IT’S NOT THE LOAD THAT BREAKS YOU DOWN,
IT’S THE WAY YOU CARRY IT.
Recently my partner moved in with me and sharing space with him and my grown kids wasn’t a biggie to be honest, as they all get along. He raised the concept of us moving in together and I must admit that, while I was looking forward to it, I also knew from experience that any relationship merging always involves teething problems. Having been living on my own with the kids for some years, I decided in the name of adulting to talk about the things I thought might be potential pot holes. What I really needed was a partner in the true sense of the word. Someone who would equally share the housework as well as the emotional load.
Of course he agreed to all of that, but in truth, I had doubts. Why is it that women generally end up shouldering the lion’s share of emotional labour?
Emotional Labour , as a term, was first coined by American sociologist Arlie Hochschild in 1983 in her book The Managed Heart. Arlie described emotional labour as having to “induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others”. In more recent times that term has been adopted in feminist conversations. In 2017 writer Gemma Hartely wrote a piece for Harper’s Bizarre entitled Women Aren’t Nags – We’re Just Fed Up. This article about her breaking point with carrying the emotional load for her husband and kids subsequently went viral, and for good reason.
Gemma Hartley’s story resonated with women worldwide.
So, what the hell is emotional labour?
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