Jennie Lightweis-Goff is an Instructor of English at the University of Mississippi. Her scholarly work has appeared in American Literature, Signs, Southern Quarterly, Mississippi Quarterly, south: a scholarly journal, and minnesota review. She is presently at work on a memoir about weight loss and the humanities job market.
Is there any critical concept so abused in our political culture as “emotional labor,” a term seemingly used—like mansplain— to settle scores, to end conversation? Even now, I revise myself. Yes, “wave” language in feminism is more abused, and used to banish the radical histories that produced critique within feminism. Yes, intersectionality is conceptually abused, as a defense or elision of the conservative bona fides of women politicians from Hillary Clinton to Kamala Harris. This wandering away from context seems part of the whole: the rendering of feminism, and feminist language, as an affective and aesthetic position. A personal brand, even.