Emotional Labor: More Than Just a Feminist Buzzword

One of the best things about working in a bookstore is that publishers send you advance copies of upcoming books as part of their promotional campaigns. When an advance copy of Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley showed up in a package of advance copies of new non-fiction books, my inner anti-feminist perked up. The book is based on Hartley’s September 2017 Harper’s Bazaar article, “Women Aren’t Nags—We’re Just Fed Up,” which went viral. I vaguely remembered it, but I was more familiar with emotional labor as an excuse offered up by social justice warriors when they refuse to explain their points in online exchanges. The infamous 2014 HuffPost Live interview comes to mind, in which activist Suey Park told host Josh Zepps that she wouldn’t “enact [the] labor” of explaining why she took offence at his criticism of her ideas, when asked. A whole book about that entitled, huffy petulance? Sign me up for that dumpster fire, I thought.

I only had to read the first page to discover that Fed Up wasn’t quite the limp feminist lettuce I thought it would be. Hartley begins with a story about Mother’s Day. Her husband asked her what she wanted as a Mother’s Day gift, and, after thinking about it for a while, she told him she wanted him to hire a cleaning service to do their bathrooms and floors once a week, and maybe clean the windows if the rate was reasonable enough. They could afford it, and since Hartley’s freelance writing career was picking up steam and the couple had two young children, she didn’t have time to do those chores as often as they needed to be done. The cleaning service would take care of it and if her husband hired the service—researched, asked friends for recommendations, paid—that meant that she wouldn’t have to. That was half the treat. For once, something would get done in their house, and she wouldn’t even have to think about it.

Her husband waited for her to change her mind to an “easier” gift, “something he could one-click order on Amazon.” He procrastinated until the day before Mother’s Day, when he finally called one housecleaning company and was appalled by their rates. Hartley, who controlled the household budget, assured him they could afford it and affirmed that she still wanted it. Hartley’s husband instead announced that he was going to save the money by doing the cleaning himself. He gave her a necklace for Mother’s Day.

He didn’t do as good a job as the professionals would have done, and he only did it for a few weeks before stopping, but the part of the story that actually made my throat block up with tears was the necklace. The necklace, a material item that Hartley hadn’t asked for and didn’t want, was thrust into her hands by the man she loved in lieu of an act of service that would have required some effort. Instead of putting in some administrative work—phoning around, comparing rates, working out a schedule—to get a job done and ease some of the stress his wife was feeling, Mr. Hartley gave her a meaningless thing and half-clean bathrooms for a few weeks. What she wanted: someone else to arrange for the cleaning to be done so she could concentrate on her work. What she got: a thoughtless gift, a house that was hardly cleaner than before and a husband who complained about the amount of effort it would take to get her the help she had asked for.

I couldn’t believe a gender studies book had actually articulated a problem I’ve had. I still sensed a divide between the kind of life Hartley described, with her budget that allowed for a cleaning service and her freelance writing career that left her too busy to do the cleaning herself, and my own below-the-poverty-line existence, but another story in the first couple pages drove her point home. On the same Mother’s Day, Hartley’s husband had taken down a bin of wrapping paper, ribbon and gift bags to wrap both a gift for his mother—a gift Hartley had chosen and purchased—and the necklace he gave to Hartley. He wrapped the gifts, but left the bin of wrapping supplies on the floor in the middle of their master bedroom. Hartley was immediately bothered by it, but decided to wait and see when he would put it away. Days later, the bin was still sitting in the middle of the room, pushed and kicked out of the way when she needed to grab laundry bins or he needed to grab his workout clothes. Despite the fact that he was the one who had taken it down, he never put it back. Eventually, Hartley dragged a chair into the closet so she could put the bin back.

Watching her, a short woman, struggle to lift the bin above her head, her husband said, “All you have to do is ask me to put it back.”

Reading that, I had to swallow my anger. I read his words again and again, scarcely believing his audacity. How dare he? How could he lack the self-awareness to realize that he was admitting that he could have put the bin away, but he didn’t because she didn’t tell him to? He knew it was in the way, he knew it needed to go back, but somehow he needed her direction to get off his butt and do it? Who does he think she is, his mother? Those are the exact same things I think when my boyfriend does something similar.

Just a few days ago, after we walked home from the grocery store, my boyfriend sat the bag he had carried home on the kitchen floor. There was a carton of milk in there, as well as some cans that needed to go in the cupboard and a six-pack of Irish Spring soap that needed to go to the bathroom. I watched him, waiting to see if he was going to put the items away. He took off his jacket and shoes and beelined straight for the living room. Within a minute, Red Dead Redemption 2 was loading, his headphones were on, and the grocery bag was forgotten.

Our apartment is far from a spartan, pristine space. Pretty much the opposite. We consciously choose relaxation and fun—and, for me, time to work on my writing—over a perfectly tidy living space. I tolerate a lot of laziness from both of us, but an abandoned grocery bag with perishable food in it just won’t fly. Now, I’m a disagreeable woman with a passive-aggressive streak so pronounced my second grade teacher mentioned it on my report card. My reaction was to sigh heavily and stomp around as I put away all the groceries. The last thing in the bag, the Irish Spring soap, didn’t belong in the kitchen and wasn’t going to spoil, so I sat it on the side table next to my boyfriend and said, “Put this in the bathroom when you get a sec.” It would be the one thing from our grocery run that he would put away, I decided.

A few hours later, I went into the bathroom. There, sitting on the counter in front of the sink, was the six-pack of Irish Spring. The bathroom cupboard, where he damn well knows it belongs, was right underneath. All he had to do was open the door and place the soap inside.

I marched back into the living room, held up the soap, and asked, “Why didn’t you put this in the cupboard?”

“You just said to put it in the bathroom,” he said, without even pausing his game.

I don’t consider myself a feminist anymore, but within the first few pages of Fed Up, I knew deep in my bones that Hartley had a point. Emotional labor is real, but we have a problem of definitions preventing us from discussing it properly.

True to an older meaning of the term, Dictionary.com defines emotional labor as “work that requires good interpersonal skills.” Some still use the term when they talk about service and retail jobs that demand emotional acumen, which are filled mostly by women, but the oh-so-eminent Urban Dictionary’s cynical definition is, surprisingly, more accurate:

Emotional labor was originally a word for people who have to put a lot of uncompensated emotional effort into their job. Recently, however, it’s more along the lines of “idk, it kinda sucks when I have to listen to my boyfriend” or “now that I’ve made my statement, I don’t want to defend myself or back it up because it’s emotionally laborious[.]

