Manifesta, 10 Years Later
I was 10-years-old when Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards wrote ManifestA: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, I was 17-years-old when I heard them speak about their feminist trademark at Barnard College’s Young Women’s Leadership Institute, and I was 20-years-old when I finally got around to reading the damn thing.
I’m self-proclaimed feminist, women’s studies major and all, therefore sinking my teeth into this piece of literature wasn’t exactly a turning point in my ideology, rather, it was way overdue. It didn’t help me realize for the first time that feminism rocks, and it wasn’t my initial awakening to all things feminist. It did, however, make me excited about the future of feminism and all of the potential it has in a brand new decade.
Reading ManifestA for the first time 10 years after its initial publication by Farrar, Straus and Giroux was interestingly eye opening because of its relevance in today’s society. While ten years passing has provided enough time to make many strides in the women’s rights movement—we’re still dealing with a lot of issues that Jen and Amy address in their book.
Reading through Baumgardner’s and Richards’ theories and critiques provoked questions that I would’ve never otherwise thought of: how can we get to equality if we’re having difficulty simply defining it? How can we use “women’s magazines” like Glamour and Good Housekeeping to push a more feminist agenda? What’s the best way to disconnect different generations of feminists and make sure they’re on the same page?
I’m proud to say that I started and finished the 10-year Anniversary edition of ManifestA in one sitting—the authors didn’t leave me with much of a choice. Their compelling arguments, inquiries, and analyses left me wanting more, and luckily for me I can hit up amazon.com and order Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism, Baumgardner’s and Richards’ other co-written book.
Jen and Amy include a brand new introduction within the 10th anniversary edition, and express to readers the importance of our own individual efforts.
“Alice Rossi wrote in The Feminist Papers that ‘the public heroines of one
generation are the private heroines of the next.’ The late poet June
Jordan once talked about the first time she realized she disagreed with
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—and was liberated in that moment to be as
important to civil rights in her community and life as Dr. King was.
Both sentiments ask us, all of us, to do the big thing feminism
invites us to do—to recognize our power to create social justice
in our own unique ways.”
These powerful words were not exactly my sole, defining moment of feminist enlightenment, but I did experience a manifesta awakening—10 years later than the generation before me.
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