Emotional Labor Defined

Emotional labor is the invisible, unnoticed, unwaged, unwritten, undervalued work women do at home and in the paid workforce. It is the thinking about what’s coming up, what needs to happen, how to look into the future to anticipate birthdays, school permissions slips, family meals, holiday dinners, do we have enough toilet paper, how come we don’t have any more ketchup? There are myriad ways in which we have to think about the functioning of a household. Granted, all of these little tasks are each one of them easy to do but also supremely important to the functioning of a well-ordered home and to family happiness. The tasks are like part of the clothing that women wear. It falls onto her shoulders like a giant set of shoulder pads.


Emotional labor explains why what has become known as women’s work is never done. In the home it involves loving, caring actions with invisible mental load dimensions like anticipation, remembering, and planning; and zillions of concrete tasks.


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