Please Stop Calling Everything That Frustrates You Emotional Labor

A counter to many recent articles that tries to recenter the conversation about emotional labor onto issues of patriarchy.


Is it emotional labor or just labor you feel emotions about? Writing this article produces emotions (self-doubt, exhaustion, but also sympathy and curiosity, in fits and starts), and it requires labor (mostly of the variety sociologists call knowledge work), but that does not mean writing this article is an act of emotional labor. If we referred to everything we do that requires labor and produces emotions as emotional labor, there would be virtually no labor, aside from the labor done by the unfeeling robots of our future, that didn’t qualify. If everything belongs in a category, that category ceases to exist. And this is one category we actually need as we try to understand the changing nature of work, gender, and their larger repercussions.


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