Laraine Burns (a pseudonym, as are the other names in the essay below) took my course in Marxism while a senior premedical student at M.I.T. She was one of only two women in the class; the only Black person; the only student from anything other than a solidly middle-class family. It showed: in spite of M.I.T.'s insistent drive to make students forget who they are, she doggedly maintained her sense of social location; she was the only student in class who had a firm sense of what non-elite American life is about.
Sheila Rowbotham's Woman's Consciousness, Man's World was one of the books we read and discussed in the course. In chapter 5, "A Woman's Work Is Never Done," Rowbotham makes some remarks about the introduction of consumer goods into the home. I asked the students to think about the matter, and write a short essay describing the impact of consumer goods on the lives of their families. Some of what Laraine wrote follows.—Louis Kampf