Comic goes viral for perfectly describing the gender wars of household chores
The French comic artist Emma has gone viral for illustrating the burden of the “mental load” many women take on in a household. Her comic “You Should’ve Asked” is being shared wildly because so many women are looking at it and seeing their own lives.
It starts with an anecdotal example of new parents deciding to have a friend over for dinner. Mom is feeding baby, preparing dinner, and putting out fires, while dad sits with the guest.
Many times women don’t talk about this, because we don’t want to sound like we’re feeding into the stereotype of the incompetent father who doesn’t help around the house. Our partners do help. They get up, they feed the kids, they participate in household chores… but it’s just not the same as the burden most women carry every day. The mental load.
Think about your own household. Think of the last time your kid had a fever. Who stayed up with that kid all night? Now think of the last time your fridge was filled. Insurance papers were filled out. New book bags were chosen. Old clothes were rotated out of their drawers and donated. Who was the last parent to remember a child needed a new toothbrush? Who attended the PTA meeting? Who makes the mental note that you’re about to run out of milk?
It. Is. Exhausting.
Women have a constant, growing list in their heads of the things that need to get done, and many times, when we attempt to outsource that work to our partners — they will literally only do the one thing we ask… and nothing more.
These seem like small actions, right? But they add up to an entire day on a hamster wheel. How many times have you felt like you’ve been running around in circles all day, doing everything, and yet still nothing feels done? It’s because it’s impossible to do it all alone. And the need to ask for things to be done and almost “assign chores” seems more exhausting than just getting it done. So we get stuck in the mind frame of, “I’ll just do it myself.” It’s inevitable that exhaustion — and resentment — will result.
And it’s not just the new parent stage when women are stuck as the taskmasters. The mental load just grows with every new stage — and gets even worse when we go back to work. We are the “project managers” of our households — but we’re also doing the lion’s share of the work.
“Women are still devoting 25 times more hours to chores than men,” Emma explains. “For things to change it seems clear that men have to feel that their home is also their responsibility.”
You can read the entire, genius comic here, because we have only covered a small part of it. It’s called, “You Should Have Asked,” and it will make you feel like Emma has crawled into your brain and written your life.