Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The "We Girls Can Do Anything, Right Barbie?" Generation

I grew up in the 80's.  Which means that I had a front row seat to a feminist movement that saw women in the workplace move from being scandalous or desperate to being downright normal.  As a woman in my late 20's, at least for a little while longer, I am expected to work. If my heart's desire is to marry someone and spend my days as a homemaker, mother, and housewife, I'm considered spoiled or selfish because I'm expecting someone else to support me. In the last 30 years, we've gone from fighting for the right to work if we want to, to being as oppressed by the need to work as we were by the idea that we shouldn't. And while I could write several essays on this topic, this isn't exactly my point.

I call women who grew up during this time the "We Girls Can Do Anything Right Barbie?" generation.  I know there are still some of you who remember the commercials where Barbie, in her stylish power suit and brief case would go from the sharp office look to the sexy cocktail dress with ease.  Growing up in this generation instilled in me one powerful truth.  I could do anything that any old boy could do, but I had to prove it to the world. The day I internalized this message was the day Handy Mandy was born.

My earliest handy memory is a day when my father was changing out the flapper on the toilet, because the old one was rotten.  He took the lid off the tank and explained to me how the toilet worked.  I might have been 5 or 6. I was fascinated.  I knew how something worked.  It was an empowering feeling, and I liked it.  Over the next few years my dad, who had not found much of a mechanical inclination in my older brother, succeeded in teaching me everything from how to change a tire, to how to use power tools.  As a practicing Methodist, I went on many a mission trip, from places as near as Frisco Texas to San Juan, Costa Rica.  I painted houses, built floor joists, framed walls, dry walled rooms, re-shingled roofs, built wheelchair ramps and touched basically every part of a house except plumbing and electrical.  Those were deemed too dangerous for teenagers to be messing with.  So my dad taught me how to handle those things. At 24 I bought my very own house.  It was a serious fixer upper.  I did not hire a contractor.

These days my projects are mostly limited to whimsy and finding storage solutions.  I was lately doing some research on how to make a patio umbrella out of an old satellite dish, and though I'd seen it on the DIY channel, I could find only one decent picture of one, and no instructions.  So I thought I'd forge on ahead, and help out the fledgling DIYers out there.  And thus this blog was born.

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