1,452 thoughts on “You should’ve asked

  1. I don’t think is very fair. My dad works his ass off to do everything in the house including going to work at 4am every day. Meanwhile my mom sits on her lazy ass all day. Why do we have to put men and women in categories. Why cant you just mention the problem without assigning it to a certain gender. It’s not fair to my dad and a lot of other hard working fathers out there who never get the appreciation they deserve.

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    1. I don’t understand why you’re upset every comic can not be about your personal situation, you’re not the center of the world.
      The comic mentions this is not the case everywhere and that if in your home the man bears the mental load good for you ! Maybe you missed this part.
      Sociology is a science about trends, it is never 100%. But it helps understand why mostly women are raped and why most of rapists are men. Why there are still income inequalities between genders. Why women are still executing 75% of housework and I don’t even mention the mental load. And so on.

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      1. Good for her? I agree that in many situations it is the women doing the mental work, but the man doing all the mental work is not better… Only by putting an emphasis on equality of workload, both physical and mental, can there be improvement. Even if it means admitting that I am the one who needs to carry more of the load to match my partner. It’s about equality, not moral high ground.

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    2. Kaitlyn, Why would you even say that of your mom? Even if nothing else, she still carried you for 9 months an went through labor or a C section to bring you here. Articles like this are to be read as general and never applies to every single household. My mom was a stay at home mom and I only realized how hard it was when I had to stay home with 2 small kids after my second child.

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      1. Just because a woman conceived you and birthed you, doesn’t mean you owe her anything. You didn’t ask to be born and were a helpless baby when you came into the world. That is down to choices and actions the parents took – not the child. It is never the child’s fault. Some people’s mothers and fathers do a dreadful job and cause untold damage to their children. Children/adults don’t have to be grateful if their parents were rubbish and should be encouraged to speak out about bad parenting, not internalise or even perpetuate it. Not everyone’s parents do a good job.

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    3. It’s not fair to your Dad & a lot of other men who never get the appreciation they deserve – appreciation for tasks that the majority of women do without appreciation too. Why does being an adult male mean you deserve appreciation for tasks involved in running the house hold that you live in?

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      1. Just because someone ‘should’ do something doesn’t mean they don’t ‘deserve’ appreciation for their efforts or that appreciation should be ‘withheld’.

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    4. I totally agree with you. While I carry the mental load at home, he carries the mental load at work, and I don’t have too. This is bullshit! I don’t worry about parts being in stock, deliveries happening on time, pleading customers, running a successful business so on and so forth. Do men just go to work and sit around and bullshit/relax? My husband does not get a lunch break, he’s on his feet 11 hours day. When he comes home am I gonna expect him to worry about mustard in the fridge. This is utterly ridiculous.

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      1. No need to be insulting
        Seems to me your work is far more useful for humanity than his. However, he’s paid, you’re not. I hope your relationship will last and you won’t have to regret this organization.

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      2. You don’t think providing goods and services that makes society function helps men take care of their families is useful for humanity? Where do you think everything you use everyday to live and survive comes from?

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      3. She’s talking about stock options, not food providing
        Then you’ll probably tell me that economy makes food providing possible and I’ll laugh a lot because look at the world. Economy and human well being are two completely different, if not antinomic, things. The world could be so much better if men spent less time doing harmuful jobs and more time taking care of others.

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      4. Ok Emma, I’m sure that your local plumber, electrician, truck driver, trash collector and construction worker that helps you live a nice, comfortable life would be thrilled to hear that you think they should ‘spend less time doing harmful jobs and more time taking care of others.’

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      5. Please tell me that you just pretend you don’t understand what I mean
        If not, I suggest you have a look at my work “Work ! Why ?”, it could help you to have a better idea.

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      6. Thanks for clarifying Emma, I understand your point now. Interesting…who would have thunk that being a corporate drone is unfulfilling and pointless?

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      7. From what you’re saying I get the impression that you’re a stay-at-home mom/wife? Which is perfectly respectable and works well for lots of people! But as you say, you’re carrying the mental load at home while he carries it at work. Your full-time job in the household is taking care of that. Again, that’s excellent! But it’s not everyone’s household. This comic is pointing out how women who work are *also* carrying the mental load at home – so it’s like they’re doing both your job, and your husband’s job.

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  2. Comments like this drive me nuts.
    The comic painted with a very broad brush, gender-wise, and did piss-poor job of acknowledging the myriad of exceptions to this frame.
    When a person says “Wait, that’s not me/my family” the response is “…you’re not the center of the world”.
    Really?
    Newsflash: neither are you, whether or not your situation is typical/common.
    Get involved with empathy, or hush up.

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    1. I don’t know if you understand how social commentary works Rob, but when you’re trying to make a comment on how the majority of society works, outliers don’t really have a place. Saying “you’re not the center of the world” is a perfectly valid response, considering while Kaitlynn may have an atypical household, the fact is that almost every woman you talk to will tell you something similar to what’s in the comic. Making comments like “well this isn’t how it is for ME” is purposefully trying to derail the conversation.

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      1. And that statement is even part of the comic, not just as a few words, but it has an illustrative cartoon woman!

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      1. Effective social commentary acknowledges varied experience. Absolutist language will kill your message with anyone whose lived experience differs from yours.
        How TF would Kaitlyn know what the norm is? Her lived experience is different, and to me her comment is essentially “this is not at all the way the world has been for me”.

        How about if someone writes a comic about the majority of men who feel like they want more sex than their wives do, and present it simply as a man’s burden without digging deeply into causation or acknowledging the many exceptions? When someone says “this isn’t absolute, it doesn’t represent my situation” do we shame them with suggestions of narcissism?

        Honest question: Is this a forum where ideas are exchanged, or a space reserved for 100% agreement and praise only?

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      2. Maybe you didn’t read well because I acknowledge it is not a 100% situation but a trend, that’s what sociology is useful for, highlighting trends.
        My blog is not giving coaching or psychology advice, neither is it a therapy group. It’s a place for feminist activism. So the aim here is not to expose everyone’s personal experience so that everyone fells good and comforted. The aim is to demonstrate that we live in a society of male domination (income, sexual violence, politics, housework and so on) and to federate to put an end to this situation. I don’t mind people needing to talk about themselves, I just say this is not the good place to do it and all the less when it is used to put into question several decades of sociology and feminist work.

