liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
[personal profile] liv
Several people commented to my emotional labour thoughts by bringing up the issue of unwanted emotional labour. People who kind of martyr themselves doing EL that they hate, when the person they're doing it for doesn't want it anyway.

There was a bit of that in the MeFi thread, where there was an early comment that birthday cards are a silly thing to care about, just don't bother with them, and that line was shut down quickly because lots of people pointed out that it's not about the birthday cards specifically. And that's a typical sexist reaction, where women point out that they're doing a lot of extra work and men jump in to say that the work is worthless and women should just not bother. But fail to understand that women may suffer social consequences, even quite severe ones sometimes, for opting out, even if the same people who might punish them would also claim that the work was worthless.

That said, I think there genuinely are cases when the right answer is to opt out. I don't want it to be completely off the table to look at ways to automate some kinds of emotional labour or collapse it to something mainly mechanical rather than emotional. Or ways to pay someone else to do it, including working out what's fair compensation rather than exploiting people because emotional labour is low-status. Or just deciding that a particular instance of emotional labour simply doesn't need doing at all.

That decision needs to be mutual for the people who are affected, a household or a friendship or a working team (paid or volunteer) or whatever. And it needs to take into account that there may in fact be costs to opting out, and that those costs may fall disproportionately. The MeFi thread is about sexism, but the disproportoniate costs could be on disabled people, or could be externalized (eg the non-solution to being overwhelmed by housework of exploiting really poorly paid people who only take on destructive and miserable jobs because they're marginalized and desperate). I also worry that if the proposed solution to women doing a disproportionate amount of EL is "just don't do it" that could in the long-term lead to less well connected communities and more isolation.

Still, I think the concept of opting out could be a really interesting and fruitful one. So I solicit input here: what EL do you just not do? Not because you feel like you kind of should but you just don't have enough time. But what have you actively chosen not to do because you think it's pointless, or the downsides of not doing it are smaller than the costs of having it on your plate all the time?

Personally, I'm really nearly at the tipping point when it comes to maintaining a Facebook presence. I agree with [personal profile] rmc28 that it's a lot of work for me, and it brings with it a lot of draining things like culture war memes in my feeds, and of course there's all the problems of privacy and being sold to advertisers, and the benefits to me are very marginal. The main reason I stay for the moment is precisely because some people I care about do get more benefit out of it than I do. There are a few friends who use FB as their primary or at least major social network, and I have to explicitly tell myself that I'm doing the FB-work in order to smooth their lives and make it easy for them to stay in touch with me, rather than for my own sake.

What else? I largely avoid office collections for cards and presents. I mean, if I'm right at my desk and someone comes round with a card to sign I'll happily sign it and put a few quid in the kitty, but I won't go out of my way to seek out the people who are organizing collective good wishes, unless I actually know the person well enough to care about them personally. I most certainly don't take on the EL of organizing collections, and yes, it is nearly always women who do that. I don't know if people think I'm mean and stand-offish because my signature is rarely on the good luck or congrats cards; as far as I'm aware I've never got in trouble for not bothering with this stuff.
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Date: 2015-08-11 12:30 pm (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Facebook is it for me, too. As long as it was the only way to communicate with my little brother in the UK, I maintained a basic presence. But now that the entire family is on the China-based WeChat, I'm freeeeeeeee!

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Date: 2015-08-11 12:59 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
Since I got sick, I've stopped doing birthday cards and birthday presents. I just don't have the energy anymore.

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Date: 2015-08-11 01:14 pm (UTC)
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)
From: [personal profile] ambyr
I feel like I opt out of enormous amounts of emotional labor by living alone/not having a primary relationship. Time I spend with people or doing things for people is explicitly arranged; by default, my time is mine.

I mean, this does mean I have to do everything around my house myself (or explicitly ask for help). Choosing contractors is always my job. But the emotional work of compromise with a cohabitant about what work gets done, how, when . . . that's not a part of my life. Cleaning is work, and I do it, but I never have to negotiate with anyone the details of who cleans what why.

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Date: 2015-08-11 01:36 pm (UTC)
nanila: me (Default)
From: [personal profile] nanila
I don't remember birthdays, apart from my parents', my partner's and my children's. I tell people I'm close to that if they want cards and gifts, then they must remind me when their birthdays are and I'll do the same for them.

