Feminism's New Age

Gender, Appropriation, and the Afterlife of Essentialism

By Karlyn Crowley

Subjects: New Age, Women's Studies, Feminist, American Religion
Paperback : 9781438436265, 255 pages, June 2011
Hardcover : 9781438436258, 255 pages, June 2011

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Table of contents

Introduction: “It’s Power without the Anger”: Spirituality, Gender, and Race in the New Age
1. “Touched by an Angel”: The Feminization of the New Age in American Culture
2. “The Indian Way Is What’s Inside”: Gender and the Appropriation of American Indian Religion in New Age Culture
3. Gender on a Plate: The Calibration of Identity in American Macrobiotics
4. The Structure of Prehistorical Memory in the American Goddess Movement
5. New Age Soul: The Gendered Coding of New Age Spirituality on The Oprah Winfrey Show
Conclusion: Is New Age Culture the New Feminism?
Works Cited

Explores the relationship between feminism and New Age Culture.


Finalist for the 2011 ForeWord Book of the Year in the Women's Issues Category

Crystals, Reiki, Tarot, Goddess worship—why do these New Age tokens and practices capture the imagination of so many women? How has New Age culture become even more appealing than feminism? And are the two mutually exclusive? By examining New Age practices from macrobiotics to goddess worship to Native rituals, Feminism's New Age: Gender, Appropriation, and the Afterlife of Essentialism seeks to answer these questions by examining white women's participation in this hugely popular spiritual movement. While most feminist approaches to the New Age phenomenon have simply dismissed its adherents for their politically problematic racial appropriation practices, Karyln Crowley looks honestly at the political shortcomings of New Age beliefs and practices while simultaneously reckoning with the affective, political, and cultural motivations which have prompted New Age women's individual and collective spiritualities. New Age spirituality is in fact the dynamic outgrowth of a long-standing tradition of women's social and political power expressed through religious writings, art, and public discourse, and is key to understanding contemporary women's history and religion's role in modern American culture alike. Crowley offers a new and provocative assessment of the significance of the New Age movement, seen through a feminist and critical race studies lens.

Karlyn Crowley is Director of Women's and Gender Studies and Associate Professor of English at St. Norbert College.