Why Must I Take on All The Emotional Labor in the Workplace, Like Smelling Everyone’s Lunches?

It’s not easy being a woman in the workplace – every day I’m expected to show up and do my job despite constant sexism, both implicit and explicit, from my male peers. And as a woman, it seems that I am expected to take on the emotional labor of my coworkers and bosses. Why must I take on the emotional labor of the entire workplace? Also, why do I have to be the one to constantly sniff everyone’s lunches and say, “Mmm, that smells good.”


Emotional labor is often seen as an “invisible labor” that women must do to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. Even though I’m a high-level employee at a large advertising firm, it’s somehow still my job to show around new employees, mentor interns and remember everyone’s birthday. And on top of it all, I have to smell everybody’s goddamn lunches and ask, “Ooh, what’s that in there? Can I have some?”


And whether my boss is complaining to me about his boss, or dealing with a problem at home, it’s somehow my responsibility to give advice and provide emotional support. Also, someone keeps getting fried calamari delivered to our floor. Sounds good in theory, but tucked in amongst the homemade deli sandwiches and Lean Cuisines, it smells like a wet dog. Why must I take on this burden of sniffing out the source of every weird lunch choice to decide which lunches are acceptable in a shared workspace?! Do men have to smell all of these disgusting lunches? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say: Absolutely fucking not!



Just last week one of my male colleagues, Josh, and I had to give a huge presentation. He remembered to bring a flash drive into work so we could load the PowerPoint and wouldn’t stop talking about how lucky it was that he remembered. It was like he thought he was a hero for bringing in a flash drive when I had organized the entire presentation, made the slideshow, and was spearheading the initiative in the first place. Also Josh brings leftover fish to work every day and I have to smell it in addition to all the other insane garbage lunches that people insist on bringing! Why am I the only one taking this on?!


Men need to understand that these emotional undertakings are being thrust on women without their consent. They also need to understand that I and other women, are being forced to smell everybody’s horrid lunches all dang day long and it’s NOT OK!! Like how come whenever anyone goes “what’s that smell,” it’s my job to go sniffing around every cubicle to figure out exactly what food would make that weird smell? And why do I have to organize every stupid retirement party? And who put tuna in the microwave?? And also why is it my responsibility to make new people feel welcome here? But more importantly, WHO IS EATING HARDBOILED EGGS AND CAN I HAVE ONE?!?!


Being a woman is exhausting. Can someone bring me the tub of raw onions I brought for lunch? I’m starving.