“Shopgirls,” department store clerks whose primary skills were good looks, poise, and charm, used the same techniques to get a date as they did to make a sale.
“[The Real Housewife] is a heroine for an age that believes in getting rich by turning your feelings into assets.” If dating and marriage are work for women, in today’s economy they have found many ways to monetize them.Of course reality stars like Kardashian and the Real Housewives have especially powerful platforms from which to exploit their emotions, but everyday women can do it too.But, Weigel argues, it was less that this kind of work prepared women for romance than that the innovation of dating trained women to be good workers.Women dated because it was how they could take part in leisure activities that they could not afford with their meager paychecks.In order to gain access to restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks, and the many other new consumer services proliferating around them, they had to attract and please men, who enjoyed higher earning power.
They thus provided a service that men, in turn, paid for.The epitome of this new kind of emotional labor, the care and keeping of one’s personal brand, is Kim Kardashian West, who shares herself, body and mind, with her fans through reality TV, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, You Tube, and her exclusive smartphone app.Her high-profile celebrity relationships have formed a large part of her work, so much so that on her video game, dating other celebrities is one way that a player can “level up.” It’s hard to picture Kardashian tweeting, as her husband Kanye West did, “You have distracted from my creative process.” For her, Twitter TV franchise, which has turned a league of women with rich husbands into moguls.Men who join Twitter in order to network are obvious: they have their job, like “writer,” in their screen name. They retweet a lot, not posts they found amusing, but posts from official outlets in their fields. Looking at these men’s accounts, I always wonder how people can be so bad at social media. Men can opt out of this kind of networking because they are allowed to compartmentalize their identities in ways that women cannot. Weigel explains how the idea of “personality” came about around the same time that dating did, to describe the factors in attraction that were hard to define.Although it was often seen as charisma, unselfconsciousness, or animal magnetism, personality has always been a performance.Social networking, too, is a form of emotional labor, and it is now a 24-7 activity for the creative class, especially women and people of color, for whom barriers to entry are greater.