Building and fixing and musing on the puzzle of inequality, in 2 parts
So I began this post about two weeks ago, with an idea of what I wanted to say and within two paragraphs is was off the rails into a bit of a screed. I followed the words as the keyboard was hot, realizing it wasn’t a piece I’d probably post on this blog but still enjoying the fire. I saved the original and modified some of it for use here, because the core reason for writing it is still the same. Off we go…
It’s always puzzled me how women could be considered second class citizens in most of the modern world. Indeed, since the time of the cave man women have been #2 in most all societies. Sure, we were also treated with respect, chivalry, even reverence if one happened to be a monarch, even as we were beaten and treated as possessions. But how was it that we became #2? I mean we, who can produce Another. Human. Being. are considered “less than” our male counterparts. Not as smart, not as strong, not as worthy. WTF?
One hopes this is changing, ever so slowly, but frankly, once humans learned that “it takes two to tango” (i.e., insemination to make a baby), it’s been a downward spiral for women, once revered for that baby-making magic, with the tides only turning—somewhat—in “first world” societies. For eons, women, with VERY few exceptions, have not been equal in the views of religions, governments, and society in general. This inequality is especially acute to those of us who farm, and who know, without hesitation, that it’s the female of the species—cow, ewe, hen, doe, sow, mare—that is the most valuable animal on the farm. Sure, a bull or a buck or a stallion, a ram or rooster, may be the flashiest, or most sought after initially, but if you don’t have the cow or the ewe or the doe or the sow or the hen or the mare—hopefully of quality—you are dead in the water. The female stock are what the farmer keeps, and what the farmer breeds for. A bull calf, cockerel, buckling or a ram lamb? – an overwhelming majority are destined for the barbecue grill. Oh, and my hive full of honeybees? All females at this time of year, without exception. The drones have one purpose and at summers end are no longer needed. Oh.
So why does this all come up, here and now? Because I, your not-so-humble FEMALE blog host, has been doing some building. And fixing. And having minor revelations—heck, major revelations—as I produce something I’ve needed, or fix something for a fraction of the cost it would take to replace it. And with every one of these projects, I get it. I get why men, lord bless them, are so, ahem, cocksure. Why, in my society (North America) at least, they seem to be born with an inherent confidence that it’s taken me the better part of half a century to even consider for myself.
Going it solo for the past two decades (by choice, thank you), I’ve come around to the realization that not everything can be hired out. Sometimes it’s a matter of finances and other times, most times, a matter of “can you really do this to the quality I expect for the price that I’m paying?” I have to admit, I have been spoiled. Growing up with three brothers, each with “man” talents of varying degrees (one a fantastic musician/photographer, one a naturalist/grower, one a builder/artist and musician) then being married (or at least partnered with) for over a decade to a builder/artistic pragmatist of uncommonly brilliant common sense, one sees that there are strengths (and, by design?, weaknesses) to how the male brain works. And of course the same thing can be said of female brains. Our strengths and weaknesses happen to complement those reptilian male brains (just quoting science here, guys, not making any judgments), though it seems to be less valued, and perhaps that’s also a product of reptilian thinking. How we’ve let it get this far is beyond me. If I’d had children of my own perhaps I would understand better and this would all be moot, for the accomplishment of birthing and raising a compassionate, considerate human being to a productive member of society is an experience not on my resume, having realized early on that motherhood wasn’t for me (nurturing, yes; just not humans).
But with every home or farm project I complete, I understand a little more that “man thing.” Because it is a complete RUSH to build something from nothing, with only an idea in your head to start. Or fix something that seemed unfixable without help (by a man, of course). Sure, I’m probably late to the party—plenty of chicks have always been fixer upper types. I haven’t been, and actually have little skill in the “crafts” department too, generally considered a woman’s realm (sewing or knitting or quilting or scrapbooking type stuff). And while I’m sure plenty of men have self-doubt and are unsure of themselves at times, they also seem to have an innate boldness and sureness that seems to be lost in young women, with few exceptions, once they hit puberty. Whether this is nature or nurture (societal/cultural) is beyond the scope of this post, though with the boldness and sassiness of little girls, one has to assume that in the majority it’s the latter. A few more shop classes are in order, I think. It’s what the boys are doing when they’re going over the rocks of puberty and I think there’s something to it. Cause I’m telling ya, gals, with a little practice, this stuff is easy, and the satisfaction is enough to have you pumping your fists and running up the “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Gonna fly now!
Part two will follow shortly, to explain the projects pictured here, and why each one of them gave me more confidence than the next. In the meantime here’s some gratuitous cuteness.