This week, Maggie chats with Rachel Wynn of Feminist Founder and Starlight Social about the impacts of invisible labor on women.
The mental load
The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home by Arlie Hochschild
Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
“You Should Have Asked” comic by Emma
Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu
Follow Rachel on Instagram
Follow Starlight Social on Instagram
Rachel Wynn is a tenacious, poised, and creative professional in the communications field and is the Founder of both Starlight Social and Feminist Founder. She’s a savvy go-getter and intersectional feminist with a passion for coaching women to start their own business and speaking on the topic of balancing household invisible labor.
Wynn earned her degree in Business, Media, and Communications from Gettysburg College and has extensive experience in sales, event planning, and community management. She currently lives near Malcolm X Park in Washington, DC with her partner, David, and dog-child, Rufus.
To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.
Maggie Germano 0:07
Thanks for listening to the money circle Podcast. I am your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationship with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life or in society as a whole. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In the safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We will break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.
Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week I’m chatting with Rachel Wynn. Rachel is a friend and the founder of both starlight social and feminist founder. She’s an intersectional feminist with a passion for coaching women to start their own business. And speaking on the topic of balancing household invisible labor. In this episode, we chatted about the impact of invisible labor on women, and how it affects their careers and personal lives. If you’re a woman, someone else who takes on the bulk of unpaid labor in your life or an ally who wants to help fix this issue, this episode is for you. Enjoy.
Okay, welcome, Rachel, thanks so much for being here today.
Rachel Wynn 1:57
Thanks so much for having me, Maggie. I’m excited to chat.
Maggie Germano 2:00
Me too. So why don’t you tell everyone who you are and what you do?
Rachel Wynn 2:05
Sure. So my name, of course, is Rachel Wynn. And I have a social media company called starlight social. And then I’m also in the process of right now, by the time this podcast is live relaunching my brand feminist founder, so that started in 2016, as a circle of women who get together monthly to talk about being a women in business and support each other. Maggie’s a member, actually a longtime member, so it’s always really fun to connect with her. So that’s what I’m doing right now. So feminist founder is not only a group, but I also just this fall and launching a coaching service underneath it. So helping those who are just starting out with creating a business and who want some guidance and for those who are already established, but want to learn how to scale by delegating their first kind of remote hire.
Maggie Germano 2:55
That’s great. And how did you get into the feminist founder kind of realm, well, you know, I know it started with the meetings, but like, how did you decide to start creating those? And how has it kind of evolved since then?
Rachel Wynn 3:12
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I started in 2016. And that was about a year and a half into running Sterlite social and the reason I created this group is because when I started out my business, I was just feeling very lonely and just unsure if I was doing the right things to do to be a business owner to be an entrepreneur. And so it felt natural for me to ask some of my other friends who have businesses if they wanted to get together monthly to just co work together and learn from each other. And then it evolved into something more structured, and then I started charging for meetings. And then from there, it’s just kind of been this great monthly group of folks supporting each other. So it’s been really fun. One of the important things to distinguish though, of course, is the word feminist and That title. And one of the things that I’ve, I’ve always had a lot of sometimes trouble thinking about reconciling is that I’m a democratic socialist. But I’m also an entrepreneur. And typically those things kind of clash. So for me, it was also thinking about what in what way can I run an ethical business that doesn’t incorporate all of the traditional masculine economy capitalistic types of ways of running business. So it was helpful for me to have a group of peers that had similar shared values. And I think that’s really one of the biggest things I got out of starting this group was knowing that we’re all on the same page with dismantling the patriarchy and things like that, along with running our businesses.
Maggie Germano 4:45
Yeah, and I’m obviously a huge fan of that. I talked about identifying as a feminist and building in the feminist aspect of money, like into my business and into the ways that I talk about money all the time. So I’m a huge fan of like, just making that front and center, like, these are some of my most important values I want the folks that I’m engaging with on this level to really relate to and share those values so we can be our full selves with each other.
Rachel Wynn 5:12
Exactly. And I think that’s one of the things that I’m sure people love, love when they work with you is that you have this framework of feminism while you’re talking about these different topics around money. So I think that’s what really makes you stand out in such a great coach.
Maggie Germano 5:26
Thank you. So the reason I am having you here today, and something that you do talk about a lot just in just personally, but also in your business. And the work that you do is something called emotional labor and kind of the division of labor for women and their partners and those sorts of things. So can you tell me what emotional labor actually is?
