Alison Garwood Jones

Energy report

January 5, 2015

My energy reserves are more precious than oil.

I don’t know if it’s a female thing? The men I know and love and don’t love don’t share the nitty gritty details of their energy metrics. For all I know, they’re concealing some wild fluctuations.

Productivity is what we’re all chasing. It’s the gold standard and only proof, these days, of a life well lived. And it’s a killer.

For women, productivity—corporate/biological/creative/social—has surpassed a sense of duty, although that hasn’t entirely disappeared. More on that in a second. Women go ahead and have children because they can (science hasn’t equalized that, yet), then they layer everything else on top of that because not doing so would mean never knowing what it feels like to exercise their full rights and potential as humans. This idea of  “having it all,” was the biggest false promise feminism served up, argues Jennifer Szalai.

Women are tired. But so are men. But it’s a different kind of tired; more fed up than bone deep. All this change is destabilizing to the guys. The difference is: many men tend to ignore how tired they’re feeling for the “greater good,” or, more probably, to stay ahead and still be #1.  And the dishes pile up.

Meanwhile, female duty, that Victorian throwback, is still with us but it’s more subtle today. Same with blatant sexism of the “Females need not apply” sort. We can’t say that stuff out loud anymore, but it percolates beneath the surface in ways that are a lot harder to deal with or refute head on.

I’d argue that many men’s abiding belief in female duty is what’s holding them back from participating fully in meeting the needs of their households — from booking dentist appointments to assembling birthday party loot bags to buying new socks and underwear for their kids. All those tiny, energy-depleting details are what women still seem to anticipate first. As important as those things are to the health and happiness of others, men still see them as distractions from grander goals. And this refusal to split their energy at home is hurting women (who also harbour grander goals). Like Gloria said, “Women won’t be equal outside the home until men are equal inside it.”

As the world commits more and more to ecological sustainability, I think we need to push for “female sustainability”: that quality of not being willfully harmful by depleting the natural and spiritual resources of a wife/partner/girlfriend, and thereby supporting long-term balance in the home environment.

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