Today is the birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist Susan Faludi (1959) (books by this author), born in Queens. She won the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism (1991) for a report in The Wall Street Journal (1990) detailing the leveraged buyout of Safeway Stores, but she’s best known for a series of nonfiction books that examine the role of women in today’s society.
Faludi’s mother was a homemaker and a journalist. Her father was a photographer who immigrated to America after surviving the Holocaust. Faludi wrote for The Harvard Crimson at Harvard and after graduating, she wrote regularly for The New York Times, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal.
In the 1980s, Faludi read a cover story in Newsweek (1986) that alleged that the marital prospects of single, career-educated women were bleak. She found the statistics faulty, so she began investigating other female-centered stories that were being sensationally promoted by the media. She proposed a book based on her research and was met with silence from the publishing industry, except for one publishing house. Even so, on the eve of publication, a marketing executive for Faludi’s publisher told her the book was going to tank because “1992 is going to be the year of the man.”
The publishing executive was wrong. When Backlash: The War Against Women (1992) was published, it spent nine months on the New York Times best-seller list. The book came out during the Anita Hill hearings, and the largest pro-choice rally ever held was happening in Washington. Women were eager for her book. Faludi shared the cover of Time magazine with feminist icon Gloria Steinem and received a windfall of letters. Most of them began, “I thought I was the only one who felt this way.” The book became required reading in college and is considered a seminal feminist text.
Faludi went on to write Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (1999), which is about the culture of masculinity in American society. For research, Faludi hung out in locker rooms, job clubs, Promise Keeper rallies, and Marine recruiting stations. She received criticism from the feminist movement for focusing on men, but she shrugged it off, saying: “I don’t see how you can be a feminist and not think about men. In order for women to live freely, men have to live freely, too. Being a feminist opens your eyes to the ways men, like women, are imprisoned in cultural stereotypes.”