Rachel Wynn 5:52
Yeah, it’s a great question and a really good way to start this because there’s actually a lot of confusion around the term emotional labor and physical labor. Like, isn’t it all the same? And in some ways, it isn’t. It isn’t. So just to kind of start with the term emotional labor, just to kind of clarify because I feel like there’s kind of three things when we’re talking about this topic. There’s emotional labor, housework, and then invisible labor. So and so the term emotional labor was first coined by arlie Hochschild in the 1980s. And she used that to describe the way that people in certain industries would have to manage the the emotions and the expectations. And it moves often jobs that were sort of female oriented, so like flight attendants, bank tellers, especially like servers, you know, like waitresses, back then a lot of that was not only doing your main job function, but also making sure everyone had a good time making sure everyone felt cared for and nurtured. It’s it’s this type of work. that’s doable. unpaid and that there’s actually research done in the 90s that shows the amount of emotional labor women were investing in their careers was actually widening the wage gap, which is frightening. So So there’s that. And then of course, I think everybody knows what housework is, it’s cleaning the toilet, grocery shopping, remembering to restock paper towels in the list can go on forever. Now, it’s pretty obvious. And invisible labor is a term that has been getting a lot more attention lately, but I feel like the original kind of term and disbelievers started out as the second shift. So basically, the fact that if women were in the working world, they would come home, and then they would start their second shift. So doing a lot of the child rearing care helping with homework making dinner. So that’s kind of more alongside this kind of housework thing. So when we’re talking about invisible labor, what we’re really talking about is the Kind of endless to do list that’s going on in your head in the back of your mind constantly. So it’s remembering to send a card to your aunt because you heard she was sick. It’s remembering that you need to buy more toilet paper, it’s remembering to refill the popular food items that you eat on a regular basis. It’s like the type of work that, if taken away, would suddenly become noticeable. But if it’s just kind of the way a household is run, it’s just that I guess what I’m trying to say is that it takes a lot more to run a household than just the physical things that you do with your hands. There’s a lot of mental work. So basically, the term invisible labor is often referred to as the mental load. So it’s just like this endless to do list of things that keep the household running that isn’t just visual, like washing the dishes. It’s remembering to buy the detergent for the dishwasher. You know what I mean? Like it’s this. It’s like to step back from the actual execution of work,
Maggie Germano 9:03
yes, and I identify with all of that so much. Just last night, my husband went downstairs and like the basement closet to look for paper towels, and he’s like, oh, we’re out of paper towels. And I’m like, ah, cuz then it’s like my fault, right? Because I didn’t remember to order more in time. But it’s not that he was blaming me in any way. But it’s like, it’s hard not to when you’ve taken on this role of being the one who takes on that mental load at all times. If you forget something, it’s like, Oh, darn, it’s my fault. And now we don’t paper towels until we like go get paper towels. So it’s, for me often there’s an added layer of like, blame and guilt on myself if I haven’t remembered this thing, which makes that mental load even more stressful.
Rachel Wynn 9:50
Yes, I completely relate to that. And it’s tricky because both of us have partners who are feminist and we wouldn’t have married them otherwise. But I mean, even less I love him to death, I asked him, he was wrapping up dinner, and I asked him to grab salad dressing from the fridge. And this is just kind of a silly example. But like, it was laying down with the top facing outward. And I knew that, like ask any woman on average what’s in your refrigerator, and they will tell you exactly what’s in it, what brands and where it is physically located. And if you were to ask, you know, just for the topic, the sake of conversation, a lot of the data and all of this is men, women. There’s not a lot about same sex couples or non binary folks. So I just want to kind of add that caveat. But it’s kind of shocking, like my partner stared at the refrigerator for at least 30 seconds. It was just like, I don’t see it. And I’m like, Okay, look straight ahead. A bottle is laying down, and then the top is facing you. And it still took them a little bit and then he found it. And you know, I didn’t say anything because I’m not trying to be mean, but I was just kind of like, dude, like you drive. It’s just like these weird little things. I think one of the The perfect examples I like to use. And I’m describing this phenomena of learned helplessness which I say in the kindest way, because a lot of this is not the fault of our partners. It’s because of the way society has raised boys and girls to be functioning in our society. So an example I like to give is when we were living in our old apartment, it was 400 square feet, I live in DC was tiny. So my office quote, unquote, was in the corner, I did have a desk, which was lucky. And I remember one night I was doing some work, and I’d asked my partner to clean out the fridge, which to me seems like a very kind of clear task, like cleaning out the fridge. So like, in my mind, I didn’t say this, but in my mind, and it was clear that you take everything out, you wipe down all the, you know, shelves and all that stuff, put it all back in, throughout anything that’s bad. Like that, to me is like, what cleaning out the fridge means, but I learned that from somebody else. So what happened was, as I was working, I’m my partner. That’s him was like, What do you mean by clean out the fridge? Exactly. And I’m like, Oh, so I described the process I just, you know, said to you, and then he was like, Okay. And then like two minutes later, he’s like, you want me to take everything out of the fridge? And I was I turned from my desk and I was like, Yes, everything. And he’s like, Okay. And then he’s like, what do you want me to actually use to clean the shelves, and I’m like, the cleaner that’s underneath the sink and paper towels, like, or water, whatever, just clean it. Whatever. Um, so I turned back to work. And then the last question that sent me off was, um, uh huh. He’s like, How do I know if the food is bad? And then that’s when I turned around and I screamed at him. And I was like, yes or no. I just did not understand why he couldn’t Google those things or why he felt the need to defer to my judgment. So this is a really good example of sort of this learned helplessness because when I was Gosh, how old was 9 or 10. Sometime when I was a young kid, I got a job as a mother’s helper, which is a very gendered term. But what that meant is I would go to this woman’s house who had I think, three or four kids. So she was super busy. She was a stay at home mom, and she was super busy. So I would go and just kind of help her out with little chores, or I might watch one of the kids or play with them while she was in another room. So I learned talked about them how to clean the fridge. That’s just something I learned. I’m David, my partner had never learned that before. So I shouldn’t have assumed he would know exactly what to do. And I think that, you know, it was just a really interesting experience, because I think the other side of this coin that I’ll mention, and maybe we can talk about too, is that the fact that he was deferring to my judgment also means something and I think that women women do play a part in this invisible labor kind of struggle because sometimes we have very high expectations like I have extremely high expectations for myself and the way I want the household to Look, and I like things a certain way. So, you know, I remember when he took over doing dishes that he would put them away in the cupboard in a way I didn’t like, but I was like after a while I finally learned to just not care because at least the dishes are being done. So anyways, that’s just kind of a concrete example that I think can help just sort of explain this learned helplessness factor that a lot of the times comes from just a result of the parents of boys not empowering them to learn how to do certain basic skills like being a toilet.
