Book of the week: The Mental Load - a feminist comic by Emma
Celebrated French blogger Emma depicts the issues that weigh disproportionately on women – the invisible and unpaid mental labour like managing the housework, shopping lists and emotional well-being of their partners and family members... and, often times, colleagues and even strangers. This is the first English-language collection of Emma’s work.
In her first book of comic strips, Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings, dissecting the mental load, i.e. all that invisible and unpaid organizing, list-making and planning women do to manage their lives, and the lives of their family members.
Most of us carry some form of mental load—about our work, household responsibilities, financial obligations and personal life; but what makes up that burden and how it's distributed within households and understood in offices is not always equal or fair. In her strips Emma deals with themes ranging from maternity leave, domestic violence, the clitoris, the violence of the medical world on women during childbirth, and other feminist issues, and she does so in a straightforward way that is both hilarious and deadly serious. Emma's comics also address the everyday outrages and absurdities of immigrant rights, income equality, and police violence.
The Mental Load was translated from the French by Una Dimitrijevic, and is published by Seven Stories Press.
Emma is a 36-year-old computer technician who lives in Paris but who says she learns "all over the place." She podcasts programs for the radio station France Culture, and her comics run in The Guardian. A former member of the collective "Stop harcèlement de rue" (Stop Street Harassment), she is confident that her feminist beliefs have now made it onto the "information superhighway" for good.