A woman I know said this recently in regards to a household task that is usually a husbandly domain. I’ve heard it before and not thought much of it, but as I was cutting hay today – actually, I was mowing the lawn at my parents’, it was really long, and they have 1-1/2 acres of lawn – I thought about it again. If I didn’t know how to run the lawn tractor, I wouldn’t have to cut the lawn. If I didn’t know to adjust the choke and disengage the blade and try again when it didn’t start , I wouldn’t have to cut the lawn, and so on and so on…But I do know all of those things, thus I have been sneezing all day having nicely chopped up a whole lot of dandelion pollen. Yay me!
Since I was a little girl, I have refused to accept that there are things that I cannot do simply because I am female. (It irks me to this day that I cannot pee standing up!). I took metal shop in junior high because the guidance counselor told me, “girls take Home Economics.” I made perhaps the worst dustpan and lamp in the history of eighth grade metal shop, but I did it…me, a girl. So now I know how to use a drill press and bend metal. My high school had flourishing girls athletic program – thank you Title IX, and I excelled in volleyball and softball. So now I know how to throw and catch balls (surprisingly useless skills given how much time we spend honing them). When I was in college, my dad got me a job working for a local branch of the company he worked for making hydraulic hose assemblies. So now I know how to use all sorts of industrial machinery and drive a forklift – and swear like a sailor…those hose guys could really swear a blue streak, and I had to fit in. When I moved out of state for graduate school, my dad wasn’t around to do it, so I learned how to change a tire and check the oil on my car so I wouldn’t get stranded.
Evidently, I’m a rather independent person. As an adult, I’ve learned to do a lot of things rather than have to rely on someone else to do them for me. My neighbor, who is about my age, doesn’t drive. It’s not that she doesn’t have a car, it’s that she doesn’t drive at all. This is extremely unusual among the women I know…in fact, I don’t think I know any other women, under 80, who don’t drive. (a quick statistical check shows that nearly 70% of the female population in the US are licensed drivers) She’s not sight, or hearing, or otherwise impaired, she just doesn’t drive. She’s completely reliant on her husband or someone else to take her places. She asked me the other day if I’d let her know the next time I went shopping so she could tag along…apparently her husband doesn’t want to drive her. I won’t bore you with the backstory, but the last thing I want to do is spend a precious free day shopping with this woman – apart from the driving thing, she just plain creeps me out – a lift to the bank? OK. A whole afternoon with her? No thank you. I could not possibly accept being dependent on anyone to that degree. I guess it gets back to my need to be independent. If I have a flat tire and my husband is in the car, I’m more than happy to let him deal with it, but I also know that I could do it myself if he wasn’t there, just the same as I could do a lot of things if no one else was able to.
“If I don’t know how to do it, I don’t have to do it.” I think I’d still rather know how to do things, and trust that the people around me will do their share.