Maggie Germano 14:34
Right and I totally agree and I love the term learned helplessness because that gives me language to to use in that I get so frustrated with my husband as well as like, you know, how do you basically it’s like, how do you not know how to do that because I am a woman. I have two sisters. I have a mother who was the one who basically did all of the stuff around the house now as as a parent have gotten older, they’ve started to share a little bit more like Finally, like, my dad does the dishes now and like stuff like that. So it’s nice that it’s changing for them, but it took, you know, 35 years for that to happen. And, and that’s something that stresses me out, like I’m from the moment we got engaged, I was like, we need to work on this division of labor because I don’t want to get married and then be pissed at you for the rest of our lives together. Because I feel like I’m doing everything and that everything feels so gendered and blah, blah, blah. And at the same time, having that like, having them defer to you and like ask you 18 follow up questions. It’s adding more of that mental load because you link it in your example. You had to keep stopping what work you were doing, turn around and answer the question. Instead of just trusting this other adult human that is in my house with me that has lived with me and this is their home as well. It’s not like it’s a guest that I Who doesn’t know where things are? They have to keep asking me what to do. And so I know from my own experience, too, that that can just be very frustrating. And it causes, at least for me more conflict in the household too and more concern about like the future of like when there are children around and how that is going to look. And so can you talk a little bit? I mean, you’ve used some examples already. But talk a little bit more about how this mental load this invisible labor and how that lands on women more how that ends up kind of showing up in women’s lives and in relationships overall.
Rachel Wynn 16:41
Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I think that, you know, the way this shows up is that and again, the research is based research and the data out there is primarily heterosexual couples. So I’m going to be using the terms men and women for this podcast, but I think that you know the thing that’s Really scary is that and we haven’t even gotten to talking about the pandemic. But you know, before the pandemic married American women, were spending almost twice as much time on childcare and household tasks as married American fathers. So this is like before the pandemic. And this is including even if that woman in this relationship was the primary breadwinner, so even if they were also the primary breadwinner, they were still doing twice as much child and household work, which is really interesting because I think what tends to happen a lot in relationships is sometimes I mean, because of the the gender pay gap and all these different things and the system systemic sexism, we have this issue where there might have to come to be a choice. So we know who’s going to stay home with the kids, it’s going to be the person who’s earning less, who typically on average in America earns less in two person, households. Women, because of the wage gap and because of taking time off for various reasons, like child, you know, like birthing a child and things like that. So it’s just really concerning because this is really, really just increasing the wage gap. And it’s just manifesting in ways that are stressing everybody out. I mean, I think the one thing that has really come to light is that now that families are all home together, I think that it’s really putting a huge highlight on this disproportionate kind of division of labor. I mean, it’s so funny. I mean, I feel like you kind of mentioned this or alluded to it earlier, but like, I think it was the I think it was the day after my wedding in 2017. I woke up and was so paranoid about like, this is so silly, but waking up with like an apron on, and like becoming just like this wife, and I never identified with that. label that or that term, like before we got married. I told my partner like this might sound kind of weird, but don’t call me or wave because to me that that kind of that that connotation is an endearing one for some people, but to me as a feminist, that’s a very different word. And I think what it, I mean, I would love a wife, I would love someone to stay home and take care of my children and do all the chores like who wouldn’t want that. But to me, there’s just a lot to that term. So I’m not sure if I answered your question fully. But that’s kind of what came to mind.
Maggie Germano 19:27
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And and my next question was going to be related to the pandemic and kind of the crisis around COVID. And how I keep seeing so many articles about how this pandemic is going to result in a women focused recession where like, not only are there it’s like, one in three essential workers or women or something, and they’re very much losing their jobs right now or they’re in the hospitality industry, and all those different kinds of jobs where women are, we’ve never been. And it’s probably because we’re so much of the workforce at this point now things have changed so much. But in past recessions, it has been mostly men losing the jobs during the recession. And now, with COVID, it’s been a huge amount of people losing jobs are women. And then on top of that, women who are not losing their jobs, a lot of women are having to make the decision to step back from their jobs or leave their jobs because they have to homeschool their kids or they have to just physically be home with their kids because schools are closed and daycares or maybe still closed and all those things and, of course, as I feel like has been the case for a long time, women are the ones making that sacrifice where it might not even cross the guy’s mind.
