Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Enail on Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:08 pm

...Okay. I'd disagree with that and say most people pay attention to the facts of the case and also consider how gender norms may play into it when it seems relevant and doesn't contradict other information, while still (of course) having their own gendered biases which sometimes play into how they interpret the information. But I'm not really clear on what your point is other than "let's complain about how people on this forum discuss things," which I can't say I find a very interesting topic. Is there any chance we could get back to either 'are the standard assumptions about gender and boundaries true' or 'what are folks here's reasons for thinking they are/aren't true" or 'what are people's experiences of how gender and boundaries relate,' whichever one Wisp is intending to discuss (or something else I'm missing)?

<mod>And folks, I think it's definitely time we let drop the discussion of Wisp's initial response to Reboot and how we all feel about it or think it says about men and women, Wisp and Reboot, this community or anything else. </mod>
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by litterature on Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:08 pm

reboot wrote:
reboot wrote:Because people are talking about population level characteristics. As a group, men are socialized to be less people pleasing than women, but that does not mean that individuals within the population match the group.

This is a hard concept for people who do not have a solid background in statistics to grasp. Best example to clarify I can think of is smoking and lug cancer. As a GROUP smokers are more likely to get lung cancer. However not all smokers get lung cancer. The group statement does not apply to every individual. It is a population level characteristic.

nearly_takuan wrote:
Lastly, not sure if this is going to be interpreted here as a misguided effort to soothe men's fee-fees or what, but
All of the mean differences we found (and all of the differences that have been found in the past – e.g., Feingold, 1994; Costa et al., 2001) are small to moderate. This means that the distributions of traits for men and women are largely overlapping. To illustrate this fact, in Figure ​10 we present the male and female distributions from our sample for the trait which showed the largest gender difference, Agreeableness. One can see that both men and women can be found across a similar range of Agreeableness scores, such that, despite the fact that women score higher than men on average, there are many men who are more agreeable than many women, and many women who are less agreeable than many men. Given that Agreeableness showed the largest gender difference in our study, all other traits for which we reported significant gender differences would show even greater overlap in men's and women's distributions. Although the mean differences in personality between genders may be important in shaping human experience and human culture, they are probably not so large as to preclude effective communication between men and women.


I appreciate the sample size and diversity of their study population, and, actually, your last bit is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my original post. The mean scores between men and women differ with women scoring higher on agreeableness ON AVERAGE. Just like non smokers are less likely to get lung cancer ON AVERAGE. But since these are population statistics there is always a curve, usually the normal distribution and usually some overlap. Some men score in the women's range of agreeableness (some non-smokers get lung cancer) and some women score in the men's range (some non-smokers never get lung cancer).

I reckon the key point here is that if 2% of the population is armed with laser weapons and goes on a killing spree every other Monday then it doesn't matter that it's just 2%, because they're "souring" the whole situation, so to speak, especially if the situation is somehow designed to give that 2% free reign and urge the average individual to lean towards that 2%/somehow do nothing about it/indirectly take advantage of it, which imho seems to be the case many times when it comes to gender relations. Otherwise, if the graph takuan posted is reliable, the overlap would be so huge that the more accurate statement would be "on average both genders fall within the same range", but I guess that might be meaningless if those people who fall outside the average hold a special place in society and are being abused/abusing women left and right (disclaimer: I'll admit I haven't looked at the links you posted at all, so I don't know how the authors interpret the statistics nor whether the other studies arrive to different conclusions. Also, the only thing I know about statistics is that ages ago I took a very basic course on differential equations and can't remember any of it - statistics really is an extremely boffinish, rocket scientist-y, subject!)

Btw, just an anecdotal tidbit and I don't have studies at hand, but even in languages without an elaborate honorifics system, there are differences in how both genders speak - both in speech patterns and in pronunciation (for example female speakers of southeastern British accents tend to front the u in diphtongs, whereas female speakers of "standard" American accents tend to make their vowels creaky more often). Even in Japanese the whole different pronouns thing is a very recent development (which became fully consolidated in early Shouwa!! so extremely recent actually!), as originally words such as あたし, or traditional speech patterns such as never dropping だ, used to indicate "gentleness" rather than gender (actually there are present-day learning materials that label them as such, for example Eleanor Harz Jorden's books.)

