Remembering birthdays, scheduling doctor’s appointments, matching the socks, packing lunches, and keeping everything in the home clean and organized is your job. You have to prepare meals and plan them out, and laundry duties are yours and no one else’s.
You have a partner, yes. And it's true they do help. Sometimes, he will run some errands for you, but will often call several times to consult in order to get things right. But mostly, you have to ask for assistance.
But that doesn’t always work. You request, “can you check what’s wrong with the cabinet, drawer, it doesn’t close properly.” But you have to put up with it for several days before it gets fixed, and they expect you to say thanks for the favor.
You have to bring something to their attention for it to be a concern to them. When the kids are running amok, you have to request that he tries to get things under control for him to get in front of the TV to help the kids settle down.
What you are doing is called “emotional labor.” It’s a thankless gendered job that makes you your household’s manager. It’s exhausting and frustrating to tell someone to pick up the socks they left on the floor two days ago.
Doing the job yourself would be just as exhausting.
As one woman says, being her daughter’s and husband’s manager is “f**king exhausting” and that they “have no idea why I’m tired all the time...” The woman handles everything from laundry, errands, food preparation and meal planning.
But this responsibility goes beyond being a loving and caring wife. For this same woman, the family wanted to go on a vacation. She had to spend days doing research on hotels and the fun activities to do. And when the material day arrived, everyone seems unconcerned, and they get upset when she loses it. Again, they cannot figure out why she is exhausted.
She even had to turn down tickets to go to an event outside the town – she could not imagine having to do all that planning.
Most people call this nagging, but it’s emotional labor.
Society seems to think that some responsibilities belong to the woman. And they are judged when they don’t do them.
Another woman describes the ordeal she underwent during a family Christmas. They had less than $5, to begin with, and she had 3-month twins she had to get up 12 times every night to attend to, in addition to a 20-month-old legally blind child.
When her husband asked what she would like for Christmas, she asked for a night of uninterrupted sleep. She was willing to pump, and there was enough formula. But he firmly rejected the proposal, insisting it was her job.
The couple ended up in divorce, and even then, he called her constantly on advice about buying gifts and even expected that she would come over to wrap them.
Emotional labor can take a heavy toll mentally, emotionally, and physically.
According to the Guardian, emotional labor will be the next big thing among feminists. Women have to put up with a lot of emotional demands, even in the workplace and the bedroom, where 25% of women have to fake an orgasm 90% of the time.
Education among both men and women will be the first step towards ending this problem. After that, all people need to work towards putting a stop to it.
The women need to share responsibilities with their spouses and recognize the impact emotional labor is having on their wellbeing. This way, we can avoid going to bed feeling extremely exhausted.