Mental burden of women: sexuality too!



Will this period of confinement change our relationship to domestic space? Certainly. Between two online fitness classes (“ muscle me that pelvic floor, bunch of flemmasses “), Some will undoubtedly discover the delights of the mental load, this endless list of tasks to be accomplished and inventories to watch, the constraints of which weigh heavily on the shoulders of women. For those who are new to the concept, mental load is to think about buying toilet paper outside pandemic periods.

Does this daily management include a sexual charge? This is the argument put forward by feminist journalists and activists Clémentine Gallot and Caroline Michel, in an essay to be published next month (The Sexual Charge. Why sexuality is the other mental burden of women, First Editions).

From conjugal duty to the depilation of the interfessal sulcus, this “ invisible sexual labor “Would bring together health concerns (dealing with contraception, and often condoms), emotional (simulation, to be considered as a “Emotional service”), techniques (buying sex toys, giving great blowjobs, being experienced ” but not too much “, Express orgasms, preferably synchronous and multiple), fantasmatic (learn about sodomy or female ejaculation, accept sexual experiences turned towards male fantasies), or even virtual (protect yourself from revenge porn, send naked photos … but also receive unsolicited penis photos).

To which we must obviously add aesthetic injunctions (buy lingerie, do not gain weight, do not age, eradicate hair growth, please his man but never to other men). This duty of “good presentation” can go through unnecessary financial investments (soaps, infusions and crystals for the vagina), but also through painful operations (vulva surgery, “Point du hubi” to tighten the vagina after childbirth).

” Shopping list “

This “shopping list” concerns the couple’s sexuality, but not only! It includes maternity (reproductive, abortive, postpartum expenses) and the well-being of the whole family. According to Clémentine Gallot and Caroline Michel, “ Among 18-24 year olds, 67.2% of girls and 38.8% of boys are responsible for the traditional and much feared speech on sex life. While the father only plays this role in 16.7% of cases in girls and 27% of boys

Take care of yourself, your partner, the children… can we stop the costs? No, there is still a lack of public space. The rules of living together require women to decorate, to be pleasant, to be available (under pain of being called stuck), but also to be restricted (keeping your virginity long enough, not exposing men to too much temptation, to manage not to be raped). Those who come out of the nails will be blamed, insulted, sometimes beaten, raped or killed.

This list depresses you? It was intended, as the authors themselves confess: ” The subject of this book, we do not hide it, is first of all an inalienable right to complain. However, before releasing our favorite anti-feminist joker (#victimisation), remember that the complaint has political virtues. You never solve a problem without identifying it.

This identification constitutes the great force of the demonstration of Gallot and Michel, enamelled with hundreds of examples, figures and quotes. Yes, women work. Sexually. Without retribution (no surprise, those who request retribution are relegated to the ban of society).


But the most embarrassing thing is to note the gap between the facts observed and our cultural assumptions. Because what we usually hear on cafe terraces (hum, bad example) is that men constitute the true proletariat of sex: pincers by terrifying impulses (we wonder who ends up relieving them), strengths to take the first step, submitted performance obligations during reporting. Sorry to point it out … but on the victimization side, these men defend themselves quite well.

So, who is actually weighing the sexual burden? The simple fact of asking the question is disturbing: in sexuality, well-behaved people claim to be free from accounting logic, even if it means allowing injustices to persist. Love and the spirit of sacrifice, values ​​that are so feminine, are supposed to immunize us against resentment. Besides, with regard to sex as in the context of other feminist claims, the suspicion of pettiness lies in wait: we are not going to count the buffer tax, the wage gap, the ironing hours? Well, yes.

Let’s be clear: the debate is highly flammable (I do not accept any responsibility for the possible argument that will enhance your confined evening). But rather than fighting, let’s observe how the cogs of the system overlap.

Because not all sexual charges are created equal. Those endorsed by men (no one denies that they are doing part of the job) are heroic: conquering partners, getting a member hard, holding erections, producing orgasms. The other charges are bypassed: the production of a desirable body is considered a sign of superficiality (“ they are fanfreluches “), The aesthetic question is eliminated (“ men age better, grow better, anyway women are not interested in the physical appearance of their partners “), Contraception becomes a chick affair even when men are much more fertile (” it doesn’t happen in my body “), Female pleasure is seen as” mysterious “, therefore considered optional (“ foreplay is not real sex “), The needs of some are reduced compared to the requirements of others (” I’m fine, she can force herself for three minutes “), Some efforts go unnoticed (” women are passive “) … and some organs, calling for attention, are being hatched (” what, a clitoris? “).


Where it gets even more interesting is when the pretexts put forward to legitimize this sexual burden (” women are naturally more beautiful, more maternal, more devoted “) Recall the apologies for domestic work:” women are naturally multitasking, more gifted with vacuum cleaners

The gap in orgasms is matched by the gap in wages. At care in the bedroom answers the care during times of crisis. Domestic volunteering is matched by domestic volunteering: according to an Oxfam report published on January 20, women work 12.5 billion hours of unpaid work a year. As such, the problem is not individual but collective, not only sexual but more broadly cultural.

Faced with these asymmetries, Clémentine Gallot and Caroline Michel call for a “ new sexual civility ” The promise is enticing, and luckily, we have a few privileged weeks to learn how to put it into practice. As soon as we finish counting the points, we can change the equation. For the best !

Find here all the chronicles of Maïa Mazaurette in “The Morning”