Re: Emotional Labor

1

LB knows she can just make a post herself, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:42 AM
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At work, neb.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:43 AM
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The back end of the site is blocked from here. I can try to get enough signal on my phone, and I've done it for things like anonymizing comments, but posting from work is a bitch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:45 AM
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Oh I totally skipped the first sentence of the post. I'm sorry!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:46 AM
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Would you like to talk about your feelings?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:50 AM
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In talking about this elsewhere, I said that it was helpful to think of doing foster care as being paid for emotional work, although my work-work job pays more in an hour than I'd "make" in a day for that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:53 AM
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Men aren't required to read the fine print.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:56 AM
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I liked the point that it's usually a tell-tale when you start talking about inherent traits, to remove them from the market. One example was "women are inherently nurturing,"as a justification for men to get the benefits of emotional handholding without having to reciprocate.

My wife and I are pretty good about listening to each other; her job is retail, so she has a lot more bitching about customers to process than I have. "Grr, the plans weren't really finished when they were submitted," covers several days of frustration, while each customer can be annoying in different ways.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 7:56 AM
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Jammies does a lot of the home-ec organizational work - he's usually ahead of me on trip planning, weekend planning, sending gifts and cards for birthdays, knowing where we are on the laundry cycle, etc. I always assumed I'd live in a household that fell apart along those lines, since I was not going to be terribly organized about it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:01 AM
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I'm pretty good at the emotional labor of listening to people's problems and giving comfort or advice. I suck balls at the whole presents and cards and birthdays and anniversaries thing. I honestly haven't bought a card in two decades.

The emotional labor of maintaining ties and making social arrangements is something I'm just starting to really appreciate. Being single meant doing all that myself, and I'm not very good at it. Now I'm coupled I find myself doing a lot of the arranging of time together and finding stuff to do. It's much more demanding than I had thought. I'm improving, though. Slowly.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:04 AM
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Our washing machine has a light that says where it is on the laundry cycle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:04 AM
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I think it's going to be a lot easier to live in a home where I'm the only adult and I do all that work than in a home with another adult is there but I still do basically all of it. I've been trying to think of exceptions but other than that she sends her family photos and I don't do that for her anymore (nor do I keep up with my own relatives) I'm coming up blank. Probably living in a relationship that unbalanced on any level would be painful for the person doing all of it, but I don't know how well my personal rankings translate anyhow.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:04 AM
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Having read the article but not the MeFi thread yet, the comparison to sex work struck me in a way that wasn't mentioned there: some non-negligible amount of what sex workers do is exactly along the lines of "Pretend to find you fascinating, $100. Soothe your ego so you don't get angry, $150". Just at their usual hourly rate instead of a distinct menu of emotional-support options, AFAIK.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:20 AM
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I overheard this vaguely insane conversation yesterday in the break room. A woman was on the phone with (I assume) her significant other who was ill (and possibly away from home). She kept saying, "Well, if you feel that bad, you should go to Urgent Care, maybe the ER," and the person on the other end of the phone would talk for ten minutes. Then, she'd say something like, "Please, I am worried about you. You should hang up and call the doctor right now and then call me back." Then, they'd talk more. I wanted to pull her to the side and say, "Look, if s/he (but we know this must be a guy, right?) is that sick, they would be at the doctor already. What s/he wants is your attention and sympathy. I've been there. Maybe have him call his mom or something?" The call lasted my entire lunch. I bet it was exhausting for her.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:23 AM
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The flip side of this is that something in 14 sounds like co-dependency. Ydnew's colleague is not holding healthy boundaries either in that situation.

The therapy terms that I've heard used are over-functioning and under-functioning, and it's common around emotional labor for people to get locked in a rut where one person is always overfunctioning and one person is always underfunctioning. It's generally not a good thing to be locked into a role and unable to move freely in and out of the roles. But both the over- and under-functioner do get some payoff - the overfunctioner gets to be indispensable and a savior and make all the decisions about what should happen. The underfunctioner gets to be lazy and indecisive and can shrug off consequences. (In a model like Ydnew's colleague, at least.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:30 AM
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Underfunctioning sounds pretty great. What's the downside?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:34 AM
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You're married to someone who's annoyed with you all the time?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:35 AM
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You're constantly lurching from crisis to crisis and either people bail you out or you actually let things explode and suffer consequences. Perpetually letting small problems deteriorate into giant problems.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:37 AM
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17: That's not really something I can avoid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:38 AM
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I like the listening/advising kind of emotional labor too -- I'm nosy as all get out. It's more fun with acquaintances than with close relationships, though, because with close relationships, the listening gets repetitive -- there's less payoff for the listener in terms of narrative interest, because you already know all the facts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:39 AM
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I think if you give relationship advice, you should be able to say "no spoilers" the next time they come to talk to you. Then open the divorce listings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:49 AM
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some non-negligible amount of what sex workers do is exactly along the lines of "Pretend to find you fascinating, $100. Soothe your ego so you don't get angry, $150". Just at their usual hourly rate instead of a distinct menu of emotional-support options, AFAIK.

