When women can’t quit the emotional labor habit: “It’s hard to give up that gold star”

From Salon authored by Mary Elizabeth Williams:

“The number one accessory women are carrying around this season is their fury. Not that female anger is a new concept — we’ve been simmering for eons — but the articulation of our frustrations has made for some great recent literary fodder. The past several weeks already brought us Soraya Chemaly’s “Rage Becomes Her” and Rebecca Traister’s “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.” Now, a year after her supremely relatable Harper’s Bazaar story on women’s emotional labor went viral, Gemma Hartley has put expanded on her argument in a wise and realistic new book. Appropriately titled “Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward,” Hartley writes from the grounded perspective of a working mother of three who knows exactly the toll of the invisible work of keeping all the ships running smoothly.

But it’s not just a tome for mothers — it’s a call to action for every woman who’s had someone else’s drudgery dropped in her lap, an acknowledgment of the heavy lifting of simply building a home life. Salon spoke recently with Hartley about creating more balanced domestic dynamics — and why becoming the poster girl for emotional labor didn’t magically transform her own life.

“We’re trying to move the needle on something that has been set in stone for hundreds of years,” Hartley tells me. “It’s not an easy thing to do. With my husband, it’s a totally new concept for him. We as women are just now finding the language to talk about this, and then we’ve got to have the language to talk about it and then bring men into this completely foreign concept. It takes a lot more work than just, ‘Oh I get it now. I can explain it now.'”

Share this:

Leave a Reply