I also refuse to do ironing. Partner doesn't understand this (his mum always did all the ironing). I find it boring, I hate it, and we can afford to pay someone else to do it, so...eh, why would I do that??

Also, I don't entirely get why cards and presents (and for that matter, ironing) are classed as "emotional" labour. You have to go out and buy or make those things, and sign them, and wrap them, and post them. That's PHYSICAL labour! :P
Edited Date: 2015-08-11 01:37 pm (UTC)

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Date: 2015-08-11 01:47 pm (UTC)
403: (The Human Condition)
From: [personal profile] 403
For me, the taxing part of gift-giving is definitely emotional. It's figuring out what to make or get in the first place. Which depends considerably on interpersonal factors and my knowledge of where the recipient is at in their life.

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Date: 2015-08-11 01:43 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
great question!

#1 offload of emotional labor is deciding not to have children. If the future of the human race depends on reproductive activity, I think there are enough people doing it to cover my non-contribution.

I don't do Christmas. At all -- all my friends, in-laws, etc know this. I don't do cards / gifts / parties associated with Christmas. Partly because I'm a secular Jew (not my holiday) and partly a conscious decision to avoid interactions which generally are depressing.

While I do send/give cards to my dearest friends on their birthdays, I don't give gifts *on the day*. I prefer to give gifts as and when I'm feeling generous.

I'm not in contact with my sister. That's a decision she made when I was 11 and although I see her with total stars in my eyes and spent 35 yrs wanting to be her, I realize this is another relationship that doesn't work, so I'm not pursuing it. My parents are dead, no aunts/uncles/cousins. MyGuy takes care of interactions with his family.

I don't do the "slow fade" with friends. If I no longer enjoy their company, I break up with them, just as I would with a lover.
I
In general, I am anxious and compulsive enough without any genuine inputs; I try to avoid external triggers when I can.

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Date: 2015-08-11 01:58 pm (UTC)
wychwood: chess queen against a runestone (Default)
From: [personal profile] wychwood
Biggest item: I'm single and childfree and intend to stay that way. One of the things about this discussion that I've found interesting is the extent to which my reasons for avoiding partners and children are exactly around issues of emotional labour, even if I hadn't exactly conceptualised it.

I'm starting to try and use Facebook a bit more just the last week or two, because the EL discussion made me realise that opting out was me avoiding labour and I felt like I ought to make more of an effort there.

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Date: 2015-08-11 02:14 pm (UTC)
403: A rack of test tubes with the caption "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate". (Solution or precipitate)
From: [personal profile] 403
I can't totally opt out of laundry, but I only do my own, and keep it as simple as possible because even the minimum (all wash & wear clothes, no delicates, everything run through on 'cold') is a constant struggle. In all seriousness, it's easier to provide a hot, cooked meal for multiple people every day than it is to stay on top of even just my own laundry.

I also don't do cards or Faceborg, and I will not smile for random male strangers, damnit I actively minimize the amount I can be called upon to interact with strangers when I'm not the one initiating. Though I do my best to be reciprocal about that last and let alone people who seem to not want to be bothered. Which is also an emotional labor, but an invisible one.

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Date: 2015-08-11 02:52 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
There's a whole boatload of EL around "making myself pretty" that I just... don't do unless I feel like doing it (it feels less like "work" if I am having fun with it). I generally maintain the same appearance standards as the men I know - washed, brushed, and dressed in reasonably clean clothes.

I outsource "remembering things" from people's birthdays, to what friends don't eat, to what train we are catching to Brussels to computers. Remembering things is hard. A lot of things get done on a routine basis, which means they don't need thinking about (maybe the routine is unfair, but at least it has very low EL involved once it has been decided on).

Mostly if I find myself doing something repeatedly (one off "hey you need some help right now, I'll do this thing you are asking" is different) I really don't want to be doing I ask myself "why am I doing this?" and if there isn't a good answer to that then I stop doing it. (Good answers include "it needs doing and is clearly my problem" and "I get paid money to do it")

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Date: 2015-08-11 03:26 pm (UTC)
elf: Chambered nautilus hiding in shell (Hiding in my Shell)
From: [personal profile] elf
I don't do holidays. Barely acknowledge birthdays. These are partially in the category of "don't have time and energy but would like to do them" and partially "I am not going to be The One Person who holds these together, so I've deliberately let them go."