Someone in the MeFi thread posted a link about MyFreeCams and other camgirl sites, suggesting that in fact one of the big appeals of these sites is the ability to buy an attractive young woman's attention for a little bit. (One of the women on the camming site said that she has a regular who mostly just wants to chat with her about books.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:52 AM
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Which suggests that at some point she said to herself, "How can I monetize this?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:56 AM
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I think the whole "we should get paid for this" approach is a bit off. Especially given the reality of lots of couples with significant income disparities. Separating finances and paying my wife to deal with all the annoying things I don't want to do, even at a relatively high rate, would only make these kinds of problems worse.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 8:59 AM
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Maybe this is clarified at MeFi, but I'm confused at how emotional labor and domestic labor are being conflated in this here thread. 18 sounds like it has a lot more to do with someone who's underfunctioning at life than someone who's failing to deal with their emotional shit. I mean, the latter can bleed into the former, but that's usually an actual clinical problem - somebody who ruminates so much about how their landlord spoke to them on the phone that they neither pay rent nor find a new apartment is probably not just lacking a sympathetic ear at home. But plenty of people can fail to deal with their emotional shit and yet still pay the mortgage, get the kids to school on time, have clean clothes to wear, etc. I'm not buying that everyone who's in denial about their mommy issues is headed towards homelessness.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:01 AM
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But plenty of people can fail to deal with their emotional shit and yet still pay the mortgage, get the kids to school on time, have clean clothes to wear, etc.

A guy I know manages this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:02 AM
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I haven't read the linked article, or the MeFi thread yet, but I have strong (and non-completely formed) opinions on the subject.

I used to be quite bad at performing or being aware of emotional labor. I've worked to improve, and have gotten the point where I am still bad at some things, but aware of my weakness, and fairly good at other things.

I'm an introvert, so I'm terrible at maintaining lose relationships. I have friends (who I like) that I've barely talked to in a couple years years. I have the habit that if I don't have time to actually talk and catch-up I can't be bothered to send a quick, "hello, thinking of you, don't have time to talk" note.

On the other hand it's somehow happened that, at work, I'm often the person who's most attentive to the big picture, which includes both the the larger project, and also everyone's emotional states.

Going from a clueless adolescent to my current state required some knocks from a cluebat, but it was mostly driven by a basic sense of wanting to be decent to people. So I'm firmly on the side of, "this is not too much to ask." (While still being an introvert who mostly wants to be left the fuck alone).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:05 AM
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25 is overstated. People operate in domains - totally competent at work, incompetent at keeping the house clean, etc. Overfunctioning and underfunctioning is domain-specific, and the disasters for underfunctioning are domain-specific, too. And everyone does this, but there are healthy ranges and unhealthy extremes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:06 AM
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To say a bit more, take Ydnew's colleague. The guy on other end presumably lurches from crisis to crisis, and handles it by calling the colleague, who breaks it down into baby steps he can handle, or fixes it herself, or occasionally does not fix it and he either steps up or lets it fall apart.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:09 AM
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Possibly. Or maybe he's never put his hand in the garbage disposal before and was confused.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:10 AM
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,I wanted to pull her to the side and say, "Look, if s/he (but we know this must be a guy, right?) is that sick, they would be at the doctor already. What s/he wants is your attention and sympathy

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Men are also famous for avoiding medical attention, aren't they?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:12 AM
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Anyway, I knew a guy who was perfectly capable but who just didn't think that going to the hospital was required immediately after cutting off a finger. His family thought he was nuts but (assuming reattachment is not an option as was clear in this case), what's the point of rushing?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:13 AM
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25: The MeFi thread rolls together emotional labor and a particular kind of domestic labor in a way that should probably be split up for clarity, but they really are related in a way that makes putting them together understandable.

Both emotionally and practically, there's a lot of mental labor in terms of keeping track of stuff. You listen to your kids attentively because they need to talk about stuff and it's important that they feel heard, but also because when they're home late and you're trying to figure out where they are, you have some good guesses about where and with whom.

Paying attention to what your partner enjoys eating, and remembering when you're at the grocery store, so there are wasabi almonds around when they're wanted: emotional labor or practical domestic work? Picking up a larger share of domestic chores when they're temporarily overworked or otherwise overwhelmed -- again, same categorization problem.

