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Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  5,774 ratings  ·  171 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
Paperback, 594 pages
Published August 15th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published 1991)
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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".
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.
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
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
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
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
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
First Thoughts: This book shows how LITTLE things have changed since the 80's/90's. How much we still have left to do.

To put this in perspective, I was born in 1989, and this book was published in 1991. This book was published about TWENTY-THREE years ago.

This book made me angry, and also depressed me at times, because of the above statement.

I had to put it down for a while because I couldn't handle it all in one dose.

I suggest reading my updates for quotes.

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.
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
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
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.


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
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
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
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
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.
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.
You look at this book, my edition was published in 1992 and you kinda ask what relevance there is to this book, I mean it's over 20 years old, yeah, and we've learned nothing. We're revisiting the same old tired shite again and again, being told that feminism is over, that people are tired of hearing about it that we have equality, why are we still fighting?

Because 20 years later we still:

Have inequity in wages
Have poor representation in TV and film and if we speak out less than men in debates w
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
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
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
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.
Karina Vargas
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women : ¡4 estrellas!

¡Qué libro! Confieso que al principio lo subestimé y leía todo con cierta incredulidad, pero la realidad lo supera todo. Lo primero que quiero decir es que este libro debe ser leído por todos, y más aún si sos una mujer.
No voy a hacer un análisis completo, porque creo que soy capaz de contarlo todo (y no sería suficiente tampoco); me voy a basar en mi experiencia personal.
Backlash se publicó en 1991 y hace referencia a la vida de las muj
Read the original version in 1991/92 and the rating reflects the strength of impact it had on my book group and me at the time. It remains one of the more meaningful and memorable discussions in over 20 years. Well researched and unfortunately continues to be relevant.
Thomas Strömquist
So this very well known book actually got 20 years old before I got around to reading it. By now it can of course, in addition to its original validity, be read as a time document as well.

In building the case for a backlash against feminism and women's lib, it is a lot of hits and a few misses in the book. The misses are comprised by making the classical error of applying statistics based on a huge number of people on a single anecdotal example on a number of occasions. Secondly, a number of un
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

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
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
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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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
More about Susan Faludi...
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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.” 29 likes
“The anti-feminism bacllash has been set off not by women's achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a pre-emptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finishing line.” 1 likes
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