Mehdi Mollahasani

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Barbara Ehrenreich
It seems that we are a bit more civilized than we were a century ago, when countries were declaring wars upon one another, with out really considering the consequences and casualties it will have on society. Unlike today where war is shocking news to some of us and we still consider a non-violent way a better way to deal with any issue. Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the writers of our time that we can depend on, when we require a solution regarding the society, especially regarding women. The solutions that Ehrenreich provides to her readers are supposed to solve the current issues, but that’s not all they do. Her style and tactics of writing are far too complicated to

understand, but her purpose is to get the attention of her readers and her critics.

Two of her writings that we can compare are, “Life on the Global Assembly Line” (LGAL) and “What I’ve Learned from Men” (WILM). LGAL gives us detailed information on “The work that multinational corporations export to the Third World” (The iDeal Reader, 104) and the affect it has on the workers, considering that “Eighty to 90 percent of the low-skilled assembly jobs” (The iDeal Reader, 102) are done by women. WILM, on the other hand is more of a strategy for women to get

the power that some men use in their daily lives to help them overpower women and the rest of the society. It is hard to believe that the same writer wrote both of these articles. Because one describes the issues that the Third World women deal with and the other encourages women to be like the men that cause the problems in the first place.

Ehrenreich

explained

that

“women

should

stop

taking

responsibility for every human interaction [they] engage in.” (The iDeal Reader, 155) Man or woman who don’t care about communicating with the society, will most likely care more about their business than the lives of the ones that are affected by it. This kind of behavior is what separates the First World from the Third world, morally. If this is suppose to give equal rights to women than we should also encourage women to join the Ultimate Fighting Championships and the war in Iraq, so they can also fight like men. Actually, Anna Jarvis wrote in her article, which was published in the Catholic New Times, that “Ehrenreich supported the participation of women in the military.” (Edified, but saddened by Ehrenreich - Letter to the Editor) Even though, back in May 24, 1993 issue of The Nation, she described American soldiers as “a three-year-old with a garden hose; someone in whose presence no one can expect to remain dry and composed for long”. (Ehrenreich’s Game) It gets a little confusing when you hear two

different points of views from the same person but at least we know that in her younger age she was very active against the war in Vietnam.

Ehrenreich drifted away from a B.A. in chemical physics and a Ph. D in biology because of the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement. She explained that she “saw a little more of the world, read some newspapers—the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, those got [her] involved.” (An Interview, 46-47) This seems to be the interesting part of her style; writing from different points of views, maybe her intension are to get critics to challenge her writing, or perhaps it’s a little more complicated than that. One theory is that she writes in a style that gets others writers to criticize her work and in return she multiplies her readers by every criticism. That is one of the reasons why she stands out from the rest. Her style of writing is very controversial and she can ignite fires with her words. This has given her the complimentary of writing some of the biggest magazines such as the Times and the Guardian. In fact it is in the best interest of the magazines to have Ehrenreich write an article or two.

Ehrenreich writing causes criticism, but she does it in a way that critics will also mention the positive remarks about her writing. Her writings will get the point across with the help of other writers not

considering that they don’t agree with the certain other issues. We can easily find a positive quote from her critics, for example Edward Edelson criticizes “The American Health Empire” but still recommends readers to read it because it is “Galvanizing, irritating, flawed and fascinating, and it presents an argument that has never been touched in what can be called the standard book on the health care crisis.” (In Sickness and in Wealth) As long as there are critics writing with enthusiasm and emotions about Ehrenreich, we can still consider her one of the best writers of our century.

Works Cited
Books Ehrenreich, Barbara. "What I’ve Learned from Men" The iDeal Reader from Adam Norman. 153. Ehrenreich, Barbara. "Life on the Global Assembly Line.” The iDeal Reader from Adam Norman. 100. Newspapers Jarvis, Anna. "Edified, but saddened by Ehrenreich. (Letter to the Editor)." Catholic New Times Nov 21. 2004: News, v28 i18 p2(1) (English). Edelson, Edward. "In Sickness and in Wealth" The Washington Post Jan 24. 1971: News, Vol. V, No. 4, pp. 1, 3. Review Kellman, Steven J. Rev. of Kipper’s Game, by Barbara Ehrenreich. Michigan Quarterly Vol. XXXIII, No. 2, Spring, 1994, pp. 375-84. Interview

Barbara Ehrenreich with Wendy Smith - Publisher’s Weekly Vol. 270, No. 30, July 26, 1993, pp. 46-47. Reproduced by permission Criticism about: Barbara Ehrenreich (1941- )

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