Women’s Work and How Dropping the Ball is OK!

Parenting Our Future

I’m so happy to have my friend, fellow mom, and one of the newest experts on Cityline, Lindsay Whisen, on this episode. Lindsay and I share a passion for helping people in difficult areas of their lives. Her company serves people by freeing them from energetically draining clutter and inefficiency. In this day and age, many moms work and still have all the responsibilities at home. Join us for our discussion into this area and find some help and support for your ‘cluttered life’.

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Why Feminism is Crucial – Now More Than Ever

Written by Lindsay Whisen, CEO at Ease Up – the Organizing Experts

It troubles me that feminism has such a negative, mainstream connotation that implies man-hating, bra-burning lesbians. I discovered I had long-been a feminist at the University of Toronto as an adult learner. I discovered that feminism is the ability to recognize systemic and socially constructed inequality across all social plains. I discovered that feminism is a commitment to live life in ways that try to right historic and unjust imbalances of power. This not only applies to gendered power imbalances, but power imbalances that exist within differing sexual orientation, race, religion, originating status, physical appearance, social status, economic status, marital status, political affiliation, social class, age, geographic location and differing ability – Yeah! It encompasses all of that.

I must make it clear that the term feminism did not emerge from the angry desire to overthrow man as the powerful elite (although, that is often a ‘lay-over’ in the journey toward being a feminist). It is called feminism because the realization of inequality emerged through the emotional and intellectual work of women. Women who were unknowingly oppressed, because their experience was the social norm, questioned and deconstructed their own, very real experiences of inequality. Once women did this for themselves, it was natural for them to discover its applications to other, even more disenfranchised groups. It was (and still is) an act of courage for women to take a risk, to share and to work through their feelings and experiences with fellow women.

I ask you to think about women birthing babies for a moment. Women labour. Women do the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, painstaking work necessary to deliver that baby out of their body. No one would ever give the partner, the nurses, the midwife or the doctor working around her, the credit for that work. Women birth babies so women get the credit. Women’s risky, rigorous and explorative work birthed equality and so women get the credit – that’s why it is called feminism. In the exact same way, a doctor by the name Georgios Papanikolaou developed a useful way to detect signs of cervical cancer, and he gets the credit – his work is the reason we all get our regular, life-preserving Pap Tests.

One of the most beautiful things about feminism, when at its best, is that it is collaborative, not competitive. It aims to truly listen to individual’s experiences, seeking to truly understand, respect and legitimize their thoughts and feelings so that people can grow in their ability to accept, love and celebrate everyone. In short, I like to think about feminism as the most wonderful, smart and loving parent – for the entire world – and there is nothing offensive about that.

The truth is, right now, this world needs every form of feminist – from the extreme bra-burning activist to the most traditional housewife. Every form of feminist should know that they are completely legitimate and useful for the cause of equality in the way they express feminism. We must not focus on how we are different. We must not get caught up in who is ‘doing’ feminism right or wrong. We must focus on the belief that, at the core of all feminism, we need women across all areas of the social and cultural spectrum to work together to enact social change towards equality for all.


 

mompreneur Lindsay Whisen of EASE UP Organizing ExpertsLindsay Whisen is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Brampton, Ontario. She is the Founder & CEO of Ease Up – The Organizing Experts, where, with the trusted Ease Up Method and fantastic people, your space is set-up to support your greatest efficiency and wellness. You will know what you have, see what you have, and be able to access it & put it away with ease. Stop wasting your precious resources: Your space, belongings, money, time, energy and sanity. It can be easier.

Brampton Library – Organize With Ease Seminar

Professional Organizer and founder of “Ease Up – The Organizing Experts”, Lindsay Whisen, delivered a workshop for the Brampton Library summer series in which she demonstrated organization tips to help attendees win the battle against clutter. She showed you how to start decluttering and how to stay organized. The workshop was very well received by the participants.

Speaking Event: One Brave Night for Mental Health

Join Ease Up’s CEO, Lindsay Whisen, as she delivers a keynote presentation to benefit CAMH on May 10, 2019 in Brampton, ON. Lindsay’s candid talk features the topic: Depression through a Feminist Lens.

As Canada’s leading hospital for mental health, CAMH helps people of all ages who are living with mental illness and provides them with hope and a path toward recovery.

To learn more about CAMH or register to attend the One Brave Night event, click here.

Disorganization and Self-Judgment: An Unjustified Toxic Duo

Mompreneur Magazine: Volume 3, Issue 1 / March 1, 2019
Feature Article By Lindsay Whisen

How does it make you feel to walk into a disorganized space in your home or office? — to think about trying to find something in there, or having to work in there? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Sad? Stuck?