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    2. For what it is worth, this is the majority of families from my era. I have always been the one to “think” of everything. From what clothes to wear, or wash to dinner prep, decide and shop, to the buyer of all presents for every occasion for everyone both sides of the family. I have spent the majority of my marriage doing what everyone else “needed” me to do. Including caregiving for parents and children. This is what normally happened in the past and too many of us passed this on to our daughters. The expectations. Women should be able to pursue whatever they want, the same as men. It should be our choice not forced upon us. I never knew how to put it into words. Your comic does it beautifully. As far as the negativity goes, the truth hurts, no one wants to give up their free ride. There has to be at least 100:1 ratio, as to the people who are affected versus the one who is not.

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    3. “The comic painted with a very broad brush,”

      Yes… that’s how these things work.

      “gender-wise”

      Statistically

      “and did piss-poor job of acknowledging the myriad of exceptions to this frame.”

      No. It did an excellent job. It specifically included “There are exceptions, of course”

      It’s a comic, for gods’ sake. It’s not a multi-volume PhD thesis.

      Liked by 7 people

  3. I’m a bit stunned by the inclusion of nannies as totally normal – and as if they weren’t women. How about class as an issue? Most working mothers don’t have nannies – they struggle and panic and juggle and all that stuff.
    Hera

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    1. Well in France almost everybody has, either a nanny or a place in a nursery. The taxes system make the price progressive so that the families with the less income can afford it anyway, but with our government current politic it’s changing for the worse. Of course even before that it was not a magical solution, and for the most precarious families it was too expensive and women with the lowest income tended to stay at home.
      My opinion is that even in a perfect work without class inequalities we would need someone to do nannies’ job, I just think they would not be poor women from immigration, it would be a valued task shared among the community.

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      1. Just what society needs! Mothers spending less time at home and devoting her energy to pleasing the demands of a corporate boss while her children are raised by strangers making close to minimum wage!

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      2. This sounds great. Children can grow up optimally in contact with same-aged children. I always considered these opportunities in France for great opportunities. However, I have to say for myself that for me it was never a question to go back to work immediately after birth …. I decided to have children whom I wanted to take care of alone, to whom I wanted to show the world until it is time to let go because they live on their own. I would not want to have children if I did not want to do this task 100% myself.

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      3. I find it unfortunate that so many women go against their maternal instincts and leave their children with strangers for most of the day during their most crucial years of development. Babies are neurologically fragile and are born without a central nervous system. Mothers are literally act as the central nervous system for the first year after birth. The regulatory mechanism is oxytocin which works in conjunction with estrogen. Mothers produce it when they give birth, breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children and produce more of it than men do. Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in. Babies are not able to regulate their emotions internally until 3-5 years. Tales of abuse in day-care centers are enough for me to insist that my children never step foot in one.

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      4. I have no background knowledge at all, but this sounds very logical for me….I think the maternal instinct is the key… for me it was never a question… hopefully this instinct is not getting lost in our society…

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      5. France may be an exception, but in the US it’s very difficult to support a family on one income. The alternatives of my generation (approaching 40) are either to find affordable childcare somehow, when the average daycare costs as much as a month’s rent, or not have children. I am a single parent with one child, and I also care for my parents, and we have two renters to split the bills. If I knew this would happen I would not have had a child.

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    2. Many nannies are also just younger women, in college or who do freelance work (in Los Angeles this is extremely common as women pursue acting or music careers). There isn’t always a class or racial divide when women choose to work in the childcare field… I actually don’t make a lot more than our nanny makes, but I am investing own my own career and also do freelance work. So chill, plz

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  4. It’s gotten worse, recently. On top of that, there’s less income to go round. Perhaps we need to stop giving birth, like, at all. For good. Capitalism relies on the free reproductive labour of workers. People without children rely on reproduction for their welfare and pension. Companies rely on the supply of workers raised at no cost to them. Capitalist externalise the costs of reproduction and reap the surplus of cheap labour. It’s sickening.

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  5. I’m a bit surprised about the critical or even aggressive comments that ignore the mainstream of gender-roles in our society (it’s the same in Germany where I come from, btw sorry for my bad English..), Yes, there are always exceptions, but that’s really not the point – please be aware of how are families organised elsewhere (and sometimes the gender gap even worse); please note the many many scientific knowledge about that gender-gap, which the comic is talking about!

    Cool comic, Emma, thank you so much! And even if my partner is really doing a lot of housework and even takes his mental load regarding the household (feminists/women should be more sloppy, or let’s say: it helps sometimes not to see every grain of dust), you’re so right! When I got our children, everybody asks me, if my husband would “help” me or “support” me. No, why should he do that? I’m not the familiy manager, my husband is as responsable for our children as me! Nobody sees that – so it’s no surprise, that a lot of men (and even women) are sharing these traditional attitudes.
    I’m looking forward to your comic on “emotional work”, because this is indeed a hard and unpaid job which is almost exclusively done by women.

    Thank you and all the best!

    Elisa
    (feminist and art historian)

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  6. This hits home hard, and I’m using it to try to get my husband to understand what we really need to work on. Despite being the primary bread winner, I’m the one who gets all the laundry done, who finds the kids clothes, who finds his clothes for work, I do the shopping, the meal planning, the you name it, and I’m exhausted. Thank you for this comic, I wish more people could see it and understand it.

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    1. I respectfully suggest you stop finding his clothes for work. You are not only the household manager, you are taking care of him. You are also his caregiver. Think about this. You are finding an adult person’s clothing for them. I know a mom who does hers and her kids clothing but never does any of her spouse’s. I think that is a bit extreme as it is just as easy to do all laundry together, but you need to draw the line somewhere. When you go from not only managing a full home to also starting to parent another adult… YOU need to step back and look at how you might be contributing to your exhaustion. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for a person is NOT do everything for them. If you want a partner, you need to relinquish a bit of control to that person. A journal can help you evaluate where you want to set your own boundaries. I wish you good change that works for you and your family!

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  7. I can’t believe some of these comments — if you don’t feel like this comic applies to your life, then great. For those who relate, it’s a nice reminder that you’re not alone. It doesn’t apply to my life EXACTLY, but I still appreciated the sentiment and enjoyed the comic. (Emphasis on the word “comic” ffs)

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  8. Thank you for this comic. As a husband I have definitely been guilty of this and when I found a link to this comic it really made me understand the concept, and spurred me to enact change. I have spread the concept to many people since but only just now rediscovered the source of this comic.
    Thanks again!