I've stopped initiating conversations with my husband, for the most part. I got tired of him derailing whatever I'd mentioned into his pet topic of choice, or being told that I was ignorant of some crucial facts, or being told that he knows nothing about the subject so why am I talking to him about it?

I don't react to his statements--ouch my back hurts; I'd like to have pork chops for dinner sometime soon; I don't have any clean socks. All of these are things I used to react to, and usually got told that he wasn't talking to me, exactly, just "pondering out loud," and he didn't expect me to fix anything so why was I getting annoyed at him?

I've stopped nagging him to stop smoking (or work in that direction); stopped mentioning that I don't like most of the shows he watches. ("But there's nothing else ON!") (Dude. We have a few hundred channels, including dozens of music channels. I will happily leave the Grateful Dead station on all day every day if it means I never have to listen to another episode of Big Bang Theory.) I have stopped trying to discuss budgeting with him; he has a hobby that brings in enough money to almost support itself, and otherwise, he asks me "can we afford X?" and expects me to answer yes, no, or "sometime next month."

I leave the room when shows I don't like are on, which is most of the time. (It's not like I'm going to run out of Stucky fic to read.) I don't stand near him when he's smoking. I don't tell him how my day at work was, other than "okay" or "very hectic," because I got tired of (1) mansplaining or (2) him getting defensive about how he is totally not mansplaining because he would say the same thing if he were talking to a guy.

Now he wonders why I seem so "distant."

I've never done the "bring snacks to the office" thing, but that's always been much more an economic decision than an EL one. I don't have a Facebook account. I've opted out of a lot of EL in my personal life because I've been too exhausted, stressed, or depressed to cope with it.

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Date: 2015-08-11 04:05 pm (UTC)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
From: [personal profile] melannen
I work in a small office that's 90% women and also 90% people who are uninterested in doing more than the minimum of that kind of emotional-labor stuff: we chat with each other to keep up social ties, we have an extremely low-key winter holiday potluck with the money that HQ gives us, we have a table where people can bring in snacks or produce to share if they feel like it, we have a chores rota, that's about it. And 90% of us are delighted to work in an office like that.

But then there's that other 10% who insist on doing cards and gifts (for us, for the volunteers who outnumber us, for our families) and make banners, and send social-acknowledgement emails to everyone, and come up with extra occasions that need them, and always argue in favor of more staff parties, and when we let them do one make it super-elaborate, and so on. And then they complain constantly that they don't have enough time to get stuff done, while the rest of us quietly cover their actual assigned work for them. I don't think they're even people who particularly *like* doing that kind of work, because they don't do much social labor *outside* the formulaic "acknowledge-special-occasions" things.

(We've actually had low-key fights about this in the staff meetings.)

(I do think doing a little bit of extra social labor to acknowledge our volunteers, especially, is worthwhile, since we're not, like, paying them. But I'm not sure that spending a ton of time and money and effort buying fancy Christmas cards and making all the staff sign them without checking whether they actually celebrate Christmas or whether they ever bothered to pick up last year's card is the right way to do it.)

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Date: 2015-08-11 04:15 pm (UTC)
ursula: (icosahedron)
From: [personal profile] ursula
I don't run outreach programs for students who aren't in university yet.

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Date: 2015-08-11 04:42 pm (UTC)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
From: [personal profile] forestofglory
The birthday card thing is interesting. Almost no one in my extended family does birthday cards, so I never really thought that I should do them. Though I do like getting cards form the one aunt who does them. When she was alive and mentally competent my grandmother used to send me birthday cards too.

I've opted out of Xmas as much as possible. (I really hate feeling obligated to celebrate a holiday that isn't mine.) I do got to family events and receive gifts(yes that is EL when you have to be polite about stuff you don't want) but R does all the Xmas gift shopping.

I also let my mother do a fair amount of keeping up with people. For example if a family friend has medical problem I almost always hear about it form her 1st. Dito family members getting married, having babies, ect.

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Date: 2015-08-11 04:45 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Interesting discussion.

