Friday October 06, 2017

October 6, 2017 Full Episode Transcript

Note: Transcripts may contain errors. If you wish to re-use all, or part of, a transcript, please contact CBC for permission. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. Copyright © CBC 2017

The Current Transcript for October 6, 2017

Host: Piya Chattopadhyay


Listen to the full episode


[Music: Theme]


MARGE SIMPSON: And it’s not that I don’t love the guy, it’s just that he’s so self-centred.


MARGE SIMPSON: He forgets birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, both religious and secular. He never changes the baby.

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: The Simpsons household is hardly alone when it comes to who does what kind of work to keep the family ticking along. And we're not just talking about the actual chores around the house. Today we're talking about so-called emotional labour, the remembering, the planning, the thinking that's so necessary to keep a household running smoothly. And which more often than not falls to the female partner in heterosexual relationships. Is it time to shine a light on this invisible work? Invisible that is to the partners who do far less of it. That’s in an hour. Also today, we'll meet a remarkable woman from Syria who left her war torn country to found a radio station just over the border.


REEM AL-HALABI: [Arabic speaking language]

TRANSLATOR: Our focus is to tell these stories that the government doesn't want to see the light of day, but we just see ourselves as a light to bring forward those stories and the truth speaks for itself.

PC: You'll hear from journalist Reem al-Halabi in a half an hour. But first, when a big Canadian university convened a talk about social inequality, but only invited speakers who were affluent, white, and mostly male they perhaps shouldn't have been surprised to get an earful from protesters.


VOICE 1: We live these experiences every single day.

PC: And that is where we are starting today. Hi, I’m Piya Chattopadhyay and this is the Friday edition of The Current.

Back To Top »

U of T students protest lack of diversity on all-white social inequality panel

Guests: Sarah Kaplan, Rinaldo Walcott, Stephen Rupp


VOICE 1: I see we have some unscheduled attendees.

[Sound: audience clapping]

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Well that is how it sounded this past Wednesday when protesters crashed a talk at the University of Toronto. The topic of discussion that night was an important one, social inequality. But according to advertisements, one of the main questions being asked was whether social inequality is quote, a real problem? It was that framing of the topic and the lack of diversity on an all-white and mostly male panel that brought out the protesters. Here's some of what they had to say.


VOICE 1: We feel it’s important to hold these institutions accountable. When we are talking about solving society’s greatest problems, to only have the most wealthy it tells us that this panel does not speak for us. And the fact that this [unintelligible] could not even amongst themselves realize what the issue was?

PC: Our thank you to Josie Kao for that tape. She reported on the incident for The Varsity student paper at the University of Toronto. Now, the people on stage were the moderator, broadcaster and former Liberal Party President Stephen LeDrew, together with three panelists. National Post columnist Andrew Coyne, former senator and Conservative strategist Hugh Segal, and my first guest today. Sarah Kaplan is the Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy, as well as a Professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. And we have reached her in Toronto. Hello.


PC: Sarah Kaplan, you got what amounts to a last minute invite to be on this panel about a week before the event. Why were you invited?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well, my understanding of why I was invited is because they, the organizers realized through I don't know what series of events that it might be better to have a panel on social inequality include a more diverse perspective. And so I got invited in, I think one because I'm a woman but also two because I do run the Institute for Gender and the Economy, and so come with a perspective and background and research that might be able to contribute to the conversation.

PC: So to what extent did it concern you when you learned who the other panelists were?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well, I'm always concerned when I see any panel on any topic only representing one segment of our population. So it was very concerning for me. And then in particular because of the topic. So even though I was invited, you know, just the week before the event, I felt it was sort of incumbent upon me to be part of it because I felt like we need to make sure that different viewpoints are represented. And I knew that there were going to be so many students in the audience, I didn't want our wonderful students at the University of Toronto to not get a chance to be exposed to a range of perspectives on this topic.

PC: And as you understand it, what did the organizers tell you was the goal of this discussion?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well, my understanding is that the original goal was to focus specifically on economic inequality with a big focus on sort of this idea of getting a guaranteed minimum income. That was sort of the idea. But that through whatever process that I don't quite understand but I do know the process did involve students, the title of the talk was crafted in such a way that it talked about social inequality and not just the specifics of economic inequality or even more narrowly the minimum income. And so I think, you know, there was some confusion about exactly what the agenda was going to be. Maybe there were too many cooks in the kitchen. But nevertheless, whatever the topic was they still only invited three white men to be part of the conversation to begin with. And that should always be a danger sign to anyone.

PC: Were you surprised at that? You're the Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy.


PC: When you saw a panel being billed about social inequality is it a real problem? Can it be solved? And you saw the faces of three white middle class upper middle class successful men there. I mean, what did you think Sarah Kaplan?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well I mean, I was dismayed I think. The students came and protested at the event and they did so I think for the right reasons. And I, you know, personally whenever I get invited to speak on a panel, I instantly ask who else is going to be on the panel. I often speak on gender issues and I don't want it to be a whole bunch of white women speaking on gender issues either. I want racial diversity, I want to make sure their socioeconomic diversity. So I always think about that. And I think it's incumbent upon anyone who's even invited on a panel to be asking those questions. And for the organizers to have thought that through a little bit more carefully.

PC: So what happened? What was it like from where you sat on the panel on Wednesday? What happened?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well I was obviously in a little bit of a difficult position, because I was being brought in at the last minute to kind of represent a particular point of view. I did not know the students were going to protest. So I wasn't informed of really what had been happening at all. So it was a little bit surprising, but I completely honour the fact that they came and protested. They made their statement they came up on stage. And the only thing that I a little bit regret was that the students then left. And as citizens I think it's completely their right to make their protest and leave. But as students I wish they had stayed because in fact I think we did talk about a number of issues that were of concern to them and I wish they had stayed at least to hear the conversation.

PC: And as the protesters showed yesterday. I mean, they criticized the panel for just that. That it was a bunch of white people, they put a white woman on it a week before after facing some criticism. But when you're talking about people that don't look or have lived experience like you do, whether it's your cultural or ethnic background or your economic background, that it's a bit rich.

SARAH KAPLAN: Let's just say a lot of lessons were learned [chuckles] by many people in the process. And I am now in conversation with the team who organized to organize a second panel that will actually make up for some of the deficits in the current one. I wasn't involved in organizing this original one and I think, you know, we all have the opportunity to learn. I don't understand exactly why the blind spots arose for the organization of this particular panel. But I think the only thing we can do certainly as a university is learn from it. Every time I see an all-male panel I roll my eyes, because it's just, people say oh we couldn't find any women. And I'm like try Google. I mean, that's how I find people it's not that hard. And I think honestly that people are not looking hard enough when they say they couldn't find someone to represent those different points of view.

