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Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  5,332 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Skillfully Probing the Attack on Women’s Rights

“Opting-out,” “security moms,” “desperate housewives,” “the new baby fever”—the trend stories of 2006 leave no doubt that American women are still being barraged by the same backlash messages that Susan Faludi brilliantly exposed in her 1991 bestselling book of revelations. Now, the book that reignited the feminist movement is
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Paperback, 594 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Trevor
This book is worth reading not just to remind us that ‘the women's question’ has not been solved – and it is always timely to be reminded of that – but also because it shows how we are manipulated by the media in a way that is rare in any book. It is an utterly depressing read. I read this at about the time that I stopped watching American films – I have seen only really a handful of them since. Her description of Fatal Attraction ought to be made compulsory reading. Actually, the whole book sho ...more
Anthony D'Juan Shelton
Feb 21, 2008 Anthony D'Juan Shelton rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anthony by: my Mother
Having been raised by a radical feminist mother, "Backlash" (along side Andrea Dworkin's "Woman Hating") gave me an insight into my Mother's frustration growing up. It stands as the most introspective book on feminism since "Against Our Will".
Anna
I'm giving it 3 stars to put it in the middle. If this was the early/mid 90s then it would have had 5 stars. It was a book that came along just as I was figuring out my place in the world - as a woman. It tapped into things I was thinking and I think helped shape some of my views. Now at age 40 I'd like to read it again to see if it still applies.
Jessica
Jul 23, 2013 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
As others have said, this book should be required reading. Though it deals with the 80's and feminism, the principles behind how to be critical of the press and not believing everything you hear/read are absolutely sound and applicable across all stories in all media, even more so today than in the early 90's as fewer and fewer people are controlling the ethos behind our media.

In the lastest bit I'm reading about fashion: the fashion industry does no market research and for the whole the late 80
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Elaine
Faludi takes us from the retro-reactionary scriptwriters in Hollywood (mostly men!) to the misogynistic floors of factories during the 1980s, ten years after the feminist revolution, to show how truly anti-women American institutions had become, under the auspices that all of feminism's goals have been achieved. One of the biggest strengths of this book is Faludi's emphasis not only on the words of the people she interviews but their actions. As she interviews women like Faith Popcorn and Tony G ...more
SuperCat
Oct 11, 2007 SuperCat rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks who believe in "postfeminism"
Faludi takes on the 80s, decade of big hair, bad music, and, she claims, a new kind of backlash against feminism. Her thesis is that pop-culture of the 80s told women they had been liberated by the women's movement of the last decade, but were now suffering because of the very gains made by women's lib. She quips: it must be all that equality that's causing all that pain--But what equality?

Faludi's book has two main goals then, to bust the backlash myth that feminism is responsible for women's u
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Matilda
I'm pretty biased to Faludi, so I can't review this book objectively. I enjoy her style, which is semi-academic, and I like the way she pulls up seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces from under the sofa, the shelf, the dog's slobbery mouth and creates a jigsaw that makes the reader go, "Duh, now I get the big picture."

Faludi's classic focuses on the late 70s and early 80s United States, to a time when women's rights were supposedly set. Roe vs. Wade came about, women were entering the work force mor
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Maria
Apr 12, 2011 Maria marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Backlash, a.k.a. el libro que Bridget Jones intentó hacer creer a Mark Darcy que había leído, es un ladrillo de 500 páginas lleno de datos, datos, datos y quejas justificadas: principalmente sobre cómo los medios de comunicación crean debates ficticios sobre temas "candentes" que no existían como tales hasta que aparecen impresos (cuidado con la sociología pop). También, porque no lo he leído linealmente sino que lo he ido abriendo un poco al azar durante este año: sobre cómo la industria de la ...more
Teresa Raetz
I should note that I read the 1992 original version of this book. I'd love to read the updated version. At any rate, I went into this book open minded but by no means sold on her thesis. I came out the other end totally convinced. This is a solid work of well-written, well-researched scholarship that drives home her undeniable theses that career women are not "suffering" for their pursuits and that there is a determined effort to create a public perception of how "dangerous" feminism has been fo ...more
andrea
Jan 09, 2008 andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Open-minded people of both sexes who truly believe in equality.
Susan Faludi is an amazing investigative journalist. This is an exhaustive study of American attitudes toward feminism throughout history. I will go as far as to say that this is a book every liberal-minded girl and feminist-friendly (or even feminist-unfriendly) male should read. Backlash is a book that reaffirms history's cyclical, repetitive nature.
Cindy Breeding
This is a demanding read, even if it is wonderfully written.