WRT Facebook, I find it useful on several levels, it's where a bunch of us ended up after Ouch (the BBC's disability forum) folded, it's gotten me back in touch with University friends on a daily basis, and I'm using it for some of my activism - my FB 'friends' are probably 1/3 actual friends, 1/3 activists I know (some of whom count as friends as well), and 1/3 activists I don't know, but know of (if you see the difference). And it's useful for reminding me of birthdays, outside of family and one very close friend I'd far rather say 'Hi and Happy Birthday' through FB than go through the EL of remembering a birthday and search out a card. I opted out of presents long ago, I'm not really able to get out and shop for stuff, so there's a pre-arranged budget of present cash for family to buy stuff against whenever they spot something (which often means next Christmas's presents being bought in the January sales!). As that's balanced in both directions we could really drop the cash exchange entirely, but it keeps up the pretence that we're buying for each other.

I did iron while I was working (though I used to claim most of the office would need to dress up for dress down Fridays - programmers, sigh!), but I've gradually dropped that now I'm not working. Not being able to stand for extended periods makes it a considerable chore, especially as it's easier for me to let a large amount of washing build up and do it in a single large batch.
Edited Date: 2015-08-11 04:57 pm (UTC)

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Date: 2015-08-11 05:29 pm (UTC)
delight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] delight
I have never in my life written a thank-you note; it's emotional labor that my parents refused to participate in for various reasons, and so I wasn't brought up on the idea that you do thank-you notes.

I certainly say thank you, but since I've already done that, do I need to send a card? No one has ever shown any signs of caring that I didn't. Similarly I don't do holidays, except for some reason I've always loved sending birthday cards. This is possibly also a sign of my upbringing, that the only gift-giving/celebratory holidays we celebrated were birthdays ... and Purim and Passover, which are celebratory but not something where anyone in our community at least did cards. I still participate in some holidays, going to shul or just doing things at home, but there are never parties or cards, and I have long since stopped pretending I care about holidays I do not personally engage in and don't let myself feel pressured into sending Christmas cards "because everyone does it and everyone loves Christmas." (Yes, that's been tried on me.)

If being childfree counts, there's that, too. I happily take shifts watching my godchild when she is nearby, but absolutely don't plan on having or raising children of my own.

And the really, really unpopular one: cooking. I don't cook. Partner cooks (he likes cooking) or no one cooks, and we get the cheapest possible takeout option. Cooking is exhausting and unpleasant to me (I don't like eating either) and yet it is utterly astonishing how much people can't believe that I'm in a long-term relationship and I have never and will never cook for him. He likes cooking. I hate cooking and I don't even like food. (This has been a relationship issue, too -- he was brought up in a 'food is something you give someone to show them you love them' with all this emotional tie in to food, and I was raised in a family where food was just a requirement to exist and we didn't even have meals together!) The idea that I would cook because it's societally expected of me seems pretty pervasive, though. Not good at it, don't like it, would rather spend a negligible amount more on takeout (groceries where I am are extremely overpriced) and save the time and energy.

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Date: 2015-08-11 05:42 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
Some of my things are because of physical labour.

I live alone, which helps some things and doesn't help other things. Almost all of my clothing (bar a few things like interview outfits) are cotton, get dumped in the washer and dryer together, and all match in appropriate combinations. (I do either colored top and black skirt, or black top and coloured skirt. Sometimes with a cardigan. It is very boring, but it takes absolutely no thought, and when I am feeling like thought, I choose jewelry.)

My groceries are similar: I always have a few things I know will be food, no matter what, plus other things depending on mood and season, and now that I'm moved and settled, I have a more reliable list again. I do a lot of routine things, and even if I sometimes decide something not routine, at least the routine is there to fall back on.

But I don't do birthday cards or holiday cards. Christmas is not my holiday (solstice is) and I am amiable about it, but I don't fuss over it. I pick up things for people I'm close to when I see them, but I tend to give them to them promptly, and I'm happier if people do that for me.

I don't do Facebook. The friends who post cute videos tell me when they have, and I go look, but everything else is not only emotional labour, but feeling like it's endless emotional labour: that there is no way to winnow down to the people I want that with without a lot of effort making the other parts okay. (I do not have much family, so there isn't that incentive.)

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Date: 2015-08-11 06:19 pm (UTC)
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekingferret
Facebook is important for me because one of the emotional labor things that I actually am reasonably okay at and a lot of my friends aren't is planning to see each other in meatspace. And Facebook is presently the best interface I have between meatspace and virtualspace. It is really terrible at everything else is purports to do, but it is the best at that one particular thing- the combination of real names, private messaging/public messaging/semi-public messaging, calendaring tools, and general ubiquity makes it invaluable for me whenever I need to wrangle a bunch of friends to meet up in the real world.