I wonder if a parallel can be drawn between Wisp's "why do people say X when I'm Y?!" and the thread Reboundstudent opened about dealing with "being shrubbery", and if so what kind of parallel it might be, because I guess there would be asymmetries between male and female "shrubs"...

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:49 pm

litterature wrote:
I reckon the key point here is that if 2% of the population is armed with laser weapons and goes on a killing spree every other Monday then it doesn't matter that it's just 2%, because they're "souring" the whole situation, so to speak, especially if the situation is somehow designed to give that 2% free reign and urge the average individual to lean towards that 2%/somehow do nothing about it/indirectly take advantage of it, which imho seems to be the case many times when it comes to gender relations. Otherwise, if the graph takuan posted is reliable, the overlap would be so huge that the more accurate statement would be "on average both genders fall within the same range", but I guess that might be meaningless if those people who fall outside the average hold a special place in society and are being abused/abusing women left and right.

That is one important point. In addition to that, if the differences are statistically significant, it implies that there's some sort of cause (probably more than one) behind it. It doesn't say a lot in itself about what that or those causes might be, but held together with other things we know about gender and traits they sum up as agreeableness, it's not unreasonable to think maybe you can place gender norms are among the causes.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by readertorider on Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:03 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Couldn't find a way to access the others without paying, but it's cool that that first one has a much more varied sample size than most of the psych research I've seen.
Participants ranged in age from 17 to 85 (M = 27.2, SD = 14.4).

I agree that it's cool to see here, but sadly this is one of the few places where I would have preferred the standard college students sample since Wisp's original post mentioned he was interested in whether the differences were consistent for his generation  Wink

I did find this graph of 'compassion' parceled out between gender which seems to suggest that there is less difference between younger people.


nearly_takuan wrote:
Also of interest:
Gender differences in Agreeableness may be related to gender differences in self-construal [...] Women, therefore, may be more motivated than men to maintain social and emotional bonds by enacting more agreeable traits.
This comes from discussion/speculation, but notice that the middleman they put in by way of explanation for why women score this way and men score that way could also just be a standalone genderless description of how a certain worldview may inform certain "Big Five" traits. i.e. if you are the kind of person who relies on external validation/valuation or otherwise doesn't fully trust their own self-image, you may act more Agreeable to fill that need.
I think this particularly makes sense in light of the people I've met who act rather mild/nice while everything's smooth, but then somewhere there's a snag and they get angry/frustrated very quickly. IDK, haven't thought too much about it, but it's interesting.

nearly_takuan wrote:
Lastly, not sure if this is going to be interpreted here as a misguided effort to soothe men's fee-fees or what, but
[paraphrased to differences are very minor]
It is kinda interesting to that the distribution for men almost appears bimodal, when the women's graph appears to be a pretty standard Gaussian. Don't know whether it has to do with the much smaller sample size for men or age/culture differences.

To me, however,  the survey methodology in the study isn't at all convincing. The data's all self reported and even assuming everyone had an unbiased view of how they relate to everyone in their societal area (not something I'm willing to assume given the proportion of people who know they're better than average at driving and my difficulty answering "from 1-10 how much pain do you feel") everything you and the study said about reference group effects is true. Also I hate how none of the graphs start at 0. It does showcase the differences, but would it be that hard to include an axis break symbol? The differences in some graphs appear to be close to statistical significance if those error bars indicate confidence intervals, but even if I agreed with the methods I'm not sure that the statistical significance would be as significant to me personally as it appears from the graphs.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:48 pm

I feel like I have so many things to say about this whole discussion, and all of them have been said better already:

http://the-toast.net/2015/07/13/emotional-labor/

http://www.vice.com/read/give-your-money-to-women-its-simple-284

http://www.metafilter.com/151267/Wheres-My-Cut-On-Unpaid-Emotional-Labor

Emotional labor—the amount of things that women have to do, acting as the therapist to men; absorbing everything that comes out of them with a happy face; swallowing our feelings to not make things more complicated; learning that if we do start voicing displeasure, that's probably not going to get a positive response; always having to be happy and peppy and taking care of their feelings and their outbursts—whether that's in a work environment, relationship, or friendship, it's a lot of work to just put up with what's dealt out. I think there are lots of overlaps between emotional labor and abuse, having to navigate [around men], having to dance around their hotspots, dance around what they're going to be laying out on you. It's a ton of work. It is wearing and draining.

