From Gemma Hartley, the journalist who ignited a national conversation on emotional labor, comes Fed Up, a bold dive into the unpaid, invisible work women have shouldered for too long—and an impassioned vision for creating a better future for us all.Day in, day out, women anticipate and manage the needs of others. In relationships, we initiate the hard conversations. At home, we shoulder the mental load required to keep our households running. At work, we moderate our tone, explaining patiently and speaking softly. In the world, we step gingerly to keep ourselves safe. We do this largely invisible, draining work whether we want to or not—and we never clock out. No wonder women everywhere are overtaxed, exhausted, and simply fed up.In her ultra-viral article “Women Aren’t Nags—We’re Just Fed Up,” shared by millions of readers, Gemma Hartley gave much-needed voice to the frustration and anger experienced by countless women. Now, in Fed Up, Hartley expands outward from the everyday frustrations of performing thankless emotional labor to illuminate how the expectation to do this work in all arenas—private and public—fuels gender inequality, limits our opportunities, steals our time, and adversely affects the quality of our lives.More than just name the problem, though, Hartley teases apart the cultural messaging that has led us here and asks how we can shift the load. Rejecting easy solutions that don’t ultimately move the needle, Hartley offers a nuanced, insightful guide to striking real balance, for true partnership in every aspect of our lives. Reframing emotional labor not as a problem to be overcome, but as a genderless virtue men and women can all learn to channel in our quest to make a better, more egalitarian world, Fed Up is surprising, intelligent, and empathetic essential reading for every woman who has had enough with feeling fed up.
Fed Up Review
- January 1, 1970MaggieThis is a thought-provoking book on the unseen emotional labor of women, how society has shaped both men and women's acceptance of this role, and what we can do about it. While well-researched it's also not a slog, and I read it in big gulps.
- January 1, 1970joni edelmanNecessary. I’d like to see this be required feminist reading. Gemma tackles The hard stuff here with insight and intellect. Next step: CHANGE.
- January 1, 1970CariHartley's in-depth analysis of emotional labor and its implications across Western society breaks ground in this discipline. Stemming from a Harper's Bazaar article – “Women Aren’t Nags, We’re Just Fed Up” – the book explores how emotional labor and its distribution affects everyone. Emotional labor is the work we do to help each other out as human beings: in the context of an American, privileged family, that’s usually Mom scheduling doctor’s appointments, making sure chores are on a rotation, Hartley's in-depth analysis of emotional labor and its implications across Western society breaks ground in this discipline. Stemming from a Harper's Bazaar article – “Women Aren’t Nags, We’re Just Fed Up” – the book explores how emotional labor and its distribution affects everyone. Emotional labor is the work we do to help each other out as human beings: in the context of an American, privileged family, that’s usually Mom scheduling doctor’s appointments, making sure chores are on a rotation, writing greeting cards, etc. It goes further sometimes, to listening, empathizing, and making sure others are fully cared for. There are so many important issues in this book, from emotional labor’s role in the #metoo movement to explaining it to people who just don’t understand – usually the spouse, for those of us who are fed up. Hartley covers the insidious perfectionism that creeps into daily life, the consequences for those who don’t fall into the privileged sphere, and the epiphany that we can’t just let go of emotion work. It’s always going to be there – we just need to share it more equally, on the family level and on the societal level. I wholeheartedly agree and look forward to recommending this book for those who need to understand this concept on a deep level.more
- January 1, 1970Cristine MermaidI was excited to read this book because the blog post that had led to this book being written resonated so strongly with me. I read it in a day and was not disappointed. It's not a long book but there is so much in here that matters that I'm going to take it chapter by chapter after my overview. Overall, it's about women doing the vast majority of the "emotional labor" "Invisible work" "mental labor", for the purposes of this book, we will call it 'emotional labor' . This review will be a bit mo I was excited to read this book because the blog post that had led to this book being written resonated so strongly with me. I read it in a day and was not disappointed. It's not a long book but there is so much in here that matters that I'm going to take it chapter by chapter after my overview. Overall, it's about women doing the vast majority of the "emotional labor" "Invisible work" "mental labor", for the purposes of this book, we will call it 'emotional labor' . This review will be a bit more personal because it was impossible for me to read it without the filter of my own personal experiences. And I'm certainly not blaming a person or particular people or saying that men are 'bad' or anything like that. It's not about demonizing