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Date: 2015-08-11 07:55 pm (UTC)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hatam_soferet
I don't use my Amazing Psychic Powers any more. I'm bloody good at reading people's moods based on the temperature of their huffs and tone of voice, and I'm fucking AMAZING at predicting what people are going to want/need/demand, and I've chosen to opt out of almost all of that.

Been doing that a few years now, it was a self-defence measure I developed whilst with G, but "You're a grown-up; if you want to tell me something, please use words" is a phrase I have used on quite a lot of people since.

And it feels GOOD.

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Date: 2015-08-11 09:57 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: John Watson regards the void looking puzzled with white puzzle piece floating above him (JW puzzled)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
CONGRATULATIONS!

My Psychic Powers aren't amazing but they've come in handy over the years heading off trouble before it starts. But really, that's soliciting EL, and people do have words.

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Date: 2015-08-11 08:03 pm (UTC)
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I do nothing to my appearance that isn't specifically and entirely for me and about what I want. I spent my childhood being forced to look a certain way, including not being allowed to make decisions about the length and style of my own hair. I spent ten years with a partner who has a phobia of jewelry on herself and on others, and I came into that relationship with a pre-existing nose ring. She let me know continuously that If I Really Cared About Her I would take it out, and made analogies to things I'm frightened of, such as spiders ('how can you go around with a spider on your face') but was never willing to try exposure therapy, which flat-out cures most phobias, or even to talk to anyone about what the roots of it might be, or, and this is the major thing, to stop using it as leverage to emotionally blackmail me. I told her explicitly and in so many words 'this is a part of my body and it was a part of my body before we met and it is a reclaiming of my body from my parents', and she said she was distressed by how little I cared about her comfort (I had in fact stopped wearing all other jewelry, ever, for any reason, including my class ring).

So now I just... don't. I realize I'm lucky, in that I live in an area and work in a field where multiple facial piercings don't impact my job prospects, and where not wearing makeup or doing much to my hair is considered part of an acceptable aesthetic. I did once quit a job because they wanted me to take out facial jewelry during the workday, and I know many people would not have been able to do that, for good reasons. But I am lucky this way, and I have no intention of ever allowing anyone else's expectations to control anything whatsoever about my physical appearance ever again.

I also cut off all contact with my parents, after much provocation, and I'm an only child, so somebody else (no idea who) is going to have to do all their end-of-life stuff eventually. I still feel guilty about this occasionally, as I know that things will probably be materially worse for them because of it, but this is honestly the bed they made for themselves by being terribly abusive. Not my problem anymore. I am very much not looking forward to the eventual phone call in which I have to explain to some lawyer or care worker or co-religionist of theirs that nope, because I know the weight of society is going to come down on my head on this one, but nope, not going within a hundred miles of either of them as long as they live or the house afterward, get somebody else, so sorry, bye.

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Date: 2015-08-11 09:10 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
*reads post and comments with interest*

I have actively and intentionally developed a work wardrobe that requires no ironing and minimal daily decision making to accomplish workplace-acceptable appearance, and also choose not to do anything further with the "you owe the world pretty and made up" expectation for EL.

There have been many years when I just plain straight-up don't manage Christmas cards, but that is something I *want* to do, but don't rate as a higher priority than surviving work at that time of year, so that's less consciously set down and more consciously acceptance of a flawed state.

(I've been participating in PostCrossing recently, because this brings me post without the emotional labour of trying to maintain a postal correspondence. I also send random post to people, but PostCrossing was a fairly explicit choice to, in a sense, reduce this proportion of the getting and sending of post to something that doesn't require emotional labour - I press a button and get given an address and a profile. So long as I send a card, I have fulfilled my contract, and somewhere down the line my day is given a minor boost by random mail. It's not as good as a postal exchange plus emotional labour / social enriching exchange, but it's a chunk of the value for a tiny fraction of the cost.)



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Date: 2015-08-12 01:17 am (UTC)
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
From: [personal profile] vaecrius
what EL do you just not do?

All of it. Literally all of it. Even when the thought crosses my mind I am driven by a compulsion to avoid it.

The only people who could have helped me try to do so with constant "you never" berating, which has thus far been wholly ineffective however technically true.

