- We are nearly at the 20 year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and since then our political and public discourse seems more fractious and divided than ever. What gives you hope in 2020?
Adena and I discovered the September 11 story in Susan Faludi’s book The Terror Dream: Myth and Misogyny in an Insecure America. In this blistering critique of the response to attacks, Faludi argues the political and media establishment reasserted patriarchal values in the way they positioned the event as an assault upon the sanctity of the domestic home. From within this mindset, the catastrophe was seen, in part, as the result of the ‘femocratization’ of the West that had ‘pussified’ men, leaving them coddled, castrated and impotent to protect their homes. And hence, we are supposedly in need of virile rescue – enter the Daniel Boone, John Wayne, NYC fireman strong-jawed figure of masculinity. Alarmingly, Faludi not only draws attention to the ascendancy of the gun-slinging chest-beating male, but also tracks a corresponding silencing of the female voice in public commentary.
Originally published in 2008, The Terror Dream took on an almost prophetic character as Adena and I read the book in late 2016 in the midst of the Trump election campaign. The rise of Trump and similar figures around the world, while alarming, has also been a catalyst for resistance. One of the first acts of defiance following Trump’s election was a women’s march. The voice of the teenager in particular, while often dismissed, has cut through with clarity and urgency as can be seen from figures such as Emma González on gun control to Greta Thunberg and the climate movement. What gives me hope in 2020 is a generation of young women finding their voice and demanding to be heard.