The Second Shift, Emotional Labor, and Hurricane Sandy

When I decided I wanted to focus on women’s roles after Hurricane Sandy for my final paper, I tried doing some research on women and natural disasters.  Much to my surprise, there was limited scholarship on this topic. In fact, most of the disaster literature addresses life expectancy and violence against women. Because there is a lack of information available on this subject matter, I believe that my findings should be added to the existing research.

Throughout my paper I expanded the definition of the second shift, advanced research into virtual realms, and demonstrated women’s burden of serving as “the glue” in their communities. I explained how women’s performance of the second shift and emotional labor extends beyond their respective families and to the public sphere.  

In their second shift, women negotiated their domestic duties as well as their community volunteer efforts in the midst of devastation. Thus, women shared their personal struggles regarding their home damages with the greater community and proved to assume the burden of gathering information on home repairs.  At the same time, though, women may have posted descriptions of their home statuses in an attempt to relate to other community members.  As women tried to relate to their neighbors, they also provided aid and donations.

While women performed their second shift, they also were responsible for ensuring the emotional stability of their families and communities. With respect to their families, women tried to maintain a degree of normalcy in their family lives. Women’s emotional labor towards their community was manifested through their continued optimism and loyalty to Long Beach in their posts. Therefore, women encouraged solidarity in their efforts to uplift the spirits of the community. 

 Even when I realized that my analyses of women’s second shift and emotional labor were missing from disaster research, I could not help to wonder why women’s roles are so often overlooked. Perhaps past researchers were inhibited from studying this subject and could not enter given locations due to the physical destruction caused by disasters. I did not encounter such obstacles because I had access to Facebook. With the “Long Beach NY, Hurricane Information” page, I was able to determine the various responsibilities that women assumed after Hurricane Sandy.

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monica byrne

writer . playwright . artist . activist . traveler

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