An invisible effort is still effort.
Is it just us or do you find that most people in our lives carry on in society as if they’re not juggling a million thoughts, constantly exerting mental and emotional energy?
No shade to be thrown on the men in our lives but we feel like those who experience society as a woman do this exceptionally well and we don’t pause often enough to recognize, support and celebrate it.
What does it mean to experience society as a woman? The answer to that is not easy. You are more than your organs, your hormones, and your pronouns. We at hey freya think that the word woman is not a single categorical definition, but a lived experience.
Women, by and large, are held to be an unending resource for our household management, work environments, and as the primary emotional caretakers of our loved ones. Career building, homemaking, caregiving; we work a triple shift everyday.
This work is represented by many names: cognitive load, invisible labor, emotional labor, leaning in, mental load, mother load.
We like to call it woman-lode. in reference to the term mother lode in resource extraction; an abundant and rich source that everyone is rushing to access.
The labor of women takes an enormous amount of energy and it truly is what keeps most homes, industries, and communities running smoothly. We take care of others, at the expense of ourselves because the cost of not doing so feels too high. Do these sound familiar?:
- “It’s easier if I do it myself”
- “If I don’t do it, no one will”
Or, our least favorite,
- “After I take care of everyone else, I’ll be able to take care of myself”.
Women across the nation say that caring for others is a top reason preventing them from caring for themselves. This holds true through commissioned reports, longitudinal scientific research, polls, surveys and in one on one conversations.
And it’s not that we don’t want to take care of ourselves, it is just that society’s expectations of our responsibilities have ballooned and the time and energy to complete them haven’t kept up.
In a recent BCG study, it was found that women are more likely than men, on average, to have primary responsibility for everyday chores - even when a woman works full time but their spouse works part time or not at all.
Research out of Harvard University found that In heterosexual households, while final decision making seems to be shared across genders, the work of planning, anticipating, monitoring is all done by women.
Due to the time required to perform this invisible work, many women choose careers that allow for flexibility, and quietly back out of opportunities for career growth. They trade off leisure and exercise time to ensure all other systems are running.
Women are at greater risk for negative clinical outcomes, which is fancy for “we are collapsing trying to hold it all together, and no one seems to be noticing”.
In our modeling of the data from a 15-year study of over 3000 women across the nation, it was obvious that the stress that we call woman-lode, rises through our 30s and 40s and disrupts sleep. What was even more stunning was that having a confidante, or supportive listeners significantly improved sleep.
We need each other to lighten the load. We can’t let this resource run dry.
This is what makes us so passionate and excited about building an anonymous community where we can all find peer support for the woman-lode. Let us know: What features matter to you in an online community?
The cognitive load of household labor