PC: And there are those who say this is not at all surprising. That this, you know, is another example, the lack of diversity on this panel, is another example that reflects a deeper problem in academic institutions across Canada. That perhaps it's unconscious bias or something more deliberate. But that this is, you know, wash rinse repeat, we've seen this before. What do you say to that Sarah?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well, I don't think it's a problem just in academic institutions. I think it's a problem in all of our institutions. That we do have an elite that is dominated by white men and that, you know, we're going to have to think about how to change that elite. For example, the new report on women on boards and women in executive leadership just came out, and it shows that we are despite new regulation that requires complying or explaining with targets and things like that, we're making snail's pace progress in including women in corporate leadership. So this is across the board in this society and I think we need to break open the clubby atmosphere that is so comfortable because everyone knows each other went to high school together and knows each other by first name and it's going to be uncomfortable to include other voices. But I absolutely think we have to do it.

PC: Sarah Kaplan good to talk to you. Thank you.

SARAH KAPLAN: Thank you so much.

PC: Sarah Kaplan is the Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy, and a Professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Well one need only take a look at Twitter to see that panel discussions made up exclusively of white people, exclusively with men, or both tend to get called out for the lack of diversity in 2017. Popular hash tags include congrats you have an all-male panel and people of colour know things too. So it may come as a surprise that groups at the University of Toronto in one of the most diverse cities on the planet would organize the panel the way they did. Rinaldo Walcott is a professor and director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, he is also the author of Black Like Who? And we've reached him today in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hello.


PC: Rinaldo Walcott, what were your thoughts when you first heard about this panel?

RINALDO WALCOTT: Well quite frankly I saw the pushback to the panel initially on Twitter, and a wonderful political scientist from out west Canada Malinda Smith wrote on Twitter saying her profession could do much better. But nonetheless I wasn't surprised that the panel was three white men and that they later added a white woman.

PC: Because? Because? You weren’t surprised why?

RINALDO WALCOTT: I wasn't surprised because panels like that happen every day every week every month in Canadian universities. The reality is that Canadian universities are an overwhelmingly white place. The reality is that the traditional disciplines like political science, history, philosophy are overwhelmingly white disciplines filled up with white men and that this is their normal way of proceeding and engaging in intellectual debate, discourse and so on.

PC: And in your opinion why was the composition of this panel inappropriate for the subject of social inequality?

RINALDO WALCOTT: Well I think it's inappropriate for a number of reasons. I think now that we're beginning to talk about questions of inequality, we've seen a number of white men return to the stage to shepherd this conversation and what they never talk about are who are the people who are suffering because of inequality? They never gave them a name and a face but they're Black people, they're Indigenous people, they're trans people, they're the working poor who are largely people of colour and so on. So when we see this kind of shepherding of white men telling us what inequality is with actual people we should be alarmed by it. Because we know that then this is not a deep and genuine conversation about the stakes of inequality in our contemporary society.

PC: OK. And the pushback to that often is look, we may not have the lived experience but we study these things, we look at these things, we also have a stake in these things. So what would you say to those who think there isn't anything wrong with white people, and mostly men in this case, speaking on issues of inequality?

RINALDO WALCOTT: Oh they definitely study it and they definitely have a stake in it. Often their stake in it is to reproduce it. But many people of colour, many Indigenous people, many trans people also study it, also live it and also have something to say about helping that change practices of inequality and the history of inequality that shapes so many of our lives. So this is not a question of who gets to speak. This is a question of how many different kinds of voices you can have at the table speaking about what the stakes of inequality are.

PC: And where does this sort of emerge from? I mean, is this bad intention on behalf of people? Is this systemic problems? Where do you see the root of this?

RINALDO WALCOTT: I think the root of it, and especially in a panel like that one, stems from the fact that in the Canadian political public sphere there's almost no place for non-white people to speak on the politics, on public sphere politics. So even, you know, activists and media critics have been for instance consistently calling, making a critique of Power & Politics on CBC Newsworld with Rosie Barton as never almost never having people of colour on offering political commentary. And that panel stems from the same kind of logic that somehow people of colour are only incited to engage in public sphere political politics when it speaks to questions of race. But when it's not speaking to questions of race explicitly then we don't, then we're not invited. But the reality is that questions of inequality, social, economic and otherwise are deeply implicated with questions of race. And they’re deeply implicated with other kinds of larger questions. And that in fact when you have only three white men that you are actually doing the race politics.

PC: OK. I want to play a clip from you. and this is the moderator Stephen LeDrew, responding to criticism from student protesters who say you cannot address social inequality by bringing together the most wealthy and the most privileged to discuss social inequality. So this is what he had to say.


STEPHEN LEDREW: When i went to Victoria College, I didn’t see anybody there on the midnight shift washing toilets at the [unintelligible] factory like I was to pay for my tuition. It’s not privileged.

PC: So I'm not sure how clear that was. But what Stephen LeDrew said there is when he went to Victoria College he didn't see anyone there on the midnight shift washing toilets at the factory like he was to pay for his tuition. It's not privilege. Rinaldo Walcott, what do you make of that?

RINALDO WALCOTT: Well I think LeDrew is not being entirely and fully honest. I work at University of Toronto. And I have a number of Black female colleagues. But the reality is that the large number of Black women that I see on my university campus are largely Black women working in the cafeterias. Outside of the young Black women in our classrooms and the small number of Black female colleagues that I have, that's where we see the bulk of Black women at University of Toronto. We can go all through the university at every level, and what we will find is that people of colour, Indigenous people, Black people are heavily underrepresented in as you introduced this program, Canada's, and probably the world's, most multicultural and multiracial city. So there are fundamental issues of inequality. Both at the micro and macro level that need to be addressed. And quite frankly, while I will in no way say that three white men can't speak to it, I will also add that they can't speak to the ways in which it deeply matters. And that they can’t speak to it in ways that would allow us to plot a different kind of future.

PC: OK. Rinaldo Walcott, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you.


PC: Rinaldo Walcott is a Professor and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. He is also the author of Black Like Who? We reached him today in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The panel discussion this week at U of T was convened by the Political Science Department, together with a student association and Victoria College. Stephen Rupp is the acting Principal of Victoria College at the University of Toronto. And he's with me now here in Toronto. Hello.

STEPHEN RUPP: Good morning.

PC: How were the speakers selected for this event?

STEPHEN RUPP: There is a committee which has representatives from the Department of Political Science, from their undergraduate student association, and Victoria College which selects both the topic for the public forum, the annual Davey forum, this is an annual event, and also the speakers.