This sort of active thoughtfulness is really necessary to keep functioning relationships going, but it does take a lot of mental effort.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:18 AM
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34

Reader, he finished repairing the mower. After removing the spark plug.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:18 AM
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32: So, what seemed to be more urgent at the moment? I mean, someone's going to have to stitch up the wound sometime, and while it's still fresh seems ideal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:19 AM
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34 to 35.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:20 AM
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34: You know Lou Gerstner?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:21 AM
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This guy was professionally involved in cutting grass at the time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:21 AM
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30: "Well, I reached down their with my hand when I heard him growling and I mean that thing about ripped my fingers off."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:22 AM
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Also, his accident wasn't quite so stupid. The mower was off.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:23 AM
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If you spin the blade of a mower (for example, while changing it), you can re-start the engine. Which is why you're supposed to remove the spark plug.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:24 AM
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"but as a social unit we're kind of terrible at keeping up social bonds in a depressing and uncivilized kind of way. We'd both be better off if someone in the relationship was getting that sort of thing done."
This is us, too. We almost totally fail at one-on-one (couple-on-couple?) interaction with our friends and only end up seeing them at larger events with host-organized invitations.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:24 AM
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39 -their + there


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:25 AM
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When I first head the term "emotional labor," I assumed it mean the effort spent suppressing the expression of emotions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:32 AM
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Nah, it's actually a term identifying the kind of woman who gets all overexcited about a little discomfort during childbirth. ("What's all that noise from Labor and Delivery?" "One of the patients seems to be having an emotional labor.")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:37 AM
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33: The "planning ahead" labor is the one that's the most draining, in my experience. E.g., we need to mow the lawn and use the weedwhacker and do the grocery shopping, but I can't handle the weedwhacker and everything needs to be done before the Calabat goes down for a nap, and he obviously can't be watched by the person running the lawn care equipment, so we need to get to the store half an hour ago.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:37 AM
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42: Yes, us too. When I was single and for the first year or two of marriage, I sent Christmas cards. Then we got busy and it slid; it nags us every November, but I know that it's a task that's purely mine if we need to get it out.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:37 AM
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I know it's a symbolic example but all the foofaraw over Christmas cards sure has me glad I don't celebrate the holiday at all.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:50 AM
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I don't know that anyone cares all that much about them, but it does make for a yearly check on your contacts list. (I'm not sure if we've ever sent cards. Maybe one year?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 9:53 AM
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The emotional coal face slog of the family I grew up in was exhausting but for friends its no problem probably because there is an underlying recognition it's a choice not an unavoidable obligation. Turns out wrt family it IS an avoidable obligation, surprising those who'd been presuming not!

We usually do Christmas cards, and a big party, but have skipped cards a few years when there was a nightmare level of other stuff going on. Not sure we've skipped the party? Think I would remember that.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 10:08 AM
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We came up with a great plan for sending cards on a different holiday. Either groundhogs day or a rotating minor holiday. (The latter plan having the advantage of if you miss one holiday to can just fall back to another one.) It's never going to happen though, neither of us care enough about it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 10:09 AM
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U,petgi, I love this idea. We discussed buying an extra box of Jonathan Meades' pigeon snaps and sending cards from it while we are on vacation, but decided that might be a bit disturbing for some recipients.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 10:16 AM
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In honor of this thread I just emailed my mother to ask what I should get my sister for her birthday (but at least I remembered about the birthday on my own!).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 10:22 AM
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Aargh! This is a real bugbear for me--I do a great deal of the second shift and 70% of the emotional work for the family. I wish I was compensated in some way! Also, there is a slow building of resentment--my partner has gone through two jobs and a major depression in the last 5 years. I feel like I take care of everyone else, but who takes care of me? It's exacerbated by living far away from my family. I don't have much of a support network.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:10 AM
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Aargh! This is a real bugbear for me--I do a great deal of the second shift and 70% of the emotional work for the family. I wish I was compensated in some way! Also, there is a slow building of resentment--my partner has gone through two jobs and a major depression in the last 5 years. I feel like I take care of everyone else, but who takes care of me? It's exacerbated by living far away from my family. I don't have much of a support network.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:10 AM
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Clearly, it bothers me so much I had to post it twice! Sorry for the double post.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:11 AM
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Sometimes sexism is so great. I offload so much of this kind of thing (keeping in touch with friends, maintaining relationships with family) onto my wife, but she seems to enjoy it more than me and hopefully it's not so much offloading as to incur divorce #3. But, seriously, "sexism hurts men too" is bullshit, in this particular respect it's awesome for men.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:26 AM
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#3?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:29 AM
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I was going to agree with 24 that the "paid work" frame isn't entirely helpful, but maybe it is in the following sense: a lot more paying jobs than we realize are basically emotional work. Not just prostitutes, but also bartenders, barbers/hairstylists, arguably some large chunk of office workers*, and probably a lot more. It's almost never the ostensible job, but it's often (as with bartenders) a widely-recognized component.

But I still don't think that gets you anywhere wrt domestic life. If one partner is doing all the emotional work, the problem isn't that they're not getting cash, it's that they're giving without receiving. Is the solution to inequitable sexual interest payment? Actual domestic labor is directly analogous to paid work - if the SAH partner doesn't clean the house, you could hire a replacement. But, despite the examples above, you can't hire a substitute for an emotionally connected partner. That's kind of the point of partnering with somebody. "You don't pay attention to my needs." "Here's $50, now we're even." Is that a good solution in anyone's view? If not, why are we talking money?

