There are some bloggers who are fond of printing full articles or news stories as the appear online, in “paragraphic” chunks, which they then follow up with their own counterpointed prose interjections (in “real time”). This pattern is repeated for the rest of the article: paragraphic excerpts, counterpoint blogger observations, repeat. I suppose this works for some, but it is not my style. I prefer to link the article, maybe pull in a few excerpts, but write a generalized essay pertaining to the piece in my own essay form. I assume readers possess the wherewithal to read the article themselves and have a modicum of memory and recall that allows them to “enjoy” my article while mentally referring to the linked news article they just read. The piecemeal counterpoint format that some bloggers utilize is tiresome (to me).
Today, however, I will make an exception.
Just to prove I am capable of the counterpoint template as well!
First of all, have feminists gone off the rails? Or has The Guardian, for giving them a voice?
Whatever the case, a deranged feminist is occasionally given voice of utterance on that news site and the cringe factor of said opinion piece usually makes my intestines want to spill out my mouth and nose and every other orifice.
In today’s Guardian femcringe installment, we have a berserk broad named Rose Hackman who writes a piece called Women are just better at this stuff’: is emotional labor feminism’s next frontier? in which she questions society’s lack of reward system for women who are just expressing female nature. Hackman advises us that innate female social nature provides advantages and a backbone to the maintenance of the modern consumerist capitalist economic structure and that this primal role should not go without recognition and economic payback. And Hackman feels it is now time to recognize this monstrosity of a concept.
Without further adieu, my counterpoint post:
We remember children’s allergies, we design the shopping list, we know where the spare set of keys is. We multi-task. We know when we’re almost out of Q-tips, and plan on buying more. We are just better at remembering birthdays. We love catering to loved ones, and we make note of what they like to eat. We notice people’s health, and force friends and family to go see the doctor.
We listen to our partner’s woes, forgive them the absences, the forgetfulness, the one-track mindedness while we’re busy organizing a playdate for the kids. We applaud success when it comes: the grant that was received, the promotion. It was their doing, and ours in the background. Besides, if we work hard enough, we can succeed too: all we need to do is learn to lean in.
IOW: women care about shit men don’t. It’s astoundingly simple. Women are evolved nurturers and harvesters of the nest. Men hunt; men address the impetus of survival, which generally, is not concerned with the minutiae of the progression and perpetuation of daily interpersonal life. This is not to discount the female role. It is to merely recognize that it is its own brand of survival mechanism that millions of ensuing years of evolution endowed us with, to this decidedly civilized day. It’s called women being women. A man is not evolved to care about Q-tips or superficial exclamations of congratulations. This is not man’s role.
But what if, much like childcare and house keeping, the sum of this ongoing emotional management is yet another form of unpaid labor?
Uhm, so how does one get paid for evolutionary legacy traits?
Perhaps men can get paid for lifting that heavy item and bringing it into the house, or for having to drive the dangerous, icy road while all the children sleep in the backseat. Or for killing that bug in the living room. How do we pay people for this, and furthermore, why should women receive pay for their role, but reliance on male muscularity, strength and courage goes unrewarded?
If you think this is pushing it, you would be wrong. The concept of emotional work and emotional labor – as repeated, taxing and under-acknowledged acts of gendered performance – has been a field of serious inquiry in the social sciences for decades.
It’s just taken the rest of us a while to catch on.
“Social” and “sciences” should never be an adjoined phrase. And if they are, look at the result: pablum like Hackman’s.
Jennifer Lena, a sociologist and professor of arts administration at Columbia University, stares at me from across the rocky wooden café table we’re sharing. Our two beers stand between us, ready for consumption.
Lena doesn’t drink, though. She just stares, looking vaguely disappointed and plain unchallenged.
“Your next story is on emotional labor as the next feminist frontier?” She repeats back at me. “But that is so sociology 101! I have been teaching undergraduate students about that for years.”
I take a sip of my beer and mumble, apologetic.
In all fairness, Lena’s friendly dismissal makes a strong point. The concept has been around for over 30 years; it was first introduced by Arlie Hochschild, an academic who formally coined the concept in her 1983 book The Managed Heart.
