It Clings To Me Like a Leech is concerned with the second shift – the term given to the hidden shift of housework and childcare primarily carried out by women on top of their paid employment. It is physical, mental and emotional labour which demands effort, skill and time but is unpaid, unaccounted for, unequally distributed and largely unrecognised.
Hidden in plain sight and veiled by familiarity and insignificance, the second shift is largely absent from representations of home and family. This work is an attempt to recognise the complexity and value of this invisible work; it is also a call for resistance to the systems which ignore it.
‘Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition. The clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.’
‘And what’s worse is that all of it, all of this work that I shouldn’t be doing, is taking place in the one place I shouldn’t have to be doing work at all: in fact, the one place I come to get away from work. It is taking place at home.’
‘In 2016, the value of the UK’s unpaid household service work was estimated at £1.24 trillion…; overall unpaid household service work was equivalent to 63.1% of gross domestic product (GDP).’
Office for National Statistics