Thanksgiving: How to Maintain Bipartisan Feminism During the Holidays
Although Thanksgiving is a time of leisure and gratefulness, it is also a time during which many revert back to a point in history in which much of women's work was thankless.
During Thanksgiving - from basting the Turkey to making extra side dishes for guests with allergies - women often exert labor to keep everyone comfortable which goes unnoticed. Often called "invisible labor," such neglect for women's work not only calls for better behavior from men and children, but raises concerns for the mental health of women year-round.
A study from Arizona State University found that although men have begun to help more with household work, women are still primarily responsible for the organization of such tasks in most families - even if they are employed. In the study, 9 in 10 women felt solely responsible for organizing family schedules and 7 in 10 felt solely responsible for organizing household chores. Being first responders to family distress has shown a strong link to levels of distress and emptiness in women. The burden on women to carry day-to-day family struggles is exaggerated during the holidays.
So, how can we address invisible labor in a world in which gender inequality is often downplayed and ignored? The first step is to raise mutual awareness of how historical gender roles negatively perpetuate today's cultures. Many people try to justify gender divisions of labor (or lack of labor) on Thanksgiving on the basis of sexual attraction or gender stereotypes being true. Some men wish to marry women who are feminine and know how to cook while others claim that each gender is simply pursuing the role they enjoy. Regardless of whether women enjoy cooking, invisible labor can reach a point for all people to which it is detrimental towards their health. For instance, women who elect to become stay-at-home moms often still become depressed years later because they do not have any pastimes to pursue solely for themselves. Being aware of women's struggles, even if they want to be stay-at-home mothers, can help spouses know when and how to mentally reprieve them.
Second, many men still assert that they are only attracted to women who fit stereotypical standards of femininity - from cooking to not having a job. In this case, it is important to remind people that men and women are attracted to all different kinds of people, and women do not exist solely to be attractive to men with specific preferences. In fact, such a mindset can force women into pursuing a life which does not maximize their personal health.
Finally, bringing women together for mutual support can bolster women's health and help them develop strategies for handling stressful times like Thanksgiving. If you are struggling, there are many support groups for women and mothers which have been proven to reduce burnout and the stress hormone cortisol.
So, this Thanksgiving, check in on the women in your life. Make sure that you are not letting them toil alone in the kitchen while others watch sports or neglect their work. If you feel you are struggling with the burden of the holidays, reach out and use some of these ideas to establish a bipartisan understanding for what you and your loved ones are going through.
Good luck and happy thanksgiving from the Bipartisan Feminist Project Team!