But only recently has it slowly started to re-emerge in online debates and pop culture. Jess Zimmerman, who wrote about emotional labor for The Toast, says she was floored by the amount of feedback she received – hundreds and hundreds of women commented in fervent agreement, thanking her for finally giving them a vocabulary for what they experienced.
Left shoe: watch right shoe drop.
The next wave of feminist whining is upon us.
And since when is a wave of female internet agreement worth the bytes it rode in on?
Zimmerman framed emotional labor especially as something especially occurring in private, while academics first focused on it as a formal workplace issue. It is perhaps because more and more women are entering formerly male dominated professions that they’re noticing that extra emotional – say, “female type” – work is expected of them.
In a work context, emotional labor refers to the expectation that a worker should manipulate either her actual feelings or the appearance of her feelings in order to satisfy the perceived requirements of her job. Emotional labor also covers the requirement that a worker should modulate her feelings in order to influence the positive experience of a client or a colleague.
It also includes influencing office harmony, being pleasant, present but not too much, charming and tolerant and volunteering to do menial tasks (such as making coffee or printing documents).
Wow. Have any of these gender Pollyanna’s ever worked with the shrews I work with?
Have they ever dealt with service workers while being perceived as an ugly and physically unappealing men (something I can write volumes about)? If a woman does not find you attractive, you most likely won’t experience that mythological harmoniousness Rose Hackman prattles on about.
Think of air hostesses, which was one of Hochschild’s main examples in 1983, having to cater to clients’ needs with an accommodating smile and a sympathetic ear, no matter how tired or disgusted they are by a vomiting child or a sleazy business class male customer.
Think too of the female politician, who is expected to be likable and fun, as well intelligent and capable (if this rings a bell, it’s because Hillary Clinton’s aides are urging her to show more humor and heart).
Think of your morning Starbucks barista, who drew a smiley face on your cardboard cup of coffee this morning. Did she really want to go the extra mile today, or was it just part of the job expectation?
It’s called customer service, and it’s expected of men as well.
It’s called humanity, and it’s expected of all politicians, regardless of whether they truly possess such a thing (most likely, not).
And Hackman and her social scientist cohorts have resorted to predicating their thesis of emotional labor on happy face doodles on coffee cups? You’ve come a long way, baby.
A few Stella sips in, Lena, the sociologist, throws me a bone.
“The way I think of emotional labor goes as follows: there are certain jobs where it’s a requirement, where there is no training provided, and where there’s a positive bias towards certain people – women – doing it. It’s also the kind of work that is denigrated by society at large.”
Research suggests that cumulatively, ongoing emotion work is exhausting but rarely acknowledged as a legitimate strain – and as such, is not reflected in wages.
The growth of low-wage, service industry jobs, where “service with a smile” is an expectation, has helped further entrench the phenomenon. Here, emotional work is not an added value; it is rather a requirement to get workers to the bare minimum.
In the US, where the federal tipped minimum wage is just $2.13 an hour, this is further accentuated. In those jobs, the employer is expecting emotional output, but is unwilling to pay for it. The duty to recognize emotion work is offloaded onto the client – who is then expectant of emotional fulfillment and satisfaction before providing the extra money.
This has nefarious consequences, especially for women. According to a study by ROC United, a worker center representing restaurant workers, women living off tips in states that have $2.13 minimum tipped wages are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment on the job compared to women in states with higher base wages.
Recent data suggests at least two-thirds of the low-wage industry is female, with half of these workers women of color.
Ah yes, any sort of victim narrative, especially of the sort that feminists engage in, is never hampered by the obligatory racial injection.
And once again, wage-induced customer service is inflicted upon male and female employees alike. In fact, I would further assert that this demand is more trying on men who are not accustomed to such emotional displays of falsity; in fact, women are not harmed since such behavior synchronizes naturally with their evolutionary demeanor (which after all, is the point of Hackman’s spiel, right)?
Even in more prestigious industries, Jessica Collett, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, explains, men and women may both be engaged in the same degree of emotional labor formally, but women are expected to provide extra emotional labor on the side.
