Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘internet feminism’ Category

In her 1983 book The Managed Heart, sociologist Arlie Hochschild first coined the phrase emotional labor to describe the work of flight attendants and bill collectors to consciously regulate their own feelings and attempt to shape the emotions of others to get their jobs done. Women and low-income workers were being asked to very subtly (and very deftly) fix up people’s feelings without being recognized or compensated for that very tricky part of their labor. Hochschild was also worried about the potential social and health side effects of asking people to manipulate their emotions for others for pay, day after day. How did this affect their well-being when they went home? Did it alienate them from their ability to gauge their authentic emotions when they clocked out and regained their autonomy? Are women judged differently for their emotional work than men are? How are the emotions of people of color judged more harshly at work than white workers’, and how is this leading to workplace inequality? Hochschild’s work anticipated the rich field of research on the booming low-wage, high-stress service sector many workers find themselves navigating today.

However, since 1983 there’s been a shift away from using this as a term to understand the workplace to using it colloquially to explain interpersonal relationships between men and women. In 2015, some were calling emotional labor “feminism’s next frontier.” Taking Hochschild’s phrase from our workplaces to our homes requires some clarity, at least in part so we don’t trivialize the actual emotional labor many workers (customer service agents, flight attendants, nurses, and adjunct professors) do on a daily basis in their jobs, sometimes without support or adequate training.

So what exactly is emotional labor? Emotional labor is simply the management of feelings (your own or someone else’s) to accomplish some goal—to leave a customer satisfied or to get someone to do something they might not otherwise want to, or to keep your household functioning. Note that there are many other kinds of labor that can produce these outcomes too (simply providing information to someone, for instance), but emotional labor concerns the work of emotion management—say, delivering bad news about a flight cancellation in a comforting way, so that disgruntled passengers hardly notice the news is bad. At home, this might mean giving solace to a crying child with warm words and a calm demeanor or intervening between your mom and your sister when a fight about Trump threatens to ruin Thanksgiving. And when there’s a partnership or friendship in which one person is the go-to emotional servant while the other disregards others’ feelings and well-being will-nilly, these people are rightfully called emotional vampires.

What isn’t emotional labor? Most things, actually.

From “Please stop calling everything that frustrates you emotional labor” by Haley Swenson in Slate.

Read Full Post »

This is a good response to Jia Tolentino’s “The personal-essay boom is over” in The New Yorker from Susan Shapiro in Forward with “Taking it personal: A feminist defense of the first-person essay”.

While Tolentino and others espouse the simplistic, paternalistic view that women mining their intimate lives in public could be somehow exploitative and exploited, I quote Nora Ephron: “Everything’s copy” and try to emulate her grace and sense of humor. I always found revealing secrets in print cathartic and liberating, repeating my shrink’s mantra that, to stay healthy, you should “lead your least secretive life.” Indeed, I owe the career my conservative Midwest family hates to this form. I was originally compelled by this so-called 2008 “first-person industrial complex boom” decades before, as I devoured the audacious confessional poetry of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell and Nikki Giovanni in the staid Michigan Jewburbs in the sixties. Getting my MFA at NYU in 1981, I noticed one could turn poetry subjects into essays and books (like the brilliant Mary Karr, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Katha Pollitt.) After working at The New Yorker for four years, I wrote for The New York Times Lives and Hers columns, Newsweek’s “My Turn,” Cosmopolitan’s “Outrageous Opinion,” along with Glamour, New Woman, Marie Claire, which, at the time, paid $1,000 or more.

Tolentino attributes the shifting essay market to politics (a response to Trump’s election) but as her own piece demonstrates, it’s economics. She quotes former Salon editor Sarah Hepola saying the personal essay “boom” of her day was motivated by an online climate where content was needed and budgets were slashed. Yes, after Apple’s iTunes destroyed the feasibility of music albums, the Internet devalued paper tomes with e-books and hurt print. Cheaper shorter faster online essay versions did proliferate, along with internet trolls and pop up adds. Instead of 1,600 word, $1,600 carefully curated Jane Magazine pieces, suddenly XOJane paid $25 or $50 for quick takes, many silly, which I blame on editors (who are, after all, our bosses) and the higher ups in charge, desperate to keep their businesses afloat. I didn’t love all the Tampax and cat hair pieces or prompts from Hearst’s The Mix. Yet it seemed a worthy experiment since it gave young writers I knew clips, exposure, and literary agents. Cream rose, as always.

 

Read Full Post »

Y’all I’m really struggling with this attempt to displace vaginas from feminist conversations. Honestly, I don’t think this is the move.

Here’s the thing: feminism taught me to love my vagina. (Hip Hop) Feminism gave me the courage to use the word “pussy,” when I need to make requests in the bedroom. (Cues Missy E.) But feminism a la bell hooks also taught me about the historical politics of “selling hot pussy.” Feminism taught me years ago not to feel embarrassed about telling y’all a period story and gave me the structural analysis to think about why we ask women and girls and all people who have periods to hide them or feel shame about them. Even in 2017, I still have to walk into women’s and gender studies classrooms and tell my intro students about the historical reasons for period shame. Their faces still turn beet red – all of them.

