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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 12:54 PM

Grin and Abhor It: The Truth Behind ‘Service with a Smile’ (Women & 'emotional labor')

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14535/grin_and_abhor_it_the_truth_behind_service_with_a_smile/



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Ned Resnikoff at MSNBC also commented on the rise of emotional labor, citing Noah and Eidelson's pieces. He wrote:

It may be slightly uncomfortable to be served coffee by someone who clearly hates working long hours for a minimum wage, but it’s unclear that the best way to deal with that discomfort is through escalating worker coercion—especially when employee rudeness or visible unhappiness helps to make their low wages and poor working conditions visible.


What Noah, Eidelson and Resnikoff mostly overlook is that this is deeply gendered labor, and its requirements are based on behavior that is expected of women beyond the workplace.

Feminist sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild is credited in all three pieces with coining the term “emotional labor.” Hochschild has spent decades writing of the role such labor plays in the lives of workers, especially women workers. She co-edited with Barbara Ehrenreich the book Global Woman, which looked at the role of women, many of them migrant women, in the “new economy,” exploring the ways in which women's supposed skill at emotional labor leads to their exploitation as low-paid care and service workers.

Much of this work has been women's work for decades, in some cases for hundreds of years. Noah comments that the increasing levels of emotional or affective labor involved in the American workplace is harder for men, but let's not forget that even in service workplaces, men make more than women. Women are 60 percent of the fast-food workforce and 73 percent of the tipped workforce—but women in restaurant work make 83 cents to a man's dollar.

Wal-Mart is perhaps one of the most famous workplaces to exploit women's “talent” for service work; Bethany Moreton, in her book To Serve God and Wal-Mart, explained how the company hired Southern white housewives, catering to their Christian values and offering them low wages in return for work they were considered naturally good at. The caring professions—such as teaching, nursing, and domestic work—were considered to be women's work as well, and correspondingly paid less than their more prestigious cousins. A domestic worker who cooks for the family might well make less than minimum wage while a famous chef commands much more; elementary school teachers start at $30,000 or $40,000 a year while college professors (if they can get a position) are much better compensated, and I don't really need to tell you how much more doctors make than nurses, right?

<snip>

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Reply Grin and Abhor It: The Truth Behind ‘Service with a Smile’ (Women & 'emotional labor') (Original post)
Starry Messenger Feb 2013 OP
d_r Feb 2013 #1
Starry Messenger Feb 2013 #2
CrispyQ Feb 2013 #3
Starry Messenger Feb 2013 #4
Gormy Cuss Feb 2013 #5
Starry Messenger Feb 2013 #6
Gormy Cuss Feb 2013 #7

Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 01:31 PM

1. one thing

"elementary school teachers start at $30,000 or $40,000 a year while college professors (if they can get a position) are much better compensated,"

college professors, considering they have Ph.D. instead of a B.A., do not start at much higher 40K. I saw someone get hired at 55K the other day.

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Response to d_r (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 01:35 PM

2. I saw that, and agree.

I'm an adjunct, and over 70% of the college workforce is adjuncts too--mostly women. Most pay is below $25,000.

College professor full-time pay has been slipping down too, I know.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 01:36 PM

3. Nurturing is not valued.

Masculinity & femininity need to be redefined, to be more inclusive of our common human traits, but also recognize those strengths that each gender brings to the table & to use those strengths in a cooperative way, not a competitive way.



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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 01:48 PM

4. Definitely agreed.

I'm not sure this will happen until we close the pay disparities though. It really seems to affect how "feminine jobs" and traits are viewed in our society. It's like the flap over women in combat--and the report that the lower job-status of women in the military was leading to the rapes and sexual harassment.

It's like a never-ending feedback loop.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:35 PM

5. Service with a smile... reminds me of a recent discussion here

about men asking women strangers to smile.

Some of the above examples of differences in similar occupations do seem a bit offbase, but the notion that some professions tend to command lower salaries because they're women-dominated is true, as is pay disparity by gender for the same job where the wage is not set by a fixed scale. I used to work with a lot of Federal employees and I can't count how many times women told me that one of the best things about working for the government was that the pay grades were fixed based on job descriptions.

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Response to Gormy Cuss (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:46 PM

6. Yes, and union jobs too.

Though that might be one reason why those two things, government jobs and union jobs, have been under such fierce attack. Hard to say.

I've been lucky to mostly have jobs outside of service jobs like this that require "extras". I think I'd be in jail by now if I'd had to be luscious and pliable to be thought of as employable!

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:46 PM

7. Yep.

Union jobs too.
I worked for a government contractor with an open payroll. Sure cut down on the pay inequity crap.

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