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Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women Paperback – September 6, 1992

3.9 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Faludi lays out a two-fold thesis in this aggressive work: First, despite the opinions of pop-psychologists and the mainstream media, career-minded women are generally not husband-starved loners on the verge of nervous breakdowns. Secondly, such beliefs are nothing more than anti-feminist propaganda pumped out by conservative research organizations with clear-cut ulterior motives. This backlash against the women's movement, she writes, "stands the truth boldly on its head and proclaims that the very steps that have elevated women's positions have actually led to their downfall." Meticulously researched, Faludi's contribution to this tumultuous debate is monumental and it earned the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction.

From Publishers Weekly

Far from being "liberated," American women in the 1980s were victims of a powerful backlash against the handful of small, hard-won victories the feminist movement had achieved, says Wall Street Journal reporter Faludi, who won a Pulitzer this year. Buttressing her argument with facts and statistics, she states that the alleged "man shortage" endangering women's chances of marrying (posited by a Harvard-Yale study) and the "infertility epidemic" said to strike professional women who postpone childbearing are largely media inventions. She finds evidence of antifeminist backlash in Hollywood movies, in TV's thirtysomething , in 1980s fashion ads featuring battered models and in the New Right's attack on women's rights. She directs withering commentary at Robert Bly's all-male workshops, Allan Bloom's "prolonged rant" against women and Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer's revisionism. This eloquent, brilliantly argued book should be read by everyone concerned about gender equality. First serial to Glamour and Mother Jones.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (September 6, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385425074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385425070
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,150,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
... and a very large one back. It wasn't supposed to happen this way, of course. Those of us involved in the social revolutions of the `60's thought "history" would move in a very straight line forward, all the injustices would be remedied, and marijuana would be legalized in Iowa, no later than 1976 (per an article in Scanlan's Magazine [now long defunct] in 1971). The last election underlined that "we" did better on civil rights than some of the other "causes," though Iowa did just legalize same-sex marriages. We sure didn't learn anything from Vietnam, repeating it all over again in Southwest Asia. And Ms. Faludi documents in excruciating, and painful to read details that large step back, and the forces that made it so, the "backlash." No question that she is angry; there is a lot to be angry about. She is occasionally vitriolic, and yes, perhaps some stats are "cherry-picked" to support her arguments, and occasionally she even verves a little too close to Andrea Dworkin for my comfort.

It is the layer upon layer of real anecdotes that is a major strength of this book. Consider: "Joel Steinberg's attorney claimed that the notorious batterer and child beater had been destroyed by `hysterical feminists.' And even errant Colonel Oliver North blamed his legal troubles in the Iran-Contra affair on "an arrogant army of ultramilitant feminists." One of the intellectual architects of the backlash is a philosophy professor, Michael Levin, and in his book, said: "...I would no more pander to the reader by straining to praise rape crisis centers than I would strain to praise the punctuality of trains under Mussolini were I discussing fascism.
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Format: Paperback
I just received "Stiffed" (also by Susan Faludi) in the mail today, so before getting started on that, I thought I'd take a look at "Backlash" again, & remember how it had felt to read it.
It's been quite a few years since I first came to "Backlash", & back then, I remember that it had made a strong impression on me. It turns out that it was a lasting impression, since, reading parts of the book again now, I see that there are points that have stuck with me & formed parts of arguments I myself use sometimes in conversations! The book is not dated, in my opinion, even though it was written in the 80s. Also, the book may be specifically addressing US society, but the basic arguments apply to European countries, as well.
The basic premise of the book you probably know, so I'll just briefly say that it has to do with the backlash that has risen against feminism & its achievements. You could state it like this: Feminism takes 1 step forward & then gets forced to take 1 step back. After reading "Backlash" the first time around, I remember thinking how clear & logical (& true to my experience here in Greece) is Susan Faludi's argument. Lots of people (mostly men, but women too) are threatened by womens' advancements. So they chose the easy way out: they deride feminism, laugh at "lesbian / ugly / man-hating" etc etc feminists & fail to see that feminism is nothing more than the wish for equality between the sexes: not sameness. But equality.
Susan Faludi painstakingly finds evidence that supports her basic argument, & presents loads & loads of research & interviews to prove her point.
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6 Comments 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am a male reader who, prior to having read this book, believed that gender was one front on which a great deal of social progress had been made. Reading Faludi's book made me realize how wrong I was. I was amazed at how often I found myself thinking to myself, "Wow, I had never thought of that. That makes sense." I would recommend this book to anyone as a primer of the state of gender equality (or inequality)in America.
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By A Customer on July 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book mainly because I hadn't lived through the 80s and wondered what liberal groups were talking about when they referred to the regressions of women's rights during that period. Backlash deals with the thoughts and trends in the 80s and the effect they had on women.
Many people here (who may or may not have actually read this book) say that Faludi's book is full of man-bashing diatribe. Actually, though, Faludi focuses more on the relationship between men and women in society, and the main problem with men in general she has is the idea of masculinity which requires domination and superiority in the workplace and home to feel secure. No one should feel that their gender identity is being taken away from them just because the other gender wants to participate in the same activites.
Another good point she makes is the double-standard of views on marraige, children, and careers. While women are told that they must get married and have children or else they are a "failure," and once these children are born they must sacrifice their careers and independence, it is viewed as desirable for men to be away from their children all day, and men's time unmarried and childless is "the good life."
Whether you are sympathetic to feminism or think it's dangerous, you should read this era-defining book.
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