Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The journalist and author Susan Faludi (fuh-LEWD-ee) was born to Steven Faludi, a Hungarian-born Jewish photographer, and Marilyn Faludi, who became a writer and editor after her divorce in 1976. Susan and her younger brother, Rob, grew up in an Irish and Italian neighborhood in Yorktown Heights, New York. Their parents’ politically liberal convictions were an important early influence.
Already as a child Faludi was interested in politics, as when she polled classmates in fifth grade on such debated issues as the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion rights, and the Vietnam War. In high school, she edited the student paper and delivered a socially conscious valedictorian speech. Her history and literature studies at Harvard University were financed by an Elks scholarship, and in 1981 she graduated summa cum laude and received an Oliver Dabney History Award for her senior thesis. During her college years, Faludi gained practical experience as managing editor at the Harvard Crimson, as intern reporter for the daily Staten Island Advance, and as a stringer for The Boston Globe.
After graduation Faludi held positions at a number of American newspapers and also freelanced. From 1981 to 1982 she worked as a news and copy editor for The New York Times, in 1983 she joined the Miami Herald’s suburban bureau, and in 1984 she accepted a general-reporting position at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. After being awarded first prize for news reporting and feature reporting from the Georgia Associated Press in 1985, Faludi spent the next four years on the West Coast, where she received many honors for her pieces in Mother Jones, Ms., California Business, and West, the Sunday magazine for the San Jose Mercury News. Among those honors were awards and citations from Women in Communication, the Columbia Journalism Review, the...
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Susan Faludi stepped into the spotlight in 1991 with the publication of Backlash, a work that became a controversial best-seller and gained her a nomination for the National Book Critics Circle award. As editor of her high school newspaper, Faludi challenged school meetings of born-again Christian students and teachers, maintaining that they violated church-state separation. Following her article’s publication, the meetings were halted. At Harvard University, where she edited the student newspaper, she wrote a story about sexual harassment on campus. Despite efforts by an accused professor and a dean to stop publication, the article was printed and the professor was asked to take a leave of absence. Following graduation, Faludi served as a copy clerk for The New York Times. She also worked as a reporter for The Miami Herald and The Atlanta Constitution. In 1990, she began work with the Wall Street Journal.
Faludi gained immediate attention for her incisive investigative work, including a critique of the Reagan Administration budget for its cuts to poor children, an exposé of California’s Silicone Valley corporations’ dismissal of older employees in favor of younger, more cost-effective workers, and her series on the impact of the leveraged buyout of Safeway Stores, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991.
Although Backlash was favorably reviewed by many critics, some maintained that no backlash even exists. Faludi feels that many who criticized her thesis were criticizing a book she had not written. She claims emphatically that her book is not an antiman diatribe. The tremendous detail of evidence compiled by Faludi served to convince most readers. Her style is that of a reporter. Some people tried to cast her in the role of new spokeswoman for the women’s movement: To such attempts, Faludi replied that she did not wish to have such a role. She expressed the desire that her accomplishment be measured by the extent that Backlash armed women with information and a good dose of cynicism.
In an interview in Time magazine, Faludi pointed out that although popular culture tries to turn women into victims, women resisted, not buying the clothes they were told they liked and that they should fit into and not rushing out to be married at eighteen.
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Faludi, Susan. “Male-ady.” Interview by Paula Chin. People Weekly 52, no. 16 (October 25, 1999): 16, 143-145. Faludi discusses the issues she addresses in Stiffed.
Faludi, Susan. “The Mother Jones Interview: Susan Faludi.” Interview by Sue Halpern. Mother Jones 24, no. 5 (September/October, 1999): 36. This interview goes beyond a discussion of Stiffed as Faludi looks at other social topics.
Faludi, Susan, and Gloria Steinem. “How to Revive a Revolution.” Interview by Nancy Gibbs and Jeanne McDowell. Time, March 9, 1992, 56-57. An insightful interview. An essay by Gibbs, “The War Against Feminism,” can be found in the same issue.
Gibbs, Nancy, and Jeanne McDowell. “How to Revive a Revolution.” Time, March 9, 1992, 56-57.
Lehrman, Karen. “The Feminist Mystique.” The New Republic, March 16, 1992, 30-34. A review of Backlash that takes issue with many of Faludi’s conclusions.