In a contemporary neoliberal landscape, young women are subject to intensified requirements to demonstrate resilient individuality while also enacting a pleasing, approachable femininity, in domains of life including bodily appearance, education, employment and personal productivity in general. Following Arlie Hochschild’s work on emotional labour, I suggest normative youthful femininity is lived, not simply as a set of life regulations, but as a set of ‘feeling rules’ through which young women affectively manage such contradictions. Feeling rules shape how young women may feel in relation to gendered regulation, limiting their articulation of managing this burden to humorous, upbeat quips in the genre of safe, funny, ‘girlfriendly’ material. I examine a set of self-representative blogs authored by young women on the platform Tumblr to explore how these rules are navigated. Converting the frustrations of postfeminist regulation into funny, bite-sized moments, the blogs produce selves amenable to circulation in a gendered, digital economy of relatability.
- emotional labour