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.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great draft. I'd work more at putting the pieces together - think about your transition from Terkel to the article about mothers: what kind of discrimination does each represent? How does the arrest of pregnant mothers relate to discrimination on the job? Does emotional labor relate to your outside sources as well as to the course texts?