“You Should’ve Asked” by Emma is a comic examining and dissecting what feminists call, “the mental load,” which refers to women’s invisible responsibility to manage and complete the chores around the house and with the children. Emma makes a few important key points to highlight just how damaging this responsibility is. She explains that these behaviors (women being proactive in managing home life, and men being lazy) are not natural, that we are conditioned from as early as childhood to adapt these traits.
I loved this cartoon. Mostly because this is something that I have 100% thought about and even experienced in my own life, as a young woman with my partner. For example, numerous times, I have made plans with my partner that have fallen through because he had forgotten that he had work, or other plans that he committed to. Because of this, I realized that I started memorizing his schedule for him and figuring out when we could realistically hangout. I should not have to memorize his schedule for him in order to make reliable plans. “The Mental Load” is such a perfect way to describe the burden of having to manage the daily chores of everyday life that just make things easier for everyone involved. As Emma states, “When a man expects his partner to ask him to do things, he’s viewing her as the manager of household chores. So it’s up to her to know what needs to be done and when. The problem with that, is that planning and organizing things is already a full-time job.” (Emma). This is so inconsiderate and places such a heavy burden onto women. However, the main thing that I don’t understand is WHY men don’t take on the same responsibility. I know that it has to do with being socialized differently as children, but everyone is taught about how to have manners and compassion. I would think that especially for their partners, men would WANT to put in the extra effort to meet them halfway.
I can see how this “Mental Load” would be extremely hard to explain to someone who does not have the inherent burden of it. Since, like the comic said, it is technically invisible. But she’s right in that just managing and organizing alone is a FULL TIME JOB! It sucks up so much energy. So to manage and plan, and then on top of that to actually complete the tasks is way too much work for any person. I can see how this inequality in work creates a lot of resentment in women towards their partners. I know that I have definitely experienced that anyways.
How can we get men to understand this? How can they really see what it’s like? Do we have to let the household fall apart with no help from either person? As Emma states, “Of course there’s nothing forcing us to do all this. The problem is that when we stop, the whole family suffers.” And we don’t want that! Because that’s a disaster and especially if you’re dealing with children, that’s not good for them. Should there be mandatory classes in high school for boys to learn about this? To treat it as a real thing? I don’t know... Regardless, I’m glad that I read this comic because it gave me insight into something that I was already feeling that I didn’t even realize.
-- works cited --
Emma. “You Should’ve Asked.” Emma (blog), May 20, 2017. https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/.