cover image The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic

The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic

Emma, trans. from the French by Una Dimitrijevic. Seven Stories, $18.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-60980-918-8

This spirited graphic treatise, growing from a viral web cartoon, aims to provide a friendly introduction to contemporary feminist issues. Emma’s smiling cartoon avatar discusses the division of work and home labor, the problems of navigating a hostile workplace, sexual objectification, the blowback women face for getting angry or aggressive, and the location of the clitoris. A few chapters digress into other progressive issues in the cartoonist’s home country of France, including workers’ rights and discrimination against Muslim immigrants. The art is limited to sparse, squiggly drawings, mostly talking heads, slotted between blocks of cursive font text. Although Emma covers an impressive range of topics, her treatment is heavy on anecdote and opinion, light on in-depth analysis or factual information. The strongest section is the final chapter, “The Holidays,” a personal piece on childbirth and adapting to the stress of life with an infant; it manages to blend the personal and the political with precise, honest insights. Most of the book, however, feels underdeveloped, typical perhaps of a web-posted piece but not as well adapted to a larger print volume. That said, the timeliness of the book and its easy reading poise it to be a likely gift buy to mark feminist friendships. [em](Oct.) [/em]