By Gemma Hartley’s definition, emotional labor is not an excuse you can use to avoid having to explain your ideas. It’s a skill, an extra layer of effort you put into something when you really care about it. It’s the figuring out, the organization, the planning and coordinating that goes into everyday life that mostly women take on. Getting the kids to school on time, with everything they need, including nutritious, thoughtfully packed lunches? Emotional labor. Meal planning? Emotional labor. Decor that turns a house into a home? Emotional labor. Planning weddings, anniversaries, vacations? All emotional labor. Not to mention household budgeting, finding the right doctors, dentists and specialists when needed, and making decisions regarding social situations, like what gifts we should give to extended family members or which side of the family we should spend Christmas with. Emotional labor is the work others often don’t see, because a lot of it happens inside women’s’ heads as they worry and agonize. Should the family embark on a new healthy eating plan? If so, which one, and how will you juggle your oldest child’s picky eating? Should you email your youngest child’s teacher and schedule a meeting to talk about the bullying he told you about? If so, when? The car needs new brakes … when would be a good time to take it in? It’ll have to be soon, since your husband’s big business trip is coming up …

Those are examples Hartley mentions in Fed Up, and you’re correct if you detect a mommy slant to them. They aren’t exclusively the domain of women. But they are things that, if women don’t do, no one does. Even good fathers, who Hartley acknowledges have picked up more of the domestic and childrearing responsibilities in the past few decades, often don’t grasp the level of care that keeps a household running. Hartley’s husband often cooks dinner, does the dishes and puts the kids to bed when she’s up late working. She refers to him as a “good man and a good feminist ally,” and says that it “feels greedy, at times, to want more from him.” He’ll do any chore she asks him to.

But that’s the rub: he’ll do any chore she asks him to. After the gift wrap bin debacle, Hartley describes saying, though tears, “I don’t want to have to ask.” That deeply resonated with me. Like Hartley, I “don’t want to micromanage housework. I want a partner with equal initiative.”

I run the show that is my relationship with my boyfriend. If I don’t start the text message brainstorming over what we should have for dinner, I’ll get home from a closing shift at 10:30pm not only to no dinner, but not even to an inkling of an idea of food. You would think we’re amorphous blobs who don’t require sustenance, based on my boyfriend’s meal planning. We’ve lived in the same apartment for two and a half years. Garbage day has always been on Monday morning, but in cases where I forget to ask him or don’t do it myself, the garbage does not make it out to the bin, and therefore does not make it out to the curb. He does the dishes and cooks—once I’ve initiated the conversation around what we should have, and often outright decided the matter. I refuse to take charge of our relationship with his disparate, distant family, and as a result we have next to no relationship with them. When he drops the ball, I don’t pick it up.

Hartley details her heartache and reluctance over that method, espoused by Tiffany Dufu in her book, Drop the Ball: Achieving More By Doing Less. Dufu advocates simply not doing the jobs that your family and spouse refuse to help you with. She doesn’t instruct women to neglect their children—merely to let go of the things they do because no one else will do them. Things won’t go smoothly. Timmy may forget his jacket one day, hubby may go five years without visiting the dentist, but those you take care of will live with the consequences and learn responsibility. I like this method for my day-to-day mental health, but I sympathize with Hartley’s defense of emotional labor as a set of crucial skills that enrich your life, not drag it down.

I don’t call myself a feminist for the same reason Hartley thinks men should take on more emotional labor: a society in which women flourish but men suffer is just as unacceptable to me as the reverse. Women are now the majority of university graduates; men are dropping out at alarming rates. Women in their early twenties are out-earning their male counterparts. It’s not a bad thing that women are doing well, but for every kick-ass woman I know, I can name at least one man on the outs. Leaving aside the serious issues of mental health and financial outcomes, more and more men are living into their twenties and even thirties without knowing how to do basic adult things like apply for credit cards, climb the workplace ladder or replace expired ID cards.

It’s very important that men get up and go to work to support their families every day, but if that’s all they do—if it’s the wife doing the budgeting, arranging things like doctor’s appointments and writing the family’s Christmas newsletter—what happens down the road, when the wife dies? A Rochester Institute of Technology study found that recently widowed men experience a thirty percent increase in mortality; women don’t seem to have any increased chance of dying after the deaths of their husbands. In an interview for the Telegraph, the lead author of the study, Javier Espinosa, said, “When a wife dies, men are often unprepared. They have often lost their caregiver, someone who cares for them physically and emotionally, and the loss directly impacts the husband’s health.” Even worse, the risk of death rises by sixty-six percent in the first three months after men are widowed. Without their wives, men are less likely to watch what they eat and take care of themselves physically. They’re more likely to become socially isolated, because the work of maintaining a couple’s social relationships mostly falls to the woman. Depression rates skyrocket.

I’m a millennial. Looking back on my upbringing, I know I was coddled. My mom took on a lot more emotional labor than she should have in raising me. Sometimes situations arise that I don’t know how to deal with, and I feel helpless and sort of resentful that no one can deal with them for me. Millennials and Gen Z are experiencing extended childhoods, reaching adulthood’s milestones later than Gen X and baby boomers did. Emotional labor is a big part of it. We’re used to being cared for, not to caring for ourselves. Our moms made our dental appointments for us until we were eighteen, and in many cases, she still does. When there’s no one to make the call for us, we tend not to make the call at all. Leave aside the whole men vs. women issue: emotional labor is an essential part of growing up, and we aren’t empowered, capable adults without it.

Hartley describes emotional labor as “essential.” She says it “strengthens our bonds and creates care-centered structures of order within our lives.” Hearing it stated like that, I drew parallels to Jordan Peterson’s philosophy of Meaning, with a capital M. I think if Jordan Peterson heard Rufi Thorpe, an interviewee of Hartley’s, describe her husband as “show[ing] up to a life [she’s] organized,” a tear would come to his eye. When you aren’t involved in the planning, deciding and architecting of your life, you aren’t truly living it. You’re a pawn. You’re a puppet. Men aren’t empowered if they aren’t doing the work it takes to live a meaningful life.

It’s no 12 Rules for Life, but reading Fed Up felt revelatory to me. It isn’t always sensible—Hartley takes a few detours into social justice ideology that feel a little tacked-on—but she ultimately brings it around to a conclusion I didn’t expect, even three-quarters of the way into the book. She spends much of the book detailing the many ways her husband has let her down, not met her standards and acted like an overgrown child, but at the end she has a revelation: a lot of the expectations she has, for her husband but also for herself, are unrealistic. It deeply bothers her that her husband will spend a day at home with the kids and leave a big mess, but maybe the floor doesn’t have to be clean enough to eat off. There’s no way everything he does can please her all the time, but through communication and open-mindedness they reached a place of understanding. He stopped seeing domestic and interpersonal labor as women’s work and therefore valueless, and she learned to get past her perfectionism. “The more I let go of that perfectionism, the more we both benefit,” she writes in the last few pages. She makes some changes, and of her changes, she says, “I have the time and mental space to enjoy my family and my work, because I’m not so laser-focused on being in charge.”

Feminist literature excels at identifying problems, but it’s often short on practical, rational solutions. For Fed Up to end with a call for change on both sides, instead of a dogmatic “men need to change but women are perfect angels” stance, was unexpected, but the perfect ending to a book that could have been so much worse.