*in pop culture, you've got secretaries like Jennifer from WKRP, but I think it's more than that; you could argue that one of the reasons for organizational bloat is that you need to have a critical mass of workers such that some number of them will take on that work; again, more often than not women, but certainly not exclusively - even if you exclude "sensitive" men who very much fulfill the traditional female role, you still are going to have some men who are more attuned to everyone's emotional state and do their part to keep things running smoothly - "Boss, Watson in 3G has been a bit overstretched lately, maybe put Jones on that committee instead."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:30 AM
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So is the bartender you tell your troubles to a real thing? I have never had a conversation with a bartender ever.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:35 AM
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59.1: A shit-ton of service work involves emotional labor because it's tipped. There is a direct financial penalty for not putting in the emotional effort to act happy and upbeat.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:38 AM
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One other thing: Obviously much of this breaks down along gender lines, but a lot of what's being discussed is clearly introvert/extrovert*, and I'm not sure it's fair for an extrovert who marries an introvert to complain that the introvert isn't engaging enough with the outside world. That's the package you signed up for. I married a non-sports person; it would be absurd for me to be unhappy that AB doesn't do her part in teaching the kids to throw a ball or shoot a basket. "Why must I do all the athletic work in this household? Do you know how much college coaches get paid? But I have to do all this for NOTHING."

It's important to have language for this stuff, and more awareness is needed (so that "I'm an introvert" doesn't become "therefore I should be able to come home from work, watch TV for 5 hours without speaking to anyone, and go to bed undisturbed."), but I feel like maybe there's an urge to turn a descriptive statement about how domestic/partnered life works into a normative one. Or to put it simply, which one of LB or Buck is the bad feminist? I'm pretty sure that answer is "neither", but the discussion seems to be pushing for someone (other than The Patriarchy) to blame.

*or however you want to define the divide


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:39 AM
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I think of extrovert/introvert as having a very specific, very different meaning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:41 AM
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There is a direct financial penalty for not putting in the emotional effort to act happy and upbeat.

I think you're conflating two things: seeming cheerful is a performance (one that takes an emotional toll), but responding to a customer's mood is emotional labor in the sense being discussed. A server being cheerful at me when I'm feeling baleful is not performing emotional labor.

And yes, neb, bartenders really do talk to people responsively. That's part of the appeal of being a regular.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:43 AM
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63: Hence the asterisk. But several of the comments above, including LB's in the OP, are clearly pointing in that direction. I mean, how else to describe 42?

FB suggests to me that "introvert" has come to mean something other than what it's plain English meaning has long been - I'm not sure, I never read any of those self-satisfied "This is what being an Introvert REALLY means" links - but I certainly think it's roughly aligned with the sort of person who expends little or no energy on maintaining external (to immediate family) relationships, which is something mentioned at least 4 times to date as an example of emotional labor.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:47 AM
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59: I think the "I should get paid for this" framing is bitching rather than an actual suggestion; monetary payment for labor within a relationship is pretty weird even where it's obviously the sort of thing that you'd have to pay for from a third party, like making dinner. Someone complaining that they did all the cooking by talking about what their partner would have to pay for takeout and suggesting that the partner should pay them instead would be making a point, but probably wouldn't be literally serious that payment would be the solution.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:52 AM
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I don't think of extrovert as being the hallmark of an interpersonally thoughtful person, though. I think of extroverts as being somewhat obliviously raucous and charming, but orthogonal from being a nurturing caretaker.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:52 AM
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This really isn't introvert/extrovert. Buck is way, way extroverted -- to the extent that we're bad at maintaining social relationships, it probably hurts him more than me, because I'm happier hiding under the bed gnawing on a crust of bread and avoiding interaction with other carbon-based life-forms than he is. He's just also as bad as I am about doing the courtesy/thoughtfulness sort of outreach to friends and family that you have to do to keep relationships alive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 11:57 AM
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I need to get out of this thread, but:

ISTM that, because "emotional labor" is being used to include stuff ranging from "help you work through your mommy issues" to "keep tracks of the kids' circles of friends" to "address Xmas cards", it includes all sorts of innate and cultivated abilities. If I'm out of the house and AB calls me to ask what to feed the kids, I'll know what's in the fridge better than she does standing in front of it with the door open, and can (almost always) come up with satisfying meals for everyone in the house. That's clearly identified above as "emotional labor", and (in our case) is balanced by AB's laundry-fu.

I suspect most functioning households have some version of this asymmetrical balance, and that one of the hallmarks of happy partners is that each one is relieved that the other is handling some category of this sort. I'd like to say that the balance is off when either member feels unappreciated/unfulfilled, but that only works for people who have their shit together. A needy person partnered with a normal, but not especially giving, person will feel neglected (the needy person needs 50 units of emotional labor while providing 25; the "normal" person needs 25 and gives 25, and thus is both satisfied and fair, even while their partner needs more; hell, the person could need 25 and generously give 35 and still leave the other wanting). In that case, the balanced person isn't bad, just a bad match, but it's probably important not to try to diagnose which from the outside (counselors aside).

