||[Jan. 27th, 2016|06:22 am]
Email to my sister after a phone conversation about Emotional Labor:
I do have a "Ha!" moment reading this, when it's alleged that it's just men who don't know what emotional labor is. For Mom's generation, it was just what being a woman was about. Christine's been reading David Foster Wallace and shared his This is water essay with me (See
http://faculty.winthrop.edu/martinme/Thisiswater.htm; there's a nice book form.)
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
Emotional labor is the water of a woman's life in patriarchal culture. Now that we can name it, we can see ourselves swimming in it.
Very nth wave feminism. I think about the advice i got from the women with tenure in the physics department at Penn and smile. What is the quotation? The tide of justice is inevitable? Hmm, the internet is not helping me this morning.
There is one thing in the discussion that i wonder about, and that is house cleaning. It comes up in the sharing of chores and in the resentment expressed in the emotional labor discussions. However, part of a clean house is that has been how a woman has been judged for ages. My last twenty years or so i've wrestled with finding the line of where cleanliness is a true desire and where it is a social imposition. I suspect many women have been as acculturated by their mothers as we were for a cleanliness standard derived from ancestors who were servants in great homes (Mom's grandparents), the military (Granddad), or folks who had their own servants (Dad's grandparents). When is cleanliness a sort of conspicuous consumption (Downton Abbey and i have the means to keep this giant house clean) and when it a health and comfort thing (asthma, dust: hmmm)? It's hard to go against the conditioning: it's rebellion against something that has represented a valuation for ages. But is it all this cleanliness a luxury? How much is an engine of consumption (witness soap operas)? Women in the US are sold over and over cleaner and more sparkly and more lemony: how much polish is necessary to protect an investment, how much is pride?
I don't know that i've found the line.