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From Barnes & NobleWhat's Wrong with Men?
I won't tell you too much about the purpose of Stiffed; the excerpt here that opens the book does an excellent job of laying out the scope of Susan Faludi's research and what motivated her to undertake it. I also will not reveal the evidence Faludi found in her years of research that support her theory that we have evolved a culture and false mythology that damages men and the roles they play in society. Faludi is a meticulous and complete reporter, and any attempt from me to distill into a few short paragraphs the work she packs into 606 pages of prose and 39 more of notes would do a thorough disservice to the book.
I can tell you what I feel about Faludi, however. When I read Backlash: The Undeclared War on American Women back in 1991, I, as a young journalist, recognized it as one of the best pieces of reporting I had ever read. No, Faludi had not risked her life at the front lines of a war, painted a moving portrait of hope in poverty, or performed any of the other tricks the media use to add emotion to the coverage of issues, invariably blurring the discussion. What she had done was much more impressive. Using facts and statistics, reams and reams of them, she painted a shocking and utterly convincing portrait of a culture and an economy at war with 53 percent of the population. She destroyed myths about "the man shortage" as thoroughly as she documented the increasing wage gap between men and women.
Now, and in no small part because of the effect Faludi's own earlier work had on me, I approach Stiffed with some apprehension. Men still run almost all of the nation's largest companies and dominate all of the state and federal legislatures. Men still earn more than women.
But it turns out that these are not really the men Faludi is talking about. Just as, at the time Backlash came out, there were women living lives of success and influence that could be used to refute the general argument, so too are the men who run the country exceptions to the rules Faludi lays out for the lives of the average American male. She looks at the majority of men who have little economic power, little or no public influence, and nothing but falsely constructed images of the successful American man of the past to try to live up to, something they can't do. And once again, Faludi has amazed me with her ability to expose the fault lines of our society.
To detail more would be to try to mirror Faludi's expertise, which I can't. So I'll let her take over. This excerpt is from the opening of the first chapter.