The author received an advance reading copy from the publisher. This has not influenced her opinion of the book. All quotes have been checked against the final bound copy.

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82 comments

  1. It all comes down to the value society places on emotional labor. Until it is seen as worthy and noble, these articles will continue to prove otherwise.

  2. “Emotional Labour” seems roughly equivalent to “the gap between what I want and what I’m getting.”

    All else aside, when we want something done (once, or repeatedly through time) we can: do it ourselves, hope for the best or ask someone else to do it. The “hope for the best” option may turn out to mean “put up with it not being done”. It’s the risk we take if we’re not willing to ask. Having to face that three/four-way choice comes from being attached to that outcome.

    To the degree that your special “someone else” spontaneously does things you want, the way you want, when you want, that’s sweet. We choose our partners because it’s true of at least some part of their behaviour (don’t we?), most likely more so than others we’ve met who didn’t get to be our partners, but it won’t be true of every part of their behaviour. They are, after all, a separate person, with a separate heart, a separate mind, a different upbringing, and so on.

    For the rest of what we want, isn’t it reasonable to expect to say what we want? And to say it in a way that enables the other to be clear enough about what needs doing, to what standard, how often, and so on, so that they can “win” when they do it. It feels like a grind, but it flows from the attachment to the outcome, combined with our desire to have it made real by a different human being. At work (by which I mean, what we typically get paid for, if that’s in any kind of team or organisation), we suck it up and call it “the art of delegation”.

    I am making no generalisations about who does what, or where fault typically lies in terms of males and females. I see the same mistakes made both ways round, with the same consequences, and I see shining examples both ways round. I am saying that, IMO, those couples I know who have the biggest problems with “my partner doesn’t ever…” are the ones where the higher levels of mind-reading are expected, on some level of detail. IME, the level and kind of detail you may need to go into may be astonishing and/or dispiriting, and it can be easy to put this down to laziness covered up by a veneer of passive-agressive. You may be asking for something the other isn’t very good at, maybe for lack of practice or maybe because they just aren’t. Expect a learning curve. If you’re asking them to do something regularly, expect patchiness to start with – new habits don’t form overnight. It may turn out that your beloved really is lazy and passive-agreesive (about these things), but it might be a genuine misunderstanding. We each have a choice which avenue we pursue, and how vigorously.

    Reading the last part of the article – the “happy ending”, if we can call it that – it seems to be saying that the less of an ask it is to succeed, the more likely success it to happen. That seems sensible to me. It isn’t the only way forward though. However much or little of an ask it is, being clear what is being asked, and getting clear about whether it’s been agreed, are all-important.

    Or just dump them.

  3. Well extreme examples always do make for good copy, n’est pas?. I am a professional man in my 60s. I am THE breadwinner and when I had two children with my 3rd wife (25 years my junior) I was also the primary homemaker. Why? I would enter the kitchen and see the exact path of her culinary adventures…drawers and cupboards open, utensils-plates left on the counter, along with all of the things out of the refrigerator in support of the dish at hand. Changing diapers, washing clothes-dishes -surfaces – toilets and little butts was a daily duty – and don’t forget reading to the wains at night time. I will acknowledge that she loved the kids and did nurse them – something beyond my plumbing constraints……I think it is an individual experience. By the way I have taught my boys to sit on the toilet to urinate. My motto, leave it better than you found it and never leave for some else. PS, My Mother was born on a homestead and was raised by German parents. Getting your hands dirty was expected.

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  4. Hi, I think that your definition of emotional labour needs to be more rigorous for me to understand it. A definition that predicts all cases that qualify as emotional labour and prohibits all things that aren’t emotional labour. It is a very, very fluffly concept in this essay but I do think that there is a thread of truth to it.

    Perhaps a lesson that could have been learned is that what qualifies as emotional labour for one is not necessarily so for the other, and this could be part of the definition by containing a clause that specifies the individuality of it.

    1. Elsie, I agree it is rather personal. I’m a Gen-X male who right now is helping his mother make the transition to residential aged care. I consider conversations with her in which I try, bit-by-bit, to persuade her that nursing homes are not prisons, to be ’emotional labour’. However, the phone calls I make to arrange facility inspections are merely ‘labour’ to me.

      It’s worth noting that talking to strangers holds no particular fear for me, while I have some friends who detest the experience so, for them, that might also be an emotionally taxing experience. Of course, that difference is not just defined by gender roles, but by all manner of other personal and contextual factors. Emotional labour, to varying degrees, is the province of anyone who can feel emotions.

  5. I’m a guy who isn’t pissed off at the essay. In reading all the comments it appears Amnesty International’s recent report of the high extent of harassment women face on Twitter is going on here.

    I’m curious as to why one would defend any person who admits they stopped reading the essay and then reacted to things obviously read incorrectly.

    This is bizarro world in this comment section and it’s not sane the anger and defensiveness going on toward commentators of unknown but assumed gender. Y’all are sounding like the Twitter trolls.

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    1. if openly disagreeing with the author’s thesis, and providing reasoned counter-arguments to it constitutes harassment, then the comments in this article -nay, this entire website- are rife with harassment.

      meanwhile, since last I visited this article somebody has come along and completely turned the upvote/downvote ratio upside down, and somebody else (or the same somebody) has been running through it with sockpuppet accounts purposefully mischaracterizing commenter’s arguments and making broad negative assumptions about them personally. but being as that’s all in defense of the author’s thesis I suppose that’s not harassment, right?

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    2. @Not a Bot Since clearly people disagree with the essay, could you provide a steel man version of these arguments that you would not call harassment?

      1. @Peter Kriens I reread essay, plus comments. Maybe you aught to be the one to give a steel man version because clearly it’s been mainly you replying to comments which differ from your viewpoint. Only a couple of other commentators put the essay down but did not go further to reply, give push back or keep responding as have you and Anonymous.

        BTW, anyone can push the thumbs up or thumbs down buttons as many times as they please. Everybody can go by a pseudonym, post any kind of picture of themselves and leave all boxes blank except a name if they choose. Welcome to Areo’s freedom of speech where everyone can remain anonymous or be Anonymous.

        Peter, you appeared to vociferously stick by a commentator who didn’t read the entire essay and you said he got the gist of it. Perhaps you should also reread this person’s comments and the essay and you’ll see he gets upset about things which aren’t in the essay. You supported his straw man arguments in which he focussed on a heck of a lot of psychological babble not relating to what enfolds in the essay.

        For crying out loud, if you’re not going to reread: a husband asks his wife what she wants for her birthday but he chooses to ignore, not comply to her answer as to what she wanted. He chooses to give another kind of a present and do tasks which makes his initial asking look like lip-service. The wife neither becomes petulant nor passive-aggressive like AJ’s straw man argument—she’s simply feeling fed up. Period.

