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Nov 02 2006

Drudge report

halloween06.jpg
Halloween in the Gated Land of the Fake Tuscan Villas, Austin TX

In the October 29 edition of the New York Times you will find another installment in that endless series on the empowerful new woman of today. This iteration regurgitates a version of the popular narrative about the megatheocorporatocracy (in this case, retailers), and how it has realized, all of a sudden — as though some major publication doesn’t document the same “trend” about once every three minutes — that women make 4 gazillion percent of the purchasing decisions in this country. Armed with this wholly unanticipated intelligence, retailers and service providers have ‘finally’ begun to sit up and take notice.

Check out this howler:

“We are perhaps on the first step to a matriarchal society; women will earn more money than men if current trends continue by 2028,” said Michael J. Silverstein of the Boston Consulting Group. “The trend has been escalating in the last 10 years as there has been a gradual, slow erosion of the power balance in the family, a psychic rebalancing.”

Before you start high-fivin’ everybody over at Hairy-Leg HQ in anticipation of the demise of white male domination, please note that Michael J Silverstein is blowing smoke up our ass. The “we” to whom he alludes is clearly a white male middle-class, nuclear-family-based “we”, exclusive of anyone who does not already possess a certain level of education and buying power. Silverstein’s comical, so-called “first step to a matriarchal society” will certainly coincide with porcine aviation before it leads to anything remotely resembling the crumbling of patriarchy. And even if Silverstein’s mythical new order were right around the corner, the spinster aunt reminds the blamer that matriarchy is not the antithesis of patriarchy, for a turd by any other name would smell as stinky. In other words, what Silverstein calls ‘psychic rebalancing’ is merely a nonsense term for a consumer-driven supersaturation of that foul blight upon human fulfillment, femininity.

But as I was saying: women, the New York Times points out helpfully, shop.

One of the aspects of this newly discovered “trend” that the Times article claims to have unearthed, like so many content-free news inches before it, is the sudden proliferation of marketing focus groups and their astonishing findings. Women, it turns out, are so indescribably different from the default human standard that buttloads of research must be conducted to plumb the depths of their weird yearnings and funky fiscal habits. To wit:

MassMutual’s “Pearls of Wisdom” seminar teaches insurance agents about “women’s expectations and needs.” Home builders discover — by, get this, “listening to women” — that they should stop putting the mud room in the laundry room. Stores like Best Buy put out “special product displays” for the ladies, whatever that means; presumably they are covered with butterflies and tampons. Hotel chains tease out the heretofore closely-guarded secret that women travelers dislike that their makeup is always falling into the john in unfeminine hotel bathrooms, and that women, with their atypical enormous wardrobes, require “more” closet space, not to mention “better mirrors,” what with their inability to survive without gazing for hours on end upon their own reflections; this staggering knowledge allows hotels to rake in the dough with “Glam Girls” promotions, wherein women, at $300 a pop, are herded into suites to swap nail polish and eat mini-bar snacks. Another promoter stages trips called — how I wish I were making this up — “Crave Parties,” events “that weave together shopping, bonding and professional networking” with the ubiquitous manicures, massages, and “goody bags.”

The fabled “erosion” of traditional masculinity to which Silverstein alludes is bogus; perhaps he’s just inferring from having watched beer commercials that today’s King of the Kastle is a less-informed — and, from which cultivated ignorance it may be construed, lazier — consumer than the vintage take-charge Dad of yore. But men in nuclear families have always been happy to hoist & foist: they hoist Miller Lites while spouting “man-laws” from the couch, and foist off the tedium of major domestic purchasing decisions onto the household menial, the wife. The only thing new is that the wife is now being told how empowering this is. Hence the emergence of what-women-want versions of drudge paraphernalia that used to be the exclusive purview of the he-man: easy-open paint cans, manicure-friendly snow plows and remedial sheet-rock seminars at Home Depot.

What’s changed? Nothin. Women, no matter what else they’ve got going on, are as in charge of the domicile as ever, only now, either because money’s tight or because the Remodeling Channel on cable has made it look easier than it is, they are expected to undertake major home repairs as well. The girly DIY websites (they of the pink hard hats) call this “confidence.” I call it “more unpaid labor.”

