Tell Them Who I am, the lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow Essay (Critical Writing)


Liebow wrote about Tally’s Corner in 1964 where he disclosed the nature of life in urban centers especially those of blacks. The book enlightened people about the importance of improving lives for there to be sustainable development. The book exposed presented a different perspective about the perception of black people.

In ‘Tell Them Who I am,’ Liebow presents the theories surrounding homelessness while disclosing the real dissimilarities and dignities constitutes homelessness. The status of women in relation to homelessness is carefully documented.

The write reveals that homeless women are not those seen in streets instead, the real ones exist within society implying that they interrelate and interact with other members of society. It is therefore clear that ‘homelessness’ in this contest is not used to refer to women lacking places they call home instead it reports the deprived positions of women in society.

Women are denied opportunities in society such as suffrage rights, political rights and economic rights. The problems faced by women according to Liebow are both domestic and external. This paper therefore analyzes the challenges faced by women according to Liebow and some of the ways that women can apply in acquiring their identity in society.

Challenges Facing Women in Society

Work and Job

For somebody to survive in the modern society, he/she must work hence work grants an individual identity. Jobs that people do provide them with independence and connects them to the wider society (Lieboe 51). Women are not given equal opportunities that would guarantee employment. They cannot access telephone services that could link them with potential employers.

The employers on their part contribute to women woes because they do not make efforts of calling them since they cannot access communication lines (Liebow 53). The writer though reports that it is not the interest of women to be homeless since they have the capacity to work and provide themselves with whatever they want.

The society is to blame for homelessness. The society associates homeless women with all kinds of evil such as alcoholism and prostitution. The shelter staff is not excluded either because it treats homeless women with low esteem to an extent of proposing against their employment.

Family Life

The homeless women have no families, their relatives disown them and no one associates with them. There is no comfortable life since the couple does not settle to char their way out. Freedom of expression and association is completely cut, the management restricts associations and women are not allowed to take their own stands pertaining to their lives.

Every form of interaction is controlled and activity is performed in openness, there is no secrecy. Women have nothing they can call their own; the family no longer exercise its basic role of socialization since every member of society is on their own. Life is unfavorable especially for women because they are treated as kids and people with mental illness (Liebow 87).

Domestic Violence

It is reported that Biff, Natalia’s husband was violent and drunkard, he could force Rick and Natalie to spend their nights in the colds running away from beatings (Liebow 88). Men have no respect to women even to their little jobs because they demand attention from them even when they are busy.

Natalia is reported to have been hospitalized trying to commit suicide because of pressure from her family. Male patriarchy contributes to domestic violence because men think they own women and they decide what women should do.

Lack of Independence

Women do not have independent rights or freedoms, they are told what to do and how they should live. Regina was snatched away the child by her parents on claims that she could not raise it. The kid was later on taught to call Regina by her names, which upset her so much.

Men used women as sex objects and dumped them away. The case of Regina serves as an example since she got pregnant at the age of 15. Regina herself does not know the father because she was born out of wedlock.

Victims of Crime

It is reported that Regina fell a victim of rape by unknown assailant who broke in her room and forced her to have oral sex. The act affected her psychologically calling for a therapy treatment. The crime affected her greatly forcing her to quit working hence depending on grants again.

Most women at the time were mistreated by their husbands and forced to divorce with children without any property. They could only depend on well-wishers and humanitarian organizations to provide refuge to them. Women engaged in prostitution and drug abuse because they had nothing to do in the society, they did them to earn livings.

Critique: Feminist Movements

Women have since stood out strongly to oppose the existing social organization where men dictate everything for them. They are against injustice such as domestic violence, lack maternity leave, unequal pay, sexual harassment and sexual violence as well.

The initial campaigns targeted women suffrage, which later extended to demanding for gender equality in law and culture. Liebow wrote at a time when gender equality was at its peak. More developments were championed after Second World War. The wave brought about more changes, which liberated women from men captivity.

The movements have succeeded in changing people’s perception about the role of women in the society. Women in the modern world can participate in democratic processes meaning that they can vote and be voted for. Education is no longer a men’s affair but women can also participate and compete if they so wish.

Separation and divorce is not the way it used to be as reported by Liebow, whatever the couple had accumulated is shared equally should divorce occur.

Many women have taken over leadership positions and are proving to be equally competent. This has greatly affected gender roles and division of labor within households. Women have also achieved a lot in religious front since women have been ordained as bishops especially in the Anglican Church.


Elliot Liebow exposes some of the injustices that women went through during the dark ages of the world. The injustices revealed how serious the plight of women was in the society.

The ideas acted as a benchmark for some feminist activists who moved with speed to address the challenges. A lot have been achieved but more should be done if gender equality has to be realized fully. The campaign should be all-inclusive meaning that it should involve women alone.

Work Cited

Liebow, Elliot. Tell them who I am, the Lives of Homeless Women. London, UK: Simon and Schuster. 1993.

This critical writing on Tell Them Who I am, the lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow was written and submitted by user Sadie O. to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

You can donate your paper here.

More Sociology Paper Examples