For Crying out Loud: Women's Poverty in the United States

For Crying out Loud: Women's Poverty in the United States

For Crying out Loud: Women's Poverty in the United States

For Crying out Loud: Women's Poverty in the United States


For Crying Out Loud brings together the words of welfare mothers, activist, and advocates, as well as scholars, in a poignant and powerful challenge to the impoverishment of women. Includes essays by Frances Fox Piven, Randy Albelda, Nancy Fraser, Betty Reid Mandell, and Mimi Abramovitz.


Ann Withorn

BACK IN 1986, ROCHELLE LEFKOWITZ AND I EDITED THE original version of For Crying Out Loud. Women and Poverty in the United States, with Pilgrim Press. At that time we hoped to offer a corrective to the new attention to women's historic poverty that was occurring under the catch phrase, the "feminization of poverty." Therefore, the major purpose of that book was:

to unsnarl the tangled skeins of women's poverty and to provide a more complex picture than has emerged in the media or in the recent literature. Unifying all the essays and individual accounts is the recognition that we live in a society where women's work is never done-and never paid in full, with either economic or social and psychological recognition.

Although pleased that welfare and single mothers' poverty were receiving some sympathetic mainstream notice, we thought that both media and policymakers were trying to make women's poverty into a "manageable" problem. Our fear was that all the hoopla would ignore the variety and depth of women's poverty and miss a chance to consider a full-scale set of responses. We worried about "creaming," whereby only-women who fit a Newsweek version of feminized poverty-white, formerly middle-class women who found themselves newly divorced and unable to find employment with adequate wages, benefits, and childcare-would get any help. We were concerned that women who had come from poor families, especially women of color, whose men were also poor, would be disregarded because their problems were more structural, and because they had "always been poor." We tried to show the inadequacy of stressing all women's increasing vulnerability to poverty because-while true on one level-such logic often denied the racial and class dynamics that made climbing out of poverty much more difficult for some women . . .

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