It's depressing.

EDIT: for what it's worth, I freak out a little every time I get a card because I feel pressured to keep it but it's completely useless to me - and thus I never send cards unless expressly pressured into doing so in a specific situation.
Edited Date: 2015-08-12 01:25 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-12 03:54 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Aside from listening to and being supportive of friends, and, of course, my job (which is 50% EL and 50% paperwork), I do almost none.

I don't have children. I don't have pets or houseplants or cut flowers because I refuse to be responsible for anybody else's well-being. I can barely tolerate being responsible for mine. I despise gifts of durable goods, substantially because then that's something else I have to maintain out of obligation.

I've wound up getting opted out of some EL involuntarily: I can't wear makeup or heels due to medical reasons, and I have non-standard hair and fingernails, and these have all been true back to early childhood, so I basically missed out on a whole bunch of presenting-as-feminine EL training in adolescence. I've picked up a little of what I can do (I fuss with my hair a bit) but I wound up not just not participating in the presenting-as-feminine EL I couldn't do for reasons of physiology, but also just giving up on the whole enterprise, and not having a bunch of developmental experiences until much later (e.g. figuring out how to shop for clothes.) On days I see my sweetie, I try to remember to wear a shirt he will like; because I love him, I go all-out that way.

I don't engage in kin-keeping; I engage in kin-keeping-away. Christmas is Not My Holiday; the limit of my EL is picking something attractive and clean to wear and waking up early enough on Christmas Day to make it to a 1pm dinner with my sweetie's family. Oh, and I contribute to the attempt to distract the cranky aunt from antagonizing her sister, my sweetie's mother. I don't give gifts, I don't send cards. (I have bought my sweetie flowers on a few occasions.)

I don't keep house adequately for having guests; I would kind of like this to be other than it is, but it's simply not a priority for me, and is very spoon-expensive right now because hands. Also, while I like the idea in the abstract of being able to offer hospitality and play hostess, because I live in such a tiny space, it means people being in what is basically my bedroom, and that skeeves me out. Also it's work.

I don't participate in FB, not least because it is EL.

One of the things that was remarkable to me about that EL discussion on Metafilter is that it brought to my attention how much more (like: the vast majority) of the EL in my relationship with my sweetie is done by him.

So I'm thinking a lot about EL in my relationship with him. He seems to really like doing it and to have no complaints; and while I do some, I mostly am the beneficiary of all the EL he does for the relationship, and for me. It is unambiguous to me that he does it out of love for me and from the pleasure of making things good for us, and I take it in those spirits. When he asks me to relieve him of some burden I do so; but in retrospect, maybe not fast enough.

I've talked to him a little about this stuff, but not talked about the imbalance with him directly. I'm a little scared to, because, if he says it is a problem, I don't feel I have a lot of capacity – or maybe any capacity – to take on more EL in our relationship. So I've been trying to do little things where and when I can to express appreciation, little bits of EL tucked in around the corners of everyday life.
Edited (Grammar) Date: 2015-08-12 03:56 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-12 05:37 am (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
I don't know whether this is quite the direction you're aiming for, but: I realized a long time ago that [personal profile] cattitude and I spend more time with my mother than with his parents, even though my mother lives on the other side of the ocean, and his parents lived three hours away by train. (This is when we were in New York City.)

I was and am willing to make the effort to plan things with my mother, and she with us; Cattitude and his parents are apparently less interested, and while his parents are in fact nice people, neither Cattitude nor I have ever felt that it was my job to buy cards or gifts for his family. On the other hand, my mother would like it if I and my brother made some effort to keep in touch, but neither of us really feels motivated to do so, and the distance from Texas to either New York or Washington means that we don't see each other at family anything.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 12:16 am (UTC)
emceeaich: (cylon baby jesus!)
From: [personal profile] emceeaich
my wife and I are processing the fallout from some implicit emotional labor triggered by an estranged relative's recent actions, and how it triggered the family. Thank your for sharing this. And yes, yes, FB is emotional labor and I'm essentially bad-at-woman-things since I don't use it. I wish the people I know who work at FB and get defensive about criticism would understand that.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 09:51 am (UTC)
coalescent: (Default)
From: [personal profile] coalescent
I've been reading this with interest, but also feeling that there is some slippage going on. I think housework and emotional labour are both categories of "things that are a) often gendered and b) often not acknowledged as real work", but I'm not sure how well my instinctive sorting of things matches up with the way other people are doing it.