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  9. This is why men should marry a woman who wants to be a wife and mother dedicated to her household first and foremost instead of a feminist who wants to be ‘equal’. Ideally men should find a woman that finds a sense of pleasure and contentment in serving her household and family instead of seeing them as a burdensome sense of duty or enslavement.

    The problem with women and mothers having a career is that the culture tells husbands to pick up the slack and become a Mr. Mom by helping out with the chores. This only makes the problem WORSE, because it takes your man away from the role women truly want to see him in and turns him more into a woman. Men taking on more household tasks will not make women happy. When a man takes on traditionally feminine tasks or functions, women will either a) emasculate that man and look at him as weak, inadequate or not masculine enough b) complain that he does not perform traditionally feminine functions or tasks to her level of proficiency or to her subjective expectations, and/or c) complain that the man undermines her capabilities by invading the traditionally female domain. I have read studies that men who do MORE household chores get LESS sex from their wives. Whether or not this is true, it’s easy to see why a woman would not want to sleep with a man who acts like an equal partner.

    The ideal scenario is for the husband to WORK HARD to provide for his family during the day and relax with his wife and children in the evening. While he’s at work, the wife takes care of the home, runs errands, and prepares dinner. When the children begin school then the mother can focus on her business, education and career. This is far more superior to the schizophrenic model we have now where both parents work and the children are dumped in daycare or come home from school to an empty house. Life is long: there will be PLENTY OF DECADES to focus on your career AFTER your children are grown. If I had my way, women would focus on creating a family straight after finishing high school and attend university only once their last child is in school. This would ensure that they don’t miss out on having a family from making a career their priority or burn themselves out with ‘the mental load’ trying to do both at once.

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      1. Jim, your comment doesn’t even deserve more of a reply than that because it’s so ridiculously sexist and archaic. I doubt that logic would have much of an impact with you since you’re living in some sort of 1950s sitcom fantasy.

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    1. But you ARE living in a fantasy if you think that this scenario is even a choice for most couples. Not every family can survive on one income. As for your suggestion that this type of arrangement would make all women happy…all I can do is shake my head in astonishment that you actually believe this.

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      1. Its not a reality anymore since women decided to compete with women in the workforce (when jobs became much easier of course) which made labor much cheaper so one income is not enough to sustain a household, resulting in the schizophrenic model we have today. To make men accept this change, they had to be relentlessly emasculated until they saw women as an equally masculine partner, but this has so greatly weakened men that women no longer trust them to be strong enough to lead, perpetuating a cycle where a woman may feel she has no choice but to pursue a career if she wants to be materially secure.

        Who would have thunk that putting family first would make women happy? All I can do is shake my head in astonishment that you would actually question this.

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    2. I nearly fell off my chair laughing while reading your comment, Jan. The single, most sexy thing a man has ever done in my life was my old boyfriend who came for a visit and at some point just walked over to my sink and started washing dishes after dinner. I actually took a photo of the event and it still turns me on after 27 years. Yes, women should put their whole lives, dreams and hopes on hold for many years to “serve their family” (read: serve the man) just because they had the luck of being born a woman. I have so many things I want to say but I will remain civil. Go back to your cave, Jan.

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      1. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you were so turned on by your ex boyfriend doing the dishes but personal anecdotes are the weakest form of argument. I wonder why things ended between you. I already explained how women will react in general when men take on traditionally feminine roles.

        I already stated you have your whole life to chase your hopes and dreams/and or sit in a cubicle. Your children are only young once.

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    3. OK, Jim, so here are some logical counter arguments:

      Children “being in school” in no way reduces the mental load of a household. In fact, it increases it because there are more outside activities, more places to drive, more specialty clothing and equipment to tend to, more projects that need to be done where an adult has to obtain supplies or help with difficult steps. This lasts until a kid is driving, at least.

      Going to university when you’re in your 30s or 40s leaves you 20 years behind your peers (male peers, in your scenario), which means earning power is 20 years behind, experience is 20 years behind. Can you think how demoralizing it is to have to compete for entry-level jobs with 22-year-olds when you’re 40? Not to mention that most hiring managers are in their 20s and 30s and think anyone over 35 is too old to be any good at a job. Add to that not having any real-life work skills because you’re just out of college, and it leaves women where they were 50 years ago–as assistants to the “real” workers, i.e., men.

      Not to mention that university is not just about book-learning. It’s also about learning social skills, critical thinking, and how to interact as an adult instead of as a woman-child, barefoot and pregnant, making her man sandwiches. And your mind is a lot more malleable and receptive to learning at 18 than at 35.

      Starting a career later in life means you have less time to gain experience and can accomplish far less in your allotted time on earth. There are also jobs where you need to be young, strong, and full of stamina in the first few years–like being a doctor or a chef–because the apprenticeships for these jobs are grueling. It’s hard to have that stamina when you start in your 40s. Of course, you probably think women aren’t suited for jobs like that…

      Parents who start having kids when they’re 18 usually are poorer their whole lives and raise kids who are less successful than parents who wait till their mid-20s or later to start having kids. Children of mothers under 20 are often less healthy, and maternal mortality is higher. Not to mention that it takes time to find the right person to marry and want to have children with (but maybe in your world, you will bring back arranged marriages). Also, are these 18-year-old “women” marrying men who are successful and in their 20s or older? Because if they marry 18-year-old “men” who are still in college, where is the living money going to come from?

      A few other comments:

      Very few women are feminists simply because they want to be feminists. They are feminists because they’ve tried to help their families by working, and they see that they are not treated with the same respect men get, they are not offered the same promotions, they still have to do most of the stuff at home along with all the stuff at work. Despite what you think, many families need two incomes to survive. And people with outside interests, like work, are far more stimulating to their partners than those whose world revolves around toddlers. Many men appreciate that, even if you don’t.

      This is NOT about men “picking up the slack” and “doing more household chores”. It’s about men considering what needs to be done to run a competent household where kids get picked up from events instead of left to wait and you don’t run out of toilet paper and everyone has clean clothes to wear. If you can’t care about that stuff, you should probably live alone.

