Susan Faludi

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Susan Faludi
Susan Faludi.JPG
Susan Charlotte Faludi

(1959-04-18) April 18, 1959 (age 63)
New York City, U.S.
EducationHarvard University
Known forBacklash

Susan Charlotte Faludi (/fəˈldi/; born April 18, 1959) is an American feminist,[1][2] 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". She was also awarded the Kirkus Prize in 2016 for In the Darkroom, which was also a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in biography.[3][4]

Biographical information[edit]

Faludi was born in 1959 in Queens, New York, and grew up in Yorktown Heights, New York. She was born to Marilyn (Lanning), a homemaker and journalist, and Stefánie Faludi (then known as Steven Faludi, and born István Friedman), who was a photographer.[5][6] Stefánie Faludi had emigrated from Hungary, was Jewish, and a survivor of the Holocaust; she eventually came out as a transgender woman and later died in 2015.[5] Susan Faludi has dual US-Hungarian citizenship.[7] Faludi's maternal grandfather was also Jewish.[5] Susan graduated from Harvard University with an AB summa cum laude in 1981, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and wrote for The Harvard Crimson, and became a journalist, writing for The New York Times, Miami Herald, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, San Jose Mercury News, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Throughout the eighties she wrote several articles on feminism and the apparent resistance to the movement. Seeing a pattern emerge, Faludi wrote Backlash, which was released in late 1991. In 2008–2009, Faludi was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study,[8] and during the 2013–2014 academic year, she was the Tallman Scholar in the Gender and Women's Studies Program at Bowdoin College.[9] She is married to fellow author Russ Rymer.[10] Since January 2013, Faludi has been a contributing editor at The Baffler magazine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1996, she was awarded honoris causa membership in Omicron Delta Kappa at SUNY Plattsburgh. In 2017, she was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Stockholm University in Sweden.[11]

Major works[edit]

External video
video icon Booknotes interview with Faludi on Backlash, October 25, 1992, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Faludi on Stiffed, September 25, 1999, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Faludi on Stiffed, November 20, 1999, C-SPAN
video icon After Words interview with Faludi on The Terror Dream, January 5, 2008, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Faludi on In the Darkroom, November 20, 2016, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by Faludi on In the Darkroom, September 29, 2018, C-SPAN


Susan Faludi's 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women argued that the 1980s saw a backlash against feminism, especially due to the spread of negative stereotypes against career-minded women. Faludi asserted that many who argue "a woman's place is in the home, looking after the kids" are hypocrites, since they have wives who are working mothers or, as women, they are themselves working mothers. This work won her the National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction in 1991.[12] The book has become a classic feminist text, warning women of every generation that the gains of feminism should not be taken for granted.[13] In 2014, high-profile women such as journalists Jill Abramson and Katha Pollitt, actress/writer Lena Dunham, and feminist novelist Roxane Gay, among many others, reread each of the chapters of the book and examined their contemporary relevance. In September 2015, included Backlash among its list of "25 Bestsellers from the last 25 years you simply must make time to read."[14] Reflecting on the legacy of the book in The New Yorker in July 2022, Molly Fischer called Backlash "an era-defining phenomenon" that "presented a damningly methodical assessment of women’s status in Reagan-era America."[15] Backlash has also been translated into several foreign languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, German, Finnish, Korean, and Italian.[16]


In Faludi's 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.[17]

The Terror Dream[edit]

In The Terror Dream, Faludi analyzes the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in light of prior American experience going back to insecurity on the historical American frontier such as in Metacom's Rebellion. Faludi argues that 9/11 reinvigorated in America a climate that is hostile to women. Women are viewed as weak and best suited to playing support roles for the men who protect them from attack.[18][19] The book was called a "tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned work that gives feminism a bad name" by The New York Times principal book reviewer Michiko Kakutani.[20] Another New York Times journalist, John Leonard, stated "In The Terror Dream a skeptical Faludi reads everything, second-guesses everybody, watches too much talking-head TV and emerges from the archives and the pulp id like an exorcist and a Penthesilea."[21] Sarah Churchwell in The Guardian says, "Ultimately Faludi is guilty of her own exaggerations and mythmaking, strong-arming her argument into submission."[22] On the other hand, Kirkus Reviews claimed that the book was a "rich, incisive analysis of the surreality of American life in the wake of 9/11" and that it was "brilliant, illuminating and essential."[23] Reviewing the book for Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan praised Faludi for her "characteristic restraint and depth of research" and for her "rigorous insistence on truth".[24]

In the Darkroom[edit]

