Ms. recently interviewed Barbara J. Berg, who explores the backlash to feminism in today’s society in her new book Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining our Future. Berg asserts that we do not live in a post-feminist environment, and that sexism is still evident in law, culture and mass media.
Berg on how 9/11 provoked a backlash against women:
After 9/11 we saw a new kind of masculinity in vogue—one that emphasized domination, control and aggression. Some of this had to do with the terror attacks and our need to be strong and tough. A look at the language of our post-9/11 leaders shows it’s filled with words like “dominance,” “power,” “a time of the warrior” and the like. Women began to disappear as guests from talk shows and their bylines became fewer and fewer. Under then-President Bush, we saw cutbacks in programs vital to women’s health, reproductive rights and education. Much of this was done covertly, but when it was brought out in the open it was justified as budget-cutting for the war. The emphasis on the individual at the expense of government programs was also a feature of [Bush’s] administration. There has been increased violence in our popular culture on the one hand, and a hypersexualization of women and girls on the other, in our post-9/11 society.