        Another commentator mentions the importance of respect in relationships. It seemed like a male responding—so, my mistake, not every guy is being a dickhead in this bizarre commentary section.

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          1. Peter Kriens asks, “How can I disagree with an author without it being called harassment?”

            Here’s how: Quote the particular sentence or paragraph the author wrote in which you disagree and express in a way you’d like to be spoken to in person as to why you disagree.

            After expressing disagreement, edit bias—your beliefs which show prejudice, stereotyping or things overly imagined in your thoughts but not stated by the author.

            Become aware you’re continually soaking up certain cultural norms since early childhood inculturation, extending to tv, cinema, advertising which shape who you are, distort perception.

            I’m learning to say nothing and go to the next essay if I don’t like what an author wrote. The worst and most ignorant thing is to join in with a group who offer nothing of value, merit or positive takeaway in their disagreement with an author.

            Cheers.

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  6. I stopped reading the article after the second example. Emotional labour seems to be a euphamism for justification of extreme female entitlement bordering on abusive behaviour.

    The first example is a classic. The husband asks his wife for a present and in return she asks him to permenantly engage a cleaning service. Quite clearly this should be a discussion about household finances, time and overall priorities but the woman probably knowing how that conversation woudl go instead chooses to use emotional blackmail about her present to try to force the husbanfd to do what she wants. She then presents the reaction to this bporderline abusive and certainly deeply manipulative behaviour as if she is the victim.

    Teh second is another classic. Teh authour passively aggressively make sthe mans live unpleasant and feels virtuous because she would rather wallow in this negativity than simply asking her partner to help her out and put something away. People are different, there is friction in every relationship but in healthy relationships people express what they are feeling honestly and both aprties adjust and find a way of living well together. Silently fuming about your partner without telling them what they did that is upsetting you whil efulminating about emotional labour and how lazy and inconsdierate your partner is and assuming that in a realtionship everything shoudl go exactly how you want without any effort on your part is toxic arrogance and entitlement. That an authour would publically parade her own intolerance and unreasonable selfishness says a lot for the state of gender relationships nowadays.

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    1. @AJ You don’t seem cognizant of your tone which looks hastily posted and conveys a considerable amount of unwarranted anger toward an author who doesn’t deserve this kind of commentary abuse regarding her personal experiences she bravely shared.

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      1. It does look hastily posted which it was. Was I angry – well yes I was angry if only mildly so but I think for good reason. In the modern world men are constantly criticised and are widely protrayed as valueless, or at least less valuable than women and the source of most if not all of societies ills. We then have an article in which a wife asks her husband for a wholly inappropriate present with major financial ramifications and something which by its nature cannot be presented. It is impossible to know for certain but the nature of the request makes it seem likely that the wife knew if she had had a normal discussion about their financial situation work and priorities then her husband would have argued against the service she wanted. In the world of normal relations as I understand it if someone gets a present they are grateful and if they ask for an extremely expensive present which the person who asked can’t afford and then sulk when they don’t get it then they are considered spoiled and selfish. Now spoiled selfish people of both sexes exist and we need to accpet that reality but in the authors world it is not the fault of teh spoiled selfish person if they act badly as long as she is a woman and as long as the person not acquiesing to her demands is a man then the problem is that men in general inflict emotional labour on women.

        I did not get much further into the article but this point of view is not just overtly sexist but a recipe for catastrophic relationships with deeply entitled selfish women demanding unreasonable presents, getting upset when they dont get it and belieiving that there failure to get whatever they wish for is a failing in men in general. Promoting this view is deeply irresponsible and damging to men and women and for that reason it made me mildly angry.

        Imagine we turn this around that a man wrote an article in whcih he asked his wife for something on an ongoing weekly basis that she did not want to give him as a birthday present and as a result he was upset and it wa sthen used as an example of a common failing of all women. I am sur ethe response would be far more exterme than mine and the authour would be branded a misogynist and possibly worse.

        Healthy relationships are ones in which there is mutual respect, my impression is that the author does not believe that men deserve any respect and I stopped reading once I realised that.

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        1. AJ, from what little you admit to reading about the essay, by what you post, you also definitely misread. It’s your prerogative to give comment on something you did not finish reading but you also presented inattention to the good author’s intents and purposes for contributing her valid experience and insightful viewpoints many can learn from or feel empathy.

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          1. @TD Any idea how infuriating it is to spent significant time on putting forth an argument only to be only met with fuzzy felt ‘feelings’? I did read the whole article and I am impressed how to the point AJ’s response was. He did get the gist of the article quite well and I (and expect most heterosexual males in a healthy relation) recognize what he says. My assumption from your style is that you are female? Regardless, your style makes any reasonable exchange of ideas impossible because any unwanted argument is shut out by screaming offense and victimhood. An extremely convenient way for you to never confront the validity of your own convictions.

            Since most of us men are highly trained to never attack a victim we’re left with our hands tied on our backs. (This is why claiming victimhood in a male group is one of the greatest sins and risks expulsion.) Generally with females we shrug, roll our eyes, and do something more fun. However, it seems that too many women nowadays have the idea that they have some divine right not to be contradicted. @TD, I suggest you read his text again and try to learn how many (most?) men think instead of dropping on the floor and crying that someone hurt your sister. This is an infantile way to communicate and helps nobody. I am looking forward to your arguments then.

            Anyway, @TD thanks for so succinctly proving @AJ’s point 🙂

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        2. Baby boy you just lost your shit because you READ something. And you just proved the author’s point–your reaction is what usually happens when some poor soul is confronted with the idea that he isn’t carrying the weight of his own life.

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    2. Your comment sounds just like my brothers when they have been asked to help care for our dying mother. Rather than engage the ideas, you wail and scream that the examples mean one thing to you and another to the author, therefore the author is intolerant, unreasonable, and selfish.

      You’re wrong, and my heart aches for any women who might have to depend upon you in a crisis. You will fail them, and they will make things work. Alone. Because you’re too busy strutting your peacocks and wailing about laziness.

      The article is dead on correct describing what happens to us and how it feels. It’s important to look at what’s happening with an eye to fixing things. Everyone benefits.

      Dr. Jordan B. Peterson has it right when he talks about the relationship between responsibility/burden and meaning.

      Boys need to carry the full weight of their own lives, hobbies, and habits.

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      1. There is something amiss in our world where men can shoot up children; bomb nations; blow up buildings; murder pregnant wives; pillage resources and abandon the unborn but still feel entitled to having someone other then themselves come in and clean up after them. And to think they will sit on the bench, whining when asked to lift a finger of concern over the loss of human potential they created. We have to ask why men don’t want more for the women in their lives? For the world and future generations.