PC: So how did, the original plan was to have two white male speakers moderated by another white man and then Sarah Kaplan was added about a week ago. How did it not cross the committee's mind, anyone on this committee's mind to think huh, we should include some more diverse voices?

STEPHEN RUPP: So I was not on the committee when it met in the spring, so I can’t speak to the deliberations of the committee. But I do recognize that as acting principal of Victoria College I am accountable for its decision.

PC: Why do you think the committee wouldn't think of this? I mean who’s on this committee?

STEPHEN RUPP: So it's as I said, it's a representative committee of people.

PC: Diverse?

STEPHEN RUPP: I'm not sure. I don't know.

PC: OK. So then there's the topic of the event, it was called social inequality, is it a real problem? That question.

STEPHEN RUPP: And there was more added, and how can it be solved?

PC: Can it be solved? OK, so in fairness. Is it a real problem? Seems at best a little rhetorical to ask. We know that social inequality is a problem.

STEPHEN RUPP: So there is no question. I think at this point no one would say that well, everyone would concede that there were problems with the ways in which that question was drafted and framed. And in fact it neither anticipated nor fairly represented what actually happened at the forum. In that I would say that everyone in attendance accepted that social inequality is a significant issue in Canadian society and generally in the world. And the discussion very much focused on the sources of that problem and how to remedy it.

PC: I take your point that you weren't on this committee, but the original plan to have three white guys talking about this. You know, the organizers, the committee didn't think to include diverse voices in this forum. Then it took outside objections for this to become aware to the committee and the organizers to do this. When I say that to you, what do you say to me?

STEPHEN RUPP: So I think that part of it is what Rinaldo has said, right? That you have institutional structures that certain people tend to have influence in those structures and they tend to repeat themselves right? So part of the remedy to that is to pay attention to these processes. You know, I've sat on many committees at the university. Sometimes it's interesting just to sit back and watch how the committee works. And you do see this pattern, right? That if you don't give thought, you tend to pick someone who looks like you right? That's an issue for sure.

PC: In your mind did adding Sarah Kaplan quote unquote, fix the problem?

STEPHEN RUPP: It did not fix the problem. So I worked with Antoinette Handley, the Chair of Political Science. It was Antoinette's suggestion I think originally to add Sarah Kaplan, and we're very grateful for to Professor Kaplan to join the panel. I certainly would not say that it fixed the problem right? For the reason that people with different life experience and different training would have bought very different voices to that event. And as Professor Kaplan indicated, we're now working together to have a second event, a follow up event, probably early in the new year when we will look for very different people to speak to this event. I agree completely with Rinaldo that we need different names and faces on a panel.

PC: And I think what's surprising for so many people is that it took someone, you know, saying wait a minute all white guys is not OK. And I think people are surprised that that just didn't come into anyone's mind at Victoria College and the committee that chose these people in organizing the panel. So I guess the question becomes what do you intend to do to make things better in the future? One panel, yes. Another panel.

STEPHEN RUPP: OK. OK. So if I could, there's an interesting piece in this morning's Globe and Mail by Simona Chiose, the education reporter, which ends with a quotation from Shantel Cole, who was one of the organizers of the student protest. The student protest was both, it was well organized, it was peaceful and respectful of the event. So this is what Shantel Cole said to The Globe.

PC: I'm not trying to cut you off but we got about 30 seconds before we get cut off.

STEPHEN RUPP: So she says well, essentially it is ironic that we're trying to solve social inequality when we are not creating the building blocks to get to that solution. And what I would say is that some of the panelists, particularly Professor Kaplan spoke about that matter of the issues of diversity, equity, what are the building blocks? What are the pieces, the steps and measures you can take to address this issue to resolve those conflicts? That's where we should go.

PC: OK. Stephen Rupp, thank you for your time as well.

STEPHEN RUPP: Thank you.

PC: Stephen Rupp is the acting Principal of Victoria College at the University of Toronto. I’m Piya Chattopadhyay, you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current. And we're back in just a bit.

[Music: Extro]

Back To Top »

Journalist who risks life in Syrian war shares her story

Guest: Reem al-Halabi

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Hi, I'm Piya Chattopadhyay and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Theme]

PC: Still to come. There's housework, there's work work, and then there's emotional work. And it takes a lot of emotional labour to keep a home and a family working well. In half an hour, we'll ask why so much of that emotional work still seems to fall mostly to women. And why so many men seem oblivious to it. But first, revolutionary radio.


[Sound: gunshots and people screaming]

PC: When the Syrian uprising began in 2011, Reem al-Halabi lived in Aleppo where she had a front row view of the protests against President Bashar al-Assad. As violence rained down on those who dared to stand up to the government, she committed herself to documenting what she witnessed. It was a decision that would cost her and forever change her life. One protest in particular in 2012 would become a turning point for Reem al-Halabi. It led her to launching a powerful new project, a radio station that would take the stories of the Syrian revolution and share them far and wide. Today Reem al-Halabi is the Director of Nasaem Souria Radio from just outside Syria. And here's a little of what that sounds like.


[Sound: dial turning]

[Arabic speaking language]

[Sound: dial turning]


PC: The Canadian group Journalists for Human Rights has been involved in supporting Reem al-Halabi and Nasaem Souria Radio. Reem al-Halabi is in Toronto and joined me in our studio to talk, with translation help from The Current’s producer Pacinthe Mattar.Hello.


PC: What happened to you at that protest in Aleppo five years ago?

REEM AL-HALABI: [Arabic speaking language through translator] I was a university student in Aleppo, but there was civil unrest in my city. The Syrian government was responding to that violently. At the time, the Syrian government had no trouble with Western and Arab reporters report on these events. At the time, I was working with a few Arabic channels, giving them the news, and telling them what was happening in my city. I was broadcasting live to the news channel Al Arabiya, covering the funeral of someone who'd' been killed the day before by the Syrian government. There was extreme anger on the streets and at the funeral that day. My goal was to document and film for people outside and inside Syria to see what was happening in my city and how the Syrian government was responding to the protests with violence. People were chanting for democracy and freedom and denouncing the violence that the Syrian government was using. I was carrying a cellphone to film and I stood up on a car to get a higher view to what was happening and to show how the security forces were targeting protesters. But unfortunately, I was the one who was targeted because it was very clear that I was filming. And the Syrian regime has always been afraid of journalists, of the cell phone, the camera, because that's the eye through which the world can see what was really happening in Syria.

PC: There was a shooting and you ran towards it. Why did you do that?

