I read this article yesterday, which I can’t find now, about how men farm their emotional work out to women, without even realizing that they’re doing it and how the author found the constant, unspoken expectation that she would manage the feelings of the men in her life to be grueling. And thus she’s only dating women.
Ha. That’s a little flip. It was more interesting than that.
But I am interested in how people enforce and reinforce hierarchies and it is true that the person who gets to farm out labor–emotional or not–is in charge. And I have noticed that a lot of power struggles in organizations do come down to someone trying to farm work off onto someone else. AND, most interestingly, I have noticed that refusals to do the extra work are often met with “you hurt my feelings” or, more bluntly, “you’re being a bitch.”
In other words, when the person making the power play fails to farm out physical work, they often resort to trying for at least make the other person do some emotional work to soothe them.
I don’t find that to be only a tactic of men, though.
This metafilter thread on emotional labor changed my life. Have you seen it? http://www.metafilter.com/151267/Wheres-My-Cut-On-Unpaid-Emotional-Labor
I read it for weeks (it’s really long) and shared it all over the place.