Thursday, June 4, 2009


The term 'empowerful', for those of you not familiar with it, was coined a few years back by the incomparable Twisty Faster, a heroine of the blogosphere, at her blog I Blame the Patriarchy. (Oh, and she so does.) If you follow that link it will take you to her own elaboration of the term, but in brief it refers to the anti-feminist line of what for want of a better word I'll call argument that women no longer need feminism because we are now already 'empowered'.

As I understand it, this 'empowerment' consists chiefly in exercising the right to choose: making, say, a choice to wear 'shapewear' (the new name for corsets) so that your body will look 'better' (ie more in line with male fantasy), or to stagger alone down a dark alley in the nightclub precinct at 3 am on a Sunday morning wearing nothing but a pink thong with vomit-clogged sequins on it, or to drift in and out of consciousness while being gangbanged by a dozen or so rugby players. Just look at the power being wielded by women in those situations. You can almost smell it.

Too old these days to qualify for any of the above options apart from the shapewear one, which would no doubt make me look marginally better but which I would be laughing too much to get into, I have opted instead for a night class called Home Maintenance for Women. Tuesday night was tiling, the main reason I'd finally got round to enrolling after years of meaning to, and although I would have been better advised to spend the evening in bed with Lemsip and a book, the prospect of learning how to re-tile the splashback space above the new bathroom sink properly (instead of the way the last person did it) was too enticing to pass up, and besides, the beautiful little tiles I have found, with stylised vignettes in subdued colours of the Tuscan countryside, deserve to be well and lovingly put up.

Not only did I learn tiling and grouting but I also did this:

Actually I'd already finished one, but our WEA tutor, the lovely Rose Squire, said no it wasn't good enough because I'd broken a few of the copper-wire filaments off short by getting too enthusiastic with the wire stripper, so I had to cut the whole thing off and start again. I predict that by the time I finally get it right, my home-made extension cord will be two metres long instead of the three I started out with. And yes there is a tool called a wire stripper, and there is also a tool called a tile nibbler which, like the wire stripper, does exactly what it says. (If you use it properly. Ahem.)

So I have useful information coming out of my ears. But the confidence and the demystification are even more important, equipping one to carry on one's researches independently and not feel like a moron in Bunnings. I won't call it empowerment, because I think it is too late to rescue that lovely word. But it certainly feels like power.


TimT said...

'So I have useful information coming out of my ears.'

You're informational! (A word that actually has made it into the Macquarie Dictionary, I'm afraid.)

Mindy said...

Sounds like a great course you are doing. Unfortunately I don't think there is anything like it around here.

fxh said...

Rest assured it is imposssible to ever be the biggest moron in Bunnings. Just listen to some of the things blokes ask the red shirt people.

A polite note of caution: My B-I-L is a sparkie he always says:

"Do your own plumbing and get it wrong and all that happens is yo uget wet. Do your own electricity work and you might easily die"

R.H. said...
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Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yes, concerned dudes (and thank you for your concern), the plug is indeed not finished which I sort of thought I'd said in the post. Re danger, Rose says she switches the mains power off before she so much as changes a light globe, because apparently in older houses (like mine) there can still be some sort of current current (so to speak) even with the light switched off. It's actually against the law to do any of your own electricity that involves hard wiring, nor do I ever plan to.

Mindy said...

Hubby is still reeling from hearing a Bunnings employee tell a customer that specially treated and sealed wood, designed for use outdoors was 'no good outdoors, it will just rot'. I knew he was wrong and I know bugger all about wood.

R.H. said...
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Josie said...

In my case, "home maintenance for women" means moisturiser and hair dye. It's a losing battle, though

Caroline said...

Just out of interest, does your extension lead have three wires to wrap around the screws or just the two? My vacuum cleaner has only two and it is forever exploding itself out of the powerpoint. (*BANG* oooooh! Looky. No safety switch here, apparently). I've had to repair this 'connection' that many times now, the lead is getting very short indeed. But I've been wondering if the problem is that there are only two wires when there should perhaps be three, maybe an 'earth' or something. I can't seem to justify buying wirestrippers for this one purpose alone, but I did buy a manual drill the other day. Works a treat. Tiling sounds like fun. Pulling the old ones off, maybe not so.


M-H said...

I think you should be very empowered, especially after looking at that rewired plug. I didn't think they did these courses any more, but it sounds like a bloody good idea. Tap washer replacement, oil filter replacment, screwing in straight... these are all skills I sadly lack. I can change a fuse, but my house doesn't have any now.

R.H. said...
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Tony said...

RH wrote:

"Most home appliances these days, including vacuum cleaners are double insulated, in which case you only need two wires: blue (active) and brown (neutral)."

I hate to be a nark, but since I am also a qualified electrician, and electrical safety is always an issue, I need to nark it up.

Literally, you got your wires crossed: Blue is neutral and brown is active!

You were about to jump in and retort that AC is not polarity conscious.

That is true.

However, you might then decide to connect a brown to a black or a blue to a red under the assumption you were connecting neutral-to-neutral and/or active-to-active.

Do that and, as first revealed in the 1942 Book of Electrical Jokes (Bakelite edition), you would get one hell of a shock. Metaphorically.

You might also, but not necessarily, upset any earth leakage or residual current protection.

Remember: "One flash an' she's ash." (Note the gender inclusiveness.)

R.H. said...

I realised later but it's bugger all. These ladies wouldn't combine brown with black anyway. There'd be a bang, that's all, in Brunswick Street.
I'm always gender inclusive: "One line and she's mine." (Sorry, I'd do better but I'm watching the footy.)


cinnamon girl said...

I've been thinking about doing this course for years too. Maybe I'll sign up for the next one - Id love to be more confident with empower tools and other handy things.