The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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 | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

Free Press news updates
Seasonal Content
Featured Ads
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN