Giving Power, Taking Power: Emotional Labor, Gender, and Abuse

GODS & RADICALS

“…give a portion of your power to women…”

– Roman prayer to Cybele

Her legs buckle and I know what to do.

I don’t just mean easing my client to the ground and checking for stroke. As I wait for the charge nurse, I focus on my smile. Other residents have visitors, after all; they’re liable to complain about a caregiver who lets it show that she’s had too little sleep for a 12-hour shift. Nursing resembles customer service, waitstaffing, and retail: most of the work does not involve the specific set of tasks listed in the job description. 80% of the time, nursing means presenting cheerfulness, politeness, deference, and a willingness to handle other people’s interpersonal tension no matter how they treat you.

And as I push through the minor crisis on the emotional momentum of my devotional prayer that morning, I wonder, “Why should my employer care about my facial…

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