Gender stereotypes have permeated our culture for centuries, dictating what’s expected of men and women. Though men and women are biologically different, there’s no reason why these stereotypes should control what our men and women are capable of, or what they can comfortably do.
The word “handyman” is commonly used to describe someone skilled at various forms of maintenance, repair, or construction, and it’s no coincidence it ends in a masculine form. Men are typically expected to be the household’s authority on fixes and remodeling projects. But today, it’s important to break down this gender stereotype and expectation.
Why Handymen Skills Are For Everyone
These are just some of the reasons why typically masculine “handymen” skills should be available to and adopted by everyone:
Repair familiarity leads to independence.
First, and most importantly, being familiar with home repairs and maintenance leads to greater independence. Because these skills can be easily learned by anyone, there’s no reason why more women shouldn’t be familiar with them. Doing your own repair work, according to House Logic, can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars a year, depending on the scope of projects you’re working on. It also encourages more independence; having the confidence and ability to handle repair work on your own can lead to greater self-actualization in other areas.
Couples should work together.
Men and women often own a home together, so why shouldn’t they be equally invested in the work that goes into a home? When women learn more repair and maintenance skills, they’re able to contribute equally to things going wrong around the house, whether it’s an overflowing toilet or a leaky showerhead. Working together, couples can also bond and make stronger mutual decisions. For example, if you’re tackling a big job like renovating a kitchen, you can coordinate to create the kitchen you both want—and enjoy each other’s company in the process.
Masculine stereotypes lead to toxic masculinity.
It’s also worth noting that the stereotype of men exclusively engaging in “handymen” style work is a contributor to the cultural existence of toxic masculinity. Men are encouraged to be dominant and tough in this regard, getting their hands dirty, and being the ones to step up to emergencies or challenges. They’re also encouraged to work alone, without the help of others, and in an environment where women are discouraged from learning handymen skills, men could grow to see women as incapable. Over time, this setup contributes significantly to a male sense of superiority, and a deeper divide between the sexes.
Resources are plentiful.
Do you have a lack of family members or contacts available to teach you how to become a “handyman”? Are you unable to become an apprentice or attend classes? These limitations aren’t a problem anymore, thanks to the abundance of online resources available to teach anyone how to do anything. Spending time on platforms like DIY Network, This Old House, or even YouTube can help even a total amateur become acquainted with the basics of construction or maintenance in virtually any area. If you’re willing to learn, you’re able to learn—no exceptions.
It’s impossible to reshape societal expectations overnight, and there’s not much we can do directly to make this change occur. Instead, it’s going to take small steps, from all of us, to make it more common and more acceptable for women to learn skills stereotypically reserved for “handymen.” Teach your daughters and other loved ones what you know about repair work, even if you’re only an amateur, and encourage them to expand their knowledge by consulting online resources or other professionals. Don’t try to take on all your household’s repair projects by yourself, and don’t measure your own value in terms of what you can and can’t repair on your own.
If we can encourage enough people to do the same, not only will we have a culture where people are better able to take care of themselves, we’ll establish a better balance between the sexes at the same time. It’s only one area of harmful gender stereotypes, but every step is a step in the right direction.
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