REEM AL-HALABI: [through translator] There was a lot of civil unrest and protesting. My job as a citizen journalist was to show people what was happening. I had to be there to show people the reality of the crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad's regime. I had to be there. The Syrian government targeted me directly and on purpose because I was carrying the cell phone.

PC: What do you mean by targeted you?

REEM AL-HALABI: Because they were watching us, and Syrian security forces were targeting the protesters. And I was filming that, live. So as I was filming, that's exactly when they hit me - and others - who were filming. They're so afraid of any pictures or videos being transmitted live to news stations, or any involvement at all of citizen journalists because that would prove their crimes.

PC: You were shot, what happened?

REEM AL-HALABI: As soon as I was shot, I hoped that I died. In that moment I really wished I was dead. I was so afraid of being injured and falling into the hands of the Syrian government and being tortured. I have a lot of friends who have died while being tortured by the Syrian government. So I was terrified of that. My friends took care of me, they gave me first aid, and then took me to a private hospital. Of course, the security forces found out where I was being treated, they came to my room, and they put me in handcuffs and shackled my feet until I told them what they wanted to hear. I basically said that I didn't see who hit me, that I had no idea who it was, and that I happened to be at that funeral by pure coincidence. They told me I had to go to court, and then told me I couldn't travel. That's when I left Aleppo and snuck out of the country, and towards Turkey.

PC: How do you know who shot you? That they were part of the regime?

REEM AL-HALABI: The Syrian security forces are known, they're the ones that are there, with weapons. At the time in Aleppo, there were no other factions or militias, or anyone else who would have had weapons except the Syrian regime. I saw them with my own eyes, firing from their cars, wearing their uniforms. It was clear, and I was filming that, but unfortunately that's when I got hit. Even international observers came to Aleppo, the month after I was injured, they came to Aleppo and saw with their own eyes too how the Syrian regime was targeting protesters, and how protests at the university in Aleppo were dispersed, and how people were injured, and started to leave the city in droves.

PC: The month after that, I helped Donatella Rovera, who’s with Amnesty International, sneak into Aleppo to document what was happening there. She wasn't officially allowed in the country because of the government crackdown. But she got in, and stayed with me, and together she and I documented the shelling, shooting, the arrests, the deaths at the hands of the Syrian regime. And when she got out of Aleppo, she put out a full report on this, in 2012.

PC: Where were you shot?

REEM AL-HALABI: I was shot in the back, in my back, and it came out through my arm. So it went through my back, and came out through my arm.

PC: You're very lucky.

REEM AL-HALABI: Of course. I'm very lucky. I see that incident as a huge push for me. I could've died because of the work I was doing, but I'm going to live so that I can keep going and encourage and tell people that we can make our voices heard and that journalism can be strong in our country.

PC: And you left Syria, and you left Aleppo after this incident and went to Turkey. Was this the reason why you left?

REEM AL-HALABI: It wasn't just that I got shot, it was because security forces were after me too. I used to use pseudonyms to report for different channels, I used the name Noor, or Reem, or Abeer, or Lana. But once I got shot, a lot of people found out my true identity and name. So there was a lot of fear. There were security raids, looking for me, at my house, luckily I wasn't home. I was in training with Al Jazeera in Gaziantep, Turkey. I learned that security was after me at my house. My family told me never to come back to Aleppo. And from there, I thought: how can I keep going with my journalism work if I can't go back? And I came up with the idea to start the radio station.

PC: It must been awfully hard not to go back when your family was still in Syria.

REEM AL-HALABI: Of course.

PC: You said after the shooting you made a promise that you would use your voice and your role as a journalist to get the story out. When you started Nasaem Souria Radio, what did you want it to be?

REEM AL-HALABI: My focus was on local residents. When I started this work, I wanted to know how I could get our voice out to the world, to say, listen world, and look what's happening to us in Syria. Look at the violations taking place, look at the demands that we're making. When things started to get worse and the world wasn't paying attention, the Syrian government began to punish residents. They cut off electricity and the internet in Aleppo, and all people could hear was the sound of shelling and attacks. And through it all, residents couldn't even communicate with each other, even if they were in the same city. That's when I thought FM radio can help. It can be broadcast over wide areas, and you don't need special equipment to use it. That's when I thought we could do a local broadcast to help Syrian citizens figure out what was going on in their neighbourhoods in case of emergencies, when the shelling started, the security situation, the living situation.

PC: So what kinds of things could be heard on Nasaem in its early days?

REEM AL-HALABI: The news, interactive shows, we started with a morning show, where people could call-in. I saw the radio as a platform for people to tell their stories. Official media channels were under Syrian government control. But Nasaem Radio gave people the chance to express their opinions, to send text messages, to speak their minds without phone lines disconnecting. So for people, this was a space for expression. And we were trying to provide them with information, news, with hope, with music, songs.

PC: It must have been, it is hard enough to make radio in Canada. It must have been terribly difficult to make it while you were in Turkey to the people of a country who were in a warzone. I mean, how did you even pull this off?

REEM AL-HALABI: When someone has a will to do something, that's something that keeps you going. The people around me also really encouraged me. My family, the people who wanted to help me work on it. It was like a dream for Syrians to have radio that's different from what they'd been hearing every day, the same old speeches, the same agendas. They wanted to hear the truth, to look for the truth. To go after the truth whether you're the person behind this idea or part of the public, that's something that really helps. I got so much support from our local listeners in the beginning. At first we would only broadcast for a few hours a day and our listeners would say, we want to hear more, we want to hear you longer, we get so bored after you go off the air. So that reaction really gave us courage to keep going.

PC: You mentioned that part of your programming includes call-in shows. What kinds of things did people talk to you about on your call-in show?

REEM AL-HALABI: We talked about everything. Sports, art, lifestyle, emergencies, sewage problems in the city, the intensity of the shelling, the lack of hospitals available, the school situation, whether they were closed or open because of the attacks. We talked about how children in the city were doing, how they needed vaccines. All the things you need to live, from education to women, to work, that's what we talked about. We saw our job as radio people as connectors between all these subjects we were talking, and our listeners, and organizations doing aid and relief work. For example, an issue we're facing is the landmines that have been left behind by Daesh, or ISIS, after they leave the areas they had taken a hold of. So we go to organizations that remove landmines and ask when can they remove them? How safe are the fields and the farms now? So it becomes a source of connection between average people who need help and organizations that can help these very people through radio and our programming.

PC: The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the deaths of 111 journalists in Syria. I appreciate that you were in Turkey, but just across the border from Syria in Gaziantep. How do you and your fellow colleagues, your reporters and others, how do you stay safe?

