Who Is This Book For?
In 2018, as the idea for this book started to form, the first title I came up with was this: Emotional Labor or, why am I always the one who has to remember the f**ing ketchup.
Since that time, I’ve read dozens of articles, books, and blogs on the topic of emotional labor and the messages were clear – that the work of emotional labor falls on the shoulders of women who are often wives and mothers, and daughters. In fact, all we have to say is “women’s work” and we immediately know the historical narrative; that every type of household labor, chores, planning, kin work, kid work; anything and everything related to the home is women’s work. Alternatively, what types of chores come to mind when we say “men’s work?” Probably not a whole lot when it comes to the endless list of stuff that has to be done in the home.
The final title of the book is Emotional Labor: Why A Woman’s Work is Never Done and What to Do About It. It was the knowledge and understanding about so-called “women’s work” that I decided to add it to the title. That said, the work is the work and the work doesn’t wear a skirt, or lipstick, or a bra. It’s just work. Compounding the issue is that emotional labor permeates so-called ‘women’s work’ and is, for the most part, invisible. Remember, reminding, planning, noticing, anticipating…all invaluable…all invisible.
By thinking of household labor as “women’s work” we don’t really stand a chance of disrupting the narrative; of imagining the work more equitably distributed. Disrupting the narrative also means the invisible work of emotional labor needs to become VERY visible – glaring in fact, put a big red bow around it and call it what it is; work.
So this book is for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the volume of work in the home, made more overwhelming because you are, or feel as though you are, doing it all on your own.
This book is designed for those who have given themselves permission to be curious about why they’re doing so much, all the damn time.
It’s also for people who are in pain that comes with feeling like a failure, or that you just don’t measure up to cultural or societal expectations.
And it is a book for those who are repelled by the fact that the men in their lives aren’t stepping up to partner at home, and who feel we really need solutions or something is going to give, and it won’t be pretty!
It’s a book for young professional women starting their career, thinking about entering a committed relationship and perhaps anticipating how you’re going to split household duties because this book gives you a helpful look-ahead at the emotional labor lifecycle you’ll encounter with your partner or spouse.
This book is also designed for mid-career women who have a few years’ experience with kids, and kin, and juggling, and trying to “do it all” (no one can, by the way). These are the women who have to perpetually ask for help, who are the first call from the school, and who wish there was enough Calgon® on the planet to take them away.
My goal with this book is to uplift and elevate the reader, to shift awareness away from the death trope, “This is the way we’ve always done it,” to something more empowering, “This is how I plan to move forward.” I want to give voice to, and validate, those of you who experience overwhelm, or feelings of inadequacy, or the desire to lock yourself in the bathroom and scream. I want to help you stop comparing yourself to others, and instead, hold yourself to your own ideal, one of your making, and not inscribed with a lot of the cultural messages that don’t serve you. I want to show you where women stand in the context of history and embrace the fact that nothing is written in stone, and you have the courage and fortitude to create and sustain change.
Regina Lark Winter 2021
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