Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Essay#3-middle and end

Arlie Russell Hochschild in the first chapter of her book “The Managed Heart” comes out with the term “emotional labor”, where she states, “the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and body display; emotional labor is sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value.” (7). In other words what she describes by that term is the action of being exposed with feelings and emotions, with the result of putting tag price on it. In this book Hochschild writes about flight attendances and how they are asked to express their positive emotions to the passengers, without any consideration of their self-being. That’s probably not a coincident that she came up with the term while writing about group of workers who are women.

In “Working” by Studs Terkel we find many interesting stories about people doing emotional and physical labor. One of many examples is Sharon Atkins. She is a twenty-four years old receptionist working for a big company. Her job is mainly about picking up the phone calls, taking massages and transferring those calls to others. All those things need to be done quickly. This job doesn’t really seem to complicate, when Atkins says, ”you’re just a little machine. A monkey could do what I do. It’s really unfair to ask someone to do that.” (31) Her point is that this kind of job doesn’t require special skills. The habitual activities on a job made her become a machine, repeating same thing all over again, as easy as monkey could simply replace her. But besides that, there is something else behind her daily routine. The need of shorting up the conversations became a habit in her personal life. The sound of a ringing phone built a trauma in her, because when she is on a job the phone never stops ringing, so when she comes home she turns the phone off and puts away, so no ring will bother her in her leisure time. She really dislike her job, she even been in the stage where she cried getting up for work. Her depression and fantasies about “land of no-phone” she express in never mailed letters and drawings. The emotional labor she does has devastating influence on her private life, and besides that she knows that there wont’ be men doing her job because they will have to pay them more and that’s another example of gender discrimination,

In the article by Cheryl Seelhoff “On Discrimination Against Mothers As Mothers” the author recalls facts about discrimination faced by women, like wage inequalities, mistreatment of women by doctors and the medical establishment, injustice in a court system but mainly discrimination against mothers. It’s been said that women choose to become mothers, but how many women would “choosen” to be discriminated. As a matter of fact not all women are mothers but nobody can’t hide the fact that only women are mothers. Seelhoff in her article based on a story about a woman from California being unlawfully arrested because she didn’t follow her doctor’s recommendations to get bed rest, to stay off her feet, to refrain from having sexual intercourse. So is this the way to force a pregnant woman to relax, by lacking her in jail? The pregnant women are not the one breaking the law by being imprisoned because of refusing C-section, the ones who do this to them are taking the women’s constitutional rights to privacy, due process and equal protections.

In 2005 a landmark study by Cornell University have confirmed, “that mothers are less likely to be hired than are women without children and are paid lower starting salaries than similarly qualified fathers and women without children.” (13) In other words the study confirmed, not discovered anything new, the fact of discrimination against mothers and how unequal they are being treated comparing even to other women, not mothers. And that the discrimination is as alive as it ever been.

“When We’re Equal, We’ll Be Happy” by Judith Warner is an article proving the growing percentage of unhappiness among women in the past four decades. The increasing unhappiness it hasn’t been presented in diagrams or tables, it’s hard to measure the emotional status of women’s feelings. In this essay the author is trying to figure it out the reasons of women’s unhappiness, in Warner’s view, “the increased opportunity available for women may have increased what women declare themselves happy.”(2) The essence of her argument is that even though women have more chances to enter into men’s world, the still existing level of inequality may lead to greater levels of unfairness. Women’s expectation are higher than what they find on a job and because of it the their disappointment is bigger too.

Women’s life have not been improved yet, they still pay more for health insurance, the workforce and education system is still sex-segregated, face wage gap, particularly for mothers, who earn 73 cents for every men’s dollar.

Just being a woman makes difficult, but it gets even worst when we are the only one performing emotional labor. Should we all become actresses and act through the life? Pretend that freedom, opportunity, respect, dignity, self-determination and equality don’t matter to us? My point here is that those universal human rights should interest those who think of them as optional for women, either it’s employer or doctor. Beyond this limited audience, however, my point should speak to anyone who cares about the larger issue of discriminated women performing emotional labor.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Does emotional labor lead to greater levels of inequality? Is there discrimination in who is expected to perform emotional labor?