REEM AL-HALABI: We’re getting a lot of threats. These are hard to face for our reporters, our journalists inside Syria and outside in Turkey. But journalism is a line of work that's rife with danger. Whether they're from the Syrian government, or Daesh, or ISIS or corrupt groups who don't want our attention on them, it's dangerous work. So if you're a journalist, you have to live with the risks and be up to it, you can lose your family, your friends, and it'll change your life but it's a choice. I chose this line of work, and I know it's a job that's full of risks.

PC: I don't know if you can answer this to protect your own safety. And please don't if it would compromise your safety. Where do you live now?


PC: I imagine your life, even though you're in Turkey is consumed by what's going on, still going on, six plus years in your home country of Syria.

REEM AL-HALABI: Of course. Our news, our radio, covers Northern Syria, in cities like Azaz, Jarablos, Kafranbel, we're doing a lot of work in these areas. Because this is where Daesh was in control, and now they're gone. So these areas need a lot of media attention and work because people were so scared to talk or express their opinions for so long. These people there were under the very strict control of extremists, so as a media organization we are trying to help them get back to living normal lives.

PC: What is your hope for Nasaem? What impact do you think something like Nasaem Souria Radio can have for the future of Syria?

REEM AL-HALABI: As a media organization, we want to help Syrians live their lives, democratically, where they have freedom of expression. We want to support Syrian women to get to decision-making positions, helping children with their education, to fight extremism and terrorism. So we have so much work to do.

PC: It must be, well I wonder, you're in a radio studio in Canada in a country that is safe and you conduct your journalism and your radio show in a country full of people like you, Syrian refugees, and you're covering a country that has been devastated by war. How bizarre is it for you to be sitting here?

REEM AL-HALABI: Not at all. I saw this opportunity as a way to bring a voice to Syria to the Syrian people and refugees. It's important to me that people know that to this day in Syria, people are dying, through shelling, arrests, drowning at sea, at the borders, people are still dying. And as Syrians, we need a lot of support. From Canadians, from the people, governments, from the Americans. These people are all far from us, but it's important that our voices get to them so that they know what's really happening. It's not just about refugees and helping them settle. Let's also ask how we can help them and support them, and find out what organizations can do to help them. For example, I'm here with Journalists for Human Rights, and they've really helped us with how to think about our news, our stories, and our storytelling, and our strategies, so that we can get the voices of Syrians out to the world. If people can't support us, they can at least listen to us. Listen to our stories, and find out what's happening in this world that's so far away from them.

PC: Reem, Syria is a divided country. How do you balance the views and perspectives, the various perspectives of the people in your country?

REEM AL-HALABI: We're after the truth, and credibility. All we do is relay the realities of what's happening, convey what's being said and talked about, and give it to people. And it's the people that can decide and say what's right and what's wrong. We're trying as much as possible to speak out, and shine a light on things that governments, and other groups don't want people to know. We're just a light that's highlighting these problems,.

PC: Shukraan jazelan. Thank you Reem.

REEM AL-HALABI: Thank you.

PC: Reem al-Halabi is the Director of Nasaem Souria Radio just outside of Syria. She was in our Toronto studio and was translated by our producer Pacinthe Mattar.

[Music: Omar Souleyman]

PC: Now here is some music that may just get some play on Nasaem Souria Radio. The artist is Omar Souleyman from northeastern Syria, and the song Bahdeni Nami is about love. It was produced by the British musician Four Tet.

[Music: Omar Souleyman]

PC: That was Omar Souleyman from Syria singing Bahdeni Nami. Alright, I want you to tune into The Current every day, but this Thanksgiving Monday guest host Laura Lynch will bite into a quintessential fruit of the fall harvest. That of course is the apple. Each variety has a distinctive flavour and its own history. Did you know that the apple is thought to have originated millions of years ago in Kazakhstan and is a cousin of the rose? Over those years varieties multiplied around the globe. There was once 17,000 varieties of apples in North America alone. Most of those are now lost. Apple scientists, sleuths, and historians search for these at lost apples and their stories.


[Sound: apple biting sound]

VOICE 1: Do you want a crisp?

VOICE 2: Yes please.

[Sound: crunch of biting into apple]


VOICE 1: We have this wonderful orchard that I take care of. We have 65 different varieties of apple in the orchard currently. When we started talking about the most popular, the apple people are most excited about, if they're 65 varieties of apple I would say there’s 65 answers to this question. It's really interesting at our market. You will see every week people start coming and asking when is this one ready? When this one ready? And often what it is is that they remember that apple variety from their childhood.


VOICE 3: I give talks at historical societies and groups like that, and the especially the older people they just absolutely light up when talking about these old apples. And I think it just brings back memories of, you know, being in mom's kitchen and times they had with their parents and siblings. And it's very gratifying to see those type of reactions. I must say that I do get excited when we found a lost apple, it is a pretty exciting feeling. Three that were extinct have been brought back and then I've also found only the second tree, known tree of another variety.

VOICE 4: Part of this journey of the apple for me has been a way to taste the past. The journey for me was accompanied by death. I had a close friend who was dying while I was writing the book and my father died also while I was writing the book. And so and the apples themselves, many of the lost and extinct apples are gone. But when you find an apple you taste an apple, it's a way to connect to the past. And so there's a sweetness in that, that the past is still alive. The apple became kind of just a poignant symbol for me I suppose.


VOICE 4: It's just always still kind of thrilling. Like I still sort of drive around, I have a little apple picking tool and I stopped by the roadside and I found some good ones this fall by the roadside. And I just, you know, gather them and eat them and it's just always kind of still exciting and it's still a beautiful thing to bite into an apple and taste the sweetness of it and think about the past and be alive. You know, that it really points to life.

PC: You can tune in to hear more about the search for lost apples and their related stories. That is on The Current this Monday, Thanksgiving Monday. Alright, before we get to apples before Monday, coming up in our next half hour we're looking at the division of labour in our relationships.



VOICE 1: I probably was 90, 90, ten. That's how it was 90 per cent of all the work in the home, the running around, the care, everything. Males work, they see that as their job. When I was married, I definitely did the lion's share of the home tending, everything and worked.

PC: She is not alone and that doesn't even take into account the emotional labour. What the heck do we mean by that? Stick with us and find out in about 90 seconds. I’m Piya Chattopadhyay and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Extro]

Back To Top »

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

Guests: Gemma Hartley, Dave Eddie

PIYA CHATTOPADHYAY: Hi again, I’m Piya Chattopadhyay and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.



