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Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  392 ratings  ·  87 reviews
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 ho
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by HarperOne
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"My husband does a lot. He helps me out with the housework, he takes care of our children if I will be out, he will do anything I ask him to. Personally, I think I'm pretty lucky." In response to praise such as this, author Gemma Hartley asks, “Does he do a lot compared to other men or does he do a lot compared to you?” Emotional labor is the invisible job handed down to women of every generation to make sure the days run smoothly, the household is efficiently managed, and everyone is happy and ...more
Emily May
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
2 stars.

When I first saw the main title of this book - those two words "Fed Up" - before I even knew what the book was about, I thought of my mum. I pictured her juggling the wants and needs of three kids after a day of work, arms full of laundry that she would load into the machine in between making us dinner. I remembered distinctly the way she sometimes would find a rare moment to sit down and say with a tired sigh: "I'm fed up."

Fed Up is for a more modern woman than my mother. My mum worked
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Cathartic af, you guys. To be honest, you can probably get the point and a measure of the release you might need on this topic from reading the Longreads article the author wrote (which is essentially most of Chapter Three of this book), but man if you wanted more like I did, this book is here to deliver the “and another thing...!” you need. It also dives into underdiscussed groups that don’t get enough voice on this (women of color, stay at home fathers), and the last part does offer some ways ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was expecting a more researched book given what a fascinating and dense topic this is. I understand why the author would've wanted to insert her personal experience at times, but she did so to such an extent that the end result felt closer to a memoir. Ultimately, 'Fed Up' left me with more questions than answers.
Cristine Mermaid
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
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 mo
Alison Terpstra
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Man this book sucked. I was so ready as this is a very important topic within feminism but she quoted Sheryl Sandberg in the opening chapter and I rolled my eyes. Really? I just feel more research was needed into this - it was all very personal and poorly supported when there is great information about this topic out there! The conversations around REAL emotional labour are actually much more in depth than this book provided. She seems like a first year feminist theory student who got a book dea ...more
Morgan Henley
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Oof. Stretching an essay that went viral to an entire book was a bit too ambitious for this one. I felt half of the book was just repeating itself (we get it, dads/husbands don’t clean or take care of kids as much as women do, no need to spell out every example) and the anecdotes got repetitive and not very insightful. I barely got through the 250 pages of this one. The point she makes is very important and the mission was noble but I wish it had gone deeper, particularly in terms of at the work ...more
joni edelman
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Necessary. I’d like to see this be required feminist reading. Gemma tackles The hard stuff here with insight and intellect. Next step: CHANGE.
Gwendolyn B.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I tip my Portland Trailblazers cap to Hartley for opening a much needed cultural conversation about an unjust but invisible division of labor between the sexes. Combining research and interviews with courageously personal self-disclosures about her own marriage, she walks us through the many facets of "emotional labor," which she defines as "the unpaid, invisible work we do to keep those around us comfortable and happy."

It is at this point, however, where she loses me . . . because she takes Arl
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This 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.
Worth listening to via audio. The narrator, Therese Plummer, did an amazing job and doesn't sound at all like she's reading nonfiction. They made a great choice.

I liked that Hartley referenced another book I read this year called Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu. I thought this was great because it shows the author wasn't writing this in a vacuum and builds upon other works on this topic.

Overall, a good intro to the topic of emotional labor if this might be the first time you are really delving i
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It's hard to overstate how valuable I found this book. It's as if Hartley has taken everything I've struggled to articulate about what goes on in my head on a daily basis and laid it all out, not just explaining what it feels like to carry the mental and emotional load in a marriage, but also figuring out how we got here and what we can do about it. It's an odd but welcome feeling to have the patterns of your own marital conversations spelled out in detail on the page, but knowing that this is a ...more
Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
Fed Up. Why do women subconsciously take on the emotional labour of the home? Is it years of deep-seated patriarchy? Or do we chose to be in control?

In 2017 Gemma Hartley wrote an article in Harper's Bazaar which quickly went viral. 'Women Aren't Nags - We're Just Fed Up' was all about emotional labour, which was a new term for me to hear. It's basically all the unpaid, unnoticed work completed by women to keep the home running smoothly and everyone happy and content.

