“Emotional labour” might strike you as a strange term. We don’t necessarily want to think about emotions as “work,” or being thoughtful and considerate as “labour.” But what the concept speaks to is something real, that many women struggle with — particularly women in heterosexual relationships.
In a 2017 article for Harper’s Bazaar, Gemma Hartley wrote about the way in which women are socialized to pick up so much extra labour in terms of holding relationships together, planning trips, remembering events and birthdays, scheduling social and extracurricular activities, planning meals, etc. — generally thinking ahead, and taking care of life. And when we try to bring this up with our partners, we are accused of being nags, or of complaining. “I want a partner with equal initiative,” Gemma wrote.