One of the biggest pet peeves I seem to have is to come across a review on items used to fix and repair things in the house where someone will write, “I was able to do this, and I’m a female.”
Immediately, my brain kicks into high gear with these questions:
What do you mean you could do this even though you were a female?
Was something specifically written in the instructions saying it should be MORE difficult for a female?
I’ve been fixing and repairing things since I was a young adult and had first moved out on my own. Back then, hiring a professional wasn’t an option. Searching the Internet to find out how to repair things wasn’t an option either. So, when a used washing machine I had bought broke down, I chose to take it apart, figure out what went wrong, and replace the pieces. It was a method that taught me a lot back then.
I had no assistance. The choice was that either I fix it or it didn’t get fixed.
As time progressed, I learned methods to figuring out how to fix things. I wrote down how I took an appliance or other item apart (what was the order of disassembling) so that I could work backwards, and put it back together. I spoke with people who had problems with their items and could narrow down the problems based on the experiences of others. Knowledge is power, and there’s always something you can learn from another person.
I never once believed that, because I was born a female, my abilities would be lacking in the fix-it and repair department. The thought never entered my head. Now that I think about it, could it be that I was successful with things I took on BECAUSE those thoughts never entered my head? Could it be that I believed enough in myself that I attempted to install a hot water heater, solder pipes, and tile bathroom floors?
Probably one of the best things that happened to me was that I was raised with sisters. The whole house was female with the exception of my poor father who was at the mercy of us pulling jokes on him as girls against boy. We were never discouraged from doing anything that a boy might do, and no one ever said, “You can’t do that because you’re a girl.”
I played the snare drum starting at the age of 12 and moved onto a drum set by the time I was in junior high. Even at a young age, I had a desire to make things out of wood, and I took shop when I was in junior high school where I learned everything from making plant holders from metal to firing up bizarrely painted vases I made. It was more than wood shop, and those experiences went far with me.
I loved making things with my hands from start to finish whether it was something involving wood, metal, fabric for clothing, or food for meals…it was the creative process I enjoyed so much. I loved the feeling of repairing an item in my home where the costs of my repairs were pennies on the dollar in comparison to hiring someone to come to our house.
I was a stay at home mom to four daughters. The only thing that allowed me to do that in this day and age was sacrificing and becoming a Jill of all trades. Being able to take on the house repairs and keep the household running made it possible for us to afford things like violin lessons, field trips, and art supplies. Along with all of these things was a feeling of accomplishment with being able to maintain a home from top to bottom.
Our society still seems to be teaching that women are the cooks and the ones to clean while men are the ones who do the yard work and home repairs. Don’t believe me? Pay attention to commercials on television. Women are generally the ones dancing with their floor cleaners, grocery shopping, making meals, and complaining about spots on clothing. Men are the ones riding the lawn mowers in the yards, buying the grass seed, and flipping the burgers on the grills. I could never understand why cooking on the grill was a man’s territory when I had cooked so much in general. What was it about the fire and outdoor cooking that somehow stipulated this was the man’s territory? I love cooking on the grill, and am admittedly better at it than my husband. In fact, the first time he tried one of my burgers, he turned over the grill. The fact that he was born a male didn’t make him better at it. He told me that he assumed that it was his role with cooking, and, now that we talk about it, he doesn’t even really know why.
I’ve been a mother for well over half my life now. I’ve also been doing house repairs just as long. To this day, if my husband and I go to a hardware store together, my husband is the one the store employees approach when I’m looking for an item. The only time I ever get approached is when I’m completely alone, and it always seems to be assumed that I’m lost and don’t know what I’m trying to find. There’s an assumption that I truly don’t know what I’m doing, and it gets extremely awkward when the store employee tries to tell me how to do something and gives me incorrect instruction. I always do my research prior to going to a hardware store. I educate myself on things I need, and I’ve come to realize that so many working there are just winging it.
For all of these years, the work I did helped keep our family unit running smoothly. My husband and I have a partnership where we know what it takes to keep the house running. If it takes me replacing the hot water heating elements or repairing a dishwasher, then that’s what is done. When I’m working on whatever needs to be worked on, he’ll wash the dishes or sweep the floor.
I look at people as people and not necessarily as a gender. Men can cook and clean. Women can repair and use power tools. I would rather shop for tools than clothes, and cook on a grill instead of indoors. If some of the top chefs are men, then why can’t some of the top mechanics be women? It’s so easy, even I can do it, and I’m a woman….