Friday October 06, 2017

'It's exhausting': Family life 'emotional labour' falls disproportionately on women, says writer

Writer Gemma Hartley says women in heterosexual relationships are managing families without much help from their male counterparts, and the work involved is akin to a part-time job.

Writer Gemma Hartley says women in heterosexual relationships are managing families without much help from their male counterparts, and the work involved is akin to a part-time job. (iStock)

Listen 24:45

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Writer Gemma Hartley's story about "emotional labour" is connecting with a lot of women.

Her Harper's Bazaar article headlined "Women Aren't Nags - We're Just Fed Up" has recently gone viral, stirring online conversation internationally. 

Informed by the sociological concept of "emotional labour, Hartley sheds light on the overlooked work required in the thinking, planning, delegating, and upkeeping of a household and family.

"It's managing the schedules, it's noticing what needs to be done, noticing you're running low on toilet paper, having to ask everyone in the house to do stuff when you're the only one that has the initiative to do it. Picking up the dirty socks on the floor, taking the dirty dishes to the sink — lots of these things have to be delegated and it's exhausting to keep track of it all."

And Hartley says this daily managerial work is not expected of men in heterosexual relationships, leaving women to do the bossing around — which further compounds the stress. 

Hartley QB

"You know if someone is nagging you it's probably because you aren't doing your part," Hartley tells guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.

"If you have a husband who is really good taking on whatever you ask him to do then what are you complaining about? It's the fact that you have to be the one to ask."

"Women are frustrated about it, but they don't have the language to express that frustration." 

With The Current, Hartley elborates on emotional labour and its potential costs, offering insight into her own familial dynamics along the way. 

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.