Rachel Wynn 20:53
Exactly. And one thing that I found really, really scary is because I am reading a lot of those articles about invisible labor and also just household labor and just who’s taking care of the kids. And one thing I found really shocking is that the International Labor Organization has some data. And they they say that this will work contributes to at least $10.8 trillion a year to the global economy. And, I mean, that’s just that’s a lot of money. Like, like, That’s insane. And you know, another stat that they say is that before the pandemic before COVID-19, women and girls provided 12.5 billion hours of free care work every day, globally. 12.5 billion hours of free care work every day across the globe. Like that’s insane, given how much we can do to the economy. And I think that the problem is that care work in America is not seen as critical to our economy, which is really stupid because I’ve been learning about feminist social reproduction theory and all these different things. And, you know, ultimately, at the end of the day, we are in a capitalist society. And when we have children, they’re helping the economy in the sense that in long term, they’re going to be contributing to the labor production pool. So, you know, why are we punishing families and punishing specifically women, for having children and for bringing in these future workers and the economy? Like it all just seems very strange. And really disappointing. I mean, I think I’m sure I’m not sure if this has ever come up on a previous episode, but the United States, Papua New Guinea, and I believe it’s a mom, if I’m correct, are the three countries in the entire planet that don’t provide paid family leave? That is sufficient. So you know, the United States has the family leave law which Clinton started. And I think that was a good step forward and at least having some job protection, but the fact that there is zero hours of paid leave mandated by our government, to me is, is atrocious. I mean, it’s like, I mean, we’ve talked about this, like, this is when we start to get ranty. So let me try to like take a breath. But yeah, it’s just it’s really shocking that despite all these numbers, despite the the labor statistics, and despite what’s going on in American homes, not to mention globally, with this pandemic, it’s like, how, why isn’t there more attention in these different policies for pandemic relief being passed? Why? Why aren’t they talking about, like funding, daycares or, like, credits for the fact that you’re staying home, raising a child instead of sending them to school, it’s just it’s totally insane to me, and I’m getting frustrated. So let me pause there.
Maggie Germano 23:58
I am with you there. incredibly frustrating. And I’ve been doing a lot of interviews recently related to, like paid family leave and affordable childcare and generally like making the workforce more friendly for parents, because we’ve talked about as a country, how important the family unit is, and family values and like really encouraging people to have kids like the idea. I keep seeing these, like frantic terrified articles of like, there’s gonna be a baby bust after COVID because everyone’s gonna realize they should not be having kids right now. And this is so how miserable it can be. And also just lots of other financial fears and climate change fears and all that good stuff that is influencing our generations decision to have kids. But there’s this terror around not enough people having kids, but then when people are having kids, we’re not getting the support society and from the government and from our employers. That really makes it manageable to actually do that. Whether you’re a woman, Whether you’re a man, whether you’re non binary, what, regardless of what your family unit looks like, it’s the system is not created to make these things easy.
Rachel Wynn 25:11
Yeah, and it just seems really surprising when other countries have been able to figure this out and make policies that at least protect, like at least eight weeks to heal from physically birthing a human. Like I just don’t understand why America can’t do that. It just like Like you said, it just seems very, very odd that we have this family’s first kind of ethos, but we do nothing, or excuse me, not enough in terms of policy to to help even just like, incentivize people to have children because like, what, like, I don’t, I want to have a family. It’s something that I’ve always known I wanted, and I totally respect people who have always known or have recently discovered they don’t want kids, you know, that’s fine. I think it’s a heavy choice that every person should be able to make, but it’s just really it’s really sad to me means that I’ve, I’ve been ready to be a mother for at least three years. And I’ve literally waited specifically for a policy to pass. So, you know, we’re in DC and you know, I waited until the DC paid family leave law passed because if I did not have that I would have had no maternal leave, because I’m self employed. So, I mean, that’s so the fact that I had to wait until the policy got passed to consider having children because I want to make sure that I have that time to physically heal and recover Not to mention bond with my my infant. Um, you know, I think that says a lot, just not making it easy. So I know we’re kind of going on a tangent now about you know, this type of topic. So you know, we can kind of relate back into invisible labor and housework but it’s just really sad that we just can’t seem to figure this out when it’s when a lot and literally every other country besides three in the world figured it out. Like, why?
Maggie Germano 27:03
I agree. And I think a lot of people, most people, if not all people in this country are asking for it. They need it. It obviously is not working the way the system is right now. And I’m hoping, I mean, I don’t know if there is a silver lining to a global pandemic, but I’m hoping that in seeing kind of the suffering that’s going on now and seeing how untenable it is right now without having childcare options, and without having paid family leave, because a global pandemic could be grounds for paid family leave right now. Like it doesn’t have to be you gave birth to a child and you need to take time off it can be, I have a sick child, I have a sick parent, I have, I’m sick or I’m ready to stay home with my kid because the schools are closed and just having those kinds of options so that everything doesn’t just fall apart for people because that’s worse for the individual, for the family, for the community, for the country, for the economy, when people just like can’t get by every day and like their finances fall apart, their career falls apart, and their family unit suffers from all of that we’re better off if we have the systems and the services that we actually need.
Rachel Wynn 28:21
Definitely figure. Right. And I think the conversation I’ve been having a lot of my friends is that this pandemic has just affected so many people in so many different ways and some more than others. I do think about my friends with kids a lot and how they’re doing and it’s just so painful that I can’t go like babysit and give them some relief because it just isn’t safe. But the conversation that keeps coming up is like I mean this pandemic is terrible, but maybe the like you said the silver lining is that people are realizing firsthand in their face, especially men, who are now suddenly like aware of what it’s like to be around their family 24/7 That policies will come out of this and I’m hoping that in the interim that they’ll at least be some inclusion of women and children in the pandemic kind of packages because I guess I’ve heard that other countries are doing things to help industries related to all of what we’re talking about. And I guess women and children have been really left I mean, of course women and children among other many other groups and communities have been left out of the talks of the relief packages and it’s just really surprising like I mean, to me it’s it’s just it’s crazy to me that New York schools so like in Manhattan public schools are gonna are going to be open. Like See,
Maggie Germano 29:43
the whole state is allowing schools to open
Rachel Wynn 29:45
It’s so crazy to me because look at what happened in Georgia. I mean, they opened like, you know, that one school that picture got violated all that stuff like that schools close now because, like, how many kids got exposed to COVID I think it was like, at least 50 or 100, maybe and then eight teachers or something crazy. I don’t know the exact numbers, but um, and so it’s just like so what are we going to do? So if parents are tentatively planning for their children to go back to school so they can actually have the time to work. And then they suddenly they’re back. It’s like, this is just all such a mess. I just wish that we had sound rational leadership.
