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The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic
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The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic

(Un autre regard #1-2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,618 ratings  ·  240 reviews
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 women carry some form of mental load--about their work, household responsibilities, ...more
Paperback, 207 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Seven Stories Press
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Dec 03, 2018 marked it as to-read
I accidentally caused a mini shitstorm on Facebook by posting what I thought was a fairly innocuous comic from this book, so I felt very fortunate to read the rest of the comics in book form, at home, where there were no whining man babies trying to argue that just because they do the washing up, the chores in their house are done absolutely evenly.
I’d never say The Mental Load could replace a book that explores feminist issues in depth, but I found it surprisingly thorough. The author is "Emma," a computer technician who, going by what's here, experiences plenty of sexism and disrespect in her field.

Emma covered various topics such as the male gaze; the uneven divide of domestic tasks between heterosexual partners; and the prioritization of work over family for men and vice versa for women. Specifically, the male gaze chapter delves into
Weronika Zimna
Honestly? I'm torn.

This comic tackles the issues of so many women so well! It even made me come to some new conclusions - and I work in a feminist ngo... The writing's good, the arguments are good. So why am I torn?

Well, it's a comic book, right? So it should be somewhat visually appealing and maybe easy to read? Yes? No?

The font (is it handwritten?) is tragic, I struggled to decipher it. The drawings are, well, very basic and I wouldn't dare to call it a "style" in this case. There is also A
Rod Brown
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A French blogger effectively and humorously lays out progressive and feminist hot topics of the day in a dozen essays in comic book format.

I was a stay-at-home dad when my daughter was young, so I can relate to the first entry, "You Should've Asked," about the mental load that can be felt by the homemaker in a couple when it comes to doing household chores and taking care of children. And as a liberal, I found myself agreeing with her points about sexism, sexual harassment, childbirth, universal
Limau Nipis
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Emma is a comic writer cum creator.
I stumbled upon her comics, when I was reading an article about the Millennial generations and the art of 'mental load', which I find, yes, you are right Emma, you are absolutely right. Emma's comics resonates well with the housekeeper cum housewife cum working moms.

Women, for generations, had always bear the brunt of the mental load - from planning till execution.

Do you want me to do it ? (no)
Do you want me to do it ? (no)

And this is one of the comics that resonates well, which I found i
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Several of the comics are really useful primers on feminism, while others gave me a glimpse into the minds of French & European feminists.
I was somewhat puzzled over the comic about topless women, I'm pretty sure it was a parable in response to the burqua bans and other crackdowns on headscarves in Europe.
I liked the comic on universal income but had to laugh when Emma complained about having to rush eating lunch during an hour-long break! Really? As a part time worker, I get 15 minute breaks,
Stewart Tame
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I actually read the “You Should’ve Asked” story on Facebook within the last year or so, but didn't even recognize Emma’s name or her style until I was reading it again in this book. It's not that it's unmemorable or anything, more a comment on my aging brain and the sheer volume of comics I’ve read over the years. It apparently never occurred to me that I’d ever encounter it in physical media …

Anyway, the book is wonderful! Emma is strongly, positively feminist. Her comics will make you smile, o
Elizabeth A
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I gather that the author is an internet sensation, and I appreciated that this translation from the French exposed me to her work .

This is a collection of comic strips that tackles social and feminist issues with the aid of simple line drawings. Some of the strips are more compelling than others, but this would make a great introduction to some of the themes explored here, albeit with a distinctive French perspective on certain topics. The one I found most compelling was "You Should've Asked,"
I'm in two minds about this one - it touches on a lot of really important issues and gets across some important points. The titular 'mental load' was something that had never occurred to me and is so interesting!

However, for a graphic novel (does it count as a novel if it's non-fiction?), this wasn't a particularly a strong one for me. The illustrations seemed relatively basic (recognising I definitely couldn't do better!) and didn't tell a story or convey the humour I see in a lot of graphic n
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
Great conversation starter honestly. The book not only gives insight into how women (and men!) benefit from feminism, but it also taps into issues of islamaphobia and police brutality. A great graphic novel that presents complex issues in a way that can be easily understood and empathised with.
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A short but phenomenal volume, this is a series of beautifully articulated and illustrated feminist essays. I saw the first one, "You should've asked," on her blog (, a brilliant piece demonstrating how women are expected to do both the program management (i.e., identification of needs, coordination and delegation of tasks, tracking progress, and often the ultimate responsibility) as well as the execution (doing the actual labor) of household tasks, where ...more
Nancy Meservier
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The mental load is an intersectional feminist comic that uses simple illustrations to convey current issues. While the content goes beyond this, the main focus here is on the domestic. We already know about the imbalance in hours spent on activities such as cooking, cleaning, and child care, and how that negatively impacts women (especially those who work full time), but what about the impact of the mental load? The strain that comes from mentally balancing the dozens of seemingly small tasks in ...more
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
An engaging, and reflective series of comic/visual essays on Feminist topics. Some of the chapters were more compelling than others, more insightful or unusual in their take.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love the exploration of the mental load, which is a legit thing. I have an amazing, super-involved husband who is great at so many things and cares for our children as much as I do. But the little things - who needs to go to the eye doctor, who has what teacher for what subject, who needs a prescription refill, which kids need presents for friend's birthday parties- these are things I have to remember or they don't occur to him. It is not like that with housework or taking care of kids - he is ...more
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found THE MENAL LOAD: A FEMINIST COMIC a the very least funny. Funny, because this little French girl is just discovering what women have known for years.... that we women are not completely equal in the world! That regardless of race or ethnicity, women are the same, worldwide... unless you look at the mythical Amazon Basin where female warriors reside.