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  7. Emotional labor seems to be used in the context of “Someone has to be in charge of the household, and darn it, I want a break from it!” Someone does have to be in charge (the leader) and households are mission critical activities, 24x7x365. Granted, men generally defer to women on household leadership. But it’s no different than being on a team, in corporate management or military leadership, just a different context. Fundamentally, someone has to organize the tasking, organize where things go and household processes — it doesn’t really matter which partner, but it has to be clear who leads and who follows. Emotional labor is overhead that comes along with being the leader.

    In the case of many husbands, I’m willing to conjecture that we wait for direction out of fear of criticism/conflict avoidance. Take the “put the box away” example. Was she actually done with the box, or did she intend to use the wrapping contents for another gift? Granted, the husband should have asked, “Are you done?”, instead of waiting until prompted. But, since she’s in charge of the household, he probably waited to avoid criticism, namely, “I wasn’t done with that!”

    Certainly, I help out and try to keep things organized. But after 14 years of marriage, I still don’t have a clue where things are __really__ supposed to go, even if it’s obvious to me. So, I either ask and get rebuffed, or I wait for direction. So, usually I wait for direction or work off various household tasks. Keeps things sane for the both of us.

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    1. Wait, are you telling me that when you go to work, you wait for your boss to ask you to do your job because you’re afraid you might do it wrong, or you have not an idea what you are supposed to do for fear of being criticized? Certainly you can see what an awful employee that makes you.
      And the source of why women are fed up is the fact that the real solution is for “the boss” to lower her standards and not “the employee” to kick it up a notch.

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      1. Well, this clarifies a lot to me. If you see the wife being the boss and the husband the employee instead of equal but different individuals then I think we’ve got some serious troubles ahead of us. The arrogance is mind boggling …

        1. Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying because that’s what this behavior looks and feels like. So, duh, there is a lot of trouble ahead because that’s the WHOLE POINT of the article. Women aren’t ‘fed-up’ with just a single individual (partner), we’re fed up with how this behavior permeates our lives and how the topic just keeps falling on deaf ears. It’s a real concern that leads to a lot of wasted human potential and very unhappy situations, including divorce, so you would hope men — if they are what they say they are — would want to help reverse it. So just own your shit like you do at work and come to terms with how your child-like “no one told me to do it” attitudes are destructive, egotistical, non-bona fide, and unworthy of a relationship. And don’t forget to smile! You’re so much prettier when you smile.

          1. Are you real? If I were you I would find a female partner and have a happy live ever after, with men it will not work. I am happily married to wonderful woman for 35 years but for the first time in my life I start to understand the MGTOW movement, I pity the men of today that have to put up with this entitlement that you display. You seem to be unable to understand that people have different values, motives, and habits. Scary.

  8. I love my wife and know she puts up with a lot and learned to say, “Yes, dear” because I know she is always looking out for me. She’s my Everything. We’ve been married for over 40 years.

    The author offers a realistic and honest perspective which I can’t help but agree and feel is what makes wives the better half.

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  9. My purely anecdotal experience is that men who live with their wife/girlfriend tend to spend more time doing housework (in the general sense) than do men who live alone. However, he still usually does less housework than her. This is because, from his point of view, she usually creates more housework than she does. Not by being messy, but by defining far more tasks as being housework that needs to be done, exactly as in this article.

    Caveat: On average, anecdotally.

    1. Similarly anecdotal: I think men can periodically define housework as “done” and totally relax, but for women this never occurs. If you ask them at any moment they always have a list. Personally, after I do a bunch of chores, I am done for a while.

      1. I often didn’t bother to make a bed until joining the military which makes a person suffer humbling consequences most parents and spouses will not demand in the way military rules enforce.

        After reading a few commentaries, it appears not many served in the military and still don’t know how to “make their bed” and deem it an unimportant chore or hold on to archaic beliefs it’s a woman’s duty.

    2. I alluded to this dichotomy in one of my comments. I wonder why this trend exists. Is it due to traditionalist conditioning of daughters? Where does it come from? Is it rooted in a traditionalist illustration of men as unkempt and aloof, needing women to rein them into “mature” tidyness and organization? I don’t think it can be chalked up to the nesting instinct.

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  10. Consider the following scenario: The wife works part time or stays home with the kids. The husband has a long commute, has a stressful job, and there is a reorganization going on at work so he is worried about layoffs. He has just dealt with a two hour urgent home repair and his brain is now mush. The wife is now on his case because he didn’t hang his coat, didn’t put away glass he drank from, and forgot about the social engagement coming up. You women need to understand that there is only so much band-width in a human brain, and keeping his job and getting stuck in rush hour and fixing urgent home stuff have just used it all up. He literally cannot see the toys on the floor or the mess in the sink–it is all fine because it is not on fire. If it was on fire he would fix it, but anything less can wait. In this common life scenario, the focus on who left the toothpaste out and demanding mind-reading simply causes resentment and is not only unrealistic it shows ingratitude.

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      1. Kathy,
        You seem to assume that women always assess who does how much work correctly, but my experience is that women exaggerate how much work they do. That men are always lazy bums who don’t help, which is not true for people I know.

  11. Women cannot seem to even imagine the emotional labor that men do, the organizing, the planning. Maybe all the feminists have married slobs, but the men I know work hard, help kids with homework, try to teach them sports (the girls too), fix stuff constantly, know the car maintenance schedules, pay the bills on time, work more hours than their wives. Women want to be in charge of the social life and men are happy with that, but then women resent being in charge of the social life. Make up your minds, girls. Men also resent getting in trouble for small stuff, for not reading her mind, for not being perfect when no one is perfect. Women have a tendency to think the only good husband is one constantly working. If you love someone don’t you try to give them a break, help them relax some?
    There is a natural division of labor. How much emotional labor would you be willing to trade for me to do if in exchange I ask you to spend the day replacing the sump pump? Oh, under no circumstances will you change the sump pump or go on the roof or kill a spider? Then maybe don’t complain about planning the birthday party.

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    1. @ccscientist Your conventional kind of wisdom shows a bias toward women by the roles and boxes you’ve taken the time to describe and place them in. By doing so, you don’t seem to realize you’ve minimize the value of women.

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      1. I have not “placed” women in boxes. I am describing life as it is. How many wives offer to do the plumbing? There is complaining about doing emotional labor like planning the social life or worrying about the kids, but I was pointed out that with division of labor someone must do these things and there are tasks men do that women will not do. Women also do not want to give up the emotional labor.

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  12. I have two general criticisms of the emotional labor theory. For the first let me offer an anecdote. At one point in my life I had started to read about Permaculture. As an environmentalist and progressive I found these ideas exciting, fresh and compelling. I told my sister in law, who is a very intellectual, educated, “woke” feminist from an agricultural background about my exciting discoveries. She looked unimpressed and in a condescending manner replied “in my family we just called that farming”.

    Emotional labor is not anything new. It’s just a new word, carrying a new theory along with it. We used to call this, and most of us still do, dealing with life, or getting along with people. Sometimes life and people are easier or more difficult, but it’s not something separate from life, it simply is life.