Maggie Germano 30:29
Me too. I think that would make all the difference. So quick interjection to remind people to vote in November, so that we don’t have to do this anymore. Yes, I mean, it won’t be like a magic bullet overnight that everything will change, but at least we will have some faith that there’s rational leadership who believes science and can help us kind of push through this and get to the other side, in less than the next two years. I would hope
Rachel Wynn 30:59
Yeah, exactly, because it makes me nervous to think about, you know, conceiving and and carrying a child in this political landscape. I mean, it’s terrifying when you think about it. And it’s just unfortunate that that’s, that’s the way it is, you know, it’s just, it’s really, it’s really sad. So, you know, kind of going back to invisible labor. I think that in again, in heterosexual couples, it seems as though the default is that women are the household manager and project leader. And then men are kind of like this, like, underling, this person who is just kind of clueless. So that’s kind of like a stereotype that especially gets kind of promoted even further and like sitcoms or you know, certain shows in our culture. And I think the problem is that we need to kind of untie that dynamic because what’s been proven in different studies is that the only way for for gender equality to really happen especially like in the home is For behaviors to be modeled in front of children. So, you know, I’m not going to be the kind of parent who only asks my for I don’t have children yet, but like, let’s say I have a daughter and a son in the future. Like, I’m not going to just always ask my daughter to be the one to set the table and to ask our guests if they want water or something like that, like I’m gonna hold my children, no matter their gender or no gender identity to the same exact standard of this is how you participate in a household because, I mean, and let’s Okay, so let’s like take a step back for a second if that’s okay. And the reason why this issue kind of created itself is because when women joined the workforce in World War Two, basically there was a lot of emphasis on Oh, you know what, I just read about this. Oh, wow. Okay, we’ll have to definitely include this in the show notes because I can’t remember the details, but I post about this on Facebook, but apparently in World War Two in order to incentivize, incentivize women to leave their homes and enter the workforce. The government came up with all kinds of insane, like benefits, they had free childcare, they had a grocery shopper, so you could pick up your children and your groceries at the same time. Like, it’s just like, we’ve done this before in America, we’ve been able to find out a way to incentivize women to stay in the workforce. Um, but so the issue is that, you know, when men came back from the war, I feel like the problem was that moment when it was like, okay, like, the expectation is that you now go back to managing the home and the family, because that’s the way it’s always been. And the issue is that a lot of women were like, well, I like my job. I like working. And so the issue at that point, I think, became that women were not only deciding sometimes to stay in full time work, but also defaulted to still be there. household and child manager. And so that’s, that’s honestly why women are so burnt out a really good book on this actually is called. It’s called overwhelmed by Bridget Show. I’m like halfway through it. And it’s like blowing my mind all this information. And yeah, so this book overwhelmed really highlights this issue of like when women entered the workforce, but were still expected to be the primary caregivers and household managers. Like, I wonder women are so stressed out and burned out, you know, because it’s just gotten, you know, I guess in some ways better in some ways worse from from that time period of the 40s and 50s. So the problem is that we just never shifted the expectations and reality of if women are also full time employees or even part time employees, that that doesn’t mean they should also be the person in charge of all these other things. And I think that’s the problem is that there wasn’t a big enough mindset shift. I mean, clearly this was like In the, you know, 40s 50s 60s. I mean, we’ve gotten a lot more progressive now. But it just was expectation that women are always in charge of household and family. And so the fact that it just didn’t change or evolve and women into the workforce I personally think is why this is such a big problem now. But you know, just going back to that world war two thing that just like, blew my mind, I was like, Wait a second. So in America, we did figure out how to make this reality. And then we just took it all away. Okay, cool.
Maggie Germano 35:26
Yeah. So it’s the idea that it’s just not possible somehow, not only can we point to other countries saying they’re doing it, it is possible, but we’ve done it too. And there’s nothing to stop us from doing it again.