Last Thursday when I came to work I found my co-worker, Arleta in tears. Sitting on a stairs on the back of the building and trying to put herself together after having an emotional breakdown. She began telling me how miserable her day was. At first she was confronted and criticized by the manager, than the all day she spent surrounded by mean male co-workers and finishing her shift offended by disrespectful customer. Her emotions didn’t only reach the limit but when she couldn’t take it anymore she faced discrimination, when a long term waiting promotion was put on hold, because the other person fit in better. The other person was a man, who worked there much less and his qualification for that position were the same as her.

Many people say women should stay home and take care of the household. I disagree with them, because women’s nature it’s to be responsible for their children, husband and home in general. They were fighting for over a century for their liberation from religious, legal, economic and sexual oppression and their access to higher education, but as of today almost 100 years later, when emotional labor is more common and accessible for women than men, it seems like the battle is not over yet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Annotated bibliography

Annotated bibliography:

Hochschild, Arlie. “The Managed Heart.” Exploring the Managed Heart (1983), page3-9

In this chapter of her book, Hoschild is defining the term “emotional labor.” She investigates for the relationship between emotional labor and well being, using stewardesses as an example, their work and private life.

Terkel, Studs. “Working”, Receptionist (1972), page 29-32

“Receptionist” is a one of many interviewed people by the master Studs Terkel. Her name is Sharon Atkins and she hates her job. She’s responsible for picking up and transferring phone calls all day long. In this testimony the reader sees how this kind of “emotional labor” influence Sharon’s emotions and her private life.
Seeholf, Cheryl. “Off Our Backs”, On Discrimination Against Mothers As Mothers (Mar2006), Vol. 36 Issue 1, p10-14, 5p, article.

This article is about discrimination against mothers, that starts as soon as woman becomes pregnant. The author presents interesting evidences for “the pregnancy police” and “the motherhood penalty”. It seems to me like the one, who decided to have a baby should feel guilty and blame them self for this inequality that are facing not only on a job, but also at home.

Warner, Judith. “New York Times”, When We’re Equal, We’ll Be Happy (Oct2009), article.

This article proofs the fact, that women after 1970 became less happy. It hasn’t been easy

to define why, but the most important and main reason is the gender discrimination, like

for an example lack of promotion affects working women/mothers by loosing the interest

in self determination as the author said, “if you expect less for yourself , you’re easier to


Monday, May 17, 2010

financial crises

for those who are interested of finding more about financial crises in America, spend half hour to watch this movie, is not directly leading to our course material, however has a significant impact on work related issues.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

ordinary women...

“Working” by Studs Terkel has been called ‘the poetry of real people” by Chicago Daily News. I choose stories of two women, who feel absolutely different about what are they doing for living. One of them is Sharon Atkins, she works as a receptionist and she hates it. The second story is about a waitress, who loves her job-Dolores Dante. I think both of them are a good example of an “emotional labor” that we discussed in class.

Sharon Atkins is a twenty-four years old receptionist working for a big company. Her job is mainly about picking up the phone calls, taking massages and transferring those calls to others. All those things need to be done quickly. The routine of shorting up the conversations became a habit in her personal life. The sound of a ringing phone built a trauma in her, because when she is on a job the phone never stops ringing, so when she comes home she turns the phone off and puts away, so no ring will bother her in her leisure time. She really dislike her job, she even been in the stage where she cried getting up for work. Her depression and fantasies about “land of no-phone” she express in never mailed letters and drawings. The reason why she’s stuck in this job is her undecided idea of what she wants to do for living.

On the other hand Dolores Dante loves her job. She is a single mother of three and works as a waitress for twenty-three years. She loves learning about people. Dolores compares her waitressing job to acting, being on a stage-performing for the customers and watched by the owners. She is a perfectionist in what she is doing and wants to be a waitress as long as she will be able to. Moments of weakness happen once in a while, especially after a night of running a lot under a lot of pressure she feels simply tired and stress out. However when she’s not at work she feels isolated and disconnected.

