Tag Archives: Backlash

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”.

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Chattel or Progress (?)

16 May

"Turns Out Our Gals are Useful After All"

Thank you to my friend “voice of the trailer” for inspiring this story.  Apparently, the trend continues for women to take their husband’s name, according to a 35-year study published in 2009 in the journal Social Behavior and Personality.  The study also shows that well-educated women with careers that have high earning power tend to retain their names. (I intentionally refuse to use maiden name for obvious reasons.)  Age seems to also play a part.  Women who marry after age 35 are 6.4 times more likely to keep their name.

I do worry that we do not have a sense of history as to what the name change meant, or the other rituals that all indicated that a woman was going to become the property of her husband.  Lest we forget, women were not allowed to own land. Nor should we forget that women could not own a credit card until the mid-1970’s.  I do still worry that as a culture we do not recognize the often times more subtle misogyny that exist in advertising and pop culture.  An immediate example that comes to mind is the television show called Cougar Town, which I find incredibly misogynistic and offensive. I have not seen this show, but the title is very off-putting.  I have had conversations with friends about this and they offer in reply: “We have the same thing with men, we just call them either lucky or dirty old men.”  The offensive difference is that we don’t call them predators, such as cougars.

The other example I will offer is the list of comments at the end of the article I am referring to which contains a number of misogynistic remarks.  Granted the article is from the Wall Street Journal, so my expectations of enlightenment are slim. Here is an example of the sexist comments I read:

Women are very self-serving with respect to gender roles. When it comes to pay raises and promotions they’re all for it, but if the they have to initiate a relationship or pay for a date then they defer to traditional gender roles.–Benny

I feel sorry for Benny’s wife, should he have one.  I suppose I don’t understand the need to assume one’s spouse’s name.  Of course, I say this even as my partner and I changed our names, albeit some of that was to make a political statement, as we are a gay couple that is denied the right to marry.  I also suspect that I take issue with the name change because I don’t see a level playing field as of yet.  Women still do not earn as much money on the dollar as men do, nor are they proportionately represented in our government–look at the House of Representatives as a reflection of this fact.  In short, I’m not convinced we have made the progress regarding gender or race that we think we have.

Women’s History: April 18

18 Apr

Happy Birthday, Susan Faludi

Happy Birthday, Susan Faludi.  Faludi is probably best known as 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.  I thank Faludi for her continued work in social reform and pushing for equality. I only wish her work were required reading in high schools.

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