Baumgardner (left) and Amy Richards will address “Braless
Banshees vs. Brainless Barbies: Looking for a Feminism That
Calls My Name” Friday at Mary Woolley Hall.
With the dawn of not just a new century but
a new millennium, people are looking back and taking stock of
feminism. Do we need new strategies? Is feminism dead? Has society
changed so much that the idea of a feminist movement is obsolete?”
These are some of the questions Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards
ask in the prologue to their book Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism,
and the Future (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), and
that they will address in a talk titled “Braless Banshees vs.
Brainless Barbies: Looking for a Feminism That Calls My Name”
Friday, November 9, at 4 pm in Mary Woolley Hall’s New York Room.
Baumgardner and Richards, the only way to answer such questions
is to imagine what their lives would have been like if the women’s
movement had never happened and the conditions for women had remained
as they were in 1970, the year both were born. They cite numerous
examples of what it was like to be female that year—among them,
girls couldn’t play Little League; most girls didn’t take calculus
or physics; a woman without makeup and a hairdo was as suspect
as a man with them—before concluding, “After thirty years of feminism,
the world we inhabit barely resembles the world we were born into.
And there’s still a lot left to do.”
Young Women, Feminism, and the Future traces the achievements
and unfulfilled dreams of the feminist struggle and focuses on
today’s generation of feminism, which they call “third wave” feminism.
According to Baumgardner and Richards, the first wave was led
by women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and
the second wave gave us Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Shirley
Chisholm, but the third wave includes young women who grew up
with the ideals of feminism and may take for granted Title IX
and other aspects of liberation. Confident in their freedoms,
some women are rejecting the word feminist altogether, the authors
Manifesta, Baumgardner and Richards explore the “I’m not a feminist,
but . . .” mentality. They encourage young women to embrace both
“girlie culture” and political activism, contending that women
don’t have to discard their cosmetics and hip-hop records in order
to embrace a feminism that can raise their consciousness, empower
their lives, and give them the means to make a contribution.
traveled to over four dozen colleges in every part of the U.S.
over the past year, I can say confidently that young women and
men are living feminist lives, even when they don’t use those
words,” said Richards. “There is so much passion, and there are
tons of issues that need that attention. What we need now, and
what Jennifer and I are trying to collect, are tangible and inspiring
ideas that connect those issues with that passion. Hopefully,
there will be lots of good ideas awaiting us at Mount Holyoke.”
a former Ms. editor, is now a pundit on She-Span, a political
roundtable on the Oxygen network. She also writes about politics
and culture for Bust, the Nation, Jane, Out, Glamour, Marie Claire,
Z, Mademoiselle, Nerve, Harper’s, Ms., and other magazines and
speaks regularly about feminism at colleges, in documentaries
(including Pratibha Parmar’s 1999 Righteous Babes), and in interviews.
Her writing has been excerpted in numerous books on feminism,
and she has written speeches for women ranging from Faye Wattleton
to Marlo Thomas. An activist who organizes free political events
such as abortion history teach-ins, intergenerational readings,
and parties for equal pay, she is currently organizing the reissue
of a series of feminist classics for Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
is cofounder of the Third Wave Foundation. The only national activist
philanthropic organization for women between the ages of fifteen
and thirty, Third Wave strives to combat inequalities that stem
from age, gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, or
education. It supports young women who are leading a broad range
of economic, social, and environmental movements. Richards also
is the voice behind “Ask Amy,” an online advice column. She is
a contributing editor to Ms. and has worked as a consultant to
the Ms. Foundation for Women and Voters for Choice. Her writings
are anthologized in Body Outlaws, edited by Ophira Edut, and Listen
Up, edited by Barbara Findlen, and can be found in such magazines
as the Nation, Bust, and Ms. Richards serves on the Council of
Advocates for Planned Parenthood of New York City and the boards
of Choice USA, the Third Wave Foundation, Women PAC, and Feminist.com.
She was named one of Ms. magazine’s Twenty-One Young Leaders for
the Twenty-First Century.
talk is sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership and the
Philosophy Club. Baumgardner and Richards will also participate
in a panel November 10 (see article on this page) that is part
of “Women and Public Life,” a daylong forum sponsored by the Weissman