Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and other third world countries to work in the homes, nurseries, and brothels of the first world. This broad-scale transfer of labor associated with women's traditional roles results in an odd displacement. In the new global calculus, the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones, often to the detriment of the families left behind. The migrant nanny--or cleaning woman, nursing care attendant, maid--eases a "care deficit" in rich countries, while her absence creates a "care deficit" back home.
Confronting a range of topics, from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles and the selling of Thai girls to Japanese brothels, Global Woman offers an unprecedented look at a world shaped by mass migration and economic exchange on an ever-increasing scale. In fifteen vivid essays-- of which only four have been previously published-- by a diverse and distinguished group of writers, collected and introduced by bestselling authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, this important anthology reveals a new era in which the main resource extracted from the third world is no longer gold or silver, but love.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of New York Times bestsellers Nickel and Dimed and The Worst Years of Our Lives, as well as Blood Rights.
Arlie Russell Hochschild is the author of national bestsellers The Time Bind and The Second Shift.
Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.
Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.
Barbara Ehrenreich's first book of satirical commentary, The Worst Years of Our Lives, about the Reagan era, was received with bestselling acclaim. The one problem was the title: couldn't some prophetic fact-checker have seen that the worst years of our lives—far worse—were still to come? Here they are, the 2000s, and in This Land Is Their Land, Ehrenreich subjects them to the most biting and incisive satire of her career.
Taking the measure of what we are left with after the cruelest decade in memory, Ehrenreich finds lurid extremes all around. While members of the moneyed elite can buy congressmen, many in the working class can barely buy lunch. While a wealthy minority obsessively consumes cosmetic surgery, the poor often go without health care for their children. And while the corporate C-suites are now nests of criminality, the less fortunate are fed a diet of morality, marriage, and abstinence. Ehrenreich's antidotes are as sardonic as they are spot-on: pet insurance for your kids; Salvation Army fashions for those who can no longer afford Wal-Mart; and boundless rage against those who have given us a nation scarred by deepening inequality, corroded by distrust, and shamed by its official cruelty.
Full of wit and generosity, these reports from a divided nation show once again that Ehrenreich is, as Molly Ivins said, "good for the soul."
—*The Times (London)