For example, boardroom members – male and female – may have to schmooze clients to the same extent (a formal expectation that goes with their jobs) but women may be expected, on top of this, to contribute to office harmony by remembering colleagues’ birthdays, or making small chit-chat to staff. Male colleagues may do this too, but if they do it will be noticed as a plus (“isn’t he sweet and generous with his time?”).
Finally, a recognition of the fact that such demands are not solely the provenance of women. Still, Hackman extends her narrative into hypothetical bullshit circumstances of a dubious nature which I believe she pulled out her vagina. I don’t know which world she lives in but the only men who do this crap are gay and no one thinks any more or less of them when they exert displays of “emotional labor.” The things Hackman lists here in the typical workplace (chit-chat, birthdays) are activities women enjoy. If anything, these are emotional labors of love for women, not drudgery. But let’s pay them for it, eh?
This remark was echoed by a successful female human rights lawyer and friend of mine, who recently complained about the expectation that she should engage with office administrative staff every morning – something she was happy to do, but also felt she had to do. She needed to be seen as kind and competent in order to be respected, something her male colleague never bothered with.
Robin Simon, a sociology professor at Wake Forest University, turned the tables on herself and said that as a female professor, she was expected to be much more emotionally aware and available in and out of the classroom than her male colleagues.
“Students expect more emotion in women,” she says, with female professors not just expected to be chirpy in the classroom (especially with the rise in student-evaluation-related employment), but also sometimes doubling up as therapists and faculty-politics peacekeepers.
Robin Simon’s observation is garbage. Her feelings, her impressions, her intuitions…these are the basis of social sciences.
Women + observation bias = social science.
“I don’t really get it. What is emotional labor?” one of my male friends asked me, busying around his kitchen, making us lunch as we took a break from working together out of his Manhattan home.
As I tried to break it down for my lunchtime cook, I saw his brows furrow in concentration and then slowly make way for confusion. My friend, a successful software engineer in his mid-30s who had shown himself an ally to feminist causes in many of our past conversations, clearly thought this one was a step too far.
“Why is the fact that women provide emotional support work, though? What if people actually enjoy it? What if women are just better at doing that? Why do we have to make that something negative?”
Stupid cuck, unseen by the camera and the pen. Realizing, finally, perhaps too late, the pure insane depths to which the modern SJW/feminist plague has infiltrated our collective mentality under the auspices of normality.
His questions may have betrayed some exasperation with me. He had, in all fairness, prepared all of the meals we had shared during our New York friendship without ever complaining.
“Why do you feminists always have to make normal things into issues to be debated?” he continued.
For him, framing emotional work as anything but natural was seen as needlessly picky; it was making something big out of something that was simply best left alone.
My friend would probably never dare say: “Oh, but women are better cooks,” “Women are more talented cleaners” or “Women are better with children.” And yet, that he was suggesting that maybe some women “are just like that” – better at emotions – seemed to be the argument I was bumping into most frequently when I brought up the argument.
Uh, that’s probably cause he’s some vegan, emasculated herb who could never bring himself to utter, much less believe, such self-evident truths. Feminism’s denial of evolution and science….feminism’s witchery…alas, is complete.
But this essentialist view doesn’t hold up academically.
In a 2005 seminal academic article on the subject using data on 355 employed and married parents, sociologist Rebecca Erickson found that not only was the brunt of emotion related work taken on by women at home, on top of child care and housework, it was also linked to gender construction, not sex.
“Part of what the research on this shows is that women’s increased propensity to engage in emotion work is not related to their sex but really their gender and the position that they have served in the family and in friendship groups, in society,” explains Collett.
This is a role we have simply become accustomed to: the woman as the emotion manager, throwing them into what Colleet calls a “second shift”.
In the bedroom too, women are expected to manage their male lovers’ emotions and sensitivities.
In a recent article in the Guardian, Alana Massey talks of the ongoing sexual inequality that exists in a post-pseudo-sexual liberation world. We may have slowly come to terms with the idea of women having sex to the degree they want, but sex positivism has by no means been followed by widespread conversations on the kind of sex women want and need in order to be fulfilled.
