managed to get as far as she did if she had had a darker complexion and was «ugly».

In Sorokin's case, white power and sexism have first opened doors for her, then closed them. During the trial, the judge commented, among other things, that Sorokin was dazzled by the glitter and glamor of New York City. I can not help but think that she might never have been revealed if she was a man? "Trump, Trump" whispers in my ears as I write this, and I leave it up to the reader to draw the lines here.

Despite repetitions from Solnit's previous works such as Call Them By Their True Names (2018) and Mother of All Questions (2017), as she herself refers to, the social and political message in the book is clear: «Be what happens (…) Today, you are the force of possibility that runs through the present like a river through the desert. Love, Rebecca. »

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