      I can’t speak to the women-only-have-sex-with-manly-men thing. Maybe there are some, or even a lot, of women around like that. People are weird, I know. But I also know there are a lot of women who are more attracted to someone who respects them and pulls their weight than to a guy with a macho act. I don’t know what role you think women “want” to see men in, but it sure isn’t uniform across all women.

      Finally, “if you had your way” this would be a dictatorship with one backwards man forcing everyone into, as Jenny says, “a 1950s sitcom fantasy” or the movie “Pleasantville” before color started showing up. We don’t all want to live that way. Even some men.

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      1. Sure children in school will still require a mental load, but not with the same frequency or intensity as infants or toddlers. Im sorry, but this is an mischaracterization of the truth.

        Stop comparing yourself to men. Men and women have completely different career interests so you would rarely be competing with men who have 20 years of experience, unless you are going to convince me that women are lining up to drive trucks or work in manufacturing plants. It is also demoralizing to turn 30 and have no family, husband, or children to show for it.

        The ‘critical thinking skills’ you get from a liberal arts/gender studies degree from a university is not worth the tens of thousands of dollars of debt that will follow you around for 20 years. I’m sure you are referring to the binge drinking and casual sex when you are talking about social skills. You will also need stamina and energy to have children. Better to have them when you are young like nature intended.

        Surely your dying thoughts will be how you should have spent more hours at the office being a corporate drone on your deathbed instead of with your family when you are contemplating how you spent your ‘allotted time on earth’. The average person, let alone woman, will be a doctor or a chef, so stop cherry picking to try and make a point.

        Stop implying that having children when you are young is the cause of poor health and mortality. And yes ideally a woman would marry an older more established man, like they do anyways if they get married. If you haven’t noticed casual dating has a very poor rate of yielding successful marriages, much less than cultures that have strong values and traditions around mate selection. And yes, the latter are much happier too.

        Many women are feminists because they want freedom, rights, and authority without the responsibilities, expectations, and obligations that come with those freedoms. Households need two incomes because women flooded the labor market (when jobs became easier off of men’s accomplishments) and drove down the price of labor. Men literally built the world for the comfort of women and their families and women are still not happy and get nothing but vilified. Life is not just about being stimulated by your partner. Its about values and responsibility for the greater good, including children.

        I’ve already addressed what happens if men were to handle or manage a majority of the ‘mental load’ at home. Women do not want to let go of the mantle of running the household, yet they want to complain that men don’t do enough. You cant have it both ways.

        Its interesting how you mock the idea of the 50’s sitcom yet women were actually more fulfilled and happier back then than they are today, even though they are now free to do whatever they wish. The decline of female happiness has been well documented, but I’m sure its men’s fault somehow.

        Good responses overall though

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      2. All I can say is that you are out of touch with reality.

        Between a baby and a school-aged child, the baby needs a lot more time and tasks done, but they are mostly physical tasks, not mental ones that involve project management. I don’t think women were happier in the 1950s; there were an awful lot of “nerve tonics” and “mother’s little helpers” on the market back then. And men and women often do have similar career interests. If you want me to stop cherry-picking, then you can’t do it either with your truck driving and factory work (FYI: I doubt men are really /interested/ in working in manufacturing; more likely they have to).

        I’m done here because you do not in any way have a grasp of how real people actually live.

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      3. Manufacturing and truck driving are not outliers, they are actually among the most popular jobs for men. And yes, you are correct that men have to perform this jobs, ie they take on this responsibility or ‘load’ like mature adults should.

        It doesn’t matter what you think, It is well documented that women’s happiness is declining decade over decade since the mid century.

        Thanks for commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha sorry about that, I should have used a more unique name.
        The 50s were not so bad, women were a lot more happier and fulfilled then than they are today.
        You are not worse than me, you shouldn’t be so self depracating 😉

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    4. And if god forbid the husband dies? An undergraduate wife is supposed to do what? Work a minimum wage job to raise her children and ruin their future because you had your way?

      Dont tell me you have bought enough insurance that will set your family such that from payout your kid’s can be educated and your wife can live life you are providing today till she turns 85 and dies.

      Be a man, don’t play God.

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    5. Try this on for size:

      The ideal scenario is for the women, who seem to be better suited for project management and running a corporation anyways, to WORK HARD outside the home to provide for her family during the day and relax with her husband and children in the evening.

      While she slaying at work, the husband takes care of the home, runs errands, and prepares dinner. When the children begin school, then the husband can focus on his business, education and career. This provides the necessary training for men to develop these skills that they lack. It teaches them to be self-sufficient, to care for their own children’s needs, to learn how to do laundry/clean/cook. Think of it as a homecare apprenticeship. This is far more superior model we have now where both parents work and the children are dumped in daycare or come home from school to an empty house. Life is long: there will be PLENTY OF DECADES for men to focus on career AFTER children are grown. What man doesn’t want to start college and career in his 50s?!?

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      1. Trust me, I have thought this through but it sounds like you havent. This in theory would work for men, but the problem is that it would cause the entire infrastructure of the world to collapse and would leave women hurt, miserable and would cause them to resent men even more. Women are not better suited to run corporations. Running a corporation requires extreme levels of work ethic and leadership, much more than running a household. It would be incredibly unfair to demand or expect that women deal with the stress and danger of building roads, buildings, rail roads, cars, planes, dig oil rigs, farming food, building ships, sewage infrastructure, plumbing, electrical technology or any other tangible good required for the survival of humanity while men stay home cooking and cleaning.

        It would also be very harmful to small children. Babies are neurologically fragile and are born without a central nervous system and mothers are literally act as the central nervous system for the first year after birth. Mothers who breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children are regulating that babies emotions from the outside in. Mothers are essential to children development initially much more so than fathers are.

        Its much better for women to focus on having a family first before having a career since men and women have different reproductive timelines and limits.

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      2. I actually agree with you, although I know you were being facetious. Dividing up time so one partner stays home with the kids while the other works is the best scenario, by far, regardless of weather it’s a man or a woman. We should divide up jobs, not try to split each job in half.

        Although I do wonder how these men have young children all the way from early 20’s into his 50’s. Is he changing diapers on a 30 year old, or did his wife pop out two dozen babies?!?