We hear those answers a lot in our professional organizing work. Now, what about feelings like humiliation, embarrassment, or shame? It gets pretty heavy when we stop and reflect on it all. We often judge ourselves so harshly and suffer so greatly under the weight of negative thoughts and feelings. Our organizers witness a lot of self-judgment within our clients and I’m here to tell you… that self-criticism and judgement do not have a rightful place.

We all know that historically women have been chiefly responsible for the unpaid house work, which includes creating and overseeing the organizational systems within a home. Until around the midway point of the last century, women had the time to hone their skills and become the undisputed master of the home front. But times have changed, and so have gender roles.

From the early 1950s to today, Canadian women’s participation in the workforce has risen from 25% to 82% (1), and the majority pursue higher education. 2017 figures show that 60% of post-secondary students in Canada are female (2). Sociologist Arlie Russel Hochschild discovered that for most working women there was “The Second Shift” of housework that was waiting for them after their paid shift after work was complete. With more to do and no more time or energy to do it, something had to give.

A natural result of all the professional advancement for women combined with the large amount of housework still required of them, is that they have had ever-dwindling time available to devote to becoming experts in organization. Think about it, the essential tasks that are going to get priority are the non-negotiable ones: laundry, meals, shopping, cleaning, birthdays, holidays and driving the kids to their afterschool programs. The seemingly non-essential tasks must naturally get dropped. Additionally, being organized for a lot of women falls under the category of “personal needs” and when life gets too busy, whose personal needs usually get lost in the abyss? – moms.

Over the past 50 years as women have joined the working world, the time afforded to women to develop “organizing” skills has decreased dramatically, while expectations to have the picture-perfect, “ready to host”, organized home are now higher than ever.

It is so rare for us to come across a client who unapologetically hires our expertise. In fact, I can only think of one. It was so refreshing to witness a woman give herself the rightful permission to not to be perfect at everything, without belittling or scorning herself. She poured her available energy into her career and her partnership and she knew that this was enough. She was proud that she did the things in her wheelhouse with excellence. And as for the rest of things she did not excel at, she refused to let them affect her self-worth; she would accept them and get help from experts.

This invisible call for women to “do it all” is very clear in the woman who has chosen to hire a house cleaning service for the first time but feels she has to keep that information from certain friends or family members because they are anticipating the “you can’t do it all yourself?” judgement. Women ought to be on the same team – not silently police and pressure one another to “do more, do more, do more”. I know in my bones that women who decide to outsource anything to experts aren’t lazy women with poor work ethic – on the contrary they are working hard being experts at other important things. The real problem is that the expectation that each woman should have the capacity to be their own expert for everything has not been critically examined.

One of the most heartbreaking things for me to witness in my business is when a woman knows for herself that she needs our support; she goes through the entire intake, consult and estimate process, and then at the last stroke of midnight her partner chimes in and says that he thinks she should do it on her own.

It breaks my heart to witness a woman assert her needs, only to be usurped by someone who is removed from the problem and unwilling to be part of the solution. I see a women’s own sense of her needs being invalidated and replaced with the suggestion that she should find it easy to do it herself.

Both genders, but especially men, underestimate the complexity of the labour and skills required to organize: the mental focus, decision-making, creativity, problem solving, physical exertion and emotional work. People assume that organizing is easy and that it can get done quickly. For organizing work to be truly sustainable it needs to be thorough. Even for experienced, hardworking experts who love the work, it still takes a respectable about of time.

The plain truth is, if you have no firsthand experience with the work, you are bound to undervalue it, which is common for a lot of husbands. Something else that is invisibly contributing to the undervaluing of organizing works is that because this household labour used to be done “for free”, by stay-at-home wives and mothers, the assumption is that is not financially valuable.

Social scientists have coined the term feminized labour. These are jobs that are paid and valued less across the board simply because the work is completed by women. When women started entering the workforce the dominant thinking was that they did not need to earn a “family salary” because they should have a husband to that. It was thought that women, being used to not being paid for housework, would be satisfied earning a bit of pocket money or extra vacation money. These historical understandings still underwrite the way we value the different kinds of work that is done along gendered lines.

So, women, the next time you are being nasty to yourself because you are not adding up to an expectation, step back and remind yourself that times have changed, and we’ve not had the time to stop and critically examine the changes over recent history that highlight the absurdity of those expectations.

The truth is – you are not falling short, you are soaring high. All this time you’ve been working hard to rock the things in your wheelhouse and for that, you should feel only self-acceptance and pride.

References:

1. Canada, G. O. (2017, March 03). The surge of women in the workforce. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2015009-eng.htm

2. Cooper, L. (2017, March). The State of Women in Canada’s Economy. Retrieved January 26, 2018, from http://www.rbc.com/economics/economic-reports/pdf/other-reports/Women_Mar2017.pdf