[TRIGGER WARNING: MISOGYNY, SEXUAL ASSAULT, ABUSE]
Anyway, I read an article this morning that really hit the nail on the read in some ways. So, more recommended reading.
This piece really gets to the heart of the concept of the unpaid emotional labor that women do for men. I've read about and written about this concept, but this piece really gets to the root of it in a way that resonated with me personally. Unfortunately, the article includes a lot of "not all men" and "it's not your fault, guys" almost to the point of seeming to blame women for how "we" raise boys in this society, failing to mention that the way people raise their sons is the result of narratives and myths created by MEN. Ironically, the author is once again expending time and energy on regulating the emotions of men by reassuring them that they're not all bad :) :) :).
It annoys me, but I'm also trying to be understanding. She, like the rest of us, is a victim of the culture. And men have made it clear that if you don't "not all men," they'll freak the fuck out on you. But also, they'll freak the fuck out on you even if you do, so please, Emma, don't bother.
Also, go ahead and skip the little update at the end, where she once again caters to the feelings of men by going "women do bad things to" and even bowing to the false narrative that "women abuse men just as much as men abuse women." No. There is no evidence for that. Only (likely intentional) misinterpretation of data.
However, the good parts of the article outweigh the bad.
In my personal life, I remember a man telling me that women should reject men’s sexual advances in a way that won’t hurt the man’s feelings. And, that sounds reasonable on first glance. However, unfortunately, honest communication of the feelings “I am not sexually attracted to you” is considered hurtful to most men. So, women are forced to not communicate their honest feelings in order to protect the man from feeling anything bad.
Yes. It's fucked up that we have to lie, or at the very least obscure the truth, in order to protect men's feelings. Then I see men complaining about women lying, saying that women lie more than men. I do think women lie more than men. Because men fucking require it. Because if we're ever honest and are just like "I'm not attracted to you," we can expect hostility up to and including physical violence.
I see this crop up again and again in my male friends; I see men who are only able to quit their substance problems when they get a girlfriend, or men who drift into workaholism every time they are single. So many men I know are unable to live a happy life when they don’t have a woman who stops them from feeling the negative feelings that accompany their poor life decisions. It’s notable that they often do not stop making these poor life decisions.
Men literally do not function well without women around to manage their emotions for them. This resonates with me as well. In my romantic relationships with men, I've not only found that they expect me to be there for them and will become upset if I choose to put myself first, but it took me years to realize that I automatically and frequently think about how I can manage my boyfriend's emotions and plan my life around doing so.
This article also made me realize something. I've had boyfriends ask me or tell me they need me to come home and be with them during a difficult time. Something bad happens, and they want me to be with them to cuddle, listen to them rant, and provide emotional support. This isn't necessarily bad in and of itself. But I realized that I've never once asked the same of any of my boyfriends. I think the closest I've come is asking my current partner to come with me in the car to a job interview that I was really nervous about. I have an anxiety disorder and job interviews cause an unbearable level of anxiety that can extend for days.
But I have never asked or expected a partner or anybody to keep their evening open or change their plans because I got into a fight with a family member, or because I suffered a disappointment, or because I was feeling depressed. And I realize that this is because I was taught that I had to manage my own emotions - no one else was going to do it for me. I learned this lesson so well that I prefer to be alone when I'm upset most of the time, even if I'm unlikely to cry (I fucking hate crying in front of people).
I think this is because I'm just used to dealing on my own. It does not even come naturally to me to talk to other people about the things that are upsetting me. I have to consciously encourage myself to do so - and it's much easier to do with my female friends and family members. Because men don't know how to comfort properly! Women are typically amazing at it, while men end up talking about themselves, overly-intellectualizing the problem, and/or fail to empathize correctly. All. The. Time.
This article also really helped it sink in how much energy is drained from us women by this emotional labor, and how heavy the burden of male anger is (especially considering how many of us have been abused by angry men, fuck). Their anger "fills us up" and weighs us down, to the point that we spend time and money on therapy and other treatment programs just to deal with all this shit. It's not just that "[t]hey have to sharpen their emotional regulation skillz because they’ll be regulating for two even when they’re not pregnant." We have to regulate our own emotions, regulate the emotions of the men in our lives, AND deal with the extra emotional weight caused by men's emotion dumps onto us.
Lastly, this piece did a fantastic job explaining how extreme the imbalance is between the expectations of emotional management. It's not only expected that women will manage the emotions and sexual appetites of men, the message is constantly sent that we NEED to do it or we'll all suffer more. Yet there is zero expectation for men to manage our emotions or satisfy us sexually.
I think the line “Someone needs to fuck this man so he’s nice to be around,” kind of says it all. Someone who is abusive should learn the lesson no one wants to be around you when you’re like that. But, men don’t have to learn that lesson. You know who fucks me when I’m an abusive asshole?
You know who fucks me when I’m a lazy schmuck about my appearance and look like shit?
You know who thinks I’m entitled to their body despite my refusal to take responsibility for my behavior?
I was celibate for two fucking years to emotionally process all the shit that had been pushed on me. No one comforted me when I cried. No one slept in my bed. No one held me.
No one fucked me.
But clearly angry men “should” get fucked so they won’t impose their anger on other people. Why do angry men deserve sex and I don’t? Why do angry men get women devoted to their emotional caretaking?
This is just so fucking spot on (though I cringed a bit about the laziness and appearance shit, not because it's not true but it makes it sound like she thinks women/people are bad if they don't put in work to make themselves "look good"). There's a widely believed myth that men will fuck women no matter what we look like and no matter what we do. No. There are a shit ton of men out there who wouldn't fuck me because of my weight alone. And even if I could find a guy who would fuck me anyway, it's dangerous for us to go home with or bring home some random dude we don't know. So shut the fuck up.
Unfortunately again, in that update thing at the end, the author capitulates to her shitty male friend who said "I feel like I moderate the emotions of my girlfriends more than they moderate mine." That's because you expect women to automatically moderate your emotions to the point that you don't realize when they're doing it. Women are expected to do it naturally and automatically so unless they go super duper out of their way to make your feel better, you don't notice it. But you notice it when you do it because it's not expected of you.
Emma, get new friends. This guy read your entire article and still doesn't fucking get it. He doesn't deserve you as a friend and he doesn't deserve any woman's emotional labor.
And men, here is a great opportunity for ally work. Work on recognizing the moments when women are doing emotional labor for you. Every time you're complaining to a woman, whether it's your girlfriend, wife, friend or family member, recognize how she listens and supports your emotions and reflects your feelings back at you, how she tries to come up with solutions and offers additional support. How she doesn't use it as a springboard to talk about herself or something she's interested in, but keeps the subject on you.
This doesn't mean you can't talk to women about your problems. It means that you need to be grateful and reciprocate. Thank women verbally for listening to you. If they don't give you opportunities to reciprocate in kind, do something else nice for them and let them know that it's in exchange for that emotional labor. Learn how to listen and empathize and emotionally support people and offer to do so for the women in your life. This is a very important and not that difficult thing to do. Please.