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Richards, Amelia M. 1970- (Amy Richards)

RICHARDS, Amelia M. 1970-
(Amy Richards)

PERSONAL:

Born February 9, 1970. Education: Barnard College, Columbia University, B.A. (art history; with honors), 1993.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003.

CAREER:

Cofounder of Third Wave Foundation, New York, NY, and, with Jennifer Baumgardner, Soapbox (lecture agency); Ms. Foundation, New York, consultant. Lecturer, author, and consultant. Member of the board, Third Wave, Choice USA, Planned Parenthood of New York City, and Feminist.com.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Named one of "Twenty-one Great Women Leaders of the Twenty-first Century," Women's Enews, 2003.

WRITINGS:

UNDER NAME AMY RICHARDS

(With Jennifer Baumgardner) Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to books, including Listen Up!: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation, 1994; Adios, Barbie: Young Women Write about Body Image and Identity, edited by Ophira Edut, Seal Press (Seattle, WA), 1998; Letters of Intent: Women Cross the Generations to Talk about Family, Work, Sex, Love and the Future of Feminism, edited by Anna Bondoc and Meg Daly, Free Press, 1999; The BUST Guide to the New Girl Order, edited by Marcelle Karp and Debbie Stoller, Penguin, 1999; and Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, Washington Square Press, 2003; also a narrator on instructional video Beyond Killing Us Softly: The Strength to Resist, Cambridge Documentary Films, 2000. Contributor to periodicals, including Ms., Los Angeles Times, and Nation. Contributing editor to Ms. magazine. Author of "Ask Amy" Internet advice column for Feminist.com.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

With Jennifer Baumgardner, Recipe-tested: An Idea Bank for Activists. A shopping guide on New York City for Insight Guides.

SIDELIGHTS:

A primary architect of the so-called Third Wave in feminism, Amelia M. Richards has been a women's rights activist since she helped organize Freedom Summer '92, a cross-country voter registration drive. Shortly after that, she cofounded the Third Wave Foundation, which is designed to give younger women a voice in a movement dominated by Second Wave feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. This is not a hostile relationship, and Richards' links to the Second Wave remain strong. She served for many years as a personal assistant to Steinem, and she remains a consultant for the Ms. Foundation. At the same time, she seeks to connect with younger women, some of whom are deeply disenchanted with the older feminist movement, through magazine articles, television appearances on such shows as Oprah and The O'Reilly Factor, and hundreds of public speaking engagements at universities throughout the country.

In 1998 Richards contributed to Adios, Barbie: Young Women Write about Body Image and Identity, a collection of pieces edited by Ophira Edut about body image from a wide array of young female writers, black and white, gay and straight, overweight and thin. The essayists describe an equally wide range of topics, from leg hair to transsexualism, and the complexities of many women's relationship with food. Eating disorders are a big part of the story of body image, and a number of authors recount their struggles with bulimia and anorexia. Others, such as a conflicted exotic dancer, confront their own ambiguous feelings toward sexuality and the way women are both empowered and oppressed by sexual attractiveness. "Although a few of the essays are weak when compared to the book's best pieces, the volume as a whole is a step forward in the discussion of how feminine attractiveness is viewed in American society," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. All the authors share a conviction that body image and self-presentation are fundamental issues. As Richards put it in her own contribution to the collection, "For many women, our bodies have become the canvasses upon which our struggles paint themselves. Body image, in fact, may be the pivotal third wave issue—the common struggle that mobilizes the current feminist generation."

To further mobilize that generation, Richards published Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, written with fellow Ms. editor Jennifer Baumgardner. "Their book is a colorful account of their own rising cohort and its concerns, as well as a program for an 'everyday feminism' suited for the world left to them by their ideological foremothers," explained Commentary reviewer Christine Stolba. As Richards and Baumgardner see it, the image of the grim, earnest, male-bashing feminist is a major stumbling block for many younger women, and the authors want to provide a new, more "Girlie" image with a broader appeal to the young. Not that they wish to exclude the women who paved the way. For them, feminism is a Big Tent. As New Republic contributor Christine Stansell noted, the authors "never fall into the smug self-regard that has long been a trademark of the youth manifesto, circling up the wagons into a cozy generational encampment. Exuberant and generous, Manifesta seeks to explain and to popularize, rather than to separate sleek insiders from dowdy outsiders. The book tries to forge an open-minded, big-hearted relationship between the Girlies and the women, the daughters and the mothers, the doubters and the zealots."

