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Get to Work: . . . And Get a Life, Before It's Too Late Paperback – May 29, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014303894X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038948
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A former attorney and professor of philosophy, Hirshman labeled child care as a low-status job and urged all women to rejoin the work force in her now infamous American Prospect article "Homeward Bound." Now she's back, using statistical research and convincing anecdotal evidence to challenge the politically correct assertion-as well as the moral, value and economic judgements inherent therein-that children, and ultimately society, benefit when mom stays at home. In her attempts to "restart the revolution," Hirshman spotlights the emptiness of "'choice feminism,' the shadowy remnant of the original women's movement," that puts the freedom to choose before progress or equality. "Stay-at-home moms do not like to hear that the sacrifice of their education, talents and prospects to their spouses' aspirations and their children's needs was a mistake," writes Hirshman, "so they contend the stay-at-home decision cannot be judged." But by making that "stay-at-home decision," Hirshman contends, women are creating, collectively, their own glass ceiling, in the end harming society as a whole by keeping educated, affluent women hidden at home. In this slim treatise, Hirshman adds intelligent and much-needed dialogue to an important and emotional debate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Hirshman, retired philosophy professor, expands on an article she wrote that ignited a firestorm of criticism from the Right and the Left. She criticized the decision of many well-educated women to return to hearth and home, maintaining that the decisions these women think are entirely personal are influenced by social--and even governmental--pressures to stay home. Hirshman responds to blunt criticism that what women decide is "their own business" by suggesting they test their decisions against canons of Western philosophical ideas of the good and worthy life: Are they using their human capacities to the fullest, maximizing their independence, and doing no social harm? By leaving the workplace, these women are setting back achievements for gender equality and demonstrating indifference toward the larger society. Hirshman is critical in general of women who have settled for a "useless choice feminism," one that fails to address the issues of work and family life. This slim book is likely to continue to fan the fires of an argument that hasn't lost its incendiary potential since The Feminine Mystique. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

A retired labor lawyer and professor, Linda Hirshman is the author of Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World; Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex; and A Woman's Guide to Law School. She received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and taught Philosophy and Women's Studies at Brandeis University, specializing in the study of social movements. In recent years, she has appeared on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, various NPR shows and the Colbert Report. She also has written for such publications as the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Ms., Glamour, Slate, the Daily Beast, and Salon.com. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

In short, I believe, while Ms. Hirshman's book contains some basic truths, it does not offer a palatable solution, and is often critical and judgemental.
MJR
Ms. Hirshman is well aware that it is your choice to stay at home with the kids, but she disagrees that it is the right choice, and I believe she makes a strong case.
Tamineh
She considers Gloria Steinem too right wing and Naomi Wolf only a "so-called feminist", so you have to travel pretty far left to be where she is coming from.
Craig Matteson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Mercy Otis Warren on June 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Previous reviewers here have complained about Hirschman's alleged lack of "balance" in this book. But the author never claims to present a "balanced" view of the work/home dilemma that many middle-class and privileged women face. (BIG HINT: the subtitle of her book includes the word "manifesto"! It's printed very cleverly as a "little red book!" Get it?)

This book is a polemic, not a sociological or historical analysis of the work/home issue like Judith Warner's _Perfect Madness_. _Get to Work_ challenges women and men to ask themselves the classic philosophical question, "what makes for a good life?" and challenges them to defend their choices, understanding that their choices have moral implications for themselves, their families, and the rest of the world.

The previous reviewer asks what she thinks is a rhetorical question: "Imagine the outrage if someone wrote a manifesto saying all women should be compelled to stay home and raise babies!" I think that book's been written, several times over, by Laura Schlessinger, James Dobson, Danielle Crittenden, Caitlyn Flanagan, Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Phyllis Schlaffly, Rick Santorum, and dozens more reactionary celebrities who cling to essentialist ideas about gender because of their fear of American values, democracy, and modernity. We're so accustomed to hearing the "opt-out" decision framed as a moral choice that sanctifies wives and mothers who don't work for pay and demonizes women who do as grasping, unnatural, and selfish that it is a bracing shock to the system to read an argument that turns this so-called "morality" on its head.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By MJR on August 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Upfront, so you know my "politics," I am a 40ish working mom with an advanced degree, and 2 toddlers at home. My husband and I make about same salary, and financially either one of us could choose to stay at home.

Overall, I found Ms. Hirshman's manifesto to be overly harsh and unbalanced. I do agree with some of her points -- women should be able to be financially independent, and it is important to get an education and pursue something you enjoy, and I also agree that changing diapers and some other "baby duties" can be a bit tedious (although for me personally, those things are far eclipsed by the joy I get from my children). I also agree that husbands need to pitch in, and do an equal share around the house and with the children. I also think that female attrition in the workplace does make it more difficult to get equal treatment.

However, that said, I miss my children terribly and I can certainly understand why a parent would want to be home with their kids or work part-time. Furthermore, I think it is absolutely ludicrous to expect a parent to sacrifice the happiness of their family "for the good of womanhood/society." It seems that searching for a way to align family and societal interests would be more productive.

I do think it is risky to quit working and be completely dependent on your spouse for income. Although my spouse and I trust each other completely, I have seen men take advantage when the balance of power (money) shifts in their favor -- so, I understand the concern. In my experience, the workplace seems to be accomodating to me as a parent, but less so for him (i.e. my employer tolerates my taking time-off for kid-related things much better than his).
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65 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
At the end of the day, the freedom to choose one's way of life is the greatest freedom of them all. However, Hirshman raises an incredibly important point: there are consequences to our choices and we need to realize what they are. Hirshman's thesis may be contentious, but you can't say she doesn't have a point.

Even if you're the happiest housewife in the world, it's important to recognize the cost of your happiness: economic freedom, social prestige, and intellectual productivity. Even if -you- don't put much value on these, you must acknowledge that society does. And society will judge you by them.

Of course, at the end of the day, it is every woman's right to choose how she will live her life. But this book raises a point that is strangely ignored in this age of equality: this choice that each woman makes is the exact same choice as is made by each man.

The question of equality between men and women cannot be considered without an inquiry such as Hirshman's. And each woman's choice as to who she is relative her husband and children should not be made without considering the points Hirshman raises.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Linda Hirshman has a definite opinion -- that women should not waste their educations raising kids. I happen to think that spending time raising the next generation is worthy of an educated person's time. However, she makes some excellent points about how unequal the workplace still is, and why this is a problem. She also has a concrete solution: fix the tax code that unfairly penalizes a married woman's income. This is a valid point and it is refreshing to hear someone focus on something concrete that could change in our current system. However, I believe that our current system of only allowing full-time employees access to affordable health insurance is a greater problem. My husband and I seriously considered splitting the child care and the income-producing work. The fact that one of us had to maintain full-time status for health insurance meant that one of us would focus on child care, thus the division of labor.

A negative in the book is that she fails to account for how children will be raised if everyone is working full time at more exciting and lucrative jobs. And the title may put some people off from the start, particularly those who collapse into bed every night after a day of taking care of children. We wouldn't tell a nanny or a day care provider to "get to work" but somehow people don't mind saying this to at-home mothers who work at least as hard (since they are usually also cooks, financial managers, house cleaners, etc.). However, the book is concise and to the point, and she is not trying to hide the fact that she is making a value judgment.
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