KATE REDDY: A recent study showed that women with young children don't sleep through the night. Researchers were at a loss to explain why. They could have asked me. Instead of sleeping, I do the list. Number one, take Emily to school I am just so jealous you get to look nice all day, we just rump around at the park. Number two, keep my head above water at work.

VOICE 2: Sarah, are you running a little late this morning?

KATE REDDY: Number three, spend more time with Richard. Number four, the kids. Kindergarten bake sale, Christmas lights, birthday party.

VOICE 3: I don’t know how you do it.

VOICE 4: I don’t know how you do it.

PC: Well the movie I Don't Know How She Does It may not have won over the critics but it did capture the mental load many women carry everyday. It's something sociologists call emotional labour. The thinking, the planning, and delegating required to manage a household and a family. And it's something freelance writer Gemma Hartley says that many men, most men she would argue, still don't get. Her Harper's Bazaar article on the topic is headlined women aren’t nags, we’re just fed up. And that article has gone viral. We have reached Gemma Hartley at her home in Reno, Nevada. Hello.


PC: Why did you ask your husband for a house cleaning service for your Mother's Day gift this past year?

GEMMA HARTLEY: To be honest it wasn't like oh I hate house cleaning, I don't want to do this sort of thing. I just really wanted to try out a cleaning service. Maybe if I make my husband get it for me as a gift, I won’t to have to do all the work that goes with it. All of the planning out the visit, checking how the prices are, asking all the friends for recommendations because, you know, it's not just call them, have them come over. There's a lot of work that goes on behind that. And so that's why I asked for it as a gift because I wanted to be relieved of that mental task. And--

PC: So you were asking your husband, the gift was the cleaning service, but you were asking him as part of the gift to understand what about getting a cleaning service?

GEMMA HARTLEY: I don't think I set out with the intention of here, look at how hard it is to, you know, just do this one part of the schedule. I just really didn't want to do it because I was exhausted from it. And it wasn't until after when he didn't do it that I was like gosh they don't get how much goes on behind the scenes to make the house run.

PC: What did he get you?

GEMMA HARTLEY: He got me a necklace.

PC: Uh huh.

GEMMA HARTLEY: And, you know, it was nice and all. And then he said that he would clean the bathrooms himself, which he did. While it was Mother's Day and I was watching all three of our kids and the rest of the house was falling apart, which ended in, you know, a sort of blow up frustrated fight and was not, you know, the best Mother's Day I've had in recent memory.

PC: [laughs] I--

GEMMA HARTLEY: But it did open up this really interesting conversation, so maybe it was a gift.

PC: So that's the example. But put it in the context, what is emotional labour?

GEMMA HARTLEY: So emotional labour is hard to define in a really succinct way, because it manifests itself in so many different ways and in so many different areas of our lives. What I'm talking about in the article is how emotional labour affects managing a household, which is a job that, you know, if we're speaking generally, largely falls to women. 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 dishes to the sink, lots of these things have to be delegated and it's exhausting to keep track of it all.

PC: Because your husband doesn't help out or what is he not doing in terms of emotional labour?

GEMMA HARTLEY: I think he just was not noticing when things needed to be done. He expected, you know, if I need something done I can just ask him. Which is true. I can just ask him, he will do anything that I ask of him. But it was the asking that was getting on my last nerve. You know, I don't want to have to ask him to pick up his socks. I don't want to have to ask him to do jobs that are obviously needing to be done.

PC: So you don't want to have to ask him to say hey we're almost out of milk go to the store and get some? It's not the tasks. He wants to be assigned and you say I don't need to have to assign you.

GEMMA HARTLEY: Basically, yeah. I feel like I shouldn't have to ask him when there is a bunch of dishes piling up on the table in a room he's been sitting in and then he gets up and goes to another room and all the dishes remain there instead of going in the kitchen. It's just these sort of little tasks that should be seen and aren't always seen.

PC: OK. Have you been accused of being a control freak?

GEMMA HARTLEY: Oh I'm sure I have. [chuckles]

PC: I just wonder that because sometimes, you know, you get the well, you want it done your way and if I do it you'll complain about how I do it dear wife.

GEMMA HARTLEY: You know, I hear that a lot. Like, if there is a certain way that you want things done you should just do it yourself. And I don't agree with that. I think if there are two people in a relationship, you should be able to come to an agreement about how you want the house to be run. I think as adults, that these skills aren't that hard to learn. You know, it's I'm not asking for my house to be immaculate all the time. I have three young kids. I just want it to be noticed when there's like dirty socks on the floor, pick them up and go put them away. I want my kids to, you know, learn to do that too and I think if they only see one parent doing that, that sort of sets them up for an imbalance as they grow up.

PC: You describe ending up in tears about these kinds of things from time to time. So help us understand the mental load so to speak. How does it feel to be carrying so much responsibility?

GEMMA HARTLEY: You know, I think the thing about emotional labour is that you don't notice it until it is overwhelming you. You don't notice it until it's too much and you've sort of reached a breaking point. Which is why I think this piece resonated with so many women is that it's this frustration that you can't really put a name on, you don't really notice it in your day-to-day life because you're very used to taking on all of that. You know, I'm used to knowing exactly when we need to leave the house for school in the morning. I know exactly when we need to leave going anywhere. I keep mental lists all the time of what we need. And it just kind of wears you down from time to time. It's not all the time. I'm not always like oh gosh, you know, I have to do everything around here, which I don't by the way my husband's, you know, a very good man and a very equitable partner to have in a relationship. But carrying all of the mental load just gets exhausting after a while.

PC: What happens when you don't carry the mental load? Like when you go on vacation or you just say I'm not doing it. Does your husband or do husbands, I guess sort of in general if we're stereotyping here, pick up that mental load?

GEMMA HARTLEY: Yes, I think they do. And I think that is the part that is so frustrating, is that you know they're capable of it. You know, if something terrible was to happen to me, my husband would be able to handle it. He'd be able to handle our house and our kids but we just haven't had that conversation so that he picks up that equal load while I'm still here.

PC: I know we're talking broad strokes and generalization and stereotyping. There are of course exceptions to all these things, but let me ask you this do men in a general sense tend to understand the mental load that women in hetero normative relationships are carrying?

GEMMA HARTLEY: I don't think so. And I'm hoping that we can change that. After writing this piece I had actually quite a few men reach out to me. They saw the kind of inflammatory headline of the article and they expected to read it and be like oh I'm one of the good ones, I've totally got this. And I'm like no, you know, my husband's one of the good ones and we still struggle with this.

PC: And yet gender roles are changing in so many ways. Women are increasingly out earning men, there are more stay-at-home dads, there are men who are doing more around the house than they did a generation before. But emotional labour seems sticky, hard to change. What do you attribute that to?