Faludi's most recent book, published in 2016, is In the Darkroom with Henry Holt & Co; it is about the "fluidity and binaries" of "modern transsexuality", inspired by Faludi's father coming out as a transgender woman.[25] Writing in The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg called Faludi's book a "rich, arresting and ultimately generous investigation of her father."[26] Writing in The Guardian, Rachel Cooke described the book as "an elegant masterpiece" and "a searching investigation of identity barely disguised as a sometimes funny and sometimes very painful family saga."[27] In the Darkroom won the 2016 Kirkus Prize for nonfiction[28] and was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Biography.[29] The book has been translated into multiple foreign languages, including Spanish, Italian, German, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Turkish, Dutch, and Chinese.[30]

Faludi and feminism[edit]

Faludi has rejected the claim advanced by critics that there is a "rigid, monolithic feminist 'orthodoxy,'"[31] noting in response that she has disagreed with Gloria Steinem about pornography and Naomi Wolf about abortion.

Like Gloria Steinem,[32][33] 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."[34] 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".[31]



  • Faludi, Susan (1991). Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. New York: Crown.
  • Faludi, Susan (1999). Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. New York: William Morrow.
  • Faludi, Susan (2007). The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. New York: Metropolitan Books.
  • Faludi, Susan (2016). In the Darkroom. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Essays and reporting[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (June 16, 2016). "Susan Faludi's 'In the Darkroom'". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Dean, Michelle (June 17, 2016). "Susan Faludi: the feminist writer on trans issues, Donald Trump and masculinity". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "C. E. Morgan". 2016 Kirkus Prize Winner in Fiction. February 29, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  4. ^ "Biography: winners and finalists for the Pulitzer Prize". February 29, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Susan Faludi. "Susan Faludi: getting to know my father, the woman | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  6. ^ "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women – Nonfiction Classics for Students". April 18, 1959. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  7. ^ Susan Faludi (December 5, 2016). "Susan Faludi: Hungary's sharp rightward turn is a warning to America". The Guardian. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  8. ^ Susan Faludi's Radcliffe Webpage: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Abby McBride (June 13, 2013). "Bowdoin Welcomes Writer Susan Faludi as Tallman Scholar".
  10. ^ "AT HOME WITH: Susan Faludi and Russ Rymer; Sympathy for Men, Empathy With One". The New York Times. October 21, 1999.
  11. ^ Honorary Doctorates 2017: Archived October 23, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Faludi, Susan (October 1, 1991). Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. Crown. ISBN 0-517-57698-8.
  13. ^ Irin Carmon (July 25, 2014). "Welcome to Backlash Book Club".
  14. ^ Crystal Paul (September 29, 2015). "25 Bestsellers from the last 25 years you simply must make time to reread". Bustle.
  15. ^ Molly Fischer, "The Real Backlash Never Ended" The New Yorker, July 21, 2022
  16. ^ Selected Foreign Language Editions of Backlash
  17. ^ Faludi, Susan (October 1, 2000). Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-380-72045-0.
  18. ^ Faludi, Susan (October 2, 2007). The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 978-0-8050-8692-8.
  19. ^ Faludi, Susan (September 7, 2007). "America's Guardian Myths". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  20. ^ Michiko Kakutani (October 23, 2007). "9/11 Is Seen as Leading to an Attack on Women". The New York Times. Review of Susan Faludi (2007). The Terror Dream. ISBN 9780805086928.
  21. ^ John Leonard (October 14, 2007). "Macho Security State". The New York Times.
  22. ^ "We're at war, sweetheart". The Guardian. March 22, 2008. The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi, a persuasive analysis of post-9/11 sexism, is in danger of losing its way, says Sarah Churchwell
  23. ^ "Review: The Terror Dream". Kirkus Reviews.
  24. ^ Corrigan, Maureen (November 6, 2007). "Susan Faludi Slams Media, Myths in 'Terror Dream'". NPR.
  25. ^ Cronn, Kirstin (June 14, 2016). "IN THE DARKROOM by Susan Faludi". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  26. ^ Michelle Goldberg, "Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom," The New York Times, June 16, 2016.
  27. ^ Rachel Cooke, "In the Darkroom Review - An Elegant Masterpiece," The Guardian, June 19, 2016
  28. ^ Kirkus Prize 2016 Winners
  29. ^ In the Darkroom, 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography
  30. ^ Selected Foreign Language Editions of In the Darkroom
  31. ^ a b Faludi, Susan (May 13, 1997). "Revisionist Feminism: Entry 3". Dialogues: E-mail debates of newsworthy topics. Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  32. ^ Mother Jones. "Gloria Steinem" Archived December 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Melissa Denes (January 16, 2005). "Feminism? It's Hardly Begun". The Guardian.
  34. ^ Conniff, Ruth (June 1993). "Susan Faludi – feminist author – Interview", The Progressive.

External links[edit]