You might therefore also think of women feeling the need to fake orgasms as not just a consequence of a society that still views sexual intercourse in a male-centric way, but as a way for women to cater first and foremost to the male ego.
A study published in 2011, collecting data from 71 sexually active heterosexual women, found that while all women reported experiencing orgasm generally (mostly during foreplay), 79% of them faked orgasms during penetrative vaginal sex over 50% of the time (25% of surveyed women faked 90% of the time).
The study found that 66% those women faking (or making “copulatory vocalizations”, as the study put it) reported doing it in order to speed up their partner’s ejaculation. Even more to the point, 92% of the women reported they very strongly felt the technique boosted their partner’s self-esteem, which 87% of them said was why they were doing it in the first place.
And we reach a point in the article where Hackman can barely contain her deviant dystopic vision. She has flown off the rails.
Disclaiming congenital female nature as a cultural artifact. This is the epitome of feminism’s witchery. Feminism would relish a future in which science can manipulate the “switches” that steer the roots of our elemental, primitive course.
Sara Thompson, a teacher turned financial litigation lawyer in her early 30s, is by all means and purposes in a very egalitarian relationship.
Her husband and partner of 10 years is a successful researcher, administrator and professor at an Ivy League university. Together they share a life filled with formal and informal arrangements that keep their relationship sane and seemingly equal from the outside.
But get Thompson speaking about the emotion work and every day extra effort in household organization that goes on as part of her romantic relationship, and some clear disparities start to emerge.
Through an upbringing where she was reprimanded when she took up too much space, she has been shaped into being someone who is constantly, chronically paying attention to the environment around her.
“I am a person today who is very aware and conscious of the loudness of my voice, the presence of my body in a public space, the comfort level of the people around me,” she explains.
Much of what she lists doing isn’t simply cleaning and maintenance, but it is closely related. It involves thought, and planning:
“Hanging stuff on the walls, putting photographs in picture frames, thinking about whether we should buy new sheets because the old ones are getting old, thinking about the time that we are going to have dinner, thinking about what we are going to have for dinner.”
It is not just that Thompson is cooking dinner, it is that she is planning dinner menus (what would he like to eat?), and thinking of what time to have it – all types of thoughtfulness that go unnoticed. “It really annoys me that I have to think about this. It’s not fair, it’s taxing on me”, she says.
Birth control planning is another issue. “I am the one who has to do the entire research and break it down for him. ‘How long does it take you to get pregnant after the IUD?’ he asks me. “Well, why wouldn’t you make time to make that research if you are thinking we will have kids?”
The same is valid for smaller details of everyday life. “He is looking for stuff. Have you seen my nail filer? He goes to the closet and says he cannot see it. It’s there. ‘Where do we keep the kitchen towels?’ He asks me time and time again. After the third or the fourth time, that shit needs to be learned.”
She continues: “It suggests to me that there is a detachment to home that I do not have the luxury of having. Because if I did, then our everyday life would be a nightmare. So I take on that role. That’s not my authentic self, but I have no choice,” she says.
So Thompson picks her battles (don’t we all?), and the question remains – if we are socialized from a young age to be this way, is it possible that we really are better at it, even if nature did not make us so? Should we just shut up and get on with it because the world would probably stop turning if we didn’t?
Or is it time we started forgetting the birthdays too, time we stopped falsely screaming ecstasy, and demanded adequate, formal remuneration for emotion work provided in the workplace as a skill?
Now that, right there, would probably be a shake-patriarchy-to-its-core revolution.
And the concluding paragraph, the apocryphal case study, the dénouement.
This is the most important passage, for it lays out Hackman’s, (and by definition, all feminist witchery’s motivation). That gnawing resentment liberated women experience when they realize their primal drives are completely at odds with the dictates that today’s sexually egalitarian, consumerist matrix demands of their uncooperative minds. The dissonance which today’s female experiences when her body and limbic system clashes with the exigencies of being a successful consumer and worker-bee in modern society are the fungal roots of feminism.
So feminists defer to witchery in order to substantiate their quackery.