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Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future [Paperback]

by Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Paperback, October 4, 2000 --  
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Book Description

October 4, 2000 0374526222 978-0374526221 1st
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.

Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374526222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374526221
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, but very uneven December 4, 2001
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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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a very good but limited insiders review May 6, 2004
By A Customer
This book does an excellent job of evaluating the feminist movement from an insider's perspective. However many of the threads involve women who work either in the movement or live in a liberal cultural environment. I am disappointed though that it doesn't address what I see as an important current problem: why does feminism fail to connect with a large percentage of women who are reluctant to identify themselves as feminist. Until the voices/minds of the apparently apathetic nurse/beautician/receptionist and "annoying dissentors" etc are explored (and considered "valid" not just "unliberated") I am afraid that feminism will remain in its ivory tower and not as effective as it should be, perhaps hijacked from the "ordinary" "unliberated" plebs. These women vote. (Why would a women's shelter volunteer be put off by her women's studies class?) The authors didn't explore why many women (and potentially supportive men) are totally put off by their women's studies class and never want to be associated with the feminist label after that. Where does an orthodox Jewish women fit into this picture. Is she just too stupid to know she's oppressed since she doesn't share the "agenda". What does she think? I haven't found a book who's interviews explore these marginalized, "unliberated" women's perspective with respect. The attitude of "support our troops" (feminist or otherwise) seems to pervade our society.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enough of the baby propaganda! November 20, 2005
I was raised from the ages of four to thirteen by some dianic, pro-communistic, ass kicking women. However, I was pretty stifled as a child about what I could or could not wear, whether I could experiment with "girly" things, or even if I could have my hair long. My grandma even made my barbies lesbians. She told me I could not join the Girl Scouts because they were Nazi's.When I left my house at age thirteen, I was a hardcore feminist that believed makeup was a kick in the shins to strong women everywhere, and that dresses were for sissies. I slowly started moving out of that shell around ages fourteen to fifteen, experimenting first with eyeshadow and then moving up to dresses and boys. I realized my feminism isn't downplayed by my feminine wiles and that yes, I could wear a dress and kick ass at the same time. I even came to the theory that capitalism isn't half bad, but mixed economy is still probably better.

However, there are not many books out there for Feminists my age (ages 25 and under). Sure, there are Zines, but for my sisters and brothers that are not technologically efficient, its pretty hard to network, especially in smaller towns. So when I saw this book at my local Women's Center, I had to pick it up and read it. The women who wrote the book are my sisters' ages (early thirties), but they had a lot of wisdom to bestow upon the younger ages, and say that feminism is NOT dead. Women are still undervalued in this society, and the sexes have yet to become equal without the stigmas attached to both disappearing. I loved the pieces about Kathleen Hanna, nail polish, and riot grrls, myself growing up as one during my stint as a teen of the nineties.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Irritating May 25, 2008
(This review was not actually written by Anthony Schmitz. I'm Anna Schmitz, his 15-year-old daughter.)

I suppose this book had good intentions. The writers seem smart, and the book probably rings true for their select group of dinner party friends (young, urban, in the media business). However, the research is shoddy, the authors' arguments often become long-winded whining, and the arguments themselves are occasionally absurd.

It's unclear whether the authors simply grew bored of their book, or if a deadline was rapidly approaching, or if research was unavailable, but too often the authors rely on "according-to-my-friend-Jane" in lieu of actual research. In an actual quote from the book, in an argument for Take Back the Night, Baumgardner and Richards assure you that Take Back the Night remains important because "Jennifer Gottesman, a junior at Barnard College, confirmed that her college's Take Back the Night rally and march are the most important political events on campus." Say no more! If Jennifer thinks Take Back the Night is the most important event on campus, it surely is.

However, even this she-said research is often overshadowed by the authors' whining about their lack of importance in the eyes of Second Wave feminists. As important as it is to feel approval, it seems that the best way to gain it would be to carve out one's one niche instead on relying on older feminists to advance concerns that they may not fully understand. The authors complain about feeling patronized and disrespected by Second Wavers, about not being invited to speak at panels, and although these concerns are legitimate, it's not hard to see where Second Wavers are coming from when reading "Letter to an Older Feminist". The letter is patronizing and petty.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars On-Time!
I had to order this book for a class and had to get it shipped quickly.....And it did (and really not that expensive)! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Felecia Cherry
3.0 out of 5 stars Problematic
I bought this book in order to try to come to an understanding of the Third Wave -- in particular how, or if or to what extent, it should be distinguished from the Second Wave. Read more
Published on July 18, 2011 by B. Tupper
3.0 out of 5 stars Clearly, the seminal work on 3rd-wave feminism still needs to be...
This was a disappointment. While it promises to be a third-wave critique of second-wave feminism, I found both the context and the critiques to be lacking. Read more
Published on September 1, 2009 by Jacquelyn Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Book arrived on time, even a little earlier than I expected it! I'm very pleased.
Published on February 9, 2008 by J. Slawik
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart and Inspiring
A must-read for all young women so as to remind us what our mothers and grandmothers faught so hard for and to also remind us of our responsibility to our own children and young... Read more
Published on February 4, 2008 by Alexandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Young women writing to young women
I am a Women's Studies minor and I picked up this book in hopes of refining my views on feminism. It did just that. This book is amazing. Read more
Published on December 30, 2006 by Baby Firefly
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, but no.
Sorry, but I can't take seriously anything that lists Seventeen magazine as a feminist resource for young women. Read more
Published on March 27, 2006 by C. Callaghan
5.0 out of 5 stars great intro to feminism
this is a great introduction to feminism for young people. it was one of the first women's studies books i read, and it inspired me to read more, and eventually get my minor in... Read more
Published on February 6, 2006 by Sara C. Fuentes
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Feminism At It's Best
This book is incredible. It does a wonderful job thoroughly reviewing feminism from it's birth to the modern age. Read more
Published on January 17, 2006 by Sara M. Erdmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Manifesta, A Little Something For Everyone!
Manifesta is really an all-around fun and informative book. In fact, its so chock full of USEFUL information -- as opposed to the theoretical stuff that is in alot of feminist... Read more
Published on December 11, 2004 by Lisa Marie
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