This year’s theme for International Women’s Day #IWD2019 is balance for better #balanceforbetter. “Balance after all, is not just a women’s issue, it’s a business issue” rightly states the website. Collective responsibility, shared action to create a gender balanced world. In which case, can we talk about gender balance at home?
I feel like this is almost the elephant in the room, the feminist achilles heel if you will. We’ve been driving for change in the boardroom, in the workplace, in sport. We’re making progress, this is exciting, and yet in many cases we’ve been allowed to join in the race but only whilst carrying an extra two heavy bags (probably of washing) and with an eye not on the finish line but on how to create a world book day costume.
Which, it turns out, is pretty exhausting.
But to admit this, to talk about it, perhaps that allows in the doubters. Perhaps that is anti feminist? Perhaps it gives a voice to those who would quickly jump in with, “well you wanted it all, and look how that has turned out?” Get back to the 1950’s where things were a bit easier (?)
It can be helpful I think to know and at least start by giving this extra workload has a name. Emotional labour or as I sometimes like to think of it, the double workload (I previously wrote about the problem with this overwhelm here). It turns out that if you are feeling a bit knackered and frustrated at your lack of time and energy as a woman then you are very much not alone. Which feels good to know I think, in a weird sort of way. And of course it probably comes with a double dose of guilt too. Guilt that you’re not doing your best at work nor being fully present at home.
Women still do on average 40% more of the household chores than men, women are still primarily the carers for young children and that’s not to mention all the other roles and jobs too like holidays, parties, birthdays, the list goes on. Emma Clit describes the problem beautifully here with this comic, “You should’ve asked”.
It’s quite the bind and not something I am attempting to fully dissect and provide a solution for in this blog post.
But I am suggesting that we talk about it a bit more. That rather than ignore it, or joke about it in a kind of, “meme of a man attempting to find a hoover” type of way (oh how funny it is when they try and ‘help out’?) that perhaps we need to discuss it as the very real problem that it is. I plan to this year. Because I genuinely think that this is holding us back. We are spending so much of our time trying to figure out how it call all fit together, looking for workarounds, wondering why we can’t do everything on our to do lists, feeling bad that we’ve forgotten to send in a book bag to school, that we are heading towards burn out.
Balance is better, oh my goodness balance is better. But perhaps balance has to begin at home.