Rachel Wynn 35:38
Exactly. And one thing I should actually pause and say, is a really helpful resource for those who maybe don’t really fully understand still, what invisible labor really looks like, is there’s a great comic by an artist in France, who goes by Emma, and she wrote this great, wrote and illustrated this great comic called, you should have asked And you know, the issue ultimately is that in a lot of heterosexual relationships, it’s kind of the expectation that the woman is in charge of everything. And so then the guy might respond well, well, why didn’t you ask me for help? And it’s like, well, she shouldn’t have to ask you for help. Like this is a two person household. And, and why is it that she’s the default of remembering all of the things and keeping the kind of nitty gritty things done. So the reason why it’s called invisible labor is that it’s not only just household like the things you can physically see, but also just the small remembering, and that’s just a lot you know, and it’s not like there’s anything genetic or innate about this behavior. Like, you know, girls aren’t born with a consuming passion for for clearing tables and washing dishes and, and boys aren’t just born like not being able to see a pile of clothes laying on the floor or a tissue on the floor. You know what I mean? Like, it’s just This, our society has just really pushed us into these roles. And so we have to actively try to dismantle that. And that’s really difficult sometimes, especially if you have a partner who isn’t really open to having that type of conversation because a lot of people saw a certain gender dynamic played out in their home. And that’s what they assume is the sort of standard like my mom made the choice to stay home and homeschool my brother and I for 13 years. And my dad was the primary breadwinner. So, you know, it’s funny because when I was growing up, I always assumed that I would always be working full time. But as my as I’ve gotten older and closer to, to deciding to try to conceive, I’ve realized that what’s actually going to be really important to me is staying home. And I can’t help but wonder if some of that is because that was the dynamic I was raised around. But I also just know that I really, really want to be a mother. I think that’s going to be very fulfilling. So right now I’m setting myself up to be a full time mother and then doing part time work to manage my business and my brand. So anyways, I’ll pause there. But it’s just it’s really tricky because it’s all rooted in societal and cultural enforcement.
Maggie Germano 38:10
Oh, absolutely. And I think what you were saying about modeling the behavior you want to instill in your kids is really important. That’s something my husband and I’ve been talking about, where, you know, like, we need to be treating the house as a project that all of us are working on at a given time, like mom is not the boss. I mean, maybe I still do kind of want to be the boss, but like, that doesn’t mean that she’s the one who has to do everything and delegate everything. It’s like, we’re all in this. We’re all on the same team. We’re working on running the household together, and everyone has responsibilities together. And just like, it’s not gonna be easy, but it’s very important to me. So what do you think women who are going through this now and experiencing this now or they might be experiencing it later, what can we as individuals do to start kind of shifting some of that invisible labor off of ourselves?
Rachel Wynn 39:08
Yeah, definitely. So I mean, I think the biggest thing is making this issue known. So talking about it with your friends and family and making it clear that this isn’t the way things should be like there should be more quality and running a household and child rearing. And I think that, when it really comes down to it policies going to be the only thing that really makes the biggest difference. So asking government officials to expand social protections. And I know that Amnesty International, you know, sees this as a huge issue. So they’re like, they’re calling on the private sector to get their human rights together and allow for flexible working hours, obviously paid leave, and just ensuring that here workers have the adequate kind of legal protections to ensure that like you said, like their life doesn’t just fall apart if they have to suddenly care for A sick parent or they decide to adopt and you know, need that time off to bond with their new child. I mean, it’s just it just seems so basic. It’s like human rights, it comes down to it. So I think that’s the biggest thing in terms of taking kind of kind of other actions. There’s two ideas. One is I haven’t actually talked about this publicly yet, because we’re still in the works on this campaign. But there is a group, an organizing group called the invisible labor union. And that’s something I was asked to join, which was a huge honor. And so right now we’re working to come up with a list of demands for our government officials to say, look, this is a huge problem and, and the pandemic hasn’t shown that this is something just from the pandemic, it’s highly in highlighting the issue itself. So this is not just because of the pandemic. We’re just seeing it more clearly. And so one of the things we’re going to do is a whole social media campaign around caregivers and the work performed. So checking out invisible labor union comm is a good place to start and signing up for their newsletter, because we’re going to be doing a lot of great stuff and fall into 2021. So I think that would be a huge thing. And then for folks who are just feeling kind of like lost about this, and also maybe nervous about bringing this topic up with their partner, you know, shameless self promotion, I do consulting on this topic. So I first found out about this whole topic of invisible labor and really just like the huge disproportionate controversial contributions to the household when I was reading a book called drop the ball by Tiffany dufu. That was the first time I had really thought about this issue. And honestly, how it impacts the careers of women like you know, this is contributing to so many different factors. And that book is a really great place to start. Of course, educating yourself but if you really want to talk to someone about it, I did. Just Did my first beta test have a kind of couples consultation session where I have this like little presentation about what, what this issue actually is. So kind of making it clear what visible labor and household labor looks like, the problem with it, but then I think the thing that’s lacking in a lot of online resources as actual actionable things that you can do to create a better sense of equity in the household, because actually, I just need to correct myself, it’s actually about equity. It’s not about equality, it’s equity. So um, so one of the things that I just did that had so much fun doing was talking to this couple who are who have been dating for a long time, and they just moved in together. And they really wanted to know how not to fall into this gender trap, because they were moving in together for the first time they like let’s start fresh. So that was like a great opportunity. So for those in that situation, or for those in general who’ve been living with their partner for years, or who have been married for decades, you know, reach out to me and let me know if you want to book either a one on one session. session or a couple of session because in those times I walk you through a five step process to getting your relationship to be more equitable. And you know, honestly one of the biggest pieces of advice I have in that and I show you how to do it, and you get templates for this is assigning chores. So I think that when you think about division of household labor, you kind of revert to maybe this kind of college or roommate style of like getting cleaning. So it’s like having a chore chart or station. And I think the problem with that is, I mean, let’s think about it, like, I’m sure everyone at least once has kind of like forgotten to take out the trash when it was their turn. So then the next person, you know, had this overflowing disgusting trash can and that made them salty. So then they didn’t in like a half assed way and then the next person’s annoyed because the bag wasn’t even put back in the trash. Like it just creates this cycle of drama. So I’m a huge proponent of actually taking The chores in your entire household that you can think of. And this is physical and invisible labor, and then ranking them and saying, like, I like this chore, I hate this chore, this kind of neutral about this chore, and then actually assigning them as kind of like, I want to say permanent chores, basically assigning them as your go to chore. And so what that means is like, I’m the manager of this list of chores. So that doesn’t mean that forever, I’m going to be doing these things. It’s just like, I’m ultimately responsible for this. And I think that really helps because it gives both kind of parties involved an opportunity to take ownership over chore. And I think the biggest thing that’s important is to make sure that that list is not the equal in length. It’s equal in time, because I think that one of the so I do public speaking, of course, on this topic, I’ve spoken at different conferences on invisible labor. And I think that the biggest thing that you know folks need to really realize is that There’s a lot at stake. I mean, honestly, I feel sometimes that the amount of household invisible labor I put in, is affecting the time I have to spend on my career. And that is just contributing to the wage gap. So that’s why I’m so passionate about this topic is because of so many other reasons. But also, I think that this is holding women back, you know, if they feel like they need to go home and, and be the one person to help their kids with their homework every single night, then they’re going to plan to do that instead of going to like a networking event or, you know, like, so opportunities that can lead to more, you know, good things, opportunities that lead to more opportunities. So that’s why I’m so passionate about this.
