I am becoming the man I didn't marry. "Stop saying that," protests a male friend, apparently noticing my breasts more than my tongue in cheek. "But it's true," I say. Look at me: dog-tired feet up on table, ripped and muddy jean shorts and smelly T-shirt, favorite well worn work boot odor wafting up from below, swilling a beer before 2pm. I swear, I am as woman as they come, but lately I've been mindfully, aggressively, obstinately chinking away at the gender mystique barrier like pro-capitalist German's at the Berlin wall, and I'm as sore as an athlete. Its a big job and as I'm still living with the Phantom Man, its gotta be me, or the job ain't gettin' done.
My first junction box! Booyah!
What is the 'Gender Mystique Barrier' of which I speak? Back in the '70's we had Friedan's 'Feminine Mystique', Gloria Steinem, the Equal Right's Amendment, some very nice tea, and much more to ponder. Four decades later, I can solidly claim that there is nothing that mystical about the 'feminine', except perhaps that it's based on money, or leisure, or man-power (literally), that I don't have. Afternoons sipping mint juleps with the other desperate housewives while admiring each others' pedicures, complaining about our husbands and bragging about our above-average children is not an experience I've had the privilege to enjoy. My toes are not that clean, nor do I have much time and energy for fashion, except the Reno-Depot kind. But mostly, the problem with the feminine is that its not practical. It doesn't get the trench dug, the wood stacked, or the shelving installed.
First attempt at framing-- requires attention to detail. Shit!
Yet it is expected of us. Without it we are sexless spinsters wearing pleated pants and sentenced to eternal loneliness and abandonment by normal society. My more cat-like sisters have figured out how to play coy and helpless as some kind of currency on the gender market, as a sort of feminine crowbar with a plunging neckline, but I am just too bow wow for all that. Yet my gender socialization holds me in its talons despite my willingness to forgo the manicure and says, "well ma'am, you just can't do that." What is it exactly that I can't do? That part is not entirely clear although it most often involves wiring or levers or some kind of power tool that is only available on the man market, transactions made in the back room of the bar, or behind the garage, when we ladies are not looking. But wait, who said that I can't do that? Was it my father? My brother? The guy at the hardware store? Well, sometimes it is and for some strange reason, I believe them. There is nothing worse than a trip to the man-store to hammer in my gender insecurity. Hours and hours I wander around, looking for supplies, interviewing staff and customers, trying to make decisions, totally ineffectively and at great cost.
A very nice monkey
But a few months of observation, layers of dirt and cash out later and I am slowly learning, a monkey could do most of this stuff. A few of the right tools, some common sense, and a bit of background with legos and tinker toys are enough to qualify anyone, including me. You wouldn't believe some of the mistakes the monkeys make. Hot water in the toilet? Vapor barrier-- whoops, we forgot! I love and appreciate my monkeys but from now on, I'm doin' it myself.