Wednesday 3 July 2019

Fed Up

Finished July 3
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley

This is a book that will speak to many, if not all, women. In most cultures, it is the woman who does the emotional labour in a relationship, who keeps things up, who organizes things, who makes sure that things get done. It is the mental load of this tasks, noticing what needs doing, what connects to what (if your son has soccer tomorrow, you need to ensure his uniform is clean and ready, dinner is organized to be quick to be done before game time, and any transportation is planned). It isn't just about putting things on the calendar. It's about seeing the connections between things, between people, between tasks, and noting the minutiae in the big picture.
This can be draining, even more than the physical tasks that accompany it are. Gemma looked at this in her own life, and in the lives of many others, doing a lot of research as she wrote this book. Her husband Rob was a man who wanted to do better, but didn't understand emotional labour, and didn't know how to engage more. (Notice that I didn't say "how to help"). They eventually worked out how to share emotional labour more in their relationship, not only because it improved life for both of them, but also to avoid having this dynamic pass on to the next generation.
When Gemma realized that she had to change her own approach and attitude big time, it was an aha moment. They had to figure it out together. If she really wanted this change, and she did, they had to work it out as a team, not as a leader and a helper. She notes that keeping things in balance is an ongoing challenge, but that they both look forward to figuring it out together.
This was an eye-opening and inspiring look at the issue of emotional labour, and offers real solutions to recognizing the value of this work and finding more fulfillment. Highly recommended.

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