Maggie Germano 45:42
Yeah, I know, I’m with you on that. And those are the kinds of things that men have never had to really make those decisions. I know I’ve heard that men now like male academics are publishing more papers right now than before because they are at home so they have more time. But they’re not taking on the bulk of the child care at home necessarily. And then you know, women in the same types of roles are doing much less. So I totally agree with you. And the research, I think bears that out that this is holding women back in their careers and then just emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, as well. Okay. And so what can allies to this cause do? So not the women actually struggling with this on a day to day basis, but the men and other folks who maybe don’t feel like they’re impacted by this, but they want to help?
Rachel Wynn 46:33
Yeah, I think that’s a that’s a really great question. And I think that the first thing that you can do is kind of do a pulse check on your own perception of how household should be run. So I think the first thing to do would be to kind of reflect on what your what that division of labor looks like if you were in a two parent home. So I think that’d be the first thing is just think about, like, what things were like when you’re growing up and who did what and then from They’re i think it’s it’s initiating, I think it’d be great if if partners would initiate this conversation with, with, you know, female partners, because I remember the I feel like one of the sexiest things that David ever said to me was, you seem a little overwhelmed today, is there anything I can take off your plate? And I like almost fell over because I was like, Oh my god, yes. Can you please do this, this and this, because I just don’t have time to do it. But it needs to be done today. And so I think it’s just having the nerve to saying like, Hey, I heard about this thing called invisible labor. And I’m worried that I just I just want to hear from you. Like, do you feel like our households equitable? And if you don’t think so, can we schedule a time to have a conversation about it? Because, you know, I think identifying your own kind of bias first and then making the decision to do something about it is both of those things are really hard. But I think those are the first two steps. And then from there after that conversation and truly listening because, you know, sometimes it’s really hard like I I remember, I, I shouldn’t have done this. But one time, I did make a list of specific things I wanted David to do over the weekend. And I remember he was like, Well, where’s your list, and I was kind of in a bad mood that day. So I was like, I am the list. My brain is the list and you got a small chunk of it to work on on your own. So I think that we also have to remember to like, be patient because our partners if they are willing to have this conversation they are willing to learn. And we and you know, on the women’s side, we have to learn to drop the ball, which means to just not care about certain things like I no longer care that the dishes are put away in a haphazard manner or not the way that I would do it. I no longer care that you know, dust bunnies form in our house because I don’t really care about that. It’s just learning to kind of figure out what’s worth fighting about. like would you rather have the task done by someone else in perfectly according to your standards. Or would you rather do it yourself? You know, and we’re also time strapped, like, let other people do it. I think it’s really hard to like delegate sometimes. But I think it’s really critical. But I think by just, you know, identifying your bias, and then having that conversation with your partner and then committing to, to trying to work toward it. I think it’s the biggest thing that you can do. And I think the thing that I told the couple that I did a session with is that, you know, this is not like, I like to joke like, okay, you did a session with me, and now your house is going to be equitable, and you’re just going to be like these woke feminist couple that just like totally has it down. Like No, there’s going to be arguments, there’s going to be disagreements, people are going to forget to do their chores. And so it’s coming up with a method to take ownership of the chores that you’re responsible for. So like for me that it could look like, you know, creating calendar alerts on my phone like, or I know David uses some method to remember to change the air conditioning, air filter, you know, stuff like that. I think that what’s most important once you have this conversation and identify what chores you want to take over management of is remembering to do them and coming up with your own system. Because I think what I know what David would prefer is for me to give him like a daily list. But to me, that’s, that’s, that’s labor like I don’t I shouldn’t have to do that. Like if you know that these are your assigned chores, you figure out your your ways to remind yourself and to get those chores done so that I don’t have to remind you because I think that I can’t think of any woman who wants to feel like a nag or to feel like they’re the parent of their partner. Like that’s, that feels terrible. So I think it’s just really working toward that goal, and then just constantly reassessing. And I think that one thing that I always like to mention too, is that, you know, it’s this, this list of divided up chores should be a working document, like when the pandemic hit. My partner who works in public health was the lammed with work. I mean, it was crazy. Like he was on these conferences every day, like It was chaos when the pandemic first hit. And so we had a conversation and I agreed to take on some of his chores so that he be able to more effectively do his job. And then that shifted back when and we had a different conversation more recently about it and kind of shuffled some things around. And then we actually decided to delegate some things out. So now we have a cleaner that comes once a month just to clean our bathrooms and kitchen, which is really nice, but it’s also a huge privilege, obviously. Um, so I think that, you know, the same thing happens, let’s say you move to a different size space, you know, you got to adjust. Let’s say you have a child, then things really need to adjust, because, you know, women need to be taken care of when after they have a baby, and that needs to be very clear with their partners. So anyways, that’s what I would say, the very long answer to your question of what allies can do to support their partners in their life and make them feel like they’re not alone, interested in the household because that’s what it’s just sometimes will you Like no one wants to feel taken for granted of. And I think that’s what can be done to prevent that, and can create more marital or partnership bliss.
