Chapter 1: what's a backlash?
Mainstream media is possibly the most fascinating of social entities. It is a paradox -- a riddle -- that keeps one searching for answers. This is because popular culture, films, TV, music, reflect and encourage cultural change or slow it down to crawl.
Another thing about the media is that it creates a contextual dialogue: an ongoing conversation between past and present events. Popular music is nothing if not dialogic, the product of an ongoing conversation in which no one ever has the first or the last word (Tricia Rose /Black Noise/1994). The most ready example of this are Rap music artists who dub over older melodies so that you actually have one musician "speaking" to another.
History repeats itself and thus so does the media.
But what has all of this to do with a backlash -- and just what is a backlash anyway? The backlash against women is an attack on women's rights -- and by extension everyone's rights -- by conservatives. Conservatives seek to keep women oppressed by reversing the femisnist gains that began during the 1970s.
And how is this attack being mounted? Well there many literati who maintain that cultural stereotypes or mythology are the food of conservative politics. Current myths such as "women can't raise children alone (especially males)" have actually been around for centuries and are recycled from one decade to the next. Thus though much hubbub was made over the 1980s-1990s backlash against women there have actually been 3 (4 if you count the last 8 years) during 3 distinct historical periods: the 1930s, 1950s and finally the 1980s-90s.
To illustrate what I mean lets look at some current issues. Women's reproductive health is a current issue. Or is it? Anybody ever hear of Roe vs Wade? And did you know that women have been fighting this battle since the 19th century? The man is the proper head of the home. Is he now? I thought we thrashed this one out during the 1970s. Well Americans during the turn of the century thought so too.
Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 1997, 2009 all rights reserved