This book is a collection of articles addressing different aspects of globalisation and the changing role of women. As its title suggests it looks at nannies, maids, and sex workers and is edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild. Overall it is well written, well researched and very informative. It is also quite emotive.
If I were to criticise one thing, it would be that in parts of the book I felt there was an information overload that though relevant made it easy to lose interest.
The chapter on Love and Gold draws our attention to how alike the women are, be it the ones that migrate or those that hire them. The migrant women feel guilty; most have children that they left in the care of grandmothers, aunts and fathers. Their first world counterparts have left their children with the nannies for a job and career.
Global Woman is not about apportioning blame, but taking responsibility. It argues that “the value of the caregivers would likely go up if men were more involved in it, removing the social class stigma and the low market value for care.
In the Nanny Dilemma the author says: “we are more like our nannies than we realise strung out between the old ways and the new between the demands of money and the demands of love. They have chosen to give their children less mothering so they can make more money and so have we. Our similarities rather than the differences make the situation so painful.”
The chapter on Invisible labours: Caring for the Independent person left me both furious and sad. Disabled people often need help with their daily routines and most get help from care givers now referred to as personal attendants. What’s sad is that the disabled persons never form attachments with their care givers but rather expect them to be invisible and to feign no emotion, regardless of how unusual and disturbing the service they were rendering is. Care drain is an inevitable outcome of globalisation.
What the book has achieved is to out a human face on the people who do what many consider jobs beneath them, the nanny, care worker, domestic help, and even the sex workers. It highlights the hypocrisy of society. It shines the spotlight on the inevitably hurt, the children left behind, feeling abandoned and unloved.
“The notion of extracting resources from the third world to enrich the first world is NOT new, only difference now is that Love is the new gold”. Today’s imperialism does not issue from the barrel of a gun, creating not a White man’s burden but a dark child’s burden.
Global woman makes for a good read, simple language and real life accounts about real people. It pulls on the heart strings and seeks understanding for people who rarely get a chance to be heard. I recommend it.