anyone but more about changing a culture that has put all of this on women. I also understand that some will say that it simply isn't true because it's not how it is in their house...that may be true or maybe it's perception, but this isn't about the exceptions. This is society in general. And if it weren't so widespread and common, her blog post wouldn't have blown up like it did.This has been a source of resentment and frustration in my life since before I could give it a name. This is a book that I could have written except for a couple of major ways my life differs from the author. (and that I differ from the author)Chapter one : How did we get hereThis chapter is about how women are socialized while growing up to do the emotional labor. They are raised by a society that tells us that we are to cater to men emotionally and that it's our job to care for others. The author talks about how she saw the females in her family doing this so she internalized it as normal.This is a major differing point between the author and me. I did not grow up in a family where I saw the things she refers to because I was in a single parent household where the single parent was way too busy to do a lot of these tasks she refers to (organizing social calendar, reaching out to relatives and friends on birthdays, doing holiday cards, etc etc etc) The author does seem to assume that everyone grew up like she did which I found odd. (but then again, we are talking about 'general' rather than 'exceptions')Chapter 2: The Mother Load- This is when a lot of women find the imbalance becoming severe. It is still a society where parenting is seen as the mother's job and fathers are the helpers. The outdated stereotype of the bumbling father who can't be trusted to watch his own child/children is still played out on memes and sitcoms (which I refuse to watch) and in various other outlets. This is ridiculous, not only does it give men an 'out' for sharing full responsibility for their children, it is also incredibly insulting to them. Chapter 3: Who Cares- I've actual got this part down. I honestly do not care if people think I'm 'dropping the ball'. because I'm not tilling my organic garden for greens that I feed my children in morning smoothies. This whole thing where women (and men) are so concerned about how they appear to others as parents is not an issue I deal with. The author writes about how part of the problem is that she expects her husband to do things 'her' way and I side with the husband on that. Let it freaking go. I have been on the other end of that. Expectations need to be realistic. You can't have a perfect showcase of a house when you are raising children, not without other things falling through the cracks and devoting your entire life to cleaning. I don't do things like holiday cards and reminding anyone to call someone on their birthday , perhaps because I didn't see these things being done, it never occurred to me to do them. The idea that they would even be MY job if I'm in a relationship with an adult is nonsensical to me. Chapter 4: It's Ok to Want More-This chapter really resonated with me because I get so very sick of hearing about how dads are doing more than they used to so they need to be praised for it constantly (want a trophy too?) and that we just need to be grateful that they participate at all. Bullsh!t. You can be grateful while at the same time insisting that someone else do their part, fully do their part. It's not doing us a 'favor' to pull your own weight. Chapter 5: What We do and Why we do It- this chapter is about how relentless mental labor is, how it occupies an incredible amount of energy and time that no one in the household sees unless something doesn't get done. This is something I've tried to explain but defensiveness is always the response which isn't helpful and simply silences. When you have everything from thinking about what's out in the fridge, who needs new shoes, how is your child going to get to that activity when you are at work , the slipping of grades, paying the lunch bill (this list could literally be a thesis so I will stop here), it's exhausting. I had this wild idea that when I became a sahm, that I would finally have time to write (I know, cue laughter here) but what I didn't realize was how emotionally and mentally exhausted I would be from a day of doing relentless continuous physical and mental and emotional labor. I had nothing left in me to be creative. Chapter 6-Whose Work is Anyway-This is about the fact that this is considered the women's job. Why? And how is it fair? There is an idea that women naturally like to do it (yes, some do but even they need appreciation and recognition for it generally)and that women are naturally better at it (some but not enough to consider it a majority) . This results in women being judged/criticized/blamed when something falls through the cracks and men being treated like they've done their wife a favor for doing a household chore/errand. Are women really better at it or have they been socially conditioned to believe it's their job? A lot of people will say "but men take care of the car/household repairs/lawn in a traditional marriage" and maybe they do but those things don't even come close to making up the difference. The idea that those things are 'men's work' and literally everything else is "women's work' is an unfair division. This idea that men are 'helping' when they do what they should be doing may seem like mere semantics but it isn't because it still places the burden on the women and gives him points for doing a 'favor'. Chapter 7- A Warm Smile and Cold Reality-basically about how women are expected to always be pleasant and accommodating and are criticized harshly when they aren't.Chapter 8-Too Emotional to Lead?