1187 Franklin Street
San Francisco, California 94109

discussing The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post 9/11 America

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash —an unflinching dissection of the mind of America after 9/11.

Admission $12.00 (in advance at City Lights Bookstore or at the door)

doors open at 7 pm, event begins at 7:30

In this most original examination of America’s post-9/11 culture, Susan Faludi shines a light on the country’s psychological response to the attacks on that terrible day. Turning her acute observational powers on the media, popular culture, and political life, Faludi unearths a barely acknowledged but bedrock societal drama shot through with baffling contradictions.

Why, she asks, did our culture respond to an assault against American global dominance with a frenzied summons to restore “traditional” manhood, marriage, and maternity? Why did we react as if the hijackers had targeted not a commercial and military edifice but the family home and nursery?

Why did an attack fueled by hatred of Western emancipation lead us to a regressive fixation on Doris Day womanhood and John Wayne masculinity, with trembling “security moms,” swaggering presidential gunslingers, and the “rescue” of a female soldier cast as a “helpless little girl”?
The answer, Faludi finds, lies in a historical anomaly unique to the American experience: the nation that in recent memory has been least vulnerable to domestic attack was forged in traumatizing assaults by nonwhite “barbarians” on town and village. That humiliation lies concealed under a myth of cowboy bluster and feminine frailty, which is reanimated whenever threat and shame looms.
Brilliant and important, The Terror Dream shows what 9/11 revealed about us—and offers the opportunity to look at ourselves anew.


Official Website: http://www.citylights.com/bookstore/?fa=event&event_id=148

Added by srhodes on August 22, 2007


R. Poole-Carter

On the radio yesterday I heard Susan Faludi discussing her new book, THE TERROR DREAM: FEAR AND FANTASY IN POST-9/11 AMERICA. Among her many provocative points, Faludi described an historic pattern of behavior in times of crisis: following the shock and terror comes the mythmaking in which certain persons are designated heroes and others are the victims to be rescued. Not too surprisingly, hero and victim status is generally assigned along gender lines by both mythmakers and media. Faludi cited the news media’s fixation on the widows of 9/11, although both men and women lost spouses and other family members; the survivors who must carry on in the face of loss were painted as the victims. Then, when some widows rejected the victim role and asked hard questions of the government, the media ostracized them. When the myth in the making is one of specifically male heroism, Faludi commented that it requires bolstering by specifically female weakness and helplessness. She traced this pattern in American history back to the settlement of the nation.

I deeply appreciate the bravery and sacrifice both men and women have made for the good of one another and the good of all. In my comments here, I have no wish to denigrate their contributions to human society. And I recognize that what each individual can contribute to society can very well be determined partly by physical strength, intelligence, talent, willingness, or resourcefulness. Still, Faludi’s radio interview sparked my thinking: though we might welcome rescue and protection, sometimes they come with a price.

I remember my mother’s descriptions of how independent many women were during WWII, managing life on the home front and assisting with the war effort. When the crisis was over, the women were expected by society and often by themselves to go home, to resume their proper domestic roles. So, those who had become women of action for the good of the country in wartime transformed themselves once again in peacetime to ladies in waiting.

For my novels and plays, I often research and write about the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras. And the course of history often fills me with frustration and outrage. In the first half of the 19th century, women’s rights activists had been busy with their agenda, but they willingly or grudgingly put their issues on the shelf with the outbreak of war. Women’s rights activists were among the most vocal advocates for the emancipation of slaves, but the fight to preserve the Union, which grew to encompass the fight to free blacks from bondage, did not expand to encompass true equality among races or genders. Particularly in the South, the kind of mythmaking Faludi writes about was evident in the new order: white males became white knights, silencing women who might speak for themselves and rescuing the white ladies from attack by men of other races by keeping the women in the bondage of dependency. Sometimes the price of protection is too high.
Rosemary Poole-Carter