The impossibility of projecting how emotional labor will balance out is an extremely good reason to promote premarital cohabitation - maybe the empathetic partner chafes mildly at the buttoned-up one, but would be totally satisfied keeping track of strictly emotional shit while Buttons does every last domestic chore, down to always having underwear in the next size up stored in a box in the basement. Or maybe Buttons is a lazy asshole, and the mild chafing turns to murderous rage. Good to know before saying those vows!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:06 PM
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I don't really share many of my problems with bartenders, but they do really remember what I tell them. Which is why I never share my problems with them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:08 PM
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Moby is The Most Interesting Man In The World?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:09 PM
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I'm not sure if other people's marriages work the same way, but I feel like there's a weird situation where when a certain task is clearly typically gendered in a certain way and if neither partner wants to do it, then it's difficult to avoid it falling along gender-stereotyped lines. Like, I don't want to deal with killing the cricket in the bathroom any more than RWM does, but in the end I'm going to break down and do it because otherwise I'd be a bad husband. Buying a house has radically increased the amount of male-coded work recently (though obviously not to the point of parity, because as RT says, sexism is sometimes great for men).

We often joke about getting a sister wife to do the female-coded stuff we don't want to do. Because I'm a bad person, I'm now joking about getting a lesbian sister-wife to do house projects. (Also sometimes about a sister husband.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:11 PM
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71: I just mostly go to the same two bars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:12 PM
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Also, killing crickets is stupid easy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:13 PM
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I would pay a premium to not feel compelled to chat with hairdressers. If at all possible to do without offense I try to establish a let's agree to not chat understanding. Usually they are delighted as it gives them a break, but occasionally it doesn't work as they really love endless drivelly chit chat with a stranger.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:15 PM
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The place we're housesitting in has a snake, apparently, that lives under the house (the cleaning lady saw it yesterday), but I've decided to ignore it and do nothing but Playstation.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:15 PM
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But they jump unexpectedly! I'm very jumpy with sudden motion. But I suck it up because of decades of gender indoctrination.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:15 PM
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||
I have caved and registered for TSA pre-check. On the one hand, so what? Big Brother knows all my info anyway and has had my fingerprints since I was a teenager. On the other hand, fuck all this security theater which everyone knows is useless when it comes to detecting actual threats. On the third hand, I travel a lot for work and it would be nice not to have to fumble around with my laptop and shoes.
|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:16 PM
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The dead mouse in the furnace filter. That was a problem that fell along gendered lines that I could have done without.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:16 PM
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killing crickets is stupid easy

Come at me, bro!


Posted by: Giant Weta | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:17 PM
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Killing crickets that are native to the temperate zones of North America is stupid easy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:18 PM
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72.2: I can't speak to the rest of it, but I'm catch-and-release when it comes to crickets and so are many of my friends. (Lee, of course, doesn't deal with bugs.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:19 PM
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These crickets are actually invasive and more closely related to Wetas than to North American crickets. Nonetheless, they're pretty easy to kill.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:20 PM
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PSA. It rarely makes sense to pay separately for TSAPre when Global Entry (which includes TSAPre) is only $20 more.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:21 PM
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Errmm, speaking of the tedious labor involved in maintaining relationships, would any Bay Arean (realistically, any San Franciscan) care to have lunch with a former commenter in downtown San Francisco on Thursday, July 30th?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:27 PM
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Fine, switch "extrovert" to "socially adept" or whatever. My point is that it's innate-ish, or at least something that takes a lot of cultivation.

As an example, think of writing a condolence card to a newly widowed neighbor: One type of person would never think of it, another thinks of it, but fails to set aside time to do it until it seems too late for it to be meaningful, and a third type has it in the mail before the body's cold. I don't think that's a spectrum of choice, but of personality crossed with training. And I don't think the first person is especially more or less likely than the third to be nurturing to household members. Or hell, maybe the first one spends all winter feeding and be-coating the homeless, and the third is an Objectivist, but a gregarious (or just well-mannered) one. "Nurturing" can manifest in different ways.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:27 PM
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KR!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:28 PM
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85 former?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:29 PM
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78: I was vaguely uncomfortable signing up for it, but it's great (compared to normal). It's as if the TSA agents stop seeing you as farm animals to be herded through a chute.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:32 PM
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88: "retired", if you prefer.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:32 PM
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Very sorry I'll be unable to, knecht, would have enjoyed meeting you in person but will be out of town.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:32 PM
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86: This is fluid enough stuff that squarely disagreeing is hard (yes, manners are often arbitrary and require extensive training) but to the extent that you're saying that there's no real common thread among how much of this sort of work people are willing to do, I disagree.