-about the ridiculous assumption that women can't lead because they are emotional. Many other countries have had women Presidents and Prime Ministers and women have been leading for eons (think Cleopatra) so this doesn't even have a basis in reality Chapter 9-What Quiet Costs-talks about the resentment that builds up because of the unfair division of laborChapter 10-Finishing the Fight-references Betty Freidan's problem with no name and how we haven't finished that fight because now we are expected to do it all. Why should we have to do it all? When we have partners? Chapter 12-Nature vs Nurture-addresses the assumption that women are better at it because they are women when in fact society forms us to be a certain way. And of course some women are more naturally suited to the role but so are some men. The interesting thing is that men generally have a period of living alone before marrying and manage to do things like notice what needs to be done around the house but once they marry, that switch goes off (in many). Subconsciously, they no longer see it as their job yet of course they are capable of noticing what needs to be done and doing it. Men are intelligent aware human beings. I give them more credit than that. The last few chapters are about what to do about it. They are about actually making lists of everything that needs to be done to make partners aware of it all because usually they don't know what it takes to keep a household running. It is about becoming situational aware. There is this idea that if one parent takes one child to their physical and the other takes the other child, then 'well I did my part 50/50' but no, who had to remember the kids needed physicals and then go through the mental gymnastics and logistics of finding times that worked and scheduling them and being on hold, etc. It doesn't sound like much but when you multiply it by exponential issues, it is. It also discusses how many women criticize how a man loads the dishwasher, etc...and I agree that anyone who does that, needs to stop. If you want a partner to do their share, then you can't cut them down constantly. Last chapter is about finding balance. Things will never be 50/50 because of different phases and stages but one partner shouldn't be killing themselves while another one has time to pursue hobbies and hang out on the couch. It's about making your partner aware of everything that has to be done and giving them ownership of those tasks. (having to constantly delegate is still work)This was long but overall, I recommend this book to all women who are struggling with these issues. It's about damn time we talked about it. (and no, even if one partner is a sahp, I don't think it should still ALL fall on them, that leaves one partner working 24/7 and the other getting to pursue what they want for hours a day outside of work (even if they do the traditionally male things like lawn, car, repairs). Being a sahp is work. And in the vast percentage of marriages, both partners have outside jobs.more
- January 1, 1970Reema ZamanWith tremendous insight, candor, and warmth, Gemma Hartley deftly and confidently moves us through this complex conversation on women, emotional labor, and more. She gives us her all, and in doing so, we readers become better, humbler, stronger, and wiser. Countless women, as mothers, partners, and individuals, have struggled with feeling forgotten or lost in the midst of taking care of others. The gorgeous gift of Hartley's writing is it lets us feel seen and found. Hartley has written a defini With tremendous insight, candor, and warmth, Gemma Hartley deftly and confidently moves us through this complex conversation on women, emotional labor, and more. She gives us her all, and in doing so, we readers become better, humbler, stronger, and wiser. Countless women, as mothers, partners, and individuals, have struggled with feeling forgotten or lost in the midst of taking care of others. The gorgeous gift of Hartley's writing is it lets us feel seen and found. Hartley has written a definitive book that will revolutionize the way we partner, parent, live, and love. I feel enormously privileged to have read an advanced copy of Fed Up. It will forever remain one of my most cherished possessions, and experiences.Reema Zaman, author of I Am Yoursmore
- January 1, 1970North LandesmanGlad Hartley wrote this book. First "feminist theory" book I have read. It helps me understand some of the issues and concerns facing women much better. The middle dragged, but the beginning and end were strong. Near the end Hartley stressed the importance of clear communication, not just complaining. She makes some insightful points here. I do question how perfectionism gets such a free pass here. A deeply, deeply, unpleasant read, but a useful one.more
- January 1, 1970StephanieThorough, practical, enlightening.
- January 1, 1970Ameema SaeedRating and review to come.
- January 1, 1970Gemma Hartley
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