Is it feminist to be able to fix your own plumbing? Where are all the female tradespeople? Rhona-Mairead Sweeting considers the place of feminism in the construction industry and manual trades
All those years of reading books, absorbing the feminist polemic and pursuing equality in all areas have recently, for me, been brought crashing down by a simple realisation.
I am rubbish at DIY.
Having been brought up within a staunchly feminist family, I’ve always thought of myself as reasonably independent – you know, pretty handy with a screwdriver, a wheel jack and a spanner. However, I have spent much of the last month and a half feeling, by turns, annoyed, exasperated and woefully inadequate, as it transpires that neither my significant other nor I are anywhere near competent when it comes to slightly more complex household repair jobs than hitting a tap with a hammer.
As we are in the process of having our beautiful yet comedically quirky Edwardian home renovated, I have recently spent a large chunk of my time inviting a succession of tradesmen (I don’t use the word lightly) into our home. While this is irritating and expensive in itself, what is even more irritating has been the attitude of most of the Neanderthals that have stomped into my hall, demanding tea and the approval of ‘my better half’ before proceeding with any work.