“War has often been good for the status of American women. The First World War led to the enfranchisement of women across the West, and shattered the whalebone restraints of Victorian sexual morality. World War II brought millions of women into the workforce, showing that female factory workers and female heads of households were not contradictions in terms. And the turmoil of Vietnam helped to release the social energies that powered the feminist movement. Without those three wars, fought almost entirely by men, the 20th century would surely not have brought such great strides toward women’s liberation.
“It is worth asking, then, what effect our current wars are having on the condition of women.”
Apparently, Susan Faludi’s dream doesn’t focus on such concrete issues:
“What interests her is not Islamic terrorism as an actual phenomenon that has already claimed many thousands of American lives, in Baghdad and Kabul as in New York and Washington. Instead, in a way that is natural to people who make their living by analyzing culture, Ms. Faludi concentrates solely on America’s imaginative response to terrorism. She is more at ease talking about the psychodrama of our ‘terror dream’ than about terror itself, to the extent that terror comes to seem like just a dream, a blank screen on which we project our fantasies.
“Ms. Faludi means to be tough-minded in the manner of the Freudian analyst, who forces us to confront our damaging illusions. But in fact, her approach has the effect of reinforcing our deepest fantasies of omnipotence. If what matters in the post-September 11 age is not our enemies but our dreams, then we remain effectively invulnerable: only we can hurt ourselves. Ms. Faludi offers a perfect symbol of this delusion in her book’s first pages. Early on September 11, 2001, she writes, she had a dream about being on a hijacked airliner, only to wake to the news of the twin towers attacks. She has literally replaced reality with her own dream.”