This 20th-anniversary edition of the extraordinary New York Times bestseller features a new introduction from the author!
"Stiffed is a brilliant, important book.. Faludi's reportorial and literary skills unfold with breathtaking confidence and beauty... She goes a long way toward eliminating the black and white, good and evil, male and female polarities that have riven the sexes in the past three decades..." –Time
In 1991, internationally renowned feminist journalist Susan Faludi ignited a revival of the women’s movement with her revelatory investigative reportage: Backlash was nothing less than a landmark, uncovering an “undeclared war” against women’s equality in the media, advertising, Hollywood, the workplace, and government—a war that is still being fought today.
Stiffed may be even more essential than Backlash to understanding the cultural riptides that led to Trumpian America. Here, Faludi turns her attention to the so-called “Angry Male” politics plaguing the nation. Through deeply researched, nuanced, and empathetic character studies of distressed industrial workers, laid-off aerospace engineers, combat veterans, football fans, evangelical husbands, suburban and inner-city teenage boys, and Hollywood and porn actors, Stiffed goes beyond the easy explanations of male misbehavior—that it’s driven by chromosomes or hormones—to lay bare the powerful social and economic forces that have shattered the postwar compact defining American manhood. Faludi’s vivid storytelling illuminates the historic and traumatic paradigm shift from a “utilitarian” manliness, grounded in civic and communal service, to an “ornamental” masculinity shaped by entertainment, marketing, and performance values.
Read in the light of Trumpian politics and the #MeToo movement, Faludi’s analysis speaks acutely to our present crisis, and to a foreboding future. Stiffed delivers a searing portrait of modern-day male America, and traces the provenance of a gender war that continues to rage, unabated.
While it offers nothing like the eloquent argument she made in Backlash, Faludi's examination of what she dubs the "masculinity crisis" does present a series of thoughtful interviews and fly-on-the wall journalistic excursions into the company of men. Faludi finds that American men are looking for metaphorical Viagra to cure an impotence beyond the literal kind. And sometimes, she argues, they are looking in the wrong places, becoming the proverbial "angry white males." Laid-off aerospace and naval shipyard workers, magazine editors and football fans, patriots and Promise Keepers are struggling to define manhood. Faludi aims wide in targeting the sources of the masculine malaise, citing everything from "the remote-control methods of a military-industrial economy" to "the feminization of an onrushing celebrity culture." Boomers and postboomers, deprived of the heroic status of their WWII veteran dads and having had their sense of virtue eroded by the chastisements of feminism, are trying to find "a route to manhood through the looking glass." As Faludi exhaustively documents the struggles of incredible shrinking men with the "post-cold-war restructuring of the economy," she suggests that the core of the problem is that men have lost "a useful role in public life, a way of earning a decent and reliable living, appreciation in the home, respectful treatment in the culture." Faludi concludes by exhorting men to stop thinking of masculinity as a quality detached from their humanity: "their task is not, in the end, to figure out how to be masculine--rather, their masculinity lies in figuring out how to be human." This admonition--be a mensch!--is a sensible way to close a book that proceeds less by well-shaped argument than by the accumulation of anecdotes and Faludi's intelligent, interpretive forays into the lives of men.