    My other criticism is of the frequent feminist slant. The idea is this a burden of women, not of men. Maybe you have something there, maybe women drastically put in more overall work in life. It’s certainly not true in my household. I, the male, put in much more effort in almost every area. And I know a few men for whom it is the same. But anecdote is a poor substitute for real broad study. If we did such studies, we’d have to keep a couple things in mind: 1.) how onerous is the job. It may stereotypically fall to the man, but that doesn’t mean we actually enjoy cleaning the gutters, putting the chains on the car, or fixing the leaky sink. I’d take doing the laundry 10 times over getting into plumbing if I had a choice, but I don’t.

    2.) how much is any individual wont to complain about it, or even perceive it as such? Going back to my first statement, many people just think if this as life. And because it’s becoming a feminist trope it’s even more likely there will be gender differences in characterizing it as “emotional labor”

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    1. Look on the internet to get the answers in stats in the amount of women who are the main caregivers in raising children or children with special needs, taking care of elderly parents.

      Yes, men do caregiving, too, but not in the stratospheric numbers of women take on the responsibility. Kudos to those men step up.

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      1. When women take on the role of caregiver for elderly parents or such, it is often the case that there is a man behind her working extra hours so she can do the caregiving. As is often the case, only one side is keeping score.

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  13. Don’t worry, it always takes time for young woman to understand that men are strange creatures…

    For example:
    1. We, men, are lazy.
    2. For you, woman, your home is the place where you live. For man the home is the place where he wants to have a rest.

    There is no rational solution, just get used to it. “Millennial” is a new word but the world is the same

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  14. I must be the woman in my marriage (I’m not, I’m a man and my wife is a woman) because I’m always having to put things away that my wife left out, I do far more of the cleaning and neatening than she does (3 to 1 ratio at least), and I’m generally much tidier and neater about things. She just has different values. So what? We work together. It’s not a cultural problem or something in need of a federal case or movie of the week.

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  15. Hi Rebecca,

    Great article, thanks a lot for it! I was expecting a feel-good read from someone who essentially the same opinion on the topic as me, but was happily surprised when the direction changed and challenged my own thinking. In the end, I believe you indeed found some very good points that Gemma Hartley had in her book (or article, which I of course followed up on to read in full). I also think that there’s a lot more to it, than first meets the eye. I think this very topic, household chores and the running of households by women has a lot more to say in both the current and the historic relationship between men and women. I’d very much like to have this explored more, and can only urge you to write more on it!

    Thanks again, and I’m looking forward to any future articles from you here at Areo!

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  16. My problem with even this particular framing of “emotional labor”, is the obvious difference between the two parties and what they care about. Look at a typical slob’s apartment, the box of soap sitting on the counter where each new bar is pulled out as needed- is set up that way because the slob simply does not care about it being tucked away neatly or out of the way. A ‘cleaner’ person DOES care, and their preference because of this care is to put things away. Now, I suppose we can argue about whether we can choose what we care about, but I find that this is not the case. If I don’t care whether a place is a mess, and someone else does- then by all means do whatever you want to remedy the situation to your satisfaction. If I don’t care about messes- the place is ALREADY in a state with which I am satisfied. This is really a question of values- and to say that emotional labor- caring about stuff that other people don’t care about- is work that requires recompense is elevating one set of values over another. Which we all do, but I find it hard to argue that someone else should have to up their game in caring about things the same as I do, because its so much work to care about the things I care about all by myself.

    Relationships are a specific arrangement, and have different ‘rules’ depending on how well we want them to function, but I’ll save my thoughts on that- since no one will be paying me for the emotional back-breaking it would take.

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    1. I don’t really even understand why academically inclined people even concern themselves with emotional labor. emotional labor is what people who didn’t go to college must do to eek out a meager emotional living. people go to universities in order to develop emotional intelligence so they won’t have to engage in hard emotional labor.

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  17. elevating couple’s various petty squabbles to the level of SERIOUS SOCIAL PROBLEM will get us nowhere. men and women have different priorities, and don’t always understand the big deal about the other’s priorities. we negotiate these differences by choosing to cohabitate, and yes, sometimes those negotiations break down. such is life.

    if there is a broad social problem in this it is not that one gender is insensitive, oafish, superficial or anal retentive, and the other is not. the broad social problem is that we habitually refuse to believe that there should be a learning curve or compromise in finding the right balance between the priorities of couples.

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    1. and just for fun, here’s my little anecdote of an insensitive, thoughtless thing a woman did to me once, that I believe is every bit as serious and telling of womankind and the social problems we face because of women as leaving a package of soap near a cupboard instead of in it:

      I enjoy a pint of Cherry Garcia now and again. as ice creams go, I’d say it’s the perfect combination of flavors and textures. and those flavors and textures are quite sacred to me, as they should be to any reasonable person. so one time I held out this sacred container to my cohabitating female partner, and asked if she would like some. her eyes lit up, and with a “thanks” she took it from my hand, and went into the kitchen. seconds later I heard the microwave running. moments after that, having taken a few bites, she handed the container back to me… completely melted, the once crunchy chocolate bits completely melted into the once cold ice cream. what on earth would make her think I would want it back after she’d done that to it? and if she was going to commit such ice cream sacrilege, why not just scoop a portion into a bowl and do it that way? she had completely cut me out of the equation, only to add me back in after she’d completely altered the formula. and after I was nice enough to offer her some ice cream!

      gah, women I tell ya…

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      1. @Anonymous, you’re so obviously not telling the whole story as to why your “cohabiting female partner” microwaved your icecream. Perhaps she did so because you have more value for a particular icecream flavor than you do for her. Plus, it sounds devoid of love or of being cherished when someone is described as a “cohabiting female/male partner.” Personally, I’d spit in a man’s icecream and then leave him if I found out he only described me as a “cohabitant” in his life.

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        1. oh, so I must have done something to deserve it? well I’m glad you, a complete stranger know all the intricate details about this relationship than we do. just like I know that you have a difficult time communicating with other because your assumptions about and projections on people for the sake of rhetorical convenience naturally engender hostility and shut down reasonable discussion. actually, I only know that because you just exhibited it right here. your assumptions about me and my ex (we’re still close friends, btw), by contrast, are entirely concocted by you.

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  18. This is just awful. Bottom of the barrel stuff.

    EVERY (or nearly every) person in a relationship thinks they are putting in more effort than the other. While that doesn’t mean that unequal relationships don’t exist, it does mean that the truth isn’t as simple as the “waaah, poor women” screed you’ve just inflicted upon us.

    In every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve done more “domestic” chores, ALL “handyman” jobs and the bulk of the shopping. Do I then whine and CRY that women are lazy entitled pricks? No I don’t because my terrible choices of woman-children as partners do not define the other 3.7 billion women out there.