And god forbid you say something to them that is trying to put them in check. That's also work, having to [tell them off] or hold it in.

You can see examples of this stuff all over these forums, and the question of whether any of it has anything to do with different socialization of men and women is insultingly ridiculous.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by The Wisp on Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:12 pm

Sorry caffeinated, but those links are fucking infuriating to me, and really should have a #nottheonion tag. I can't even...
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Fraulein42 on Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:18 pm

What's infuriating is that , once again, you think your individual experience trumps the collective experience of women.

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by eselle28 on Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:28 pm

The Wisp wrote:Sorry caffeinated, but those links are fucking infuriating to me, and really should have a #nottheonion tag. I can't even...

<mod>Wisp, I'm going to refer you to Point 8 of the Forum Guidelines. Sniping about The Onion isn't constructive discussion. If you want to engage with those links in a critical but productive manner to which others can reply, that's fine. If you want to take a step back without the snark, that's also fine.</mod>
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by eselle28 on Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:31 pm

<mod>A broader note to everyone: This thread has veered close to violating Forum Guidelines about personal attacks at several spots. I'm going to ask everyone participating in it to take a mental and emotional step back, take a breath, and decide whether or not they can participate in it civilly and respectfully. If there is no calm, productive discussion left to have on the topic, I will lock the thread.</mod>
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Werel on Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:33 pm

I don't mean this to be anything other than a musing about my personal experience--certainly not arguing with the concept that American women are socialized to do way more emotional labor on average than men--but this quote from the Metafilter link gave me pause:

Metafilter OP wrote:I try to spend my life enacting or at least preparing for war against every facet of patriarchy, but if there was one archetype in particular I could choose to destroy first, it would be the one that says sensitivity and nurturing and saintly levels of understanding and boundless, ceaseless patience aren't just women's work, but the fundamental tenets of womanhood itself.
I'm a woman in a relationship with a man who is highly socially intuitive, empathetic, and able and willing to provide succor and advice; he does a shit-ton of high-effort emotional labor for me. I'd never even thought of considering those facets of him feminine. In addition, I'd consider myself on the low end of the femininity scale in a lot of ways. I've certainly never identified all that strongly with the concept of "womanhood." Relevant here, I'm not particularly deferential in ways that couldn't be also ascribed to a male version of the Laid-Back Stoner Academic Archetype, and my boundaries are pretty solid. I'm never too worried that I'm over-perpetuating gender systems that I hate. And yet, when I read
The Toast wrote:We are told frequently that women are more intuitive, more empathetic, more innately willing and able to offer succor and advice. How convenient that this cultural construct gives men an excuse to be emotionally lazy. How convenient that it casts feelings-based work as "an internal need, an aspiration, supposedly coming from the depths of our female character."
I had no idea what to do with it. I... do feel an internal need and aspiration (lord knows I ain't speculating what depths it comes from) to do feelings-based work. It's one of the most rewarding ways I can pass my time, and it brings me legit pleasure. I am usually glad when someone requests that kind of work from me, so long as they're vaguely reasonable about the time and effort I have to spare. Being sensitive, nurturing, understanding, and patient are way up at the top of the list of things I aspire to in my daily behavior. But I'm left momentarily wondering if these things I'd previously considered positive traits are instead somehow pitiable, misguided, or unwitting capitulations to the patriarchy.

Ahh, polarizing internet rhetoric. Always a fun shortcut to new kinds of self-doubt! Razz

edit: mistakenly attributed one of the quoted bits to the Metafilter link instead of the Toast article, whoops.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Fraulein42 on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:14 pm

The issue Werel, is that even if you or I don't see those as "feminine" traits, in the patriarchacal society we are currently operating in, they *are* coded as feminine.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by litterature on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:22 pm

Doing emotional labour (or being polite and deferential) isn't a bad thing. What's bad is how people (actually anyone who does it, but for various reasons the burden of reproductive/care labour in general falls on one of the two genders, as a general structural tendency) get burned for it, and how the society we live in depends on you having no control over how that labour is done.

Marxist concepts sometimes don't translate well to feminism (although I find the likes of Silvia Federici pretty convincing), but it's a bit like any other sort of labour - it's not bad to pick up phones or build cars, what's bad is how a certain social class preys on this, uses your labour for their own ends and makes your life miserable basically.

btw, there have been some very good posts on this page!


