some days it's hard to say you're a card-carrying feminist. You may be well versed in the literature and music of Gen X girls, but you can't recall the last time you engaged in some political activism reminiscent of your bra-burning sisters of yore.
Then along comes Manifesta, a book about third-wave feminists by third-wave feminists, to give you a kick in the ass. It's feminist activism 101, and Jennifer Baumgardner, former editor at Ms. magazine, and Amy Richards, co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation, have written the study guide.
Both are young and hip and insist they're just average girls -- they get angry when women are objectified, yet sometimes want to wear eyeliner.
They dissect the women's movement, adore and criticize first- and second-wave feminists and explore the rise of the girlie movement, applauding third-wavers for empowering themselves through female music festivals and indie, edgy zines. But they want to make clear that the movement can't grow and mature unless they become more active in political pursuits.
Baumgardner and Richards provide a 13-point agenda for activism, breaking down the steps needed to keep feminism alive and kicking.
The book ends with an impressive list of resources for young women, ranging from activist groups to female-run record companies, evidence that there are third-wave feminists in America who give a damn. As usual, with the exception of one listing for a Montreal organization and a nod to quasi-feminist Sarah McLachlan, it's an all-American affair.
Still, Manifesta reads like a conversation with a friend. And because of this casual, non-confrontational tone, Manifesta makes feminism seem sexy and very accessible.
Manifesta: Young women, feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 416 pages, $24.95 paper. Rating: NNNN