the emotional labor thread, circa '87
January 6, 2017 12:32 PM   Subscribe

The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship [PDF] by Micaela di Leonardo: "The kin-work lens brought into focus new perspectives on my informants' family lives. First, life histories revealed that often the very existence of kin contact and holiday celebration depended on the presence of an adult woman in the household... Kin work, then, is like housework and child care: men in the aggregate do not do it. " (Originally published in Signs, Spring 1987.)
posted by amnesia and magnets (5 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Or this Askme, circa 2013.
posted by Melismata at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2017

My own family turns out to be a great example of this. When my father's ancestors left the Ukraine, they first stopped in England; some of them stayed and the rest peeled off to the US. But thanks to my father's mother, the families remained in touch--until my grandmother died in the early 70s. There was no further contact until my mother, who is interested in genealogy, traced the surviving cousins a few years back.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:17 PM on January 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Very interesting topic. I wonder how broadly applicable some of these lessons, based in one Italian American community 20 years ago, are though. Even the author notes (in 1987) that some of the attitudes are much less prevalent among younger men.

Women were also much more willing to discuss family feuds and crises
and their own roles in them; men tended to repeat formulaic statements
asserting family unity and respectability.

On both sides of my family (Norwegian American and Irish American), the opposite is true. The men are much more likely to discuss (and have) conflicts with other family members, and the women are more likely to project an unrealistic statement of respectable family unity.

One factor may be that people are more honest in discussions with people of the same sex, something that would affect both me and the author.
posted by msalt at 4:14 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I send out holiday cards because it makes me happy.

We have a belated Hanukkah brunch tomorrow, and it occurred to me yesterday to ask the mister if his stepbrother's kids were going to be there. Well, yes, yes they are. The mister said, "Tell me what to get and I'll go to Target (today)." I looked at him, blinked slowly, shrugged, and said, "Nope. Your family, your problem. And you should get something for your dad and his wife, too."

Reader, he independently bought two really amazing gifts for the kids, bottles of wine for his stepbrother and wife, and his dad and wife, plus wine for me!

I told the mister about emotional labor a few months ago, and have pointed it out ever since. Tonight, I celebrate the fruit of my labors. I happily wrapped those gifts that I had no part in buying, while sipping my wine.

(While I sent a holiday card to the mister's stepbrother's family, I did not send one to his biological brother and wife, because emotional labor is not how either of them roll.)
posted by Ruki at 6:36 PM on January 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

Hell yes, Ruki. I had a similar experience in telling my dude about emotional labour back when we had the thread here, and reading out a bunch of the comments in it. We talked about it a fair bit, he was very open to seeing things he hadn't been very aware of before.

So Christmas comes around, and I pull out my gear and begin to write Christmas cards. He sees me doing it, and asks whether i've already had any ideas for what to get people as gifts this year, because if not, he's happy to take point on coming up with them since he knows it's an effort for me.

Such a small thing, but it made such a damn difference to my mood that day.
posted by pseudonymph at 3:32 AM on January 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

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