Faludi crafts her scenes expertly, with anecdotes supporting her claims about the forces working against American women.

Everything from media to a gangbuster of gendered self-help products are indicted in this war. Women are born into a world that needs them to be soft, submissive and marriage-and-family focused. Faludi builds her nonfiction book to a climax: Beverly LaHaye, the queen of the ultra-conservative Concerned Women for Amer
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Lisa
Jul 04, 2009 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historians and indignant women.
Shelves: sex-and-womens
Wow, people used to think single women Feminists were ruining the world, when it's really Soccer Moms emasculating male children and promoting lame, civilization-ending PC shit like teachers can't use red ink to grade papers because it might hurt the kids' feeeelllings.
Honestly, I'm a woman and I have to say that, regardless, women need to monitor themselves in the workplace to figure out why they aren't being taken seriously. If you were a man, would you take someone seriously tottering around
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Petrop37
This is a must read - a brilliant and upsetting account of feminism. It explores the subtle (and not so subtle) subversion that women faced in the 1980s and early 90s as a backlash to the feminist movement of the 1970s. the statistics and stories Faludi presents are frightening. While I would love to see a follow up edition with current statistics as those presented her are over 20 years old, I would be surprised if things had changed for the better as one might have hoped. I am upset to find th ...more
Becky
My favorite thing about Susan Faludi is the strength and accuracy of her BS-o-meter. My next favorite thing is her brilliant writing. The sad thing to realize after reading this 20-year-old book is that she could write the same book -- with all new but similar material -- today.

*sigh*

Faludi laid the groundwork for many authors who followed. Twenty years ago, she wrote " ... women in the '70s who were assertive and persistent discovered that they could begin to change men's views. By vigorously c
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Elizabeth Hall Magill
So I just read Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, by Susan Faludi. I had this book on my list because I considered it required reading for anyone who wants to understand the current landscape of women’s rights; when the book was published in 1991, it was hailed as a feminist mythbuster, a possible catalyst for change. And indeed it should have been—this book demonstrates the ways in which culture (news and entertainment media, fashion, politics, and popular psychology) has push ...more
Kay
Since I'm in the process of making my way through the feminist cannon, I couldn't skip over this book. After reading it, I went back and re-read Amanda Marcotte's post on it in which she pointed out that this book is mostly about the reactionary 1980s even though it came out in 1991. Now, more than 20 years later, some of the things Faludi talks about remain so relevant.

Marcotte writes, "I do know that feminist blogging as we know it owes more to this book than anything." And it's certainly tru
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Kimberly
I tried to read this book 20 years too late, me thinks. Faludi relies on a lot of 80's media references to support her theory of backlash against the feminist movement of the 1970's. I was born in 1981 and unfortunately I'm only vaguely familiar with most of the statistics, events, and movies that Faludi discusses in Backlash. And I'm not really that motivated to sit with wikipedia open while I read this book and bring myself up-to-speed with the media happenings of the decade of my birth. Why i ...more
Geraldine
My edition, borrowed from the Enoch Pratt, is 23 years old! I can't wait to learn how little we have progressed since I was 8 years old.
Beth
So incredibly readable. I love the analysis she provides of tv and film. This is definitely a feminist text to be reckoned with. It is most definitely lengthy, but I think each chapter can be read on its own and in no particular order.
Chris
Okay I can't really write a review because it seems like everything Faludi talked about is happening again.

I need to buy an island.
Sarah
Aug 09, 2010 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: burgeoning feminists, or anyone who simply enjoys being pissed off
Shelves: 2010
In "Backlash: The Undeclared War against American Women," Susan Faludi asserts that each wave of significant advances in women’s rights has been met with a societal backlash, and then spends 400+ pages exhaustively outlining examples of just such a backlash. Case studies range from examples within the media, to politics, to the private sector, to academia. No part of American culture is left unexamined. While it can grow numbingly repetitive after awhile, the examples she gives are no less infur ...more
Tony duncan
May 09, 2008 Tony duncan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: feminists
Shelves: politics
An excellent analysis of the reacion against feminism in the United States. She gives many specific examples that support her argument that media and popular culture were used to undermine important elements of equality fro woman. it is well researched and well written.