Maggie Germano 52:09
I totally agree. Thank you. That’s really, really good advice. And and I think just to highlight a piece that you said is that it it’s a living and breathing agreement that can be revisited and changed whenever needed because we can’t be too strict and stringent on those sorts of agreements because things change, life changes. We have unprecedented global pandemics and, you know, we need to like be flexible in that kind of way. So, anything else you want to say to folks before I let you go?
Rachel Wynn 52:45
Yeah, I would just say that this is just a huge topic because you know, at face level, it might seem like women are just whining about XYZ. I think a lot of judgment comes when there are women who stay at home and who are feeling overwhelmed because, like, let’s be real, like running a household is a job in itself, just like alone. Like, like what I’m doing right now I’m like running a household. I’m actually am the household manager. And then David is the sub manager. So I am the visible labor hub. And we agreed on that. But that what that meant, though, is that anytime I delegate something kind of an incoming task to him, so something beyond the recurring task, he willingly and graciously accepts that, because I’ve put in the work to identify that task. But um, you know, I think that it just is really hard when, when people might say, well, she’s a stay at home mom, like she has so much time and she does all these, you know, she’s fine. It’s like, No, she’s not fine. Do you have any idea like, how much it takes to keep a small child especially like, alive and not, you know, injure itself like they move so quickly. And so I think that the good thing about this pandemic is that it’s really exposing what it’s like to be a stay at home parent and I’m hoping that enough men are like looking at their partners if you know their stay at home, or they work part time or full time and just be like, wow, like my partner is a super woman, like, I can’t believe she does all this stuff and remembers to like, buy toilet paper when it’s in stock. Like, it’s just like, wow, like women are freaking superheroes. Um, and so I think just recognizing blessing, I guess I just want to say is just recognizing that, in my personal opinion, childcare and household care are two separate full time jobs. And I think that needs to be considered when you’re coming up with this division of labor. So, that’s what I would say. But I just I’m glad we had this conversation because I think that this topic has becoming has become more and more talked about and identified, especially with the pandemic. And so, my hope is that people will just talk about it, talk about it with their partners talk about it with their friends. I’m constantly surprised how many people have never heard of this concept. I mean, I think people ultimately know the feeling of feeling overwhelmed and things but I just want more people to learn about this topic so that it can be a thing. And then it can be fixed by our society, but on the smaller level and the day to day lives of, you know, people in two person households.
Maggie Germano 55:14
Thank you. I totally agree with you there too. So how can people follow along with the work you’re doing or get in touch with you?
Rachel Wynn 55:22
Yeah, that’s a great question. And so you can go visit feministfounder.com I can also be found online, @feministwynn everywhere, and that’s feminist and then my last name, so it’s w y, as in yellow is a Nancy and Nancy. And yeah, definitely. I think if you want to learn more about this or you want to book a session, or just learn more, you can also go to feministfounder.com/invisiblelabor, just one word, no hyphen, and learn more about this topic there and decide if you want to get some help to just kind of get things in order because I know this is a really overwhelming time for everyone, not just mothers or women, but for everybody. So if there’s anything I can do to help create some more peace in a household, I think that would be great. It’s just fulfilling work because it’s important work.
Maggie Germano 56:16
I agree. And I’m glad that you’re doing it. And I’m sure the more people and the more couples that are working with you one on one to kind of get that guidance to because I think it can be hard to know where to start with some of these things. And having a third party often takes some of the accusation and frustration out of the conversation. So I hope plenty of people reach out to you to get that support.
Rachel Wynn 56:40
Yeah, that’d be fun. And I’ll probably have data pricing for at least a couple months. So get in on that soon.
Maggie Germano 56:46
Great. Yes, and I will link to all of that in the show notes. And I’ll link to you gave us a ton of really great resources as well and also I’ll be linking to all of those. But thank you so much for coming here. This is a topic we both obviously feel very strongly about. And I think that affects a whole lot of people throughout the country in the world. And we, you know, it’s good to do what we can to try to push it in the right direction.
Rachel Wynn 57:10
Exactly. Just bring this topic to lights that we can, you know, shine on it and then break it and then fix it. Exactly. Thanks, Maggie, bye.
Maggie Germano 57:20
Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggie germano.com slash money circle to learn more. And to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at Maggie germano.com slash subscribe. To learn more about my financial coaching services might be And workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit Maggie germano.com. You can also follow me on instagram and twitter at Maggie Germano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye
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