Analysis: How ‘Service With a Smile’ Takes a Toll on Women



I just read an interesting article from 2016 penned by Adia Harvey Wingfield for The Atlantic that touches on a trend that has always served to perpetuate a negative impact on the mental and emotional states of a large swath of the citizens that make up the American workforce. The fact that so many service-oriented careers and jobs have been basically converted to emotional labor, with the commodification of emotions being front and center as the ideology of work success has evolved, is exhausting and disturbing. When the most necessary skill to "be good at your job" is basically to be an emotional punching bag while keeping a smile on your face and acting like you're OK that's not a skill at all. That's a notion of subservience that we're all being conditioned to supply to those we serve.

In human resources your primary role, in many respects, is to serve others. And to do so you have to be able to do exactly what's stated in this article: grin and bear it, take verbal abuse and still offer a supremely high level of customer service. So many other jobs and careers face similar, and even higher, levels of smiling and being happy even when you're not while being on the receiving end of oppression and emotional abuse. And feminine-identifying persons, queer persons, non-binary persons and persons of color REALLY deal with this pressure because of the societal norms for what basically amounts to the "proper" ways and means that White dominant culture have "demonstrated" over 100+ years that we're all supposed to be adhering to.

Oppression is oppression, whether you bus tables, drive a bus, or take the bus to your job at the local mall.

What are your thoughts?

The article in question: