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Manifesta [Paperback]

Jennifer Baumgardner , Amy Richards
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 1 2000
A powerful indictment from within of the current state of feminism, and a passionate call to arms

From Lilith Fair to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the WNBA--everywhere you look, girl culture is clearly ascendant. Young women live by feminism's goals, yet feminism itself is undeniably at a crossroads; "girl power" feminists appear to be obsessed with personal empowerment at the expense of politics while political institutions such as Ms. and NOW are so battle weary they've lost their ability to speak to a new generation. In Manifesta, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards show the snags in each feminist hub--from the dissolution of riot grrrls into the likes of the Spice Girls, to older women's hawking of young girls' imperiled self-esteem, to the hyped hatred of feminist thorns like Katie Roiphe and Naomi Wolf--and prove that these snags have not, in fact, torn feminism asunder.

In an intelligent and incendiary argument, Baumgardner and Richards address issues instead of feelings and the political as well as the personal. They describe the seven deadly sins the media commits against feminism, provide keys to accessible and urgent activism, discuss why the ERA is still a relevant and crucial political goal, and spell out what a world with equality would look like. They apply Third Wave confidence to Second Wave consciousness, all the while maintaining that the answer to feminism's problems is still feminism.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Two youthful alumnae of Ms. magazine present not a manifesto, but a talky defense of contemporary feminism, directed in part at disappointed Second Wave foremothers. Arguing that feminism is already all around us, the heart of the book is a long, unbridled paean to tough and sexy "girlie culture," as represented by Xena, Ally McBeal, the Spice Girls and little girls wearing Mia Hamm jerseys. Sporting green nail polish and Hello Kitty lunchboxes isn't infantile, the authors declare, but a "nod to our joyous youth." At the same time, they caution young women not to stop and rest on the success of cultural feminism, but to develop political lives and awareness. The book suffers mightily from its determined evenhandedness; Baumgardner and Richards typically temper any negative comments with an immediate positive note, and vice versa. Whether this feminist duo's ambivalence reflects schisms in the movement, their own fear of offending other feminists or simply the awkwardness of joint authorship, the result is shallow, both as a critique and a call to arms. Analysis of the few Third Wavers who are already visible in the media ought to have been surefire; instead, the chapter "Who's Afraid of Katie Roiphe?" comes too late (after 200-odd pages) and is too tame and indecisiveAthe authors pointedly clamp down on their own irritation with Roiphe, referring to her simply as a "controversial" figure among left-wing feminists. Fewer history lessons and more pique might have given this book more force. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Baumgardner and Richards, two writers with Ms. affiliations, start their analysis of U.S. feminism with a wonderful assumption: that "girl culture," from women rock stars and athletes to female entrepreneurs and inventors, have become an integral part of the national psyche. Thanks to Second Wave feminist agitators, today's young womenDthose who grew up believing that they could be anything they wanted to beDhave unprecedented opportunities. Now, as responsibility for women's liberation falls to them, decisions about goals, strategies, and direction have to be made. Manifesta, which is far less shrill than the name suggests, urges young women to pick up where their mothers, aunts, and adult mentors left off. Their challenge? To fulfill feminism's promise of justice, equality, and sexual freedom for all. Complete with appendixes to teach novices the nuts-and-bolts of community organizing, this book is a reasoned and passionate call to action and an exciting how-to guide for both burgeoning and seasoned Third Wave feminists. Recommended for all high school, college, and public libraries.DEleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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We were both born in 1970, the baptismal moment of a decade that would change dramatically the lives of American women. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Emily
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the most interesting books I've read on third wave feminism. The two young authors tell it like it really is (or was, as reading today you can see that the book is already somewhat dated even though it was only published a few years ago). They give a very fair and open-minded look at many feminist issues from dealing with different generations of feminism (and why they often struggle when working together) to whether it is good or bad that companies such as Mattel (makers of Barbie) sponsor feminist-oriented organizations. The book is highly entertaining, and even though it looks like a hefty read, it is so enjoyable and fast-paced that it will be done before you know it. The thing that makes this book really unique though, is the resource kit in the back complete with webpages, books, and addresses for just about anything a feminist of any age could be looking for. I highly reccomend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars P.S. Aug. 20 2002