My first reaction to Fed Up,
Caitlin Kunkel
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an essential, modern, necessary book that uses excellent reporting and the author's own personal story to pull on the threads of emotional labor and why it's such a key element of modern households and work environments. Really appreciated this read and have gifted to several people already (some very passive-aggressively!!!).
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, nonfiction
Eh, it's okay. It's frustratingly heterosexual and focuses far more on the dynamics within a relationship between a man and a woman ( which makes sense given the scope I suppose...). However it does show an inadequate analysis of same sex couples and doesn't move beyond acknowledging that they/we also have difficulty dividing emotional labor- but supposedly find it easier than heterosexual couples due to the lack of gender roles. It fails to acknowledge that they/we often divide up the emotional ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This packs a punch. It's a really PERSONAL book, which was fascinating, because it's also a really universal book. It's also super practical towards the end; I think I have a better idea of how to broach the subject of emotional labor with my partner, which feels really refreshing. If Hartley's original essay was the distress call, this book is her follow-up, her answering rescue. I'm super glad I read it, and I really highly recommend it for heteronormative couples, especially. (Both partners i ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
People think I'm weird when I say the only good sleep I get is when I'm hospitalized. They don't get it. This author gets it though - that blissful moment when one is officially "off duty" - a moment that seemingly never comes unless under dire circumstances.

Only recently have I begun to - finally - acknowledge and recognize the huge burden of emotional labor in my life. It does begin early, and for me, kicked totally into gear when I married a man with children from a prior marriage. The day t
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Alyssa Cardona
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every woman and every man
Recommended to Alyssa by: Harper One
Fed UP is the book every woman should definitely be reading come November 13th.
Gemma Hartley takes up the stand and makes it known to women that they are not alone in this journey that is emotional labor. Gemma allows us to learn how day through day there exists a growing amount of stress given the work that every woman must put forward to be on top of everything and, i.e., kids, chores, home, school, working, cooking, listening, etc. the list is endless and how we as women are affected by it a
Carolyn Harris
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fed Up is both a memoir of the author's marriage and a wider cultural analysis of how society views emotional labour. Hartley writes with warmth and optimism about the frustrations caused by the organizational activities that appear invisible but make individual homes and communities run smoothly such as planning meals, remembering birthday parties and organizing Christmas cards. In her own home, changing employment circumstances and better communication result in a more equitable division of ho ...more
Amanda Misiti
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
By the end, I was exhausted by the topic of emotional labor.

Some good insights but I’d recommend sticking to her Harpers Bazaar article. I haven’t read it but felt like this was too long for the topic.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Not a ton of new information here, though, this is an important book anyway. Not to mention that the familiarity and solidarity is incredibly satisfying. Her nods to disabled and trans/non binary women felt quite deficient so there is still a great deal of thinking to be done there. My favorite part was when she talked about going on a “noticing bender.” Hilarious and so true.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yep. It's a good one
I really enjoyed Hartley putting into words something I've felt like I was carrying around alone.
Joanna Fantozzi
3.5 stars. While Gemma Hartley is a great writer and the subject itself is VERY important (I was one of the thousands of women who had epiphany moments upon reading her original essay, even though I have only been in serious relationships and have neither a husband not children) I did feel like this book was repetitive and slow to start. The book's strengths were when Hartley drew on the diverse experiences of others and explored the history of emotional labor but Hartley kept returning to her o ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childfree, self-help
I want to start a book club just on this book and then make everyone in my world read it so they'll talk about it with me.
Krista Varela Posell
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit repetitive at times, but still an important book nonetheless. Brendan and I read this concurrently and it has given us a new language to talk about our relationship dynamic.
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
I can't wait for this!

Ever since I read Hartley's article 'Women Arent's Nags - We're Jut Fed Up' I have been waiting for this book. That article articulated some things that I had been feeling but didn't know how to describe and I am really looking forward to learning more about emotional labour.

My hope for this book is that it is not only written for women to sit and nod at in recognition. I truly hope that this book can also be read by men so they can gain an understanding of why we women
Priya Nalkur-pai
I read this about a month ago and took some time to reflect and process my thoughts...and really understand why I felt so incomplete after reading this.

Some parts where she describes the burden of emotional labor are so infuriatingly accurate they made my blood boil. But what she fails to consider are the important dynamics of economics. She has some “fair trade” assumption between husband and wife. But the economics of traditional gender roles worked out because both parties contributed to the
Reema Zaman
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 defini ...more
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Gemma Hartley is a journalist and writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband and three children.
“While women have spent the past few decades being encouraged to reach for the masculine ideal of success, being told they can become anything their hearts desire in the professional realm, they have not been relieved of any of the emotional labor that waits for them when they return home.” 0 likes
“emotional labor isn’t just a wellspring of frustrating domestic gripes, but rather a primary source of systemic issues that touch every arena of our lives, in damaging ways that make clear the pervasive sexism in our culture. The deep social expectation that women will shoulder the exhausting mental and emotional work at home—a type of labor that goes largely unnoticed by those it benefits most—has made it all too easy for such insidious expectations to follow us into the world, as we step gingerly through a culture that has left us little choice in the matter.” 0 likes
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