At the same time, some reviewers faulted the authors for a certain parochialism, noting their tendency to see well-educated, urban women like themselves as more representative than they really are. For "a book designed as an accessible primer on feminism for the masses, it seems disproportionately focused on an elite bunch of women, which, of course, is the longtime criticism of mainstream feminism," wrote Washington Monthly reviewer Patricia Simon. Others saluted these very qualities in the authors and other Third Wave feminists. "Savvy, conscientious, and ambitious, they represent, in many ways, exactly the bright, brash, and courageous heirs that the Steinem-era Second Wavers sought," noted Progressive contributor Laura Flanders. Still others saluted Richards and Baumgardner's attempt to reach beyond their immediate circle. According to Women's Review of Books contributor Anastasia Higginbotham, "They urge readers to put aside ego battles and rigid definitions of feminism and to stay in touch with women whose ideas may offend or confuse. They then hold themselves to this same standard throughout the book, criticizing, engaging, and finding the lessons embedded within any conflict. Their insights into the flaws of the girls' movement and their grasp of mental roadblocks that keep feminists distant from one another are right on."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 1995, Whitney Scott, review of Listen Up!: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation, p. 1537; February 15, 1999, Ellie Barta-Moran, review of Letters of Intent: Women Cross the Generations to Talk about Work, Family, Love, Sex, and the Future of Feminism, p. 1013; May 15, 2001, review of Beyond Killing Us Softly: The Strength to Resist (video recording), Carol Holzberg, p. 1762; August, 2001, Vanessa Bush, review of Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation, p. 2060; January 1, 2002, review of Beyond Killing Us Softly, p. 772.

Commentary, June, 2001, Christine Stolba, review of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, p. 61.

Entertainment Weekly, January 8, 1999, review of Adios, Barbie, p. 62.

Feminist Studies, spring, 1997, Jennifer Drake, review of Listen Up, p. 97.

Herizons, spring, 2002, Lisa Rundle, review of Manifesta, p. 33.

Library Journal, July, 1999, Heather McCormack, review of The BUST Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 117; March 1, 2001, Harriet Edwards, review of Beyond Killing Us Softly, p. 148; March 15, 2003, Carolyn Kuebler, review of Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for the New Millennium, p. 104.

New Republic, January 15, 2001, Christine Stansell, "The Generational Progress of Feminism: Girlie Interrupted," p. 23.

Newsweek, August 23, 1999, Elizabeth Angell, "Welcome to the 'New Girl Order,'" p. 60.

New York Times Book Review, December 17, 2000, Ann Hulbert, "Unfinished Business."

Progressive, October, 2000, Laura Flanders, review of Manifesta, p. 42.

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 1995, review of Listen Up!, p. 81; May 8, 1995, Paul Nathan, "The New Feminism," p. 33; November 30, 1998, review of Adios, Barbie, p. 60; February 1, 1999, review of Letters of Intent, p. 70; June 28, 1999, review of The BUST Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 64; September 18, 2000, review of Manifesta, p. 96; July 23, 2001, "Women and Grrrls," p. 67; March 24, 2003, review of Sisterhood Is Forever, p. 73.

Signs, spring, 1998, Mary Celeste Kearney, review of Listen Up!, p. 844.

Washington Monthly, December, 2000, Patricia Simon, review of Manifesta, p. 57.

Women's Review of Books, June, 1995, Leora Tanenbaum, review of Listen Up!, p. 5; January, 1999, Meg Daly, review of Adios, Barbie, p. 10; April, 1999, Lisa Marcus, review of Letters of Intent, p. 6; November, 1999, Ameland Copeland, review of The BUST Guide to the New Girl Order, p. 24; October, 2000, Anastasia Higginbotham, review of Manifesta, p. 1; September, 2003, Kathy Davis, "Sisterhood Is Forever," p. 8.*

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