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    1. @RadixLecti The author was not attacking you or men who do their fair share or go above and beyond. But you are a tad of a screamy meany calling this thoughtfully true article a “bottom of the barrel stuff” considering you are in the vast minority of men who do “domestic chores” as you’ve described yourself.

      Oh, and you do whine and cry as is evident in your post despite your protesting otherwise.

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      1. Wow there’s been a lot of up/downvote activity since this article was written.

        Thanks for your reply, James Kitchen.

        You are right that my tone in my original comment was “screamy” ( I don’t know about “meany”). It was written in some anger. I also see that it could come across as whiny, much as the article itself comes across to me.

        I do however stand by the content of what I said. Ultimately, it’s up to me to:
        a) Find a partner whose housework ethic (and other ethics) is similar to mine
        b) Accept the differences in priorities that will inevitably surface over time, despite the similarities in (a)
        c) Or if I absolutely can’t accept (b) I need to accept that I’ve made a bad choice and move on

        I am responsible for the choices I make. Any generalisations I can make about characteristics of the sex I’m attracted to, and about members of the socio-economic stratum I occupy are no excuse for making bad choices.

        So I genuinely don’t see this article as ‘thoughtfully true’, I see it as a paean to avoidance of responsibility.

  19. The problem with the whole “emotional labor” as a tool to oppress women thesis is that the men who take the time to be, as they say in hispanophone countries, “detallistas”, confront much the same problem. As at least one commenter has pointed out, however, that anybody engages in this kind of lop-sided behavior in the first place signals that they have a very personal problem at the root of it.

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  20. A dissident feminist is still a feminist, and I agree with the above commenter that thou dost protest the term overmuch; furthermore, “dumpster fire” has one single connotation and one only in today’s political climate, and that connotation is most decidedly not the one for which you have feebly co-opted it here. I, too, read the same excerpts you use from _Fed Up_, in some review or something that went viral last year, and was similarly affected by the wrapping-paper bin/Mother’s Day anecdote. Nothing you describe from your own life yet gives you a firm basis by which to aggressively critique either the substance of Hartley’s important book or the catch-phrase it helped popularize. People misuse Shakespeare all the time; that does not thereby invalidate the beauty and usefulness of iambic pentameter, or of the phrase (for example), “What’s in a name?” Get thee back to a deeper analysis, young millennial. I’d say that writing stuff like this isn’t going to change anything (if that’s your aim) but you did remind me of the existence of a book I’d intended to read but “forgotten,” probably because the mere act of reading it is going to provoke much emotional labor on my part as I attempt once again to explain these things to a spouse who, with his many good qualities, can be incredibly obtuse about these issues. As a Feminist, however, it is my responsibility not to give in to a sense of historic futility, by which I also mean, I can almost forgive you for somehow, infuriatingly, blaming the curious persistence of the Peter Pan syndrome among men on the actual growing success of women in various modes of life despite all the obstacles that still remain. Those men who can’t cope are probably just waiting for some woman to ask them to. I wish them well, and hope they stop waiting, and THAT is Feminism. So is the concept of and protest against undue emotional labor.

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  21. I wonder why you’re not a feminist. Because the grievances in this article smack heavily of everyday feminist grievances, and they have very similar roots. In particular, your operating assumption that your boyfriend either should have the same standards as you do, or that your boyfriend should be able to infer your own internal mental conclusions and assumptions about the meanings of non-literal statements — e.g. the “bathroom” vs “cupboard” non-issue, which is eerily analogous to Hartley’s “he knew it needed to be done” fallacious conclusion about the wrapping paper.

    Not everyone thinks everything needs to be put away at all times. Not everybody thinks that the rug needs vacuuming if there’s more than one crumb per square yard. Not everybody thinks the windows need washing once a month *just because.* Just because one member of a household thinks it does *doesn’t mean it actually does.* It’s a matter of personal preference — and oftentimes, a matter of compulsions instituted during childhood by obsessive parents (which may have its own problematic roots, which is worth probing, but not here).

    And this is particularly one-sided. Hartley’s perspective is distinctly her own, and yours herein is the same. You’re focused on *things you expect your SO to know you want them to do* with a barely above zero amount of introspection of ‘is there anything *he* expects *me* to know *he* wants me to do, that I don’t do?’ Somehow that’s completely lost in the equation. No, it’s solely men that are the unwilling root problems of non-action.

    Even the seemingly compassionate inversion where you articulate that male widows have lower life expectancy, you jump to the unscientific conclusion that this is because men aren’t enough like women — is a classic feminist inversion of “patriarchy also hurts men” that is still squarely based in a “the woman is always right” philosophy. There’s no rational or evidentiary basis for it. It’s an assumption, and a genderally conceitful one at that.

    I think you’re a feminist, still, and thou doth protest too much.

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    1. If people are dragging and kicking a thing out of the way all week, it requires only courtesy, not psychic powers, on the part of the person who left the thing there, to recognize their responsibility in the matter. While I agreed with your concluding line, I think it also applies to your own comment.

      1. While technically correct, it is also true that harmony can be established by whomever notices the thing on the floor putting it away without keeping score as to who made the mess.

      1. First of all, I’d like to welcome our new downvote brigaders to a place where empty mud-slinging statements like these are treated like the knee-jerk, impulsive, broad-brush false duality that they are.

        Second of all, branding someone a “misogynist” because they don’t share your personal conceit is not what most people would call a “constructive argument.” It’s just name calling, it’s rooted in hatred, and it’s completely unproductive. It only serves to score applause from your own echo chamber. But perhaps that’s exactly what you came here to do: impose dogma via social force.

        I’d invite you and the rest of the brigade to come up with a way to have a discussion without resorting to schoolyard level no-i’m-not-yah-you-are tactics. I’m not optimistic, I doubt that is at all in your interest, but I can dream.

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        1. Mine is simply a viewpoint like you think you endeavored a viewpoint but unlike the story you tell yourself, I called a spade a spade. It’s all I’ve done. The truth hurts and it struck a chord in you.

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          1. @Pat “You only offer another misogynistic viewpoint.”, is not a viewpoint in the proper sense of the word, at best it is just empty name calling … @Keith gave quite a few arguments that seem to be logical and well reasoned although a bit heated. I would be very interested in a rebuttal of someone that disagrees with him. Now your reaction is even less useful and more polarizing than hitting the thumbs down. Anyway, don’t flatter yourself with thinking you heroically called a spade a spade. It looked more trying to cowardly avoid any reflection.

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          2. What is the story you tell yourself? That “you’re a misogynist” is a reasoned, detailed, intelligent, thoughtful rebuttal of something you don’t agree with?

            BTW, I think you meant “struck a nerve,” not “struck a chord.”

            Now, if you’d called me an “idiot,” or a “nazi”, or a “Republican,” or a “Mormon,” that would also strike a nerve. That doesn’t mean it would have any truth to it.