GEMMA HARTLEY: I think a big part of why it has been so hard to change is because women are frustrated about it but they don't have the language to express that frustration. It's been sort of the problem that doesn't have a name. It's hard to move past when you don't know how to talk about it and how to describe it to your partner. Women have been reaching out to me after this piece. They read the line that said I don't want to have to ask, I want to partner with equal initiative, and they're like yes that's the thing. Because it was really hard to describe what it was, you know, if you have a husband who is really good at 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.

PC: And then there's this, you know, you bring up language. There's the word nag, which sometimes women are accused of being when they say well I need you to do more and I don't want to have to ask. It's a loaded word but that's how it can be perceived right?

GEMMA HARTLEY: Yes, it can absolutely be perceived as oh you're nagging me, you’re asking me to do the same thing over and over. And, you know, if someone is nagging you it's probably because you aren't doing your part.

PC: So we invited your husband to join us for his take on this. It didn't work out, and I just want to make sure that our listeners understand. It's not because he's ragingly angry at you or thinks you’re accusing him of anything. But I am curious, how did he respond to your article?

GEMMA HARTLEY: So he is very supportive. He's been so generous as this piece has gone way more viral than we thought when I had originally wrote it. He takes it and wants to be better. And he has really picked up the slack with emotional labour. He's doing a lot more around the house, noticing more that needs to be done. He's doing a lot more of those small invisible tasks that I used to do. I noticed I went into my closet and picked out clothes that were folded and put away and that I had not folded and put away. And he was doing these things without asking for me to praise him for it, which was, you know, something that I think was a problem before. He has done a tremendous job trying to take what I wrote down and make it work in our relationship.

PC: Some people will say look, women are natural multi-taskers, they can handle arranging the 200 play dates with other moms that their kids have to go to to work. To figure out how to dress four people in the morning instead of just themselves. We’re just better at it than men. What do you think about that?

GEMMA HARTLEY: I think we are better at it because we have learned these skills. I do not think there is anything scientific about us being naturally better at these skills. We learn them from an incredibly young age. Children can recognize at three different, you know, gender roles and they're watching those play out in their homes, and they are learning how to model their behaviour after the dynamics they see themselves out in the world and at home. And those roles say women are really good at this stuff. And we're good at it because we practice. Men can learn these skills too. I can tell you myself, my husband since, you know, we've had this conversation, he can do all of this. He got us ready to go out this weekend and I had to do nothing. He can do the laundry. He can learn how to make the bed, you know, exactly the way I like it. They aren't impossible skills, they just aren't ones men have had to learn. And now that he's doing these sort of low level invisible jobs, it's very validating not because the work is hard and I'm relieved of it, but because I know that he is sort of seeing all that I do and that's very helpful.

PC: Gemma Hartley, I know you have three kids to get out the door along with your husband this morning and I appreciate you making time for us. Thank you very much.


PC: Bye now.


PC: Gemma Hartley is the author of Women aren't nags, we're just fed up. We reached her in Reno, Nevada. So we took this question of emotional labour to the streets. The CBC's Michael O’Halloran asked Calgarians how it works in their relationships.



WOMAN 1: Well I do groceries and I cook.

MAN 1: I do the dishes and look after the house, you know, the outside.

WOMAN 1: Yeah the outside. I look for inside, after the inside he’s looking after the outside.


MICHAEL O'HALLORAN: And who arranges the kind of the social stuff, if you got to get birthday cards.

WOMAN 1: That would be me. [chuckles]

MICHAEL O'HALLORAN: And how do you feel about that?

WOMAN 1: Great. I think that’s what women should do.

MAN 1: I feel great about it too, because I don’t have to do it.


WOMAN 2: Work work, they see that as their job. When I was married, I definitely did the lion's share of the home tending. Everything. And worked.

MICHAEL O’HALLORAN: Did that lead to you guys breaking up?

WOMAN 2: Oh for sure, that was a big contributor, absolutely.

WOMAN 3: We share laundry, we share dishes, we share whatever, but if the plumber needs to come I take care of that.

MICHAEL O’HALLORAN: Do you ever feel like you’re being a nag? Do you get on his case to do things, like pick up that, wash this?

WOMAN 3: Yes. Absolutely. I nag. I feel awful. Yeah, it’s not good, it's not an intelligent. The culture should change completely. You want to hear my whole speech?

PC: Alright, well let us bring in one more perspective on this subject, a man's perspective. David Eddie is a father and a husband, as well as an author and Globe and Mail advice columnist. He is with me here in Toronto. Hi.

DAVID EDDIE: Hi. Sounds like I'm uniquely qualified to speak to this.

PC: [laughs]

DAVID EDDIE: [laughs] Husband, father, advice columnist. You know, I thought what was really interesting about that article was she's not talking about who does what. There's lots of households, and you get a lot of pushback, it's like hey I do this I do that, but it is what she calls emotional labour, which I just call it mental labour, like the to do list doing that is the real problem. And I want to say before launch into my confession about how bad I am on this score, I am the chef of the family. And I think that's a very underrated position because it's, you know, my wife is just like oh well you create a lot of dishes and, you know, that’s just you're creating a problem by being the cook. It’s like wait a sec, there's the thinking up of the recipes, there's the shopping. All this stuff is like the under the tip of the iceberg stuff. And I think that's what she's talking about in general in the household. She's saying I have to think up things, I have to figure it out. And I will say that as the father of three teenage boys, I get it down to the ground. You know, they're very cheerful about doing their chores around the house. If I say hey could you do the dishes? Could you unload the dishwasher? They're like sure. But they will walk past a banana peel on the coffee table a thousand times without seeing it. And here's my confession Piya, I'm the same way. Even though I was a stay-at-home dad for five plus years. And I was proud of myself, I changed a lot of nappies, I made a lot of dinners, I did this I did that. But my wife Pam was definitely the quote unquote, project manager of the situation. She had to think up well, oh we need paper towels.

PC: We need the diapers. Go get them.

DAVID EDDIE: We got to go get the, we’re running low on diapers. You know, for some reason, and the one way that I would disagree with her is that, you know, oh well this is learned from the time you're a kid. No. This is 10,000 plus years of evolution. OK? Men were originally designed to be in like a blind, covered with leaves and to tune out anything that is not the prey. Women were born to multitask from thousands of years. OK, you're shaking your head, you're frowning at me.

PC: I’m not shaking my head. I'm just looking at you quizzically.

DAVID EDDIE: Quizzically.

PC: Well, you're building a stereotype of a man as a caveman, like. You know, can only be singularly focused.