Both of those women work providing service to satisfy their customers. Their private lifes are affected by what are they doing for work. They bring the emotions home, with the difference that Sharon seems to be a victim of a negative emotional influence, which takes me to the term "emotional labor" created by sociologist Arlie Russel Hochschild ; Sharon also mentions the fact of a “function discrimination” among different professions, and gender discrimination as well, when she says that no men will be hired as a receptionist because they will have to pay him more. So, here we are back to discriminated Wal-Mart female employees.

I work in a service industry, where I need to be friendly and have positive attitude all the time, as a matter of fact this doesn’t work that way. There is always somebody, who makes my shift miserable what affects my work performance and personal life. Most of the time when I finish work I need a little bit of time to “cool down” and bring my blood pressure to normal…

Those texts make me want to find out more about the gender discrimination and emotional labor and as of now I think that’s what my research is going to be about.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

bonus question

In the article from The Washington Post by Ylan Q. Mui a federal appeals court gave a thousands of woman the right to sue Wal-Mart based on gender discrimination. The discriminated women have been waiting for 12 years to have the opportunity to fight for their rights, since their salary were lower than men's and their promotions didn't have a place as often as the opposite gender. However Wal-Mart disagree and is planning to request Supreme Court to go over those rules.

The appeal court have not decided yet if the discrimination had a place but if female employees can sue Wal-Mart all together. The number of woman in the struggling case went up from about 3400 in 1998 to almost 1,6 million as of today (excluding the women workers, who left Wal-Mart before the suit was filed in 2001 there is still more than a million of them).

We have discussed in class all of those issues mentioned in this article, that females working in Wal-Mart are dealing with on daily bases. Its been said that Wal-Mart has made "significant strides to support female employees", obviously not if the number of women affected by gender discrimination on a job is raising.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

post#5 interview with Daisy Kinard

I found all of the four interviews interesting and related to the course texts we had so far. I choose the one with Daisy Kinard because she seems to be an open person.

In my opinion Richard Lieberman by interviewing Daisy is trying to picture the reality of teenage African-American girl in the time of World War II and what's even more significant in her case, the racial segregation between the whites and the blacks. He also looks for motives that made her moved from the south part of the country to NYC and I see him trying to compare the reality of living between North Carolina and a northern state like New York.

Daisy answers the questions pretty openly, she tells the story of her youth, when she worked 16 hours a day for a minimum wage, where the education was a privilege mostly for white kids, what relates to the discrimination she experienced as a African-American. She decided to move to New York because she was looking for a better life and she's been told that in New York ”the white people speak to you, and they treat you nice. And they ride on the same train”. It was a fantasy for her to be in a place like that. The differences between her hometown and New York were noticeable, not only the good way. She has been disappointed when she first arrives in the Big Apple but as of the time of the interview 1978, about 10 years after civil right movement had a place, she seems to be satisfied with her achievements. I assume that she became a student of LaGuardia and that she liked New York for the integration you find here.

I see couple of things in this interview that can relate to our class materials. First of all the racial discrimination brings me to the presidential speech “A More Perfect Union”, about the role of race in the United States. Barack Obama mentions William Fulkner words, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past”. Daisy Kinard is the real example of the past and the best of achieving the goals with determination that grew in her through the unpleasant life experience. From my point of view there is connection between Daisy and Wal-Mart workers from the movie “The High Cost of Low Price” and from Karen’s Olsson article “Up Against Wal-Mart”, what I see they have in common besides the minimum salaries are the extremely hard situations on a job that they are expose to, for example by working for so many hours. There is one more connection I found reading the interview, related to “Confronting Inequality” by Paul Krugman. When it comes to status the interviewee tells us how important is, in cities like New York, to find a social class that each of us belongs to and fit in.