            If responding to a comment is “striking a nerve,” then, what does that say about your response? By the same rationale, clearly my response to you also struck a nerve, therefore, by your reasoning, it must have some truth to it.

            What might be more interesting and constructive is if you were to go through what I said and show which of it is, as you put it, misogynist, and explain the reasons why.

            It’s also possible that you and I won’t ever agree on which gender is better than the other (in my opinion, neither) and which gender has the correct standards for the household (again, in my opinion, neither) and which gender has to deal with emotional difficulty in a heterosexual relationship (in my opinion, both).

            Some might say that a good relationship is based on mutual compromise, respect, acceptance, and trust; aided by communication, rather than simmering resentment, regardless of the genders in the relationship. If that’s misogynist, I’d like to know why.

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  22. Rebecca, thank you for writing this piece. I’m not particularly fond of the term emotional labor but decided to give it a try and get to know it a little better through your article. You didn’t disappoint me, and I believe I have a better grasp of what it means now.

    It is frustrating to realize that we’re living in relationships where we’re putting more effort than the other part. However, I see that not as a problem of emotional labor but as a problem of boundaries and personal responsibility. I have yet to meet a person who has both these concepts well integrated in his/her life and also complains about emotional labor. Those who do complain about emotional labor are often the ones who struggle because they adopt a passive-agressive approach to their problems, and often (justifiably) don’t get the results they want.

    If you haven’t yet, I recommend you read “When I Say No I Feel Guilty”, the assertiveness classic by Smith, and also “Boundaries”, by Cloud and Townsend. They will give you new lens through which look into this issue.

    All the best.

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    1. I DID do that !! Hoorah, I must be (how did you put it) well-integrated, yay me! And yet…somehow….. even after all the emotional labor of painstakingly attempting to let spouse know a) how I feel, and b) why I feel that way, c) why it makes rational sense to make a few changes, for both our sakes, (and I will tell you that in large part I think b) and c) should not, in general, be absolutely necessary, within a caring relationship) – he still leaves many things up to me to manage, as loath as I am to be the manager of anything, because he is convinced he does not have the ability to do otherwise. Before you go making sweeping statements, consider whether maybe even *all* those complaining about emotional labor are in fact well-integrated people who are fed up with their good faith efforts falling on deaf ears, and those deaf ears belong to the passive-aggressive good people who afraid or otherwise just can’t see their way clear to take steps toward self-reflection, introspection, or personal growth.

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      1. I’m only reporting my personal experience. I have no intention to pick a fight.

        I salute you for your effort to improve your relationship. And I can relate to the frustration of seeing those efforts fail. I also agree that you don’t have to explain why you feel the way you do.

        However, I’m not sure if I would agree that you “must be… well-integrated”. I may be wrong, but as I see it, a well-integrated person in this situation would recognize that, even though it’s a great thing to have logical reasons and communicate clearly, the partner has the right to a) behave in a manner that is not logical and b) to not care about your feelings or reasons.

        He or she would recognize that other people cannot be changed or controlled, unless they allow themselves to be. And would accept the responsibility for picking a partner who is passive-aggressive and for deciding to stay in the relationship.

        Does your partner force you to manage those things, or are you forcing yourself? If your partner wasn’t around, wouldn’t you be responsible for managing those things anyway? These are genuine questions. Sometimes we’re the ones making ourselves miserable. And it sucks. I’ve been there and for years I’ve suffered because of it. But it was only because I was afraid of accepting the truth and my responsibility in the drama I created.

      2. How would you feel if your partner used similar emotional blackmail to get you to dress more sexy and show more skin? You rightly would indicate that he has no control over how you feel or dress. Still you have no qualms to desire to control how he feels and should behave? Isn’t that inconsistent when you are equals?

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        1. non-sequitur. The idea of the article is that men need to start owning their own shit and no one should have to ask them to do so.

  23. Areo must be really really short of submissions to publish this. Hey – my female partner is really lazy around the house, if I write an article detailing all the things that irritate me, will you publish it?

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    1. @Andrew McGuiness Why continue reading an article—or, worse, give your time and energy to creating belittling commentary about an article you think so negatively?

      Oh, I know why you felt the need to post because of your emotional and great use of expletives about Brexit issues…but I have more respect for an animal’s concern about matters than your human male entitlement issues regarding an insightful article you give umbrage for Areo posting.

      Aero is too kind to

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  24. Several thing bothered me about this article. But the one that stood out is that you give orders to your boyfriend. You are acting like his mother instead of his lover. When he’s slobby he’s acting like his father instead of your lover. You both have an infantile relationship. You two should be negotiating your relationship like adults, including — most especially — things about each other you don’t like.

    You have expectations inherited from your great-grandmother, raised in the 1950s. She not only had nonsensical ideas about how clean her house should be, she also had the idea that her husband didn’t need to do anything around the house. He’d just mess it up and she’d have to do it anyway. You inherited her beliefs and your boyfriend inherited her husband’s. Alas, you lack your great-grandparent’s truce; both you and Hartley, when confronted with your spouse/boyfriend behaving like their fathers, cry. Does crying counts as emotional labor?

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    1. @yandoodan Not many can respect the post you made on this sight after reading your comment about this article. Your post sounds condescending and disrespectful, totally devoid of willingness to see things past your own delusional experiences about life and, especially about women.

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      1. The reaction was a proper reaction restricted to the information in the article. In sharp contrast, you make your judgement about something you have zero information about since it is an anonymous reaction. For all you know it could be a woman. To a certain extent you do the same @yandoodan criticizes: You do not allow the other the respect to come to a different conclusion. You use contentless emotional words (“condescending”, “disrespectful”, “delusional”, no woman wants you, we all hate you) to stifle a person you do know nothing about without engaging on the arguments at hand; as an adult agent would do. Notice how you do not even say “I do not respect you” but cowardly hide behind a an unfounded “Not many can respect …”, hiding behind your mob. You’ve shown @yandoodan to be more right than he did.

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        1. How does anyone know if your photo and name is true or you’re really the person you say you are? What you are posting is your own opinion like everyone else. You are no better in your condemnation simply because you think you’re right. Geesh! Your very own logic can be turned on yourself but you’re too egocentric to see it that way.

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          1. If his own logic can be turned on him, then, why not show how here? Rather than make ad hominem derision and insults and empty attacks and appeals to emotion?

            It’s not the opinions that are the issue, it’s the facts and logic that they are based on. When two people can make reasoned arguments about their position, some amount of understanding can be achieved. When one person just throws insults and cop-outs, that doesn’t lead to understanding, it just leads to animosity. Now, that assumes that understanding is the goal, rather than bullying or scene-making.

            The recent brigading comments haven’t been “that’s wrong, because of the following reasons,” they’ve been “that’s wrong, because I say it is.” But “because I said so” isn’t an argument, it’s just something to end or avoid a discussion. Appeal to authority, I believe it’s called.

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