DAVID EDDIE: I'm just saying that people ingrained in our DNA. Lately we have, last 60 years we've had to change our roles, we've had to really evolve. I have noticed that this thing, as she said, as one of those streeters said, I broke up over this. I've seen this happen. You know, I've seen it's just like, and she talks about being a nag. It's like nag nag nag nag nag. But the real danger comes when the person stops nagging you. Whether it's a man or woman, it's like that's when the car hits the ice and starts to spin. It's like when she stops saying could you pick your socks up off the floor? Because then another wheel’s turning, it's like you know what, he'll never change and I'm out here. And I have seen that happen and it's really sad. And so I am doing my damndest, even though I am horribly guilty of exactly what she's talking about. I'm doing my damndest to evolve later on in life and I hope it's working. OK?

PC: OK. You have sort of thrown this all out here. But let’s get specific Dave Eddie.


PC: Gemma Hartley's argument is that generally, not everyone, but for the most part, men generally don't appreciate the unpaid emotional labour that women are doing.

DAVID EDDIE: I think she's absolutely right about that. Generally speaking, I'm very uncomfortable with generalizations about men and women, because obviously there's going to be huge exceptions. But as she said it went viral, there's obviously a huge at least grain of truth in it. I see it myself. I can't generalize about men. There are some men who obviously, you know, have a huge diaper load of emotional labour in their mind. But yeah, I think it's true that we're not geared that way for whatever reason.

PC: OK. So let me I am not really asking to speak on behalf of 50 per cent of the population but let's use an example. Talk to me about women leaving things on the stairs. I do this, we have tem stairs going up to our second floor. My hope is that my children and my husband, when they go up stairs will see that there is stuff that belongs to them that they will carry it up.

DAVID EDDIE: It's a famous example. By the way I put stuff on the stairs too. Like I say, I have three teenage boys, and they just, it does not come into their field of vision. You could go, and that was me, and like I say I'm trying to evolve. What I say to my boys, because here's just one semi-random example, they leave their shoes, these huge size 13 shoes strewn in the front hallway of our house such that one might trip over them. My wife Pam, and to a lesser extent I, have had to nag and nag and nag, we're using the word nag freely here. Just like guys could you not do that? Could you not do that? And I can sense in their attitude is kind of like what’s the big deal, right? And I say to them, my little quiet lecture, I take each boy aside and say it doesn't matter whether it's important to you or not, the truth is it's important to her, so do it, make her happy. Because literally it could come to a point where the person, something that's important to them not to you is enough to be a deal breaker like I don't want you in my house anymore. And like I say I've seen that happen.

PC: Because one person thinks it's about a pair of shoes, the other is about you don't respect me.

DAVID EDDIE: Absolutely correct.

PC: OK. You were a stay-at-home dad for a handful of years.


PC: Did you then, as the stay-at-home person, take on that emotional labour?

DAVID EDDIE: Well I took on labour, but as I said, she was the project manager of all that stuff. And I say that, you know, with great shame and guilt and I blush to say it. But for whatever reason, we were both exhausted, tired, nobody can sleep when your kids are little. But yeah, who organized and planned the household matters? It was definitely her. Without question.

PC: And why don't you do that? Would be what people are asking.

DAVID EDDIE: I don’t know. Is cluelessness a good answer? Because it's an honest one. And it just seemed to fall more naturally to her. And I can sense all your female listeners bristling as I say that. It's just I don't know. The real answer is I don't know.

PC: Uh huh. And so when you say I don't know, you tipped your hat earlier to a suggestion that this is just how we're premade in the factory so to speak. That I think you referred to like hunters and gatherer societies.


PC: Yeah.


PC: Do you really believe that?

DAVID EDDIE: Let me put it--

PC: Because that’s really really like old school thinking.

DAVID EDDIE: OK. Since I've already established myself as a terrible villain that has caused all your female listeners to bristle, let me ask this. Because I went on the writer's website and she said, you know, hey I'm a freelance writer I'm lucky to make 12,000 a year. It makes me wonder does he have a mental load of having, you know, men a lot of times before they have kids have what's called provider panic. In other words, their main focus is how do I keep a roof over my kids head? You work, your husband works. I know this. It's a combined thing and that's the great thing and I love that about the modern world. But I mean, some guys are focused on their work and I wonder if that might not have been the case in this freelance writer’s world.

PC: Right. I don't want to, I don't know their situation.

DAVID EDDIE: Want to speculate?

PC: No, I don't know their situation. But I would say--

DAVID EDDIE: 12,000 bucks does not cover a family of three kids.

PC: I would say this to you because I hear this from lots of women who work, it’s like yeah I work full time. I have to put my head in the game at work and so does my husband. Yet I have to still do the emotional labour on top of that. So that's for some women who this piece really resonates with, it's like there's the inequity.

DAVID EDDIE: The writer Arlie Hochschild called it the second shift. You work, you come home and you do a whole other shift of domestic work. But what I thought was interesting at a fresh wrinkle of her point is it's not just the work. Men are starting to slowly figure out that they've got to help out around the house. But what they're not doing is coming up with the to do list. This is for sure true of almost everybody that comes across my radar. So I can see why it could be tough. My, if I may just you know continue in a confessional mode, my own life has been in tears over this, it’s like I just have to think of everything sitting on the couch. It's terrible. She's quite right. And as the father of three teenage boys, it's not just the banana peel on the coffee table, it's not just the empty carton of milk in the fridge, it's not just the empty crackers in the cupboard, it's not just the empty cereal box in the cupboard. It's the aggregate of these things slowly kind of starts to wear you down. So yeah, little things are important. Even if something doesn't seem all that important to you, if it's important to her do it to honour her. The end.

PC: Dave Eddie, thank you very much.

DAVID EDDIE: You’re welcome.

PC: Dave Eddie is an author and Globe and Mail advice columnist. He was here in Toronto. OK, it is your turn. Who does the emotional labour in your household? Have you and your partner found a way to share it? Do you talk about it? We want to hear from you. And before you tell us that you're great at carrying the mental load, maybe check in with your partner about how they feel. You can tweet us @TheCurrentCBC, find us on Facebook or send us an email. Just go to our website and click on the contact link. I know lots of you are going to have things to say about that discussion. Well that is The Current for this Friday. Finally today, after our discussion of the invisible emotional labour that women put in everyday to make their families work, or at least most women in many families, here is a musical tribute to just that. It is the Beatles, Lady Madonna performed by the jazz great Helen Merrill. I’m Piya Chattopadhyay, thank you so very much for lending us your ear here on the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Helen Merrill]

Back To Top »

CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.