Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Especially if you add some words to it. One French artist has tackled the topic of gender inequality in the home with her art, and in doing so, pretty much nailed what it is to be a mother today.
In her latest work, You Should Have Asked (which you should definitely click on now and read in its entirety), the digital artist, Emma, breaks down the sharing of responsibilities in the home between partners, and displays in a very consumable way how the “mental load” (all the little things one has to remember to do, like taking out the garbage, washing the bed sheets, buying a baby shower gift, ordering travel insurance for that upcoming family vacation, etc.) is often carried by the woman.
“When a man expects his partner to ask him to do things, he’s viewing her as the manager of household chores,” Emma writes in her cartoon. “So it’s up to her to know what needs to be done and when. The problem with that is that planning and organizing things is already a full-time job.”
Emma, who creates her works in her native tongue, French, first and then uses a translator to turn them into English so we Anglophones can enjoy the fruits of her labour, uses the example of clearing off a table to illustrate “mental load.” You pick up a book that needs to go back on a shelf, and find a dirty towel on the laundry, so you take it to the washing machine only to find a bag of groceries sitting on top of it, and they need to go into the fridge. So you take the bag of produce to the fridge, load them in, and then remember you need mustard, so you find our shopping list and write ‘mustard’ on the list. This circle of finding and remember little things continues until that table is finally clean two hours later. Then, before the day’s done, the table becomes a mess. Again. And you start all over.
It’s a scenario many women can relate to. “We’re born into a society in which very early on we’re given dolls and miniature vacuum cleaners. And in which is seems shameful for boys to like those same toys,” she adds in her cartoon.
Though it’s important to note that not all relationships are like this. Each couple will have a different dynamic and divvy up chores and day-to-day responsibilities differently. But most people reading this will certainly have a couple in their life who this reminds them of, even if it’s not their own relationship.
So what’s one to do about this divided role of responsibilities? First, read the illustration in it’s entirety and laugh. You’re not alone! Then maybe share it. This message is a good step on the road to normalizing gender equality–it’s also pretty entertaining.