cover image GRASSROOTS: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism

GRASSROOTS: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism

Jennifer Baumgardner, Amy Richards, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $14 (306pp) ISBN 978-0-374-52865-2

"[L]ike punk rock, feminism is also based on the idea that you, an average schmo , have the power to take matters into your own hands." In this unquestionably useful, undoubtedly feel-good guide to feminist activism, the authors of Manifesta reveal how women can effect change without being highly experienced (suburban teenagers and investment bankers can do it), morally irreproachable (one can protest Nike's labor practices and still wear its shoes) or dull and unfashionable (Legally Blonde 's Elle Woods is an activist—albeit a fictional one). As the Elle Woods reference demonstrates, encouraging activism in the Sex and the City crowd can be straining, but the authors' warm, encouraging tone and examples of everyday people doing good—themselves included—are inspiring. "You don't have to take the world on your shoulders—you just need to take advantage of the opportunities your life provides for creating social justice," they insist. Lauren, a 33-year-old writer at Smart Money , decided to join a lawsuit against her insurance provider for refusing to subsidize birth control; Allison started a feminist group to fight stereotypes at her Santa Barbara high school; Nisha makes queer-friendly films about South Asian women. Profiled along with many others, these women each embody Baumgardner and Richard's eloquently argued claim that "activism should be of you, not outside of you." Agent, Jill Grinberg. (Jan.)