Barbara Ehrenreich QuotesBarbara Ehrenreich is an American author and political activist who describes herself as "a myth buster by trade" and has been called "a veteran muckraker" by The New Yorker. During the 1980s and early 1990s she was a prominent figure in the Democratic Socialists of America. She is a widely read and award-winning columnist and essayist, and author of 21 books. Ehrenreich is perhaps best known for her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. A memoir of Ehrenreich's three-month experiment surviving on minimum wage as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart clerk, it was described by Newsweek magazine as "jarring" and "full of riveting grit," and by The New Yorker as an "exposé" putting "human flesh on the bones of such abstractions as 'living wage' and 'affordable housing'."
If men were equally at risk from this condition – if they knew their bellies might swell as if they were suffering from end-stage cirrhosis, that they would have to go nearly a year without a stiff drink, a cigarette, or even an aspirin, that they would be subject to fainting spells and unable to fight their way onto commuter trains – then I am sure that pregnancy would be classified as a sexually transmitted disease and abortions would be no more controversial than emergency appendectomies.
If that’s how it all started, then we might as well face the fact that what’s left out there is a great deal of shrapnel and a whole bunch of cinders (one of which is, fortunately, still hot enough and close enough to be good for tanning). Trying to find some sense and order in this mess may be as futile as trying to … reconstruct the economy of Iowa from a bowl of popcorn. [On searching for evidence of the Big Bang.]
As a general rule, when something gets elevated to apple-pie status in the hierarchy of American values, you have to suspect that its actual monetary value is skidding toward zero. Take motherhood: nobody ever thought of putting it on a moral pedestal until some brash feminists pointed out, about a century ago, that the pay is lousy and the career ladder nonexistent. Same thing with work: would we be so reverent about the ‘work ethic’ if it wasn’t for the fact that the average working stiff’s hourly pay is shrinking, year by year.