housework

This Comic Nails the Extra Mental Work That Women Do at Home

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Dads in heterosexual partnerships are doing more to raise kids than ever before–just look at the parade of papas with babies dangling from their chests in any neighborhood to see that.

But still, things aren’t entirely even, because doing things and remembering to do them are two separate types of labor. A few years back, Susan Walzer published a study about how, in many households, women still shoulder the mental burden of childcare. As Time explained last year:

“Walzer found that women do more of the intellectual, mental, and emotional work of childcare and household maintenance. They do more of the learning and information processing (like researching pediatricians).

They do more worrying (like wondering if their child is hitting his developmental milestones). And they do more organizing and delegating (like deciding when the mattress needs to be flipped or what to cook for dinner).

Even when their male partners “helped out” by doing their fair share of chores and errands, it was the women who noticed what needed to be done.”

Recently, a French comics writer, Emma, published an English version of her popular comic that takes this issue on, called “You Should’ve Asked” (“Fallait Demander” in French) and it’s been circulating all week among moms on Facebook.

You have to read it to get the full experience. But I’ll give you this preview: she breaks the issue down so thoroughly it can’t help but make you cringe, no matter how egalitarian you think your relationship is, or how chill you are about housework–because somewhere, something in it will ring true to your life or the situation of a family you know.

Whenever this particular issue comes up, it tends to get a lot of traction online because it helps articulate something that so many people feel but can’t quite express.

For instance, A viral post from 2016 featured a mom listing everything she thought about that the dad didn’t:

“I am the person who notice we are running low on sprinkles, that essential food group.

 I am the person who notices we are running low on aluminum foil, plastic wrap and Ziploc bags. (As someone wise once said, “You can never be too rich or too thin or have too many Ziploc bags.”)

 I am the person who notices we are running low on vitamins, aspirin, Tylenol and Midol, and while I am the only one to care about running out of Midol it would benefit other people to care about this too.”

So, what do we well-meaning feminist moms who want the men in our lives to step up have to do, exactly? (And why is the mental burden of thinking about the mental burden ours too, hrrm?)

Emma’s comic lists some possible solutions, including prioritizing paternity leave–read it to find out what she thinks!

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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