The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

December 28, 2012

Why women are now into power tools

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

I suspect female carpentry may also speak to a cultural shift in the way we see our own bodies, part of a larger trend toward what cultural historian Maud Lavin considers a more physical, action-oriented type of American woman. In her book "Push Comes to Shove," Lavin documents the rise of "positive representations of aggressive women," in realms as far-ranging as movies, sports and Riot Grrrl music. As The New York Times pointed out recently, Hollywood in 2012 provided a particularly good example of this trend, with a sword-wielding Snow White, a skilled archer in "Brave's" Merida, and, of course, the warrior Katniss Everdeen. These are not merely heroines, but heroines whose strong bodies are as essential to their victories as their wits. If Katniss wanted a new sideboard, would she really ask Peeta to build it for her?

Lately, I've started to reconsider the mental block I have against power tools, which is, let's face it, the same kind of gender-driven helplessness that leads some men to claim they don't "know how" to change a child's diaper. For years, when my husband was building things, including that picnic table, a flight of stairs and a closet, I've been happy to know as little as possible about the process. He's also started talking about building a bench for our living room that would double as toy storage for our toddler daughter.

The other night, when we were talking about activities we'd like to do together on free evenings, Dan suggested that perhaps I'd like to build that bench with him.

My first reaction was mild annoyance. I thought of all the time it would take, all the mistakes we'd make in measuring and cutting. Buying the darned thing would be so much easier. But then I paused. I considered the time I'd spend with him and the pleasure I've recently discovered in establishing mild competencies in new areas — sparring in karate class, riding a bike again after years of not riding. If Ana White could do it, I thought.

I said yes.

---

Copeland is a writer in New York and a regular Slate contributor. She was previously a Washington Post reporter and editor for 11 years. She can be reached at libbycopeland@gmail.com.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.
     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • Has the iPad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014