My first car was a real beater. When I got it, it needed quite a bit of work. My dad, a lifelong DIY guy, told me to get my shoes and some old clothes on because we were going to go outside to work on my car. This elicited major whining on my part. I did NOT want to go out and work on that car. So my father told me something that has stayed with me since that day. “You are smart and capable, so you will learn how to do this. That way you won’t need a man around to maintain your car for you, and if you pay someone to do it, it will be by choice ““ not because you can’t do it for yourself. Never put yourself in a position where you must rely on someone else, especially a man, to do something you are more than capable of doing yourself.” My dad is such a smart guy!
Since that day, I have made it a point to not be afraid of “getting my hands dirty.” It has been my experience that I’m an exception among my lady friends. After college, I shared a townhouse with four other women and I was the only one who came with my own set of basic tools. My roommates always looked to me for help with all things mechanical. I would confidently whip out my tools and, when my friends would say they could NEVER use those things, I would smugly say, “Oh suuuure you could.” I confess, back then I was overly proud (in an elitist, snobby kind of way) of my DIY abilities. I didn’t lord it over my friends that I had skills they lacked, but I did allow myself to indulge (okay, wallow like a sow in mud) in a sense of superiority as “the chick who’s not afraid of tools.” What can I say? I was young and foolish. Since- I’d like to believe- I have grown since then, instead of feeling superior when I say, “Oh sure you can!” I always try to follow it up with, “Here let me show you how.” I think every woman should hear the words my dad said to me. You are smart, and you ARE capable of doing this.
But I still encounter so many ladies who are intimidated by tools to trying to do things for themselves. So where am I going with all this? Pink Tools.
The other day Mr. Nevada and I were walking through the hardware section of WalMart when I saw a display of pink tools. My knee-jerk reaction was to be offended. I even ranted at length to Mr. Nevada about it. As a woman who thought a two”“way ratcheting Snap-On screwdriver with a whole set of bits was the BEST Mother’s Day present ever, seeing pink tools sent me into a tizzy. How condescending! How offensive! I likened it to playing dress-up with girly pink “tools” and a matching pink tool belt. Look! It matches my nail polish and lipgloss, tee hee hee!! I was all set to write this article demonizing the manufacturers of pink tools as perpetuating female sterotypes of form over function, the inability of women to use “men’s” tools, and the myth of female fragility. But then I had a chance to sit on it and think about this pink tool thing.
I realized I was guilty of snobbery again. Just because I am comfortable with the tools in my husband’s (many) tool chests, does not mean all women are, or would be if they found themselves in a position where they had to use one. Every single one of the women I know who claims she would never be able to change the oil in her car, fix a leaky toilet, or install her own tile back-splash are, in fact, perfectly capable of doing it, they just have to learn how. The problem is, these women have not been exposed to, or educated about, tools. And this brings us back to the pink tools.
I will, blushingly, say the pink tools I saw were cute. One set was pink with yellow details. Others were lavender and grey. That cuteness might bridge the gap for some women. I find myself intimidated by some tools (mostly large power tools with amazingly fast, super sharp spinning blades). If these were marketed in softer colors, ergonomically designed to be more accessible to women, and had manuals written with women in mind, would I be less intimidated? Probably. Intrigued by this concept, I started searching the Internet for pink tools. Turns out there are a lot out there. There is even a direct sales company called Tomboy Tools that does pink tool home parties complete with educational materials and DIY project ideas. Sure, I found cheap playing-dress-up-quality tools out there, but I also found some pink tools made by decent manufacturers. What was even more encouraging was the selections I found of non-pink tools that are ergonomically designed and weighted for women. The key is to look for quality and understand that, when it comes to tools, you get what you pay for.
Finding these pink tools has made me hopeful. If more women, women who would have been too intimidated to use tools before, are more comfortable learning new skills with pink tools it will help bridge the gap between “men’s work” and “women’s work.” More women will learn that they can DIY. More women will learn what my father taught me so many years ago ““ You are smart, and you are capable of doing this. You do not have to rely on anyone else (especially a man) to do something you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself.