Women’s History Month 2012: Susan Faludi

21 Mar

Today we honor and celebrate a strong feminist voice of the 21st century and the author of Backlash.  I remember reading Backlash in the early 1990’s and thought Faludi really captured the wave of misogyny erupting from the Bush Sr. administration. As I look back, her book now seems prophetic in some very scary and dangerous ways. Faludi does a remarkable job of addressing how our culture still finds the need to punish women for wanting parity in the workplace, or governance over their own bodies.  We have only to look at the recent attack on Planned Parenthood and the vicious and specious attacks on Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama to see the full accuracy of Faludi’s words.

Faludi was born to a Jewish family in Queens, New York in 1959 and grew up in Yorktown Heights, New York. Her mother was a homemaker and journalist and is a long-time New York University student. Her father is a photographer who had emigrated from Hungary, a survivor of the Holocaust. She graduated from Harvard University in 1981, where she wrote for The Harvard Crimson, and became a journalist, writing for The New York Times, Miami Herald, Atlanta Journal Constitution, San Jose Mercury News, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. Throughout the eighties she wrote several articles on feminism and the apparent resistance to the movement. Seeing a pattern emerge, Faludi wrote Backlash, which was released in late 1991. She has written a number of other books about feminism and civil rights; she won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1991 for a report on the leveraged buyout of Safeway Stores, Inc. that the Pulitzer Prize committee thought showed the “human costs of high finance.”

Demonstrating an understanding of the divergences in any movement, Faludi has also spoken candidly against the claim advanced by critics that there is a “rigid, monolithic feminist orthodoxy”, noting in response that she has disagreed with Gloria Steinem about pornography and Naomi Wolf about abortion. he has also characterized “academic feminism’s love affair with deconstructionism” as “toothless”, and warned that it “distract[s] from constructive engagement with the problems of the public world”.

4 Responses to “Women’s History Month 2012: Susan Faludi”

  1. Christine Noble March 21, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    Honestly, most “left wing” movements are not monolithic. It is the source of our greatest strength but also a point at which we can be attacked.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 21, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      Absolutely right. Who knew that a commitment to civil rights would now be regarded as “left wing?”

  2. nevercontrary March 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    mind of a right wing “oh tilapia is endangered better get some before it is all gone, better yet get two”
    mind of a left wing “oh no tilapia is endangered we better save it, so we can make more and have enough forever”
    no tilapia left
    response of right wing “those damn liberals pissed off god so he killed all the fish”

    yep totally made that joke up just now.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 22, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      Wow! You got it spot on! While I did laugh, I also thought how sad and accurate for the most part.

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