In a remarkable pairing, two renowned social critics offer a groundbreaking anthology that examines the unexplored consequences of globalization on the lives of women worldwide
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.
The current discourse on globalization, according to the authors, has little to say about the "migration of maids, nannies, nurses, sex workers, and contract brides," since, to most economists, these women "are just individuals making a go of it." The positive effects of their labor are sometimes noted: the money they remit to home countries is a major source of foreign exchange, and the work they do in the host country enables a large pool of upwardly mobile First World women to pursue productive careers. The negative consequences, which can include emotional hardships caused by leaving children behind as well as physical strains, are rarely acknowledged. Social critics Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and Hochschild (The Time Bind) point out that in previous centuries the developed world imported natural resources, and now the import du jour is women, ideally, "happy peasant" women who can care for the elderly and disabled, lovingly raise children and provide sexual services for men. The editors have gathered some 15 essays on aspects of "the female underside of globalization" e.g., Filipina housekeepers in Hong Kong, Latina domestic workers in Los Angeles, sexual slaves in Thailand, Vietnamese contract brides mostly written by academics working in the field, but largely jargon-free. While one small book can't say everything about a major global phenomenon, Ehrenreich and Hochschild have at least brought attention to these women's plight. Maps not seen by PW.