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Dear Amy,

First of all, I want to say that I really enjoyed Manifesta, the book that you co-wrote with Jennifer Baumgardner, and right now I'm starting to read Wolf's,"The Beauty Myth."

I am just thirteen years old, and I do identify myself as a young woman, though 'girl' is an equally appropriate title. When picking up Manifesta, and reading it, I did not feel as if it was adressed to me at all. I'm confused: do I belong to the Third Wave, or is that a title solely given to the twenty or thirty-somethings you've described?

I am serious about feminism. Though publications like ,"New Moon," and other pro-girl magazines are great, I'm often frustrated with them. They do promote a sense of equality, and encourage speaking up and being that whole, strong-girls-soon-to-be-strong-women thing. However, I've read issues of those magazines, and generally been exposed to a lot of that sort of media, but I didn't even know about Roe vs. Wade, or pro-choice marches, or even Gloria Steinem until I picked up a book directed to adults. Many girls wouldn't look into such a book, and are therefore missing out on a lot of important information about feminism even though they support it and also, a lot of girls don't support it, just because they don't know what it is. Could you direct me to some sort of ' girl-friendly-Feminism 101' book or website that I could tell my girlfriends about?

Another thing: aside from websites for girls decked out in pink and purple that tell me to be proud of myself and that i can 'do anything boys can do,' I get the idea that there isn't anything directly related to feminism I can do, other than educating myself. Arranging a voter-registration type thing is hypocrisy, considering I myself am too young to vote and most of my friends can't either, and no adults will take my ideas for events related to sexual freedom or reproductive rights becuase '13 year olds aren't supposed to talk about rape' or, apparently, know of its existence. Feminist.com's sister site for students seems to be directed solely to those in college, and many other modern feminist websites and books exclude women my age except to mention the pink and purple girl movement. I am not satisfied with just empowering and feeling good about myself (though I do)- and I'm unsettled and frustrated. I've
recently been thinking about starting a zine.

I don't connect with the girls' movement entirely, and I feel excluded from the activism in your definition of young women. Also, I want to be more than a feminist, I want to be a feminist activist. What can I do?





Dear Theresa,

Thanks for your very earnest and sincere note.

Third Wave feminism, essentially the feminism we devote Manifesta, to, is more an attitude than a rigid age -- the way we define it in Manifesta is those born with feminism in the water -- therefore anyone born after 1965 or thereabouts.

But that said, just as Third Wave feminism came out almost as a reaction to older feminists, it's just as likely that those younger than those who initiated Third Wave feminism, which is mostly women in their 20s and 30s, would react against that and want to create their own brand of feminism. There are certainly lots of other young women out there like you -- at least I hear from lots of 13 year old at feminist.com. It doesn't surprise me that you would be more influenced by things addressing an "older audience," in the same way that those who actually read 17 are closer to your age -- we are always reading "up" -- and appropriately so since the things geared toward your age, for example New Moon, etc... tend to "dumb down" the text and make it unengaging for those who are in their intended audience.

This is all to say that I think that Third Wave feminism is something that could/should speak to you. Have you tried reading more about the Third Wave Foundation? Also, besides New Moon there is Teen Voices -- have you tried that? It's a bit better. There are also programs through Girls, Inc. -- each one is different, some are younger than they should be.

But there is also no reason why you can't read more general feminist texts like other books by Naomi Wolf, To Be Real edited by Rebecca Walker, Body Outlaws edited by Ophira Edut, Listen Up edited by Barbara Findlen.

There is no reason why you can't consider yourself a part of the Third Wave, assuming you want to. Enjoy reading more!

-- Amy

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