The Invisible Work Load That Drags Women Down

So I've been trying to explain this very concept for awhile now and this author has nailed it. This is exactly it -- read the whole article. No wonder I have felt so overwhelmed since I went back to work 40 hours a week over two years ago -- with a 50 minute commute each way tacked on. I'm not sure what the solution is besides giving up work and running the household full-time -- or alternatively going on strike. Don't get me wrong -- I have a terrific husband and daughter and they both pitch in a lot -- but I'm still managing most of the nitty gritty and doing the remembering.

The article begins with referencing Ellen Seidman's blog post on this topic which is in the form of a poem for Mother's Day.  Here's how it continues:

More of the Mental Work

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. She described, in other words, exactly the kind of work that Seidman’s poem captures so well.
Seidman isn’t complaining. Her poem is funny and sweet and clearly driven by a love for her family, husband included. And, to be fair, while women who are married to or cohabiting with men do more domestic work than their partners, husbands spend proportionally more time on paid work. Today the amount of sheer hours that men and women spend in combined paid and unpaid work is pretty close to equal.

But that doesn’t count the thinking.
Husbands may do more housework and childcare than before, but women still delegate:
Honey, I’m going to be out of town for the weekend. Remember that the pediatrician’s number is on the fridge, we’re expecting a package on Saturday and you should intercept it if you can, Susan has a sleepover at Amy’s later that night and I wrote the address in your calendar, Scotty has a piano lesson on Sunday at 10 so don’t let him sleep in, the number for Mikey’s Pizza is programmed into your phone, and the flower bed out back could really use some weeding if you’re up to it.

No wonder wives have the reputations of being nags. Even a person who was perfectly happy to do household work might get tired of being wrangled by a half-frantic taskmaster.
Like much of the feminized work done more often by women than men, thinking, worrying, paying attention, and delegating is work that is largely invisible, gets almost no recognition, and involves no pay or benefits.

'Superpower' or No?
Seidman suggested she had a “seeing superpower” that her husband and children did not. But she doesn’t, of course. It’s just that her willingness to do it allows everyone else the freedom not to. If she were gone, you bet her husband would start noticing when the fridge went empty and the diapers disappeared. Thinking isn’t a superpower; it’s work. And it all too often seems only natural that women do the hard work of running a household.
We have come a long way toward giving women the freedom to build a life outside the home, but the last step may be an invisible one, happening mostly in our heads.
It’s about housework, yes, but it extends to having to consider what neckline, hemline, height of heel, and lipstick shade is appropriate for that job interview, afternoon wedding, or somber funeral, instead of relying on an all-purpose suit; it’s about thinking carefully about how to ask for a raise in a way that sounds both assertive and nice; it’s about worrying whether it’s safe at night and how to get home; for some of us, it involves feeling compelled to learn feminist theory so as to understand our own lives and, then, to spend mental energy explaining to others that the revolution is unfinished.

To truly be free, we need to free women’s minds. Of course, someone will always have to remember to buy toilet paper, but if that work were shared, women’s extra burdens would be lifted. Only then will women have as much lightness of mind as men.
And when they do, I expect to be inspired by what they put their minds to.

Read all of the article by Lisa Wade here:


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