Sunday, March 11, 2012

Susan Faludi, Backlash 10

In Susan Faludi's 1991 book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, I finished the chapter on fashion. Faludi talks about the decline in women buying sexy clothing (i.e., lingeries), as well as how men are often the ones buying that clothing for women. She also refers to anti-feminist sentiments that have been expressed by certain fashion designers. For Faludi, the shift in fashion trends in the direction of femininity (if you will) is not a response to what women want, but is rather part of the backlash against women's advancement----as women are encouraged to be in the domestic sphere rather than the work-place.

On pages 180-181, Faludi talks about a fashion designer who was praised for his masculinity. Faludi states: "His swagger, and the press's enthusiasm for it, spoke to the real 'crisis' fueling the backlash----not the concern that female professionalism and independence were defeminizing women but the fear that they were emasculating men. Worries about eclipsed manhood were particularly acute in the fashion world, where the perception of a widespread gay culture in the industry had collided in the 80's with homophobia and rising anxieties about AIDS."

Behind conservative positions against abortion and homosexuality, does there lurk a male fear of being emasculated----of "the way things ought to be" and the things that men hold onto for their self-esteem being compromised? That may be part of it. I don't think that it's the entire reason, for many oppose abortion because they consider it to be taking a human life, and they're against homosexuality because it's banned in the Bible. Moreover, while American culture equates masculinity with men spreading their seed around and sleeping with multiple women, conservative Christianity tends to promote monogamy and abstinence outside of marriage. And yet, conservative Christianity also emphasizes masculinity and tradition.

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