Are women finally equal to men in the modern United States? Is rape and physical abuse against women increasing? Are there as many strong, positive roles for women on TV and in film as for men? Does the epidemic of anorexia and bulimia in young girls reflect society’s view of women? Do American women have more freedom now than in the 1950’s? Why is the ritual castration of women (A ceremony where a young girl’s clitoris is cut off, usually by a male family member without any medical knowledge on the rise in some cultures?
The book’s main focus is the author’s theory about what happens in a society after it experiences a cultural identity shift. She describes society as a pendulum that swings forward (for example the civil rights movement) and then back again ( a wave of rising violence against African Americans as people reject and fear the empowerment of that segment of society), or: a backlash.
In specific, Susan Faludi describes the feminist pro-women culture of the seventies and the heated backlash of antifeminism in the eighties and nineties. She convincingly proves that the resulting backlash of the sixties and seventies feminist movement is actually more pervasive and widespread throughout American society than the former movement.
Even thou this book was written over a decade ago, it is still as valid today as it was then. A recent example of backlash might be the singular treatment of Martha Stewart who was sentenced to jail time for a relatively minor offense, especially compared to the men involved in the Enron scandal, who, for the most part, did not receive jail time or the public scrutiny that Martha Stewart did.
Backlash is a book that not only tells the story of feminism in America within the last century, but also teaches the reader to look at what is behind the movie images and magazine ads. It teaches the reader to differentiate between what is true and what is purely a reaction to the truth. The reader is soon taught to recognize societal trends and patterns that go far beyond feminism to many other beliefs and ideas.