Stiffed by Susan Faludi

An essay-driven look at various crises facing American men.

Stiffed is Faludi’s follow-up to her groundbreaking Backlash, and it serves as an almost-apologia for feminism, in its relentless biographies of men destroyed by a deadening consumer culture and outsourced, downturning economy. This was a re-read for me, and I didn’t re-read all the chapters, skipping the one on the beleagured Cleveland Browns fans and the one on Buzz Aldrin because they broke my heart the first time around and I couldn’t go through that again. The chapters I found most fascinating on the re-read were the ones concerning the Spur Posse, the Citadel, the Promise Keepers (remember them?) and the victims of layoffs at McDonnell Douglas’s Long Beach facility. Faludi makes good use of her microscope to bring out a detail-rich portrait of the way men suffer. While the success of the women’s movement hangs over each story like a miasma, the real culprit seems to be a culture that prizes consumption above all else, and where un-fathered men pass the curse along by abandoning their sons. It’s almost too sad to handle.

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