Objectification As Emotional Labor

“Emotional labor … [is] activities that are concerned wit the enhancement of others’ emotional well-0being and with the provision of emotional support. … captures people’s attempts to effectively managed the emotional climate within a relationship. (more; see also)

Some complain that women do much emotional labor, labor which is overlooked and undervalued. Others point to male emotional labors that also seems overlooked: suffering more explicit rejection, suggesting options for others to shoot down, suppressing their own fears and complaints while indulging partners’, and flattering partners while doing without flattery themselves.

In this post I want to point out another kind of especially male emotional labor, a kind I have not heard others speak of: men pretend they love women for who they are, but let women admit they love men for those mens’ love. That is, men “objectify” women.

Let me explain. Usually the strongest things we all want from our mates is to be wanted and loved for our direct objective features, like our looks, personality, smarts, kindness, etc. Wanted at least by someone who is good enough in key ways. But two people who have this as their main mating motive are poorly matched. If the other person mainly loves you for the fact that you love them, then they aren’t loving you so much for your direct features, which is what you wanted them to love you for. So you aren’t getting what you wanted.

This problem is cut if one of the parties will at least pretend to mainly want the other for their direct features. And this men (tend to) do. Leading to stereotypes that male desires are simple and low and deceptive, allowing men to be freely denigrated and suspected of foul play. In contrast, the female desire to be loved is framed as deep, giving, and spiritual. For example, male consumption of porn is denigrated much more than is female consumption of romance novels.

Such pretense carries risks. Men who believe it too much can be surprised to find sex alone doesn’t satisfy, while women who believe it too much may withhold sex, demand too much for access to it, and be surprised when their man gives up on the pretense.

Added 7p: Maybe what all parties really want is to be matched with a high status partner, which would as a result raise their own status. So matches between similar status people do give people as much of what they want as they’d think feasible to get. Under this hypothesis, all the stuff they say about wanting to be wanted for features is misleading.

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