My mental load is heavy right now… I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to share today. I’m quite likely to go off-road…
While I applaud all the posts on amazing women and their excellent contributions to so many essential walks of life. I’d prefer to talk about ‘ordinary’ women. Also, I sometimes feel crippled by the inaction of simply not knowing how to improve things. So, I am also sharing something (for real, imperfect people). Both men and women can use it to help #breakthebias and easily/quickly create a fairer world.
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or dismissive of the awesome work being done by so many women in challenging fields. I am a keen follower of all such stories, finding them inspiring and informative. However, today is also an opportunity to celebrate the everyday tasks that many women perform. Things that keep the whole world moving.
Before anyone reminds me that men also take on these roles, yes, I know. But it is still the case that women far outweigh men in key areas such as home makers, child care, teaching, nursing, care workers, social workers, shop workers. They are also still paid less, even in areas where women dominate employee numbers. Some interesting data here from Office of National Statistics.
Raising children, caring for our vulnerable, teaching the next generation, cleaning etc etc are all essential, valuable and meaningful contributions to our Society. I often talk to women who feel their role is insignificant. Who compare themselves to others and never feel they shine. If we belittle the traditional roles of women, and only give credit to women who challenge and triumph in the traditional roles of men, we do not ‘win’ anything.
When we can reach gender parity in pay, education, expectation and opportunity, then people can develop and thrive in their chosen ways.
I know of men who would have preferred to be the stay at home parent, but their pay or career opportunities made it financially foolish.
Many (most?) women will also be doing the lions’ share of unpaid work in a household. There was a funny/sad joke going around in December that so many Dads would be just as surprised as their family by the Christmas gifts they had nominally given. I would love to discuss this idea with same sex couples, does one partner become the ‘present thinker/buyer’?
How many Mothers Day cards this year will be organised by someone other than the person who signs it? How many successful men are able to commit the required time and energy to their career because of an unpaid woman… and how many successful women need the support of paid women e.g. cleaners, child care providers.
Which brings me on to what we can ALL do, to reduce this gap.
Have you heard of the ‘Mental Load’?
There is an excellent cartoon by Emma, that explains it brilliantly, and is how I first came across the idea. I would recommend you have a read and then pass it to your partner to ponder too. There is also a book of the comic ‘The Mental Load’ (it’s quite long) you can buy in all good bookshops. I also found this article on Mind Body Green, had lots of good sources.
The core of it is that women generally carry a higher responsibility for every day tasks, knowing things about family life, that could be shared more equally. While men may do things when requested, the burden to remember, organise, plan lies mainly with women. This additional mental pressure and expectation explains a LOT.
This post is late because I was cooking the kids dinner, and our meal for later. Hopefully I will press publish before the Cubs run… ordinary greatness in action! P.S I’m using a Sunny Day planner
today, feel free to help yourself to one x
Read. Discuss. Change.