Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Backlash: The New York Times Savages New Faludi Book 
Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.

The Times didn't see fit to cover Lt. Michael Murphy's Medal of Honor. But they found room in the paper for their reliably liberal reviewer to tear Faludi a new asshole for her (apparent) abortion of a book.

I'll leave it to Kakutani, who wastes no time in cutting to the bone in her fin her first paragraph:

This, sadly, is the sort of tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned book that gives feminism a bad name.

Then again, feminist writers have been able to get away with anything, thanks to the kind of muddleheaded intellectual slobs that make up most of the commenters on Feministing.

With “The Terror Dream,” Susan Faludi has taken the momentous subject of 9/11 and come to the conclusion that it led to ... an assault on the freedom and independence of American women. In the wake of 9/11, she argues, the great American cultural machine churned out a myth meant to “restore the image of an America invulnerable to attack” — “the illusion of a mythic America where women needed men’s protection and men succeeded in providing it.”

Well, it wasn't protection so much as women needed someone around who could open the pickle jar.

This girl-in-need-of-rescue paradigm, Ms. Faludi argues, dates back to frontier-days captivity narratives, which recounted the ordeals of settlers captured by Indians. She further contends that these narratives embodied the notion of shame (a “largely male burden, the result of recurring attacks in which the captivity of women and children served to spotlight male protective failures”), and that to counter this humiliation, there evolved redemption tales in which a maiden, taken against her will by “savages,” is rescued by a brawny white man.

This “mass dream,” Ms. Faludi goes on, “conceals the shaming memory, as it was meant to, but can’t expel it”: “The humiliating residue still circulates in our cultural bloodstream, awaiting provocation to bring it to the surface. And with each provocation, we salve our insecurities by invoking the same consoling formula of heroic men saving threatened women — even in provocations that have involved few women and no female captives, like the Revolutionary-era kidnapping of American sailors on the Barbary Coast. Or the terrorist attack on 9/11.”

Funny she should mention this. I was sitting in a communist beer hall/cafe in Miami, hanging out with a good friend of mine who says she'd love to live under Castro, and two college English profs, and talking about schools of literary criticism.

Look, I needed the money, ok!?!?!?!?!!?

Anyway, one of them said that he was a postmodernist, but not a deconstructionist NTTATWWT, and I let slip that I considered myself to be an archetypalist critic, if I had to pigeonhole myself. Like many who came before me, back into the earliest, embryonic stages of our cultural memory.

Long story.

Anyway, Faludi takes a page out of the archetypal critic's book here, which is surprising, because I figured archetypal criticism was one of the last vestiges of conservatism in literary criticism. But here is a liberal, applying an archetypal model on the explanation of history.

Of course, being a liberal, Faludi is therefore stupid, and makes a hash of the attempt. Being an archetypal critic doesn't mean you get to deliberately ignore evidence that doesn't fit your model, a cardinal intellectual sin for which Faludi is eviscerated by the Times.

(I much prefer Rebecca Onion's take on the female captivity narrative. But she never got back to me on that lunch date request.

Closing paragraph from Kakutani:

Not only are many of these assertions highly debatable in themselves, but Ms. Faludi’s overarching thesis in this book rings false too. In fact, her suggestion that the 9/11 attacks catalyzed the same fears and narrative impulses as those unleashed by our frontier ancestors’ “original war on terror,” leading to a muffling of feminist voices and a veneration of “the virtues of nesting,” runs smack up against her own “Backlash,” which suggested that similar assaults on women’s independence were being unleashed in the 1980s — a time not of war or threat but a decade that witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the coming end of the cold war.

Such errors of logic are typical of this ill-conceived and poorly executed book — a book that stands as one of the more nonsensical volumes yet published about the aftermath of 9/11.

I can't wait to read the response at Feministing!

Better put some ice on that, Susan.

Oops...was I being repressive? Soooooooory.

Newsbusters excoriates the Times for being so lovingly fellative (cunnilinguative?) during the hype phase of the book, having already devoted some 9 thousand words and several articles to Faludi's "splendid provocation" of a book that apparently no one had read yet, assuming the book reviewer gets the advances in the galley phase.

Why? How is this possible? Simple: Feminists and liberals can get away with intellectual and logical murder and the Times and their enablers will provide reliable cover.

Conservatives need to have 30 extra IQ points to get the same breaks that dumbass liberals with tired, predictable, and provably false ideas get.

If I were a liberal, the Democrats would have invited me to give the stupid Democratic Response to the Presidential Radio Address in 2004.

Shows how dumb they are.

Splash, out


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