I only give it four stars because I don't think she looked fully enough at the ways feminism has been misunderstood and abused feminists who were reacting against oppression and distorted valuable elements in ways that could be ef
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Lily
AMAZING.

Amazing and shocking. This was such a page turner, each example more infuriating than the last. Detailing every aspect of American society in the 80s, Susan Faludi sheds light on the completely false trends of the man shortage, baby panic, and the evil working woman in the backlash against the women's movement of the 70s, everything from media and entertainment, to politics and real life or death situations. The injustice!! If I wasn't a flaming feminist before, I sure am now! This was s
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Lara
This is an excellent book, a Feminine Mystique for the 1980s. Faludi discusses every aspect of American culture - movies, music, television, fashion, makeup, employment, politics, reproductive rights - and calculatingly tears apart the detractors of feminism, revealing the subtle and covert war waged against women in the 1980s.

Despite this book's being twenty years old, I found it very pertinent to today's world. The past decade has certainly been a time of backlash, ranging from the heavily sex
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Maxine
Would rate four and a half stars. There's a reason this book coined a new phrase: well-written, hard-hitting and deeply researched, I couldn't put it down.
It may be a bit dated now (all the data comes from the time period, largely the 80's), but the book fully addresses the myths of femininity which any woman would recognize; that fulfillment is found in relationships and child-rearing; that the "biological clock" can't be denied; that working women are always miserable and we "can't have it al
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Debra
The women’s movement has had a long and controversial history, and opinions about it over the last century are varied. In the late 70’s, popular culture was applauding women for achieving equality, even stating that the Equal Rights Amendment was no longer needed. Women, they said, had it all. But did they? Media, academics, and others started asking, if women are liberated then why are they so miserable? Politicians, media, and popular culture soon decided that liberation itself was causing the ...more
Sara
Nov 08, 2008 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Feminists
Many people believe that men are the more superior gender; women are dependent on men, they depend on their husbands to earn money and to help support the family. However if you are a feminist, this is a perfect book for you! Backlash, challenges this idea of whether women are really dependent on men; and also questions how independent a woman can be. Does a woman really need to be married in order to survive? How powerful is a woman? Moreover, Backlash juxtaposes the different types of women ou ...more
E
Am I glad I barely recall my first decade on earth - the '80s. One doesn't need to remember much to have the feeling that the country was caught up in a materialist, conservative bacchanal that cried, "Let's feel good again! Stop being so angry and caring about politics/equality! Just go shop and you'll be happy!" Faludi is dead-on in declaring it the era of the Backlash.

She deserves a lot of credit for the depth of her research and the unforgiving tenacity of her thesis in an oppressive time th
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Kaethe
This is one of the most important books of feminism I've read, because, like The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, it addresses how disparate people with disparate motivations create oppression. It doesn't have to be a conspiracy to work like one. Actually, it can't be, because conspiracies just don't work out very well.
Jake
There isn't much I can say that hasn't already been written about this truly ground-breaking text. Faludi skewers the anti-feminist culture and hegemony that dominates American society in every facet, from films to fashion to blue collar discrimination. I devoured the book over the course of a week or two, truly enjoying every single chapter, contorting my face at the horrors experienced by women during the Reagan years. My only complaint? In a few of the chapters, Faludi tends to skew more towa ...more
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  • Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape
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  • Sexual Politics
  • The Art of Fiction
  • Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
  • Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement
  • Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future
  • Fat Is a Feminist Issue
  • How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America
  • For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts' Advice to Women
  • Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women
  • Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
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  • The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
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Susan C. Faludi (born April 18, 1959) is an American humanist, journalist and author. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1991, for a report on the leveraged buyout of Safeway Stores, Inc., a report that the Pulitzer Prize committee commended for depicting the "human costs of high finance".

Faludi was born to a Jewish family in Queens, New York in 1959 and grew up in Yorktown Hei
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Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America Takaisku: julistamaton sota naisia vastaan Women on the Verge!: Susan Faludi and Molly Ivins in Conversation Hedda Gabler

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“The "feminine" woman is forever static and childlike. She is like the ballerina in an old-fashioned music box, her unchanging features tiny and girlish, her voice tinkly, her body stuck on a pin, rotating in a spiral that will never grow.” 27 likes
“Are you still as angry as you used to be?' Julia, the World War II resistance fighter, asked Lillian Hellman in the biographical [movie] Julia. "I like your anger…. Don't you let anyone talk you out of it.” 0 likes
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