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Rose Hackman — Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work Shaping Our Lives

Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work Shaping Our Lives and How to Claim Our Power (book cover)

Shermer and Hackman discuss:

  • her journey to researching emotional labor
  • What is emotional labor?
  • emotional labor at work, at home, in society
  • How much more work do women do than men at home?
  • Is marriage and family “emotional labor”?
  • sex/gender differences in emotions
  • equality vs. equity
  • income inequality between men and women
  • UBI
  • Richard Reeves’ book, Of Boys and Men
  • the threat of violence against women and why women are more risk averse
  • sex and emotional labor
  • sex work and prostitution
  • pornography
  • #metoo
  • emotional capitalism
  • liberal vs. conservative attitudes about emotional labor and gender differences
  • deaths of despair
  • solutions: empathy, lower loneliness, elements of a good life
  • reform of capitalism?

About the Book

A stranger insists you “smile more,” even as you navigate a high-stress environment or grating commute. A mother is expected to oversee every last detail of domestic life. A nurse works on the front line, worried about her own health, but has to put on a brave face for her patients. A young professional is denied promotion for being deemed abrasive instead of placating her boss. Nearly every day, we find ourselves forced to edit our emotions to accommodate and elevate the emotions of others. Too many of us are asked to perform this exhausting, draining work at no extra cost, especially if we’re women or people of color.

Emotional labor is essential to our society and economy, but it’s so often invisible. In this groundbreaking, journalistic deep dive, Rose Hackman shares the stories of hundreds of women, tracing the history of this kind of work and exposing common manifestations of the phenomenon. But Hackman doesn’t simply diagnose a problem―she empowers us to combat this insidious force and forge pathways for radical evolution, justice, and change.

Drawing on years of research and hundreds of interviews, you’ll learn:

  • how emotional labor pervades our workplaces, from the bustling food service industry to the halls of corporate America
  • how race, gender, and class unequally shape the load we carry
  • strategies for leveling the imbalances that contaminate our relationships, social circles, and households
  • empowering tools to stop anyone from gaslighting you into thinking the work you are doing is not real work.

Emotional labor is real, but it no longer has to be our burden alone. By recognizing its value and insisting on its shared responsibility, we can set ourselves free and forge a path to a world where empathy, love, and caregiving claim their rightful power.

Rose Hackman is a British journalist based in Detroit. Her work on gender, race, labor, policing, housing and the environment―published in The Guardian―has brought international attention to overlooked American policy issues, historically entrenched injustices, and complicated social mores. Emotional Labor is her first book.

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Show Notes

Alan Fiske’s 4 Relational Models
  1. Communal Sharing: Relatives, couples, marriage, families, friends
  2. Authority Ranking: Employer/Employee, Teacher/Student, Parent/Child
  3. Equality Matching: Friends splitting gas, informal exchanges. Marriage?
  4. Market Pricing: Economy of strangers, money is the social currency of exchange and reciprocity.
  1. Communal Sharing: freely share resources within a group, no tab keeping, egalitarian, “one flesh” common essence, no contamination, evolved: maternal care, kin selection, mutualism
  2. Authority Ranking: linear hierarchy, dominance, status, age, size, strength, wealth, precedence, tribute from inferiors, obedience, paternalistic, noblesse oblige; evolved: hierarchical primates
  3. Equality Matching: tit-for-tat reciprocity, division of resources equitably via turn-taking, coin-flipping, matching contributions, cut and divide cake equally; evolve: fairness & reciprocity, intuitive economics, cheating detection, perspective taking & calculation
  4. Market Pricing: currency, prices, rents, salaries, benefits, interest, credit; evolve: none
Violations of Fiske’s 4 Models
  1. Restaurant diner invites owner to dinner instead of paying
  2. Dinner guest offers to pay host
  3. Woody Allen’s watch/my neighbor’s car
  4. Organ sale
  5. Roads: Public vs. Private
  6. Sex between Employer & Employee, Teacher & Student, Parent & Child
  7. Prostitution: Sex is usually within communal sharing or equality matching, not market pricing
Steven Pinker

“Morality consists in respecting or violating one of the relational models: betraying, exploiting, or subverting a coalition; contaminating oneself or one’s community; defying or insulting a legitimate authority; harming someone without provocation; taking a benefit without paying the cost; peculating funds or abusing prerogatives.”

Jonathan Haidt

“Moral judgment is not about finding the truth; it is more about broadcasting the kind of person you are to people that you want to like you. You might call it moral posturing. Moral systems are interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technologies, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible.”


Total Graduate School Enrollment, by Field and Gender, Fall 2020


20 High-Paying Jobs Where Women Outnumber Men

The existence of the gender wage gap is well known. On average, women who work full time earn 83% of what their male colleagues do, according to the American Association of University Women. The median salary for women in the U.S. is $45,760 across all occupations, which is below the overall median salary of $54,132. However, it doesn’t mean that women have to settle for lower wages. They could take steps to identify the size of the wage gap in their current positions and negotiate better pay. Or they could focus on getting jobs in higher-paying fields — especially in occupations where they outnumber men and might have more negotiating power. To locate those jobs, GOBankingRates analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Labor to find all the occupations in which women outnumber men. Although women are paid less than men in most of the jobs on this list, they still make more than the average American in these lucrative professions.

20. Fundraisers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 72%
  • Median earnings for women: $70,435
19. Postmasters/Mail Superintendents
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 50.1%
  • Median earnings for women: $70,511
18. Medical and Health Services Managers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 72%
  • Median earnings for women: $71,282
17. Technical Writer
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 56%
  • Median earnings for women: $71,568
16. Advertising and Promotions Managers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 56%
  • Median earnings for women: $72,041
15. Occupational Therapists
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 87%
  • Median earnings for women: $72,121
14. Medical Scientists
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 55%
  • Median earnings for women: $73,907
13. Training and Development Managers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 54%
  • Median earnings for women: $74,867
12. Marketing Managers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 60%
  • Median earnings for women: $75,432
11. Budget Analysts
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 61%
  • Median earnings for women: $75,988
10. Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
Percentage of women in occupation: 67% Median earnings for women: $76,776
9. Physical Therapists
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 60%
  • Median earnings for women: $77,337
8. Human Resources Managers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 75%
  • Median earnings for women: $80,175
7. Psychologists
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 68%
  • Median earnings for women: $80,629
6. Natural Sciences Managers
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 58%
  • Median earnings for women: $82,432
5. Veterinarians
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 64%
  • Median earnings for women: $95,460
4. Nurse Practitioners
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 88%
  • Median earnings for women: $103,312
3. Physician Assistants
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 65%
  • Median earnings for women: $105,676
2. Pharmacists
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 55%
  • Median earnings for women: $121,218
1. Nurse Anesthetists
  • Percentage of women in occupation: 58%
  • Median earnings for women: $171,149

This episode was released on October 10, 2023.

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