But also: we live in a world that doesn’t love vaginas. Vaginas are structurally maligned, and considered the property of men. Just ask your new president. Let us not forget the transvaginal ultrasound fiasco of a 5 years ago, when several states tried to make it legal to put a phallic like ultrasound probe into a woman’s vagina against her will. In a hierarchy of genitalia, penises are chief. Vaginas are near the bottom. And then the genitalia that intersex people have labor and languish in epistemic obscurity, by which I mean, that up until only the last few decades or so, science chose not even to acknowledge that penises and vaginas aren’t the only configurations of genitals that exist.

When I think about what it would mean to build a Black feminist framework which decenters the pussy, it gives me pause. The call is of course to decenter cisgender Black women from Black feminist frameworks. Again, this move, and the ways in which, in far left social justice spaces, such moves are assumed to be a clear mandate, a clearly desirable end of our politics, gives me pause.

From The Crunk Feminist Collective with “Pussy Don’t Fail Me Now: The place of vaginas in black feminist theory & organizing”.

Read Full Post »

But the pathology that’s animating these viral conspiracy theories is different. It’s a determinism of a far more granular sort: It assumes, quite improbably, that the Trump team knew exactly what sort of thing would happen after their every move, that they were only testing out the details. As if Jared Kushner could see through time, as if Stephen Miller could read our thoughts. Its universe is one that’s programmable. To adopt their own hermeneutic stance: What’s really going on, underneath all the layered lies, and what little puncta might give it away? The most notable clue here is that neither Zunger nor Fuentes are political analysts or journalists or academics or even civil servants. Instead, both come from the tech industry.

Zunger is on the privacy team at Google; Fuentes was behind LevelMoney, an app since acquired by Capital One. They belong to a particular class, with a particular way of looking at the world. Silicon Valley doesn’t really approach politics as a sphere of competing social interests, a space in which people have the ability to make collective demands and collectively alter the conditions of their existences, but as a system—something with an input, an output and reams of complex programming in between. Whenever the tech world turns its attention to politics, there’s always the hint of this nerdish fascination for system: an inattention to what politics actually is or does, but a fetishization of efficiency, the latent notion that all these 18th-century structures really should just be replaced with something you can download on your phone.

From Sam Kriss’ “Liberals on the edge of a nervous breakdown” in Politico Magazine.

All this is a sign of a political immaturity that continues to stunt the growth of the American left.

Were liberals on the march? Yes! And thank god. The movement to resist Trump will have to be a mass movement, and mass movements aren’t homogeneous — they are, pretty much by definition, politically heterogeneous. And there is not a single radical or revolutionary on earth who did not begin their political journey holding liberal ideas.

Liberals become radicals through their own frustrating experiences with the system, but also through becoming engaged with people who became radical before them. So when radicals who have already come to some important conclusions about the shortcomings of existing system mock, deride, or dismiss those who have not achieved the same level of consciousness, they are helping no one.

From  Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s “How to build a mass movement” in Jacobin. 

 

Read Full Post »

Here, thanks to Sonja at Broad Joy949 for podcasting one of my panels from the Feminist Writers Festival. (The panel also includes Petra Bueskens and Viv Smythe).

Some of the topics discussed in this special panel was how trends and characteristics in current online feminism intersects with economics and the historical ‘dance of capitalism and feminism’ and how it at times has very unhealthy outcomes.

Read Full Post »

And as Latoya Peterson has written, this is intertwined with an overreliance on (immediate) feelings for determining our direction. Sometimes, the more we try to tune into our feelings the less clearly we see the world. When interaction is sustained, the expression of feelings (good or bad) in response to a piece can be a catalyst for connection. But when writing is not a platform for community, the comments can lack the necessary investment required to make them either consistently ethical or considered. There is so little listening and so much projecting.

In this climate, the catharsis of battles between feminist writers tends to be held above the hard work and generosity of building solidarity. Collectivism, which involves making sense of many perspectives, is lost to an ever-failing quest for consensus. Approval and redemption is sought over complex struggles and structural solutions.

From “More practice, less perfect: how do we navigate the lion’s den of feminist discussion?”.

Read Full Post »

Creating a political climate based on shame is an impediment to justice. Shaming is about control, not justice. The shame-rage spiral is an unsustainable burden that ensures that we are unable to mount substantive challenges to oppression. Unacknowledged feelings of shame will destroy us as individuals and as movements. Honestly, I don’t have a strong idea for how we can overcome the shame dynamic in our political spaces.  Thus far, Ngọc Loan Trần’s concept “calling in” offers the most hope.

From R.L. Stephen’s II’s “The Left’s Self-Destructive Obsession with Shame” in Orchestrated Pulse.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »