Susan Faludi - The Terror Dream (3 stars)

Susan Faludi -



Susan Faludi has gained a fearsome reputation for her analysis of gender politics, the state of America and political horseplay. And after making her name with Backlash and Stiffed, she has now chucked all three into one discursive melting pot to attack the mores and attitudes of patriarchal USA in the wake of 9/11. For Faludi, not only was that fateful day an assault on the freedoms which ordinary Americans took for granted within their own borders and on their own streets, it signalled a rush to condemn feminism and the feminisation of maledom in western society.

The central metaphor of the Twin Towers (representing phallic machismo) had been replaced with a gaping void (the vaginal presence of Ground Zero) and it was all those pesky women’s libbers fault for making men less manly and leaving the country exposed to such brutal violations. It seems the kind of absurd knee-jerk reaction which should be destroyed in a single broadsheet editorial, but Faludi takes 300 pages to rip it apart while drawing parallels between US history (Salem, McCarthyism, the two Bushes) and the modern demonisation of women as victims who needed saving by male rescuers.

The events of 9/11 seemed to distil centuries of hostility towards womanhood and brought about a clarion call for a return to the Wild West ethics of the John Wayne brand of Americana. While Faludi has reams of evidence to show just how much America began to find justification for hating women, the acres of misogynistic anecdotes eventually swamp the reader and muddy the waters of her central thrust.

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