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    6. I am a woman and what you say about what women want is not true for me. What I want in a partner is a man who is kind and considerate, loving, respectful, and able to open his heart and to hear me. Of course, I want him to share in household chores; why would I want to carry that burden alone? I work and earn money, and that is how life is for most women now. My husband’s willingness to share household responsibilities is a necessary part of life today and not holding himself apart to shield his “masculinity” from mundane chores makes him more precious to me and more worthy of respect and love, not less.

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    7. Jim, what you are talking about is servitude, not a relationship.

      Us womens are looking for partners that see us and treat us as equals, not subservients. If my partner expected me to do all the housework, raise the kids and hold off my education until the children were in school, I’d leave him. Because that shows a fundamental disrespect in me as a person.

      Holding back half of society to serve the other half hinders our progress as a whole. Women are just as capable as men of running corporations, working in high pressure jobs, physical jobs etc.

      Now, why does it have to be the woman who stays home and looks after the kids? It can equally be the man who stays home to care for the kids. Some men want that more than anything, why stop them? There is nothing more masculine than a man taking care of his child.

      See, my dad is a house husband. He loves it. He felt trapped at work and didn’t want to spend his time at an office when he could be at home taking care of the house, cooking, learning music and how to code. My mum loves working, she’s a doctor and she has the privilege to positively impact people’s lives. Why should we hold someone like my mum back, just because she’s a woman? And why should we force someone to do something that isn’t their passion, just because they’re a man?

      Your traditional conception of gender roles harms both men and women.

      Now, I’m not sure how you timetravelled from the 1950s, but if there’s one thing women have done in science, it’s get men to the moon and capture photos of blackholes. So I think it’s safe to say a woman would be responsible for the time machine you sauntered into. Do us a favour and go back.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No, dont speak for all of us women. I do not want to be equal to my husband. I want him to lead the family so I am not stressed out and overburdened, and I can take care of the kids and be a good mother. I like having masculine energy and leadership in my life. Sure, I could do it on my own but I DONT WANT TO, I like feeling and being feminine. I am way more happier and fulfilled with someone I can rely on.

        Some men and women prefer traditional gender norms. There is nothing wrong with that. There is no need to rebel against something that works and has merit.

        Like

      2. Beth, maybe Emma is not speaking for ALL women, but she definitely is speaking for the MAJORITY of women worldwide. So yeah, there is a need to rebel against that. If you are happy in your home life and responsibility arrangement, kudos to you, but most of us are not.

        Like

      3. Beth, I see you are a black or white person. No, I would not be happy if men did everything I told them to. 1. That would be too boring and 2. that would completely miss the whole point of this comic/article. Maybe you misunderstood it. If I had to TELL the men what to do, I’d still be doing the mental work because I’d be the one having to see what needs to be done, recognize it, plant how it needs to be done and then “tell” the man. No, what I would like is for men to recognize there is a lot of quiet work being done by women, the mental as well as physical work that Emma describes, and then step up and share that burden equally or as equally as is possible in each individual case.

        Like

      1. What makes women happy then? Emasculating her husband, making her corporate boss happy and competing with men in the workforce while her children are raised by strangers making minimum wage? And why are women becoming less and less happier even thought they have more rights and freedom than ever before?

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder if Jim is married and have kids at all. I wonder if so, how they will feel reading his comments. I don’t think his mother will appreciate these sentiments.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jim, unless your “study” was performed by an accredited team on a large enough sample (please provide links for the proof) and has been replicated by many other studies, likewise performed by qualified researchers, the “study” you cite is anecdotal as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t be silly, social behavior does not need to be quantified in a scientific study for it to be true. That is an insult to your own intelligence and intuition. If you want to know the truth do the research yourself, its easy enough with the advent of the internet (hint start with a google search: “more chores less sex”. I am not your personal research analyst.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 1. I totally agree that social behavior does not need to be quantified in a scientific study for it to be true (although it certainly helps to have peer-reviewed references and statistics to site to support your cause). But by your own logic, then the social behavior (women bearing the load) is true and doesn’t need to be quantified in a scientific study.

        2. Babies are not born without a central nervous system. If babies were born without a central nervous system, that means they would be born without a brain or spinal chord, and for the vast majority of babies, that is false. The CDC cites that 3 in 10,000 babies are born with some parts of their brain and/or spinal chord missing or under-developed (this is still a central nervous system, just not a fully functional one). Link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/anencephaly.html

        I can’t tell if this is really what you think or just some top-notch level trolling (in which case, kudos to you for getting me to engage)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I made an account solely to respond to this. I won’t even touch the many sexist and outdated arguments you have made, as you are clearly sticking your fingers in your ears and repeating your outdated script.

        When you make a claim, YOU provide the evidence. You don’t get to say “women are less happy now than in the 50s” and then demand someone do the work for you when they challenge it. Google is very easy to use, you’re right. How about you do your own research and support your own claim, instead of hoisting it off on the person you’re trying to convince. You love to talk about logical fallacies, but this is argumentation 101.

        Nevermind the beginning of my comment, I am going to touch on some things:

        The way you think about sex is archaic and gross. Women don’t “give” men sex, just like men don’t “give” women sex. Sex is not a gift to be exchanged. Sex is a mutual act that both partners actively consent to take part in. You sound like you expect women to have sex with men just because men want it, not taking into account what the woman wants. You aren’t owed sex.

        I’m curious, what do you think about gay men or gay women living together? Who should stay at home and who should go to work? Or should both men go to work and leave their children while both women stay at home and let the power shut off because they aren’t working?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. One more thing: you have absolutely no idea how women feel today compared to the 1950s. You are not a woman, you do not experience life as the average woman. I would bet money on it that the reason women seemed “happier” to you is because:

        1) It was socially unacceptable to even so much as hint at being unhappy doing everything and attending to your husband 24/7.

        2) Your knowledge of the 50s comes through ads and media showing stereotypical 50s housewives smiling as they daintily vacuum and bring a Coke to their husband. As you should very well know, media is more often than not an accurate representation of real life. Especially advertisements.

