I used to be one of those women who said, ‘I’m not a feminist but.’ Now, after nearly thirty years of doing what’s traditionally thought of as a man’s job, I tend not to beat around the bush. Yes, I am a feminist. I don’t hate women who aren’t and I don’t hate men. I just want to do what I want to do. We’re all trying to get along and I respect that.
My sister is a single mum. For years she’s been Mum and Dad to her two kids. She is also a feminist. I don’t know if that’s how she thinks of herself, but she is. Not many women would be thrilled to get a chainsaw for Christmas, but she was. In return, she got me an electric sander. (I am so chuffed!) We are not skilled D.I.Y-ers, we’re more Bodge It and Run but hey, we’ll have a go.
Unfortunately, despite our macho attitude, my nephew has grown up in a house full of women and is not best pleased about it. He needs a man. He needs man input and man work. Well, we can’t magic up a man at the moment so I thought I might try to fill the gap by getting him to do some work with me around the house. First up, I let him have the first use of my sander. He worked away, sanding the front gate for all of ten minutes, then went off to play on his Xbox.
Today, when he came home from school, he found me painting the gate.
‘I thought that was my job,’ he said.
‘Don’t worry,’ I replied. ‘I’m just doing the gateposts. You can do the gate, if you’d like.’ He did like. This time he managed fifteen minutes before handing me his brush and going off to ride his scooter. It took me twenty minutes to brush out the drips, mop the excess off the path and clean his brush. And the gate is only done on one side. He says he’ll finish it tomorrow. I can’t wait! But you know what? If he does want to have another go tomorrow, I’ll let him. And I’ll let him help me paint the wood shed because it’s all part of life, it’s all a learning curve. And it makes him feel like a proper bloke.
Meanwhile, in the back garden, my niece is sawing up wood. I wonder if she feels like a proper bloke too.