By Setsuna
Format:Paperback
I forgot to mention....... this book is also really a call to action! makes me fel like i should be out there writing a zine or just whatever... something BIG! this book is inspiring!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book Aug. 20 2002
By Setsuna
Format:Paperback
is very informative and not pointless drivel. Well i mean obviously but.... right. back to the point...... this book is really very interesting and...... fun (seriously.... it's my favorite non-fiction book and I'm 15 so it's not just dry facts and opinions) so read it and get in touch with your inner feminist self!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource in trying times Dec 9 2001
Format:Paperback
Unlike so many publications and resources that use feminist sounding terms to sell the same old commercialism and bodily-self hatred...or openly trash the movement as outdated and irelevant, this is my generation of feminsm in it's finest form.
Both authors have a open style of writing that encourages all members of Generation X--irespective of their previous level of involvement with feminism--to find out what is really is and really is not. Having grown up without many of the gender barriers that had plauged earlier generations, we were both more conditioned to live feminism, and less aware of the need for change compared to other generations.
Yet, Richards and Baumgardner also know this juxtaposition does not mean we want to see the clock turned back on women's progress any more than previous generations of activists and current activists do. A combination of personal discussions, pop culture and political references explicitly make it clear that two young women are writing this for themselves and others who share their same perspective on life.
Although they champion second wave feminists like Gloria Steinem for reaching out to young women and trully respecting their own paths and projects, Richards and Baumgardner also do not hide disdain for feminist elders who are self-absorbed, ageist and condescending. Indeed, the authors note these women forget that long after they have passed on, the young will be left running feminist organizations---and it would be so much better if we were seriously mentored now instead of reinventing everything while simmultaneously trying to stave off attacks from our generation of the far right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book June 15 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
MANIFESTA is an important writing because the young feminist movement needs focus. The authors have clearly been involved with the movement for long enough to realize many of its strengths and weaknesses. They also know that it needs to be shaped to meet the demands of young women today, while at the same time addressing the needs of older women. They discuss the issue of abortion, which alienates many women who would otherwise consider themselves feminists. MANIFESTA is a book for men to read also. It helps them to understand the daily struggles in life women are facing. Although the authors are living in more cosmopolitan areas than most women, men and women will learn from this book. I hope this effort by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards will inspire many young women to write books on what feminism means to them, too. I believe only then will the older generation of feminist really understand the revolution that has occurred.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the place to start June 15 2004
Format:Paperback
this book is awesome, awesome, AWESOME as a starting point for those who feel a connection to feminist ideals but might not know how to begin or what they're subscribing to. excellent, comprehensive, easy to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspires activism! Aug. 21 2002
Format:Paperback
Manifesta is truly inspirational and a call to action for all people, but third wave feminists in particular. Women today live better lives as a result of changes feminism has made in society; this book examines these changes and where we need to go in order to make more progress in the future. Manifesta also includes extensive appendices detailing a great deal of information and other media resources related to modern feminist activism.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, but very uneven Dec 4 2001
Format:Paperback
Perhaps my problem with the book came from the fact that it was written by two people working together, which probably contributed to its uneven tone. Jennifer and Amy (as they call themselves) try to encompass quite a bit of description and critique of certain youth-oriented trends in feminism, and sometimes it falls apart by the sheer width of their scope. And even though they continually point out that they are members of the Third Wave, the younger wave of feminist women, sometimes they seem strangely removed from the ideas that they purport to describe. For instance, they feel obliged to dismiss Girlie feminists as ineffectual, when this brand of feminism probably attracts more young people to the movement than any other. They were also dismissive to the huge contributions that Third Wavers have made to incorporating men to the cause. On the other hand, they were particularly adept at dismantling some of the myths that are commonly believed about feminism, which is a valuable task for anyone, Second or Third Wave. It's worth reading, but don't accept it as encompassing as a manifesta should be. Even the authors ask this of the reader.
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