        3) If you did live through the 50s, you weren’t old enough to truly look around you and see behind what was immediately in front of your eyes. If you were 20 (old enough to start experiencing life through the eyes on adult), you would be almost 90 now. I highly doubt you would be here spouting your nonsense if that were the case. Even assuming you were 10, you’d almost be 80. Again, I highly doubt most 80 year olds are surfing the web and getting into internet arguments. But if you are an 80 y/o man reminiscing about the good old days, you still don’t know the true experiences of women in the 50s. Nostalgia is a tricky thing, especially childhood nostalgia. It blinds you to the bad parts of the past while you remain completely aware of every flaw you see in the present.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Have you done that Google search yourself? Because I just did, and immediately I saw that there are contradictory results. If you read through both sides (several articles’ worth), it seems the study you cite was based on outdated information. The more current studies (Sassler and colleagues in an American study, and Dr. Johnson in a German study) are saying that it’s NOT true that splitting chores will lead to having less sex. In fact, if the couple feels the household chores are split more fairly, then they’re having more and better sex. But if EITHER of the couple is doing the majority of the chores, then (surprise!), less frequent and less satisfying sex is the result.
        So… even though it doesn’t need to be quantified in a study for it to be true… maybe you should take your own advice and do some research yourself.

        Like

  11. So I’m not surprised that there was negative posts from men. This resonated with me and EVERY woman I know. I just read “Fed up. Emotions labor, woman and the way up” by Gemma Hartley. Without exception EVERY SINGLE woman I have talked to about this has the same experience! It is almost universal. Completely agree that the people here disagreeing are outliers, or more likely the men who don’t see it. I’m struggling trying to get my husband to see it and he’s a good man. You are right!! Don’t listen to the haters! Pretty much all women live this unfortunate truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I do see a lot of negative posts… This is not man bashing, this is actually exactly how I feel. My husband is awesome and he helps!!! when I ask him to. But yes, I am the one planning meals, going to the store, cooking, dishes, laundry, remembering to change the sheets…… all those things. And sometimes I also think it’s my fault. If I wouldn’t do it, it would be done eventually, but it would just take way too long and then I’d rather do it myself.
    I love this honest post and of course it doesn’t apply to every single household. But thanks Emma for sharing so accurately for most household situations! xxx

    Like

  13. Hi Emma, my girlfriend showed me this comic in 2017 after we had been living together for about a year and it totally changed the way I thought about household chores.

    I used to see it as fair that I was doing most of the cooking plus whatever chores I was specifically asked to do. I didn’t recognise the mental workload I was putting on her until I read this.

    We now regularly check in just to make sure we both feel we’re distributing the work as evenly as possible, both physically and mentally.

    I don’t think we’ve had more than one or two arguments about chores in the two years since, and even though I’m probably doing more work than I have in previous relationships I’m much happier and less stressed out knowing neither of us are feeling resentful over the way work is done around the house.

    We don’t have kids but I’m hoping that when/if we do, we’ll manage things better than we might have otherwise and set a good example for them.

    I just revisited this comic to show a friend, saw a lot of the nasty comments here and felt like it might be good for you to hear this made a positive difference for at least one couple 🙂

    Thanks!

    William

    Liked by 4 people

  14. This is so true for my household! We both work full time and have two daughters. I do SO much! What he does do is because I ask (I’ve gone so far as to write chores on the calendar) and even what I ask of him is not close to half of the load. He doesn’t understand the ‘mental load’ and dismisses me. This causes alot of resentment… Men need to realize what’s happening ( women need to raise their sons differently) or the divorce rate will only climb.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I had not known this and just read it for the 1st time. To be honest: How is it possible that you have looked into my live – and into my (and my husbands) brain? By chance I just had a talk with my best friend last weekend exactly about that. And I didn’t even KNOW that there exists a WORD for the ‘situation’ I’m in for years now. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Omg thank you sooo much!

    This finally gives me a word and an explanation to the way a lot of the people in my life make me feel.

    I am going to share this all over the damn place! I am so sorry about all the negative comments here. It is unfortunate that people are unwilling to listen to your experience and try to use it to look within themselves and reflect on what you are trying to say.

    It’s just so easy to point fingers. And everyone is taking things so seriously. Instead of writing angry comments maybe people can take a step back and take a look and start asking some important questions. Have I been offloading my emotional labour onto someone else? Is there anyway I can help? I know my life can get difficult but is it possible I am making someone elses life, possibly my partner’s, even harder to deal with?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My husband does the shopping and cooking (begrudgingly) and helps a lot with our daughter. But I identify with a lot of this anyway. I make the doctor appointments, schedule the repairman, make mental notes about what we need to buy, if my daughter has her school things in order, etc. etc. The clearing of the table that turns into a two-hour clean-up, IT ME. I think it’s an interesting perspective, the “you should have asked”… because oftentimes if a woman DOES ask, she turns into the stereotypical “n” word: Nag. So do you keep asking/nagging, or just do it yourself? I haven’t found the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jim: ‘I find it unfortunate that so many women go against their maternal instincts and leave their children with strangers for most of the day during their most crucial years of development. ”

    Hooboy. Wow. What a perfect accidental underlining of half of what this comic is about!

    Let me rephrase your statement as it pertains o the comic right here:

    “I find it unfortunate that so many men go against their paternal instincts and leave their children with strangers(or only their mother) for most of the day during their most crucial years of development.”

    Do you see the problem more clearly now?

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I am not sure in what country this is supposed to be. But I know that here in Iceland 80% of all women are at work and 87% of men. Unexplained salary difference is 14%. Unemplayment rate is low. Almost all mothers go to work after parental leave that is in total 9 months. 3 months for mother, 3 for fathers and 3 for them to decide amongst them. This is a great way to change things. Half of icelandic women 25-67 have university degrees compaired to 33% of men. (https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/) So the lazy mother is not to find here in Iceland. Thank you Emma, I know all of this to well and tend to blame myself for not being good enough in distributing tasks.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Emma, I really enjoyed your cartoon. It made me reflect on who I want to be as a man as I enter my adulthood. Thank you and keep up the wonderful work!

    Like

  21. I think there’s a second side to this, that the author (as well as many readers) are missing. This story hinges on the assumption that all this mental work is an unquestionably good thing, and that it should be done. Therefore, when women do more of it it’s because men aren’t doing enough.

    All this internal distraction is a bad thing, and *everyone* needs to reign themselves in from doing so much of it. Women do more of this mental work, yes, but it’s a bad thing that they’re doing and we shouldn’t glorify it. (I’m not saying this to insult them, I know most of them are good people and truly mean well, but that doesn’t make this behavior into something laudable.)