The specific condolence card is arbitrary manners. The mental habit of checking in on people you're connected to, and seeing if there is something you should do to maintain that connection, whether it's a stereotyped courtesy like a condolence card or just initiating contact when you haven't heard from them for a while is much more general. I'm terrible at it, but that's the sort of thing that keeps relationships active and healthy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:36 PM
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A number of commenters work in downtown San Francisco!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:37 PM
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LB, your mother worked in an area famous for being emotional labor. Heck, pre-1978 it was advertised as a feature by the airlines. Did she ever talk about this aspect?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:39 PM
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Sign up for Global Entry and you get the TSA Pre along with.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:41 PM
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84: Hmm. Good to know.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:42 PM
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I think the "I should get paid for this" framing is bitching rather than an actual suggestion; monetary payment for labor within a relationship is pretty weird even where it's obviously the sort of thing that you'd have to pay for from a third party, like making dinner. Someone complaining that they did all the cooking by talking about what their partner would have to pay for takeout and suggesting that the partner should pay them instead would be making a point, but probably wouldn't be literally serious that payment would be the solution.

But market prices for sex are distorted by the fact that sex work is illegal in most jurisdictions. (This significantly distorts the market price even in places where sex work is legal (or at least tolerated), because those places end up with a large number of visitors who boost local demand). So the idea that sex in a relationship should be compensated at anything like the rates people pay for sex with sex workers is silly. If there were a non-distorted market against which prices could be compared, then it might be worth having a conversation. Although within a relationship there is often at least some mutuality of desire, which at minimum should lead to steeply discounted pricing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:43 PM
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Sorry it's too late to help! The main reasons one might want TSAPre alone are: you almost never travel abroad, you travel to Mexico or Canada a lot and you're better off getting SENTRI or NEXUS (which also come with TSAPre), or it's really annoying inconvenient to get to a Global Entry interview location but have TSAPre location nearby. (The latter was close to true for me, but you can usually squeeze it in while traveling elsewhere.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:45 PM
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She actually just complained that nutcases still gravitate toward her as an audience because she has a involuntary "I am listening to you warmly, politely, and attentively" face that snaps on whenever anyone she doesn't know well interacts with her. And she's been retired for around ten years now; she just can't shake the habit.

What she talked about when she was working, however, was more often being the muscle on a flight -- at 5'9" and assertive, when a passenger got abusive she would be called in by smaller and less frightening flight attendants to restore order.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:46 PM
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99 to 94.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:47 PM
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Although within a relationship there is often at least some mutuality of desire, which at minimum should lead to steeply discounted pricing.

"I love you enough to have sex with you for $10 When I had sex with your friends, I charged from $25 to $150, depending."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:49 PM
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TSA says I can't get Global Entry if I "have been convicted of any criminal offense." Lawyers, what about my arrest for blocking traffic at a protest? I don't remember what the specific charge ended up being nor whether it was ultimately a misdemeanor or an infraction. I pled guilty and paid the fine.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:55 PM
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92: I guess what I'm saying is that, per 69, emotional labor* comes in many, many flavors, and I think it's kind of bullshit to say that one kind is better than another, or that anyone could perform any of those labors if not for patriarchy and/or assholishness. Someone who doesn't care about anyone but himself is an asshole full stop. Someone whose performance of emotional labor doesn't match up to someone else's needs is a poor fit, not a bad person.

I guess I'm fighting this point because I think it's weird to lump together a spouse who doesn't care about the other spouse's emotional state with a person who doesn't keep up with old friends. The former is a genuine flaw; the latter is a tendency/inclination, perhaps a regrettable one, but to me it's like innumerable ways that people are particular and peculiar.

*I think "nurturing caregiver" is way too loaded a term, but I'll buy something like "outward-directed emotional energy" - listening sympathetically, sharing sorrows, and empathetic counseling are all in that category, but different manifestations depending on one's inclinations


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:56 PM
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98: It's not too late. I just submitted the application online and haven't paid anything yet.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:56 PM
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You're not going to get an answer that's worth anything without the exact offense and the jurisdiction. I still wouldn't know even with that, but that's a minimum.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:57 PM
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Sounds like Second Degree Having Ideals. Some places it is only on infraction.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:57 PM
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Although within a relationship there is often at least some mutuality of desire, which at minimum should lead to steeply discounted pricing.

If we all put our heads together, we should be able to come up with an app that will let us monetize this idea.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 12:59 PM
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103: "Bad person" is sort of terrible framing, because there's a temptation look at someone who isn't, globally, bad, and then define anything they do as therefore not that bad. And perfectly nice people do awful things that they should stop all the time.

But what's being complained about in the MeFi thread (and the general complaint may or may not apply to any specific person or relationship) is that there's some labor of this type that there is consensus should be done: both partners in a relationship expect that it will be done, or third parties expect it and will react negatively to its absence. And that of that category of work, women tend to do more and to get more negative reactions when it goes undone.

A man who expects his wife to keep track of his parents'/siblings'/nieces and nephews' birthdays isn't necessarily a bad person, he might just be someone who was raised with inequitable habits. But that doesn't even out the workload.

