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“Historians differ on when the consumer culture came to dominate American culture. Some say it was in the twenties, when advertising became a major industry and the middle class bought radios to hear the ads and cars to get to the stores. … But there is no question that the consumer culture had begun to crowd out all other cultural possibilities by the years following World War II.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“When our children are old enough, and if we can afford to, we send them to college, where … the point is to acquire the skills not of positive thinking but of critical thinking.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“Given the cultural barriers to intersex conversation, the amazing thing is that we would even expect women and men to have anything to say to each other for more than ten minutes at a stretch.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“It’s even occurred to me, as a teeny little subversive whisper of a thought, that if we stop mowing the lawn right now, it will probably be a long, long time before the yard gets overrun by lions and snakes.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“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.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“Some people make stuff; other people have to buy it. And when we gave up making stuff, starting in the 1980s, we were left with the unique role of buying… We’ve shopped till we dropped alright, face down on the floor.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“It seems to me that there must be an ecological limit to the number of paper pushers the Earth can sustain.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“The less sophisticated of my forbears avoided foreigners at all costs, for the very good reason that, in their circles, speaking in tongues was commonly a prelude to snake handling. The more tolerant among us regarded foreign languages as a kind of speech impediment that could be overcome by willpower.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“if you search the bible, you will find no reference to birth control or gay marriage, and you will not find a word, strangely, about stem cell research. I have searched.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“The Republican Party: a few million gun-toting, Armageddon-ready Baptists.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“I don’t know when the cult of conspicuous busyness began, but it has swept up almost all the upwardly mobile, professional women I know. Already, it is getting hard to recall the days when, for example, ‘Let’s have lunch’ meant something other than ‘I’ve got more important things to do than talk to you right now.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“Marriage probably originated as a straightforward food-for-sex deal among foraging primates. Compatibility was not a big issue, nor, of course, was there any tension over who would control the remote.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“Yes. I think the anti-Wal-Mart is Costco, which pays much better and has much better health benefits and which is profitable and offers low prices.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“Anyone who has invented a better mousetrap, or the contemporary equivalent, can expect to be harassed by strangers demanding that you read their unpublished manuscripts or undergo the humiliation of public speaking, usually on remote Midwestern campuses.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“The media have just buried the last yuppie, a pathetic creature who had not heard the news that the great pendulum of public consciousness has just swung from Greed to Compassion and from Tex-Mex to meatballs”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“The internet was supposed to make this whole business of job searching rational and simple. You could post your resume and companies would search them and they’d find you. It doesn’t seem to work that way. There aren’t enough jobs for experienced, college educated managers and professionals.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“It’s a glorious universe the positive thinkers have come up with, a vast, shimmering aurora borealis in which desires mingle freely with their realizations. … Dreams go out and fulfill themselves; wishes need only to be articulated.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“Whenever people can access deities directly without the intervention of a religious hierarchy, they don’t need to have hierarchy so much.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“One of the most essential and mundane of human activities – taking care of children – requires high levels of anxious vigilance. … [Parents] dare not risk assuming that the sudden quiet from the toddlers’ room means they are studying with Baby Einstein. Visualize fratricidal stranglings and electric outlets stabbed with forks: this is how we have reproduced our genomes.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich

“while everything else in our lives has gotten simpler, speedier, more microwavable and user-friendly, child-raising seems to have expanded to fill the time no longer available for it.”

 

Barbara Ehrenreich