'Women, put down your never-ending to-do list and read this book cover to cover.' Rebecca Huntley
'The gender wars of household chores' - The Guardian
'Funny and relevant, this is a book to slip on all your colleagues' desks.' - Elle
'Emma talks about the clitoris like nobody else.' - Huffington Post
'Her comics perfectly explain the mental load that women bear in the household' - Marie Claire
'Widely shared on the net, her comic strips echo the feeling of many women who are exhausted by the need to always think of everything' - L'Express
'The mental load. It's incessant, gnawing, exhausting and disproportionately falls to women.' Leah Rupanner, ABC
'The mental load is the running commentary that plays in the minds of (mostly) women, of all the things that need doing that no one else sees but you.' AV Williams, news.com.au
In her first book of comic strips, French artist Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings, dissecting the mental load, ie 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 (it is not a vacation!), 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. If you're not laughing, you're probably crying in recognition. Emma's comics also address the everyday outrages and absurdities of immigrant rights, income equality, and police violence.
Emma has over 300,000 followers on Facebook, her comics have been shared 215,000 times, and have elicited comments from 21,000 internet users. An article about her in the French magazine L'Express drew 1.8 million views - a record since the site was created. She is now a regular contributor to The Guardian. Many women will recognize themselves in The Mental Load, which is sure to stir a wide-ranging, important debate on what it really means to be a woman today.
This spirited graphic treatise, growing from a viral web cartoon, aims to provide a friendly introduction to contemporary feminist issues. Emma's smiling cartoon avatar discusses the division of work and home labor, the problems of navigating a hostile workplace, sexual objectification, the blowback women face for getting angry or aggressive, and the location of the clitoris. A few chapters digress into other progressive issues in the cartoonist's home country of France, including workers' rights and discrimination against Muslim immigrants. The art is limited to sparse, squiggly drawings, mostly talking heads, slotted between blocks of cursive font text. Although Emma covers an impressive range of topics, her treatment is heavy on anecdote and opinion, light on in-depth analysis or factual information. The strongest section is the final chapter, "The Holidays," a personal piece on childbirth and adapting to the stress of life with an infant; it manages to blend the personal and the political with precise, honest insights. Most of the book, however, feels underdeveloped, typical perhaps of a web-posted piece but not as well adapted to a larger print volume. That said, the timeliness of the book and its easy reading poise it to be a likely gift buy to mark feminist friendships.