Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future Paperback – Oct 4 2000
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
My biggest criticism is that I wish they knew more women -- at least the women that I tend to know, most of whom are young and consider themselves to be feminists.
I was reading about their dinner party, where they all "bonded over STDs and abortions" While these are important issues, they do not loom over the lives of most women. The statistic that 1 out of every two people will encounter an STD and that 43% of women will have an abortion does not factor in that many women who find themselves in either situation will find themselves there more than once. (I highly recommend Susan Faludi's book BACKLASH to learn how to read statistics.)