You Are a Tool, Alright!

by mathhbratt

Okay. So this guy came to speak at our school today. The premise of his speech was that we are all designed differently, and we should accept our design and go with it. (ie: if you are a hammer, be the best hammer you can be rather than trying to be a screwdriver) He said we are all tools, and in the hammer example, we will get much further functioning as the tool we were designed to be (whacking nails) than we will trying to do jobs we weren’t designed for (twisting out screws). I get what he was trying to say. I might even support it. That is if he hadn’t alienated me with his sexism.

I am not easily offended. Unless it’s something I’m easily offended about. But, what I mean to say is I am not a feminist. Well, that is until you try to stereotype genders. Okay. I don’t really know what I am, but I am going to tell you why this guy ticked me off and therefore lost me during what were possibly the good parts of his speech.

This happened ten hours ago, and I had an eventful day of work after, so I have surely forgotten much, but here goes…

This guy started off by introducing himself as a tool guy. Tim The Tool Man Taylor came to mind, but then I went back to paying attention again. He started to talk about his tools, called all of us tools, etc. Then he compared this to training for baseball. I can’t really remember the connection here. I was stuck on the fact he mocked the small tool bag his wife got him when they moved into their apartment. It has a really small hammer in it.

Anyway, back to baseball… He asked our students if there were any who played baseball. Several hands went up. He then asked who were pitchers. Less hands remained up. He was pointing to the pitchers and saying something, but when he pointed to a female students he said, “or softball.”

This really irked me! I know this girl very well. She pitches baseball (not softball). I am super offended on her behalf that he would do that to her in front of the entire student body. Well, he really just revealed his own ignorance, so whatever.

Much more of his speech happened over the next several minutes. My mind was in and out of paying attention. I saw him refer to a rubber mallet as a hammer. I heard him refer to a flat head screwdriver as a “regular” screwdriver. I pondered on what an incredible imposter he was to be calling himself a tool guy and making such mistakes. Then the straw that broke the camel’s back happened.

He said that even thought his toolboxes have been getting bigger (he did some kind of Russian doll thing to demonstrate the evolution of his tool bag…something about being responsible with our current “little” to later be ready for a lot) he was keeping his small apartment tool bag (the one with the really small hammer in it), because he was going to pass it down to his son. Now, he did not say this in an endearing “passing this down to my son” kind of way. He said he was giving it to his son by default of being his only son and that surely his daughters would have no interest in the tools. I was thinking, “EXCUSE ME!?!?!” I am so very sad for his daughters!

I cannot even begin to express how incredibly thankful I am my dad was not like this. My dad taught me how to use tools whether I wanted to learn or not. From as young as I can remember, I’ve used all the tools one would find in a tool box. I know the difference between a socket wrench and a ratchet wrench (omg you should have seen the kids when he said, “Maybe you’re a ratchet!”), between slip joint pliers and needle-nose pliers, and unlike him, I know the difference between a rubber mallet and a hammer, and I would never call a flat head screwdriver a “regular” screwdriver. I’ve also used all of the power tools. I have welded, soldered, sawed (table, circular, band, chain, hand), lathed, and so much more! My dad and I used to build ham radios, put up fences, create doghouses, and fix just about everything all around our home, barn, and property.

You might be thinking I am a Tom-Boy, but you would be dead wrong. I am a fashionista and always have been! I love make-up, shoes, handbags, scarves, etc. Up until I got sick and gained weight, I was very waif-like. In other words, back when I was doing all this stuff with my dad, I was a fashionista waif with long hair and far from any stereotype you want to put on me for enjoying working with tools. You know why? Because the stereotype is wrong!

Too many dads (like the guy who spoke at our school today) assume their daughters won’t be interested or perhaps capable. They are wrong!! The girliest of girls can love the empowerment that comes from knowing how to build and to fix things without needing to call some guy to come do it for them! Do you have any idea the satisfaction I had in assembling ALL of my children’s baby furniture and pretty much every single “some assembly required” item we ever bought them? This while at the same time as baking them goodies and sewing them clothing? I love knowing how to do many things! I love not needing to rely on somebody else to do them for me. I love that my daughter got to grow up watching me do these things while also learning to do them herself.

Dads, please teach your daughter “boy” stuff. It is NOT “boy” stuff. It is important stuff that girls are not only fully capable of learning but are also fully capable of enjoying. And, you will likely enjoy passing on this knowledge to them, knowing they will never stay romantically involved with some jerk just because she feels dependent on him. You can know she will be able to change her own darned tire if she gets a flat out somewhere she isn’t safe waiting for AAA. You can know YOU taught her something and didn’t leave it all up to her mom! Just like a boy can find satisfaction in learning to bake cookies or wash his own laundry, a girl can enjoy fixing a leaky faucet or mending a roof or putting in new windows on the house. And she can enjoy it without losing whatever her identity is whether it be girly-girl or not.

And Mr. Tool Guy? Please just stop talking. Unless you decide you want to use better words and that some of those words will be in teaching your daughters the joys of becoming self-sufficient in more realms than just the kitchen. Now excuse me, while I go find a way to stop despising you and those like you. ugh!!!