    For instance, the woman in the comic who gets distracted whilst clearing off the coffee table – that’s clearly something she needs to work on internally, to finish one task before worrying about another. Kick the towel out of the walkway so no one trips and move on. Put the dirty clothes in the overflowing hamper, they’ll still be there when you go to do laundry. So you’re out of mustard – so what? Just eat your meal without the mustard this time, no big deal. Putting away perishables groceries is the only time-sensitive task. And just like that, 75% of her “added” workload is gone. Because she burdened herself with it, for no good reason. Let the tasks that don’t truly need to be done go undone. The world won’t stop spinning if you only do your fair share.

    (Sorry, I think I submitted this under another comment by accident)

    Like

  22. Okay, okay. How do we change it? If I have it and my husband doesn’t, how do we nail it into his head? And what if he works and I don’t, should I overload him with househould chores adding to his working headaches? Is this about feminism?

    Like

  23. The real problem here is one of engagement. Jim should not be given any energy. This is how things will change. Never discuss anything with him.

    Like

  24. First of all, I think you’re probably highlighting a very real problem and make some interesting points. Thanks. But its really not clear how prevalent it is, and how one-sided it is.

    This would be much more compelling with better statistics. It doesn’t match my experience at all, and no I don’t think I’m the center of the universe. I saw the “25 times more time on chores” claim, but that is extremely vague.

    Your definition of mental load spans manual household chores, cleaning, and childcare, as well as more “administrative duties” like appointments/scheduling, managing money and taxes other accounting/keeping track of thing, and a long tail of miscellaneous stuff (registering vehicles, making reservations for vacation, making sure everyone gets to the dentist/doctor, etc.). Does that one statistic cover all of that? Are women spending 25 times more time on all of that? We have no idea, and I’m very skeptical. Also, the article is written in English presumably from an American perspective (not sure), so its not clear how relevant it is.

    I think the mental load point is good, but there is more than quantity of load to consider. Psychologically “cleaning up after” or otherwise doing something directly for someone may feel more “personal” than effort not spent directly doing something for one’s significant other. It may feel like it warrants more reciprocation. I’ve noticed, occasionally, my wife will resent cleaning up “after me” even if I am spending an equal or greater amount of time dedicated to what we have decided are my responsibilities. I’m not sure where fault lies there, or if fault is even relevant.

    I may be dealing with my own mental load that comes with running a business, for example, that she is completely shielded from (well, aside from my occasional complaining). Her mental load is more on display for the two of us to observe. Did that guy sitting in the chair with his glass of wine while his wife is doing everything in the cartoon work all through last weekend to build more security for his family? That might have felt to him like the equivalent of doing everything at once while she was relaxing. I think this kind of trade off may be more common that the article suggests, but honestly I don’t know whether such statistics exist.

    It seems to me that partners need to be more transparent about perceive inequities. It’s possible that each partner may perceive inequity and feel like they’re doing more than their fair share.

    Like

    1. Taylor, this isn’t a scientific paper, it’s a cartoon. If it doesn’t match your situation, awesome! Kudos to you and your partner. Personally, having talked to many, many women, this issue is VERY prevalent and almost universal still in our society. More so as you go further down in age. Relationships like yours are an exception when they should be the rule.

      Like

  25. Hi Emma,

    I was reading the NY Times and stumbled upon your comic and just went THANK YOU! I sent it off to all my friends. What a creative way of intelligently discussing that hard to describe frustration of being the “woman” in the household!

    Like

  26. I know this comment is a bit late, but…

    I try to be the best husband and partner I possibly could be. Yesterday when I got off from work, I cleaned the shower without any initiation, as I felt it needed some cleaning and didn’t want to burden my wife with deciding to clean it up and having it be a task for her. When she got home later she said she was thankful, but wondered why I did it when all she needs is for me to watch the boys when she brings them home from her parents.

    Another example of taking the initiative so she doesn’t have to delegate, a few times I have tried to load or empty the dishwasher without her prompting, only for her to tell me to stop it and that she will take care of it on her own when she has time. This in turn makes me feel like crap because I’m still overburdening her in a way even though I’m trying to help without saying “you should have asked.”

    I guess my question is, are there some women who feel that they want to keep the mental load for themselves, even to their own detriment? Have I, who admittedly wasn’t the best at this even a few years ago, conditioned my wife to the point where she can’t trust me to carry the mental load? How can I better relieve her of the burden without stressing her out more, which seems to be what I’m doing here by cleaning the bathroom, or putting away the dishes?

    Like

    1. My conjecture is that this what would happen more often than not if men stepped to handle the ‘mental load’. Women do not want to let go of the traditionally female domain and mantle of running the household, yet they want to complain that men don’t do enough

      Like

    2. It can be that she is conditioned to do so. Or she might prefer it or any other million things. We don’t know. The best thing you can do is to talk to her. Just start that you heard about this concept of emotional labor and thought it is something you haven’t been good with previously and to have an open and honest discussion about it and what you can do so things are evenly shared and no one is overburdened.

      Like

    3. It’s a good question. There are a few possible answers – perhaps you’re simply not doing it as well or as thoroughly as she would, perhaps you’re not using the same subtle organisational systems that she does because she has built them up over years, which means she then has to readjust. And/or perhaps it has to do with the fact she feels like she has to thank you (which I’m deducing from the fact that she noticed you cleaned the shower and thanked you). When a guy steps in occasionally to do a task, the woman still has to hold the schedule for the task in her head, she has to notice changes to the state of the shower/kitchen/dishwasher, and she has to give credit for it.

      All of these constitute emotional labour, which you are punctually “demanding) by doing a task, so it can feel like you’re asking even more of the person because you’re interrupting the schedule they’ve set up for themselves to ask them for validation. (I know this wasn’t the point of you cleaning the shower, but women are burdened with the task of validating men pretty much from birth, so your actions have sometimes unintended consequences). To truly take on a task, you’d take it on and make it your own, so that she just doesn’t have to think about it and she can release it from her schedule.

      Take the shower as an example – what if you made sure the shower was always clean, forever, and she never has to clean it again? Once she can trust it’s going to remain clean without her intervention, it’s easier for her to “drop” that task, and then part of the load disappears.