Naturally I’m all for being handy around the house, but let’s face it: unless you’re a devout hobbyist, if you’ve got the green, you’re gonna hire a professional to build the new deck. It strikes me that all this DIY crap is a signal that women, for all their highly-touted “buying power,” are really a lot more hard-up than Boston Consulting Groups want to admit to clients who are eager to roll out the new line of lavender-scented power tools.

The aforementioned MassMutual insurance company has implemented a whole program called “Selling To Women.” Like others of its ilk, the program focuses on the heretofore impenetrable mystery that has plagued philosophical endeavor since the dawn of time: ‘what do women want?’*

The answer, to look at the evidence amassed by the NY Times, is that women want their corporatocracy to cater to femininity, girliness, a gal’s passion for ‘goody bags,’ and the glorious empowerful opportunity to learn how to install dimmer switches. Equal pay, alas, continues to fly under the radar. Same shit, different day.

___________________________________
* I wish someone would tell Mesa/Boogie that what I want is a 100-watt tube amp that doesn’t weigh 247 pounds.

62 comments

4 pings

  1. Jezebella

    My blaming friends, Woman has been the Designated Consumer since the dawn of the industrial revolution, advertising, and department stores. It all ties into that “angel in the home” crap they were spouting in the days of Victoria: Man goes out and earns a living in the mean cruel world (of other men), and when he comes home, his angel in the home lets him put his feet up and relax. She takes care of the domestic stuff, which of course includes shopping, so he only has to “work” forty hours a week. She gets to rule the house, he gets the rest of the world. It’s a fair trade, is it not? Voting for pretty pink toilet paper is, in this equation, at least as empowerful as voting for the next Senator from Tennessee.

    What is surprising to me is that the idiots in the advertising business seem to think this is Brand New Information. Is it really new to them, on account of they don’t study history, or is it an insidious plot to disguise advertising as “news”? Perhaps it is both.

    And, Twisty, I’m with you on this DIY bullshit. I’d rather save my pennies and pay an expert to tile my bathroom in mere hours. To me, DIY means you spend hours taking multiple trips to Home Depot and watching HGTV (aka The House Porn Channel), and eventually spend at least as much money on supplies and esoteric tools you will never need again, and then you have to devote an entire weekend to tiling the damn bathroom. Eff that. Eff it, I say.

  2. sockpuppet

    Some women really go for that do it yourself stuff, though. My daughter’s partner spends big bucks on power tools and even has her own workshop now.
    Of course women have been big consumers for a long time, going back at least to that power shopper, Marie Antoinette. She had a whole country to rip off.
    But who really controls capital? It’s the men, of course.

  3. stekatz

    Well put. Who exactly does Mr. Silverman think he’s fooling with this crap?

    This reminds me of this old Onion article:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38558

  4. TP

    My obstreperal lobe is well nigh bursting with the froth of rage tempered by more than few well placed chuckles. I read you and I weep. How do you do it? Porcine aviation, for crying out loud! Just one gem wrested from a coruscation of beauties!

  5. gennimcmahon

    Long has it troubled me that the opiate of the female masses appears to be shopping; particularly of the fluffy variety. The idea that a new “_____” will bring happiness, spiritual actualization, and, even, MEANING to one’s life is chilling. If I do not shop, do I exist? As a woman, hardly. Truly, the discovery here is that there are NEW things to shop for, a distraction that keeps us from brushing our frosted bangs from our freshly waxed brows (with manicured hands glittering with African limbs, I mean, diamonds) and peering through the mascara to see that we are still oppressed. Living 50 miles from the US Mexico border, where women are being murdered at a rate that boggles the mind AND NOTHING IS BEING DONE, I am supposed to turn away and, instead, take some shopping valium; hit the local mega DIY chain and buy pink screwdrivers, get a pedicure and hope for a really cool goody bag. I blame the patriarchy most fully.

  6. norbizness

    You seem to forget how Imelda Marcos re-shaped