Earlier this week I was at a bar by myself, enjoying a quick bite while I waited for my improv show to kick off in the theatre next door. I couldn’t help but overhear what I assume was a first date go oh-so wrong.
This got me thinking about the emotional labor that women provide in our day-to-day lives. The sort of thing we do b/c society tells us that women are more intuitive, more empathetic, more innately willing and able to offer a listening ear and give advice. How convenient that this cultural construct gives men an excuse to be emotionally lazy.
It isn’t the sort of thing I have been able to put into words before but it has been talked about in previous post. Specifically in talking about getting through a tough breakup and needing to step away from people in my life that required a hefty emotional investment. I didn’t have the language for it then but I do now. Emotional labor is the unseen, unpaid work of sympathetically listening and asking unreciprocated questions . It’s the making of doctor’s appointments, the writing of thank you notes and holiday cards from the family, and quietly wrangling social situations so that everyone is comfortable.
“Men like to act as if commanding women’s attention is their birthright, their natural due, and they are rarely contradicted. It’s a radical act to refuse them that attention. It’s even more radical to propose that if they want it so fucking much, they can buy it.” – Jess Zimmerman.
I want to be paid for all the work I have always done for free – all the affirmation, forbearance, consultation, pacifying, guidance, tutorial, and weathering of abuse that I spend energy on every single day. My time and regard has value. You might be a man reading this that gets angry at this idea. That’s fine. If you would like your anger acknowledged by me, please see the price list below.
I am all for listening to friends that are going through tough times. My friends and I offer an exchange, there is reciprocity, you care for me and I care for you. But, if you’re a guy waiting for a train near me or in line at the grocery store, or a man that I only hear from when you’re bored or in crisis mode, I am under no God damn obligation, just because I am a woman, to listen to you, laugh at your lame joke, or be polite b/c it is what is expected of me. I made the service list as an image on my phone and I am not afraid to flash it in your face if need be.
Tell me in the comments, what would you add to the list above?