Susan Faludi

#womenshistoryProfilesMarch 26, 2022

Susan Faludi’s writings on feminist, LGBTQIA, and social justice issues and her keen observances on the backlash against feminism in the 1980s made her an integral voice in the feminist movement.

Faludi’s feminist beliefs formed during an impressionable time in her life: the divorce of her parents. Wrought with tension and violence, the experience drove Faludi to seek understanding about the world around her and feminism provided a solid framework.

She explored gender constructs in her 1991 book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, a classic feminist text, and followed in 1999 with Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, which closely examined masculinity in the 20th century United States. (She also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for her depiction of the “human cost of high finance” in a Wall Street Journal story chronicling the leveraged buyout of Safeway stores.)

Faludi’s interest in examining identities was deeply influenced by her experiences as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who later identified as transgender. Her work, In the Darkroom, focused on the transition of her father and delved into the constructs of identity. It earned the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction and had the blessing of her family.

“You can’t see one identity in isolation from all the others,” Faludi said. “Identity becomes a dangerous proposition when it’s used as a substitute for self-­awareness, for an acknowledgment of psychological complexity.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Faludi is quoted as saying: ““I feel very much in tune with the newer generation of trans advocates who view gender on a spectrum, who read the ‘trans’ in transgender not as transitioning from one gender to another but transcending the whole mishegoss,” she added. “I’m all for smashing the gender binary.””

A first-generation undergraduate at Harvard University, Faludi is now a visiting lecturer at the institution and offers additional support for first-generation students.

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