Even worst for her, this little French girl seems to believe that she should have some control over her life, her body, her beliefs! It may b
This comic has a great message and I think it should be a mandatory reading for all! However, I think the art could've been better: the fonts were hard to read a lot of times and I think the art itself could've been more impacting.

Still, I would like the read the other volume that the author wrote because I think her message is truly important — through her art, the author manages to shed a spotlight on social and feminist issues that MUST be discussed such as gender inequality, household respo
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is not particularly funny, or well-drawn- but it's smart, and apt, and I was nodding along throughout it all. Emma illustrates her points and highlights many of the problems with the world today, and I found comfort in the solidarity she shares with her art. Above all this book is just SO relatable. I hope that there are people out there reading it and having their eyes opened to these issues for the first time and growing their empathy. ...more
Rachael Hobson
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The main focus was on the mental load cis women carry in heterosexual relationships and in their workplace. Covers important topics but could have been more inclusive. Also, the design and the layout of the book leaves a lot to be desired.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re bound to have seen the titular comic circulating the internet in recent months, explaining the relatively invisible complexity of the mental load carried most commonly by mothers. I’ve read it, shared it and now thrilled to support the artist by buying her work. And then, as a bonus I am now able enjoy more of her clever, but disconcertingly close to home graphic work. I particularly enjoyed her hijab / bra analogy.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Makes me feel not so alone.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extra points for unique exploration of gender issues.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think everyone can be enlightened by this book, and if not enlightened- at least feel wonderfully validated in their thinking. This book explains countless social injustices and the insidious ways in which they are accepted and normalised, garnished with a wonderful sense of humour. Emma highlights and grapples with the atrocities in our warped world, but offers ideas for combatting these infuriating problems. I felt incensed while reading, but I finished the book feeling hopeful. This is a MU ...more
Joy Johnson
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I imagine so many women can relate, I sure can! Such a relevant topic/conversation, but unfortunately for women their “mental load” has been prevalent since the beginning of time. And while I notice progress toward change in relationships and employment for women it is still very much a struggle.

This was originally written in French but the English translation is spot on. The author’s illustrations are simple and in color, no frames are used, but convey the text and sentiment.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
The first story here helped me understand a lot more about my wife and how she doesn't want to ask me for help because she feels like it is implied that help is always necessary. Which only sorta describes the situation, but I certainly learned a lot from it.

The rest of the book was good-ish, with the universal income one making the most sense. The others were ok, but I think there's something to be said for shared experiences and I am not French, nor did I live in France.
Bonnie Wells
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
While this touches on some pretty basic feminist theory, I did find some parts informative and overall it was still very enjoyable! The drawings are simple but fun, and I liked the way this was sectioned off into little stories and the way that we see the author turn to her art to try to understand the politics as life brings it to her.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
These are concise, clever and well-argued comics on a range of political and feminist subjects.

I don't agree with all of Emma's opinions (I'm a liberal centrist - my views are less radical) but she gets her point across very well and her comic on the mental load is inspired. Rated highly as lots of food for thought.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2019
So this is less a novel than a series of novellas or vignettes, as the author discovers her own feminism and activism. It was a quick, pleasant read, and maybe could introduce someone to basic concepts in a way they could receive? There were a couple things that were very not American (since she's French), but it was overall pretty relatable. ...more
Hayley Chwazik-Gee
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I highly enjoyed Emma’s musings and metaphors! A particularly memorable chapter called “Show me that Bosom” was a great critique & social commentary of France’s burqa ban. The drawings weren’t my favorite (mostly basic, not super illustrative) but I loved it nonetheless and it helped me think about some important social inequalities in new ways. There was an unexpected commentary on police brutality and racism which was particularly relevant given the goings-on around the world with Black Lives ...more
Miss Susan
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
i've read most of these comics before but they're certainly worth the reread. it's a nice accessible introduction to feminist issues. ngl tho, the fact that multiple reviews don't seem to have understood the point of 'show me that bosom' which truly could not be a clearer parable about islamophobic responses to the hijab and/or burqa...😬

(i'll make du'aa for increased reading comprehension for all in the new year)

3 stars
Sara Vickers
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
So good, very true, and I'm going to get my husband to read it! It's sad to know that France has similar political turbulence to the US, and it's also nice to know we as women are not alone in the feelings of guilt and shame during certain situations throughout our lives. ...more
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Dessinatrice de trucs moches mais qui veulent dire des choses. Féministe inclusive, antiraciste, anticapitaliste.

Emma is a 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.

Emma's strips have a history of going viral. "You Should've Asked" was viewed on mommy blogs aro

Other books in the series

Un autre regard (4 books)
  • Un autre regard
  • Un autre regard - tome 2
  • Des princes pas si charmants et autres illusions à dissiper ensemble
  • Un autre regard sur le climat

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16 likes · 2 comments
“Eh oui ! Car contrairement au harcèlement, un rapport de séduction, ça se construit à deux !
Et c'est bien le refus de cela qui se cache derrière les lamentations de ces messieurs.
Que les femmes revendiquent le droit de pouvoir décliner des avances, ils n'aiment pas ça, mais alors, pas du tout !”
“- À cause de vos trucs féministes, on peut même plus vous aborder !
- Mais si on peut ! À condition de nous entendre si on dit "non" ! Et si ça t'ennuie qu'on soit sur la défensive, c'est aux harceleurs qu'il faut en vouloir, pas à nous…”
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