It might be that when everyone does what individually moves them, in terms of emotional work, it all comes out fair on average. However, while this stuff is all anecdotal and hard to measure, that's not my impression generally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:06 PM
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105: I was afraid of that. Trying to get a 15-year-old record from the D.C. police sounds like more trouble than it's worth.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:07 PM
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Then, if we successfully attach a monetary value to emotional labor, we can foment mutually satisfactory exchanges: "20 minutes of supportive listening about her mother gets you weeknight sex. Do a load of laundry (correctly, and not just your own clothes), and the lights stay on. Or off. Whichever."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:10 PM
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How much listening without support? Because it's the support that's the tricky part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:14 PM
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third parties expect it and will react negatively to its absence

Yeah, our family should really have a personal assistant for gifts and thank you notes.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:14 PM
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The mild irony is that a bunch of us volunteered for arrest in place of immigrant parking workers who didn't want to risk it.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:15 PM
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108: ah, hadn't realized that the extra-nuclear family stuff was so salient (I was lumping it with all the other stuff, but you're convincing me that it's a particular category, especially likely to be inequitable). I guess I'm betraying my values (and, mostly, my upbringing) by saying that imo failing to do internal emotional labor is a far less forgivable offense, but I take the point that, even with internal balance, that sort of stuff absolutely is treated as women's work, whether they have any inclination or not.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:16 PM
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110: Creepy as specifically phrased, but generally, sure -- if the parties within a partnership feel as though the division of labor is generally equitable, it doesn't matter if specific tasks aren't split evenly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:17 PM
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Listening without support is like a 6:1 ratio. Insincere support (occasional uh-huhs) is like 2.5:1.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:18 PM
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I'll have lunch with you, KR.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:19 PM
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Insincere support is almost as easy as killing crickets, but takes longer. Unless the cricket is under the stove.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:19 PM
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I suspect that the conversation with the bartender thing was more popular when bars were more of a male only space.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:19 PM
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I guess I'm fighting this point because I think it's weird to lump together a spouse who doesn't care about the other spouse's emotional state with a person who doesn't keep up with old friends. The former is a genuine flaw; the latter is a tendency/inclination, perhaps a regrettable one, but to me it's like innumerable ways that people are particular and peculiar.

You're talking about individual personality traits, but the argument about emotional labor is about expectations that are more structural.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:23 PM
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Also when they were quieter. Most bars I find myself in, you're kind of shouting from a foot away if you want to talk to anyone, because there's loud music. Actually having a conversation across a bar with someone who was moving around doing stuff would be challenging.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:24 PM
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Also, hipster drinks require the bartender to spend more time mixing drinks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:25 PM
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I've never really been a regular at a bar (except during grad school during sf beer week when I'd go to toronado every day), nor do I tend to spend very long in bars when I'm there, especially not if I'm not with someone else.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:27 PM
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117: Do you know my email?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:27 PM
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Pwned on Pre. I blame my phone.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:30 PM
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Your phone could do emotional labor if Siri weren't so focused on her own needs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:38 PM
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I'd do lunch on the 30th, Knecht, unless some horrible work thing comes up. Not sure I have your email, but I have Neb's.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:39 PM
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My father, in retirement, has installed himself as a regular at the local bar in the town he lives in. Probably at least five days a week, he's down there with a book for a glass of wine in the late afternoon. He's friends with the cook, he watches soccer with the waiters and the guys who work in the kitchen, and so on. If you fit in with it, a quiet bar is a pretty functional pre-packaged social circle.

(There was an odd moment once when he went away on a trip and didn't mention it to them, and the cook called us to make sure he was okay -- I can't remember quite why he had our home number.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:42 PM
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On topic, using FB has shifted the balance of external social ties way over toward M/tch. I'm more engaged in the deeper relationships, but he knows more about what's going on in the lives of people we both care about (the parts of their lives that make it onto FB).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:43 PM
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I emailed you, KR, or believe I did.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 1:48 PM
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KR: Would like to but not likely to be able to be away from work that long.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:22 PM
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KR: Same as Minivet.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:26 PM
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You're talking about individual personality traits, but the argument about emotional labor is about expectations that are more structural.

That's what my point in 62 was: that while it's unquestionably true that women are expected to do a disproportionate amount of emotional labor, the definition of emotional labor is so broad that it's deeply intermingled with individual traits. And since we're talking about spouse-like relationships, individual traits are salient.

That is, in a business context, among a group of equivalent middle managers, it's bullshit to put the emotional labor on the woman. In a one-on-one partnership, which emotional labor is being done by which individual is legitimately more affected by personalities. This isn't "men don't see dirt/talk about their feelings"; this is "there's a LOT of emotional labor in a relationship*, and it's hard to know who's doing what and whether it's from each according to her abilities to each according to her needs." 114 was me, and was acknowledging that there's one category that's heavily gendered and pretty transparent to outsiders, but I'd argue that a lot of the other stuff is much more likely to follow lines that can't be simplified according to gender roles/expectations.

It's certainly the case that women are presumed to do most of the emotional labor**; it's just as much the case that women are no more likely than men to have the capacity to pull their weight, let alone part of their partner's. Thus the imbalance comes back to individual traits, not social expectations. If the case were otherwise, same sex relationships would be emotional bliss.