      Honestly though the best way to find out what’s up is to make some time with her, and make space for her to talk about this, without judgement, She knows best what she needs – if you ask leading questions about her feelings and listen attentively without judging, I bet you’ll find out things about how she feels that you never knew before, and you can build trust over time. It can take a long time to feel like it’s safe enough to open up about very deep frustrations, and it’s also tied up in the sense that women have that they are not “valuable” unless they’re taking care of “women’s work” (directly comparable to how men who are not employed often feel worthless, lacking a sense of innate worthiness). The more you make space for her to talk, and take in what she says, the better, for both of you 🙂 You may have to think about cleaning showers/dishwashers/other things every day, but you’ll have the satisfaction of feeling like you’re pulling your weight and doing the right thing, and an improved sense of connection to your family, too.

      Like

  27. I am a 64 year old woman and can completely relate to the coming comic which my 31 year old daughter sent to me. Thank you Emma for the fantastic way you explained mental load!! My husband of 40 years is helpful especially now he has retired. I work part time at a very physical job and sometimes find it very frustrating when he says “I did the laundry for you” and “I cleaned the windows for you”! He doesn’t understand what I mean when I say “Didn’t you need washing done or to be able to see through the windows?”!! How do we get to this stage and how can we stop it happening?
    As for Jim – oh dear!! Sex equated with manliness, as a reward for the male working hard?? I can’t begin to contemplate that situation and as for women being happier in the 50’s – says who?! Was he a woman in the 50’s and is now giving us the benefit of his own experience? Of course not!! God help any woman or man he knows as he has such rigid ideas about gender roles! I’m glad I don’t know him!!
    Keep up the good work Emma – we all need to acknowledge what’s happening and if your comic helps even one person it has been a worthwhile endeavour! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thanks for this wonderful insight. will use the terms “mental energy” or “emotional reserve”, but I never have heard the term “mental load.”
    As I grew up, all of my siblings would have take on responsibilities, not just chores, such as preparing dinner and lunches, cleaning up dishes , laundry, gardening, storing food for the winter and many more. My mother had told me that it was to ensure we had skills after leaving home. I don’t think that her intent was to instill emotional equality in us.
    However, after reading this article, I do realize that had been the outcome. For example, when I go to someone’s home for a dinner party, I often find myself in the kitchen, and I will help clear the table (and often get the “No, no that is OK” statement). I do this because I feel it is the right thing to do. Yet, I am a single man living alone and might take for granted that I am my household manager (I don’t have children though).
    Looking at my family today, I see some interesting similarities to your comic strip. My mother does express discourse to my father about having to plan everything and keep the house in order. My eldest brother is better than most men in terms of maintaining responsibilities, however, I do think his wife is the house manager. My sister has unfortunately been the victim of being the household manager, likely due her husband being raised in that environment. The irony is that my other brother, and father of 2 children, have a role reversal with his now ex-wife. Although divorced, he still IS the household manager.
    To summarize, I feel that early interventions can be effective. But, societal standards and ideologies must also be changed. I wonder that if the idea of a “mental load” was around when I was a child and taught to us, would there be any additional alterations in my family’s dynamics. Given that Mother’s day is next week, I think that I will buy your book as a gift. Maybe it will help her feel comfort that she is not alone or maybe she will make my Father read it. Maybe she will lend it to my brother, because he is in the same situation.

    Like

  29. This is an awesome comic well done. I didn’t even think of this thing about mental load. I always just do things when I’m told but I can see now that isn’t enough. Especially when i was younger and when she told me to do things. She was under so much mental load. My dad has changed over the ears and has taken more of the mental load over but i didn’t click he has been slowly doing that. I definitely know i have to make more of an effort in my next relationship and actively think about ok what else needs doing and do it without being asked.

    Like

  30. My situation is the exact opposite. My wife doesn’t bother to handle any of the mental load. It all falls on my shoulders, because I work from home, so she doesn’t see any reason why she should do any housework when I’m there. If she doesn’t have clean socks or a shirt she likes in the morning, she starts complaining, as if she’s completely incapable of running the washing machine herself. I’m the one who has to make the grocery list, pick up her makeup, make sure she has makeup wipes, stop working to get her a glass of water, etc. Meanwhile I’ve got multiple jobs to stay on top of as well, while she’s watching Netflix.

    And why don’t I ask for help? She complains so much when she puts something away because it’s not done her way (which, how would it be when you never do it? Why would I organize the refrigerator or the silverware your way when I’m the one who’s responsible for knowing where everything is) that it’s honestly easier to just tell her not to bother.

    Like

  31. I live in a country (Finland) which is a pretty equal county. Employment is only 2.2 percental points lower in women than men. In 2017 57.4% of all people getting higher education degree were women. Women’s euro is 84 cents. Even our parliament is pretty even, 42% are women. But still, women did over an hour more housework per day in 2009 which is the latest figure. It is probably now less tan hour if the statistical increase in men’s housework stays the same as 79-09. And this includes childcare. Women 105 bank days long maternity leave, there are 58 bank days of paternity leave and then there is parental leave of 158 bank days. You get paid by the government at least a little over800 euros per month. After that, you can stay home with a greatly reduced rate of 338 euros per month if you have one child that’s under 3 and it gets added to depending on other kids you have and what are their ages.

    Why I gave you this all as a prologue? Well, emotional labor is still mostly done by women. Less so than in many placed but things like planning the changing clothes due seasons and taking care that kids have clothes that fit them. Meal planning. Kids health care appointment making and too often, taking them there. Types that are what I have done as a coordinator through my work.
    This concept of emotional labor has been here just a couple of years and thankfully it is starting to get through my generation and especially the one in the early twenties. Hopefully, it will get to point where the share is the same. Not in every couple but statistically.

    Like

  32. Just found this and am utterly gratified to find this plight so well-expressed. This resonates with so many women I know, both younger and older. Kudos, Emma.

    Like

  33. Wow… I guess it’s very hard to see oneself reflected in something so unfair or ugly and it’s easier to think “everything is normal, logic and fair”… Try not to take it so personal, people! But it’s healthy to really think us once in a while…

    Like

  34. Fantastic comic! Can’t wait for the -most needed- Spanish-speakers version, is it in your plans to translate it further?? I would buy it by dozens and distribute it amongst… well, every body basically…

    Like

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