Last edited by litterature on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:24 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Werel on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:22 pm

Oh, sure-- that those aren't traits instilled & valued equally in men, and that they're coded feminine, is all kinds of fucked. I'm just somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that resentment of unpaid emotional labor is a "collective experience of women."
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Enail on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:32 pm

I think saying anything is a collective experience of such a large group as "women" is bound to be an overstatement Razz

I do get where you're coming from, though, Werel. Although in a lot of life, I think I'm fairly low in awareness of/skill at/willingness to do emotional labour, there are situations where I am happy to do it, even some where I am happy to do it without expectation of reciprocity - but that willingness depends very much on feeling like I am free to choose to do it or not. When it becomes required or even just assumed, and most especially when it seems like my gender has something to do with it being required, is when I start to feel resentful.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by litterature on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:34 pm

Werel wrote:Oh, sure-- that those aren't traits instilled & valued equally in men, and that they're coded feminine, is all kinds of fucked. I'm just somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that resentment of unpaid emotional labor is a "collective experience of women."

I'm under the impression that's more about the "unpaid" part than the "labour" part though, and I think that way of framing things probably comes from a certain "school" of interpreting what a political subject is, one that you can find in other movements as well. Anyway, as always the analysis of society and the construction of a political subject that can change that society are separate things, so I think "resentment" or even the notion of a collective experience of women aren't essential to the basic analysis at all - the analysis is "scientific", so to speak, whereas interpretations on what women as a collective subject are/should be are more like different ideas on what the groundwork for collective action should be.

(just my opinion and please excuse me if I come across as too much of a ranting Marxist! by all means do tell me if I'm out of line)

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Werel on Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:28 pm

Enail wrote:but that willingness depends very much on feeling like I am free to choose to do it or not.
Good point. Yeah, when it is demanded, my willingness often evaporates entirely.

litterature wrote:I'm under the impression that's more about the "unpaid" part than the "labour" part though, and I think that way of framing things probably comes from a certain "school" of interpreting what a political subject is, one that you can find in other movements as well.
Oh! Thanks for saying this. Helped me to figure out what I disliked about the "Give Women Your Money" articles: it's the "groundwork for collective action" proposed, the concept of monetizing emotional labor as a way to ensure its more equitable distribution. It seems like a... strangely male response to the problem*. Razz I'm all for recognizing, and helping others recognize, the immense amount of effort that goes into emotional labor, and the fact that women are socialized to bear the brunt of it. I just don't like the idea of withholding something so crucial to humans' well-being, of reducing the amount of it in circulation, because the distribution patterns are fucked. If emotional labor skills, like other labor skills, are developed through exposure and practice, a financial premium on access to (or even observation of) emotional labor wouldn't contribute to anyone without money to spare being better at it. If we're making up our own goofy alternate action plans, I'd go with encouraging women to request (or even expect) in-kind returns on emotional labor.

But like you said, it's messy trying to apply economic concepts to interpersonal dynamics (especially if you've had zero formal training in it), so I may be approaching all this in a totally wrongheaded way. Smile

*just a flippant joke based on common perceptual associations between masculinity and capitalism, I promise I'm not calling the Woman Cred of these authors into question
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by lonelyoffices on Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:38 am

I really think we should monetize emotional labor. And since I'm apparently a woman (who knew, though it explains a lot) I'm hoping we'll get back wages. I could retire tomorrow.

If my past and present experience can't be turned into cash, then I suppose I could figure out how to be one of these men. I'm not sure I'm ready for that sort of unexamined, spiritless existence, but I'm really tired of paying therapists, so why not?

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by jcorozza on Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:09 am

litterature wrote:Doing emotional labour (or being polite and deferential) isn't a bad thing. What's bad is how people (actually anyone who does it, but for various reasons the burden of reproductive/care labour in general falls on one of the two genders, as a general structural tendency) get burned for it, and how the society we live in depends on you having no control over how that labour is done.

Marxist concepts sometimes don't translate well to feminism (although I find the likes of Silvia Federici pretty convincing), but it's a bit like any other sort of labour - it's not bad to pick up phones or build cars, what's bad is how a certain social class preys on this, uses your labour for their own ends and makes your life miserable basically.

btw, there have been some very good posts on this page!

