Susan Faludi is an American investigative journalist known for her writings on feminism. She etches out a compelling version of feminism that compassionately addresses the problems of capitalist, consumerist culture, acknowledging their effects on both men and women.
The following are some of her positions on various issues:
Faludi has rejected 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.
Like Gloria Steinem, Faludi has criticized the obscurantism prevalent in academic feminist theorizing, saying, “There’s this sort of narrowing specialization and use of coded, elitist language of deconstruction or New Historicism or whatever they’re calling it these days, which is to my mind impenetrable and not particularly useful.” She 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”.
In her 1999 book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man Faludi analyzes the state of the American man. Faludi argues that while many of those in power are men, most individual men have little power. American men have been brought up to be strong, support their families and work hard. But many men who followed this now find themselves underpaid or unemployed, disillusioned and abandoned by their wives. Changes in American society have affected both men and women, Faludi concludes, and it is wrong to blame individual men for class differences, or for plain differences in individual luck and ability, that they did not cause and from which men and women suffer alike.
The common theme that runs through the book is that men have attempted to live up to the expectations of masculinity established in post-World War II America, only to find society not living up to its end of the bargain as globalization, downsizing and other economic pressures have made it difficult for men to live up to their expected roles as providers. At the same time she applies a feminist critique to these expectations, while noting that the feminist critique of the rise of an ornamental culture applies to men as much as women: As the culture has shifted toward an ornamental one in which awards, popular culture symbols of ideal masculinity, and economic bottom lines have become the societal norms of success, ordinary men are losing self-esteem and a sense of purpose.
Class and anti-feminism
In a review of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, Gayle Greene discusses Faludi’s documenting of factory closures, the move to a service oriented economy and the millions of lost jobs for blue-collar workers. She says “Faludi’s analysis accounts for not only anti-feminism but for the resurgence of racism and explains why the most virulent expressions of both have tended to come from those hurting from social and ecomomic dislocation.”
Featured Image: The Guardian