Caring is sharing: Finding #BalanceforBetter this International Women’s Day
Gemma Hartley struck a chord in 2017 when she declared, “Women Aren’t Nags—We’re Just Fed Up”.
Fed up with remembering all the birthdays, keeping track of the household items that need to be replenished, picking up and putting away the same clothes, knowing where everything is at all times, coordinating calendars and commitments and cancellations and check-ins and check-ups, making endless mental to-do lists, and fed up with having to ask for help with any of it in the first place.
That is, emotional labour: all the affirmation, forbearance, consultation, pacifying, guidance, and tutorial that women and those who identify with more stereotypically feminine qualities tend to provide—no matter their economic class or level of education. It is the “thankless day-to-day anticipating of needs and solving of problems large and small”, at work, home, in relationships, and parenting.
Even though emotional labour can appear to be a million little, inconsequential tasks, it comes at considerable personal expense. Using time disproportionately for the benefit of others, many get exhausted and burn out.
According to Hartley, the most troubling consequences are to women’s professional and intellectual lives, amounting to untold reservoirs of mental capacity that could be used in ways that serve women, their careers, their lives, and their happiness.
So what’s the solution?
Though there is merit to less micromanaging and more prioritizing, or dividing and conquering, women have a much more complicated and socialized relationship with emotional labour.
After all, to do emotional labour is to care. And there is value in that. Great care goes into maintaining a thriving childcare centre, nursing home, hospital, or family. Is there equal value in expending that same level of care on precision-folded laundry or fingerprint-free surfaces? What is the cost of using the state of our homes and families as a barometer of self-worth?
While emotional labour is, well, labourious; it shouldn’t be burdensome.
Caring is also finding balance, a shared virtue we can all strive toward.
Mental Health Initiatives Consultant
_______ Find the thorn(s) in your side here.
Let us know what you think! Submit your feedback and ideas to Tanya Miller, Mental Health Initiatives Consultant, at local 5867 or firstname.lastname@example.org.