Our division of housework is at least partly rooted in differential lack of enthusiasm. So I do all the cooking and food shopping and hoovering and lawn mowing, whereas my partner does dusting and bathroom cleaning and washing up, because I actively enjoy the output of most of the things on the first list, and my partner actively enjoys the output of most of the things on the second list. So that works quite well. It's interesting that clothes-washing, which neither of us has strong feelings about, goes back and forth -- it's more likely that she will put a wash on than I will, and it's more likely that I'll fold it up and put it away than she will, but it's not nearly so rigid. There is no ironing in our house.

But that all feels very separate to the sort of work described in the emotional labour checklist on Metafilter. It's true to say that I have not thought about that sort of work as consciously or conscientiously as I have about housework. Though thinking about it now, in some ways I feel like I actually do more of it than my partner. I do almost all of our social planning, travel planning, remembering of birthdays, anniversaries, keeping an eye on finances, etc. (We have the luxury of not needing to be very detailed about our financial planning.) Although it's similar in that the reason I do more of it is because it seems less like work to me, I think. I'm fascinated by the idea that Facebook is work. I find it often annoying, but I wouldn't have thought to class it as work.

I think the big thing I don't do, that my partner does, could be described as "make new friends." I feel like I have a pretty large social circle, a lot of people I already want to keep track of and contact with, and adding someone to that is definitely work -- for me there has to be a compelling reason to do so, shared experiences or events that demonstrate to me it's worth keeping in touch. For instance, I don't see any particular need to be friends -- in the sense of the relationship extending outside the office -- with work colleagues. I mean, I like my colleagues, pretty much all of them, but to me it's quite a different category of relationship than friendships. Whereas for my partner, not only should (ideally) she be friends with her colleagues, but I should be friends with them too, which is definitely something I've found hard work at times.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 10:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] woodpijn.livejournal.com
People who kind of martyr themselves doing EL that they hate, when the person they're doing it for doesn't want it anyway.
This is the topic of a post I've had on my todo list for ,onths, since before the EL thread, but not had the time to write it up.

I don't do Facebook - never had an account - but I do freeload a bit by reading Alex's feed. Otherwise I'd have no idea what my own family are up to. But it's read-only - I'm not expected to respond on the site because I don't have my own account.

I don't iron (but I see that as physical, not emotional). Alex's and Bethany's shirts are easy-iron or no-iron, and if we hang them up soon after they come out of the dryer, I for one cannot see the difference.

A few years ago most of the adults in my extended family came to a mutual agreement to stop exchanging Christmas presents. I was glad of this, because it's really hard to choose presents for people you only see once or twice a year and don't know well enough to know what they want; and they don't know you well enough either, so you get something you don't really want, and have to express gratitude, and feel guilty for decluttering it. So I'm really pleased we were able to come to that arrangement.

Alex and I sort of don't do intra-couple greetings cards like anniversary and Valentine's. They're not that important to either of us. Some years we do, some years we don't, some years one or other of us does and that's still OK. We both forgot our anniversary this year until the card arrived from my parents!

I have an uneasy relationship with thank you letters. I tend to send them to a couple of relatives who expect them (even if they were there when giving the gift and got a verbal thank you). Having kids massively increases the quantity of thank you letters (as well as the myriad more obvious forms of EL that kids require), because friends and relatives too distant to send presents to an adult do send them to the kids. Bethany's now old enough to write, and I tried this year to get her to write a couple of her own, and she didn't want to, and I don't know whether I should have pressed harder or not. (My mother would say yes I should.)

At our church they have a lovely custom that when someone has a new baby, people bring them meals for two weeks. (They also do it for bereavement and serious illness, but thankfully new babies are much more frequent.) I've been on the providing and receiving end of this. When I've brought meals to other new parents, they sometimes respond with a hand-written, snail-mail-posted thank you letter written on special printed stationery with a photo of the new baby on it. Seriously. To me, that's about five times as much effort as just cooking a meal oneself. So if that's the expected response, it makes the whole custom a bit pointless (if the idea is to save new parents some effort). I never bothered with thank you letters when it was our turn, and I hope they don't think I'm too ungrateful.
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