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I’m thinking about social requirements to perform emotional work. If you’re a woman in particular contexts, it’s the not slapping away the hand at the small of your back, the necessity of kissing people upon greeting them, the suppression of discomfort, the timely frivolity. It’s the necessity of looking upset, crying, becoming incoherent, for people to believe that you’ve been badly dealt with. It’s the shut-up-with-your-emotions-you-hysterical-woman when your emotions are not convenient for other people.

It’s that double bind: you have to perform so that you’ll be taken seriously, sometimes, but that which you are required to perform isn’t taken seriously, sometimes. It’s the goalpost shifting that makes it the perfect way to train women to trap outselves.

And, in my experience, trying to follow those goalposts around drains one more than it benefits one.

Playing along is totally understandable under the circumstances, because that’s what you’ve been taught to do, because it might help. It’s ultimately a disservice to oneself, because one has to endure the effects of both one’s own emotions and the layer of suppression or required emotion. No one should have to sit tight when they’re feeling threatened, and no one should have to play up the experience of being badly dealt with, as if your own story and response isn’t enough.