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The Big Answer

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Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

a book by Susan Faludi

(our site's book review)

The author is a Wall Street Journal reporter that’s keeping score regarding the gender war part of the cultural wars. She is pro-women and she is upset by the backlash that’s happened since women started getting more rights, respect and opportunities, a backlash that is not an organized conspiracy but a trend led mostly by conservative males, but participated in by almost all segments of the population, from the media to the courts.

She points out that the danger of kids getting sexually molested is twice as high in homes as it is in day care. And beatings are far more likely there too. She also looks at the fact that the vast majority of studies relating to day care have shown either no effects or positive effects, but that the media (in the 80s and early 90s) emphasized the few studies that seemed to be the most critical and suspicious of day care, using very suspect statistics to back their points. Such media reports relied not on science but on folklore. And of course this all adds up because information is power and whoever controls the means of communication (white conservative males) gets to guide the message.

Childcare at a daycare center
Childcare at a daycare center

Scientific evidence supported a pro-feminist position with regards to nearly everything, but somehow the media managed to promote and anti-feminist agenda. “Trend stories” were one of the ways the media spread misinformation that furthered anti-feminist agendas: cooking statistics or taking them out of context or from a quick, statistically meaningless poll, there were many stories in the 80s and early 90s about “women returning to the home” and related nonsense. These served to isolate and undermine feminists who began to feel helpless and alone.

She blames the New Right for the insidious idea that it was the women’s movement that was responsible for women’s unhappiness. She points out the biggest hypocrites are the right-wing activists in the conservative Christian women's activist group Concerned Women for America, who have good jobs in their organization but issue bogus, disingenuous press releases about women leaving the workplace and returning to the home.

No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War!
No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War!

Faludi claims that there were many think tanks that supported the backlash against women, using all kinds of ridiculous statistics and pseudoscience to back their thinly disguised agendas. She also looks at all the dozens of abortion clinic bombings, arson, harassment, kidnapping, etc., putting the blame for instigation of these crimes on the shoulders of the Radical Right fundamentalists who’ve brought the tone of their anti-abortion stance to hysteria to further their own political Culture Wars agenda.

Abortion clinic bomber
Abortion clinic bomber

Her book sees a few too many conspiracies and misses the great strides women have been making, especially in job positions, in the last couple of decades, but, in general, she rightly takes the male-dominator faction to task for not giving women the equality they deserve but, instead, acting like early primate Alpha males defending their dominant status. A much better book on the feminist cause can be found in the wise and wonderful, compassionate and courageous instant classic from Gloria Steinem: Revolution from Within.

Alpha male gorilla
Alpha male gorilla