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Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  7,502 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
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 ...more
Published November 5th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1991)
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Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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".
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jul 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
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.
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.

Elizabeth Hall
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
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
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentreads
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
Teresa Raetz
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminist
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.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sheree Wood
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of the best feminist tomes of all time. Actually, I would call it brilliant. I read it when it was first published in 1991 and 24 years later, this book is still (sadly) relevant. Backlash comes to my mind at least a couple of times a month when I note, again and again, how Ms. Faludi was spot on with her observations of how the media and other forces push back against any (and I mean, any) moves for women to gain equality. Read this book and your eyes will be opened to the myriad and multit ...more
May 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
L.E. Duncan
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Backlash's primary fascination is as a narrative of a narrative; the story spun in the 1980s and early 90s in a thousand ways, implicit and explicit, that women are unhappy in the workforce or are somehow warped by the workforce and are best off safely at home. Feminism was the villain in this tale, an insidious pressure on women to "have it all" and to reject their nature. For a woman to work is to erode her best qualities, to year by year become more and more a portrait of a neurotic breakdown ...more
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Faludi's book which was published in 1991, she explains that women are twice as likely to draw no pension, that the average woman's salary lags as far behind as 20 years ago, that the average female college graduate earn less than males with a high school diploma and that the average female high school graduaate earns less than the male high school dropout. Why do American women face one of the worst gender-based pay gaps in the developed world? Why are nearly 80% of working women still stuck ...more
Mar 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 27, 2011 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, 1990s
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
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-give-up
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
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tabitha Moonshine
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This book is great and I wish everyone would read it. I’m sure someone could find a fault in it, but in terms of consciousness-raising it’s perfect. It was printed in 1991 so it may not seem as relevent 20 yrs later but I assure you it is. Even without the feminist focus, it’s helpful in realizing how much power the media holds and how it can use that power to oppress minority groups or change the way people think. Check it out!
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book is required reading for anyone who considers her/himself a feminist. While this book describes in depth the regressive trends in politics, pop culture, and many other arenas in the late 80's that were oppressive and destructive towards women, it's frightening to see how some things really haven't changed very much at all since then.
This book was written in 1991 and, sadly, it has become more relevant rather than less. The Backlash Decade has turned into four decades and the Decade of the Woman is still yet to be seen. Diligence, support and a united front are what's called for. We could still put and end to the backlash and assaults on women.
Seems appropriate to read now in the current political climate of extreme chauvinist backlast against female politians. We saw it in Hilary Clinton, now in Sarah Palin. Both conservatives and liberals are apparently guilty of falling back on the good ol' misogyny whenever convenient. I am equally disgusted with all. So I'm looking for a little historical context as comfort food.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wondering where the backlash against womyn came from this decade? Read this book. The backlash has always been with us and will always be with us. The good news? The backlash can be sent into full-fledged retreat. It's a bully. And what happens when you stand up to a bully? Yes, that's right, the bully almost always backs down and sometimes even flees.
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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.” 37 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.” 7 likes
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