August 4, 2008
Book review: Backlash by Susan Faludi
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
by Susan Faludi
This is a powerful and worthwhile read. It gives a name to so many of the issues I’ve felt but not necessarily been intellectually aware of. Backlash provides a necessary history lesson, and most of the people, events, and situations discussed in the book have parallels in the United States today. My main concern with this book is the fact that it centers on middle class, white, straight women, particularly in the sections on entertainment and pop culture — for example, in the Epilogue Faludi states that men need women just as much as women need men, and the statement is part of a generally well-made point about men’s reactions to women’s struggles for equal rights, but it dismisses the Queer experience entirely, which I found troubling. That said, I would nevertheless recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
I’m very interested in reading Faludi’s other works, particularly The Terror Dream. She mentions at the end of Backlash the media’s predictions that the 1990s would be the Decade of Women, and I’m curious about what her impression of the 90s was; it seems to me that while some advances may have been made, the backlash never truly abated (exemplified, for example, in the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton during her husband’s candidacy and Presidency). However, given that I was an adolescent in the 90s, I’m interested in comparing my memories and perceptions to the analysis of someone who was an adult at the time, and I realize, of course, that the 90s might not be covered in great detail in The Terror Dream, but it seems like an analysis of how things changed after 9/11 would have to cover, at least to a certain extent, what things were like before that point. We’ll see, at any rate.