*and this is the MeFi definition; I'm playing the ball as it lays

**I'm tempted to start a subdiscussion of forms of emotional labor (strictly defined - not "replaces the furnace filters") that are gendered male and therefore not acknowledged as emotional labor, but that seems counterproductive, and slightly beside the point. Also, maybe covered at MeFi


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:30 PM
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it's just as much the case that women are no more likely than men to have the capacity to pull their weight, let alone part of their partner's.

This, I want to argue with, or at least argue that relationships with women who don't pull their weight tend to be obviously dysfunctional in the relevant regard (hi!). Part of the claim being made in the MeFi thread is that where you've got a relationship that is apparently ticking along successfully, the division of emotional labor tends to be inequitable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:43 PM
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(And of course there's no way to settle that insofar as it's a factual dispute. If it comes down to "Women on average do more emotional labor" "No they don't", there's not really much more to be said about it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:47 PM
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You're a woman. You should suggest a face-saving compromise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:51 PM
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I do enough of that at work. Unfogged is where I get my hostility out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:52 PM
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You're worse than lady Hitler.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:53 PM
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That's the pink Hitler with the ergonomically curved handle?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:55 PM
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Not sure. But committing genocide is gendered.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:56 PM
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Party party! I leave it to neb to propose a venue.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 2:59 PM
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It's not that dire, but the lack of emotional labor in my own marriage finds me getting most of my warm fuzzies (and cuddles) from my children. I do worry that my relationship with them is too emotionally codependent, but I'm not sure what to do. They need me to be the wArm, nurturing one, and I need to get warm fuzzies from somewhere.


Posted by: President wilson | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 3:10 PM
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134,135--this is exactly right. The problem is that the inequity is invisible or seems "normal."


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 3:14 PM
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To 133, it's not as if the capacity for emotional labor is innate. To a large degree it's a matter of learning and training, which develop capacity and also develop the tendency to step in and do the work even if you don't want to. So to a large extent, women are socialized from a young age to do emotional labor, and they will generally see their mothers doing more of it than their fathers. Individual relationships will certainly vary.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 3:23 PM
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To a large degree it's a matter of learning and training, which develop capacity and also develop the tendency to step in and do the work even if you don't want to.

And the tendency, which goes along with that, to feel like, "if I don't do that, it won't get done properly." Which is just to say that even in situations where someone recognizes that they do a disproportionate amount of the emotional work they may still resist giving up work which that have been doing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 3:34 PM
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I've come to see that I've done a lot of emotional labor at jobs I've had in institutions where there are, let's call them communication issues. I think it's an area where being kind of distant from co-workers personally/socially helps because in many organizational disagreements I don't care much about siding with any particular person, and the disagreements aren't of the type where they change how I see any particular person as a person, and my main concern is to find whatever common ground can keep what we're trying to do from getting bogged down.

That way of describing it might not sound like emotional labor, but what I end up doing is a lot of mediating, maybe not between people in the same room - where sometimes that meeting is a lost cause - but as a go between over time. So far it's mostly worked out and I've genuinely gotten along well with almost everyone I've worked with on a regular basis*, but it is tiring in a way that friendship is not.

Friendship is tiring for me in other ways and generally much harder for me to maintain beyond what's become a base level of "see people around online, for those who are online in social ways". Every now and then a friendship sticks and we're local and make plans to do stuff, but these have all fallen back to online (or "tele-phone") contact after one of us moved.

*By which I mean people I've worked with enough to be able to talk meaningfully about whether or not we've gotten along. I've gotten along fine with people I basically never see at work, but it doesn't really mean much to say that we say "good morning" instead of dodging each other behind cubicle walls.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 10:43 PM
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I've come to see that I've done a lot of emotional labor at jobs I've had in institutions where there are, let's call them communication issues. I think it's an area where being kind of distant from co-workers personally/socially helps because in many organizational disagreements I don't care much about siding with any particular person, and the disagreements aren't of the type where they change how I see any particular person as a person, and my main concern is to find whatever common ground can keep what we're trying to do from getting bogged down.

Yeah, one thing I've realized from these discussions (which I sort of knew before but wouldn't necessarily have put in these terms) is that a lot of my job consists of emotional labor. The way I've thought of it is as running interference between different parts of the agency, but it's basically the same thing. This makes it hard to describe what I do on a daily basis in ways that other people will understand, but the word "coordination" does come up a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-23-15 10:59 PM
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Why do I always have to be the one who remembers to post last in the thread?


Posted by: Pink Hitler With The Ergonomically Curved Handle | Link to this comment | 07-25-15 7:42 AM
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This makes it hard to describe what I do on a daily basis in ways that other people will understand, but the word "coordination" does come up a lot.

Or use the classy word for coordination, "liaison".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-25-15 8:27 AM
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Rod Stewart's combined questions suggest that once a woman wanted his body, but not because she found him sexy. Self-sabotage or she needed ballast.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-15 8:29 AM
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That looks better in the wrong thread anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-25-15 8:41 AM
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