It's funny (not haha funny), but when people think about it seriously, most will acknowledge that emotional work is a good thing, and not always an easy thing. But I think that we often don't really view it as "bad", just invisible. And even when it's for a job (teaching, child care, counseling/social work, etc.) it's not valued as highly as a lot of other types of work. As someone who works in one of these fields, it can be really exhausting. I tend to have patience and empathy for my clients, but when my co-supervisor starts complaining to me about something, sometimes I just want to yell, "keep your damn problems to yourself - I have enough people's emotions to sort through! And sometimes even here, I'll admit that my patience can be short with people because I just don't have the energy to be understanding ALL THE TIME.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Fraulein42 on Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:40 am

I think the issue is that the reason it gets resented, is that it's devalued.

Emotional labor isn't considered work. Fields which are heavy in counseling etc are underpaid more often than not, or considered "luxuries" (see: how hard it is to find a health insurance that pays for it) Teaching and counseling, nursing professions etc are overwhelmingly women's jobs. (Don't even get me started on how when things that ARE underpaid and mostly women start becoming more men, pay goes up. Don't get me started)

I have to deal with a supervisor who does not consider "emotional labor" skills valuable (even though it is a major part of my job) It has gotten to a point which can make my job almost unbearable, because since that is where my skill set lies, he views me as a lesser member of the team. He belittles these skills regularly, and even the fact that I come from a counseling background.

Emotional labor is devalued. Even when it is actually part of your job.

I'm with you Jcorozza, there's an expectation that we ALWAYS be ready to be accommodating and understanding, and sometimes....Just don't have the energy.

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by reboot on Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:52 am

Do you think men in the more emotional work heavy fields like counseling, teaching, nursing, etc. are more likely or more able to get "off the clock" and not be thrust into that role outside of work? Or able to avoid additional emotional labor more easily? I have no idea.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Fraulein42 on Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:53 am

In my experience at work: yes, I think that's true.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Enail on Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:09 pm

Some questions and wonderings, coming from someone who is mostly only good at or expected to do fairly specific kinds of emotional labour in fairly specific situations: how does emotional labour relate to boundaries? Is being expected to do emotional labour without it being acknowledged or recognized as valuable work an important way you feel like your boundaries are not respected/you're pressured to not have strong boundaries? Do you find people who perform emotional labour for you are more likely to respect your boundaries on other matters (this question could apply to people who don't perform a lot of emotional labour as much as ones who do?) Is emotional labour always linked to a deferential positioning wrt the other person?
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Fraulein42 on Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:30 pm

I think it does yeah, I have had experiences with my boundaries being pushed or ignored both at work and out.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by Fraulein42 on Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:33 pm

Just to point out something that's been bugging me in this thread.

There's a problem with doing a study of "agreeability". Not just because it's ...not really a measurable thing, but we also can't escape that it's weighted. Agreeability for women is going to be seen differently than for men.

Trying to contextualize them as somehow equal ignores that we weight how the sexes act completely differently. Men are assertive and it's viewed positively, women are assertive and it's viewed as a negative etc etc.
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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

Post by lonelyoffices on Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:45 pm

Enail wrote:Some questions and wonderings, coming from someone who is mostly only good at or expected to do fairly specific kinds of emotional labour in fairly specific situations: how does emotional labour relate to boundaries? Is being expected to do emotional labour without it being acknowledged or recognized as valuable work an important way you feel like your boundaries are not respected/you're pressured to not have strong boundaries? Do you find people who perform emotional labour for you are more likely to respect your boundaries on other matters (this question could apply to people who don't perform a lot of emotional labour as much as ones who do?) Is emotional labour always linked to a deferential positioning wrt the other person?

I wonder if your difficulty seeing a clear connection might be because there isn't as strong of a connection as there appears to be between being deferential and struggling to set boundaries. Showing undue deference is almost by definition poor boundary setting, while who does emotional labor and what it's worth may relate in some circumstances, but it may not.  Someone who does emotional work may be quite able to set terms regarding when they'll do it, for how long, with whom, and so on.  So since this thread had a prior life related to discussing deference and boundary setting and what they mean, the introduction of a new, less related idea, was curious.

Unless you consider the author of this thread, The Wisp, someone for whom, frankly, many people have done a lot of emotional work. And it's happening again here.  Emotional work, who does it, and why, are good things to talk about.  Bringing them into this topic at this point seems to have sort of personalized things, an assertion supported by some subsequent comments directed at The Wisp.

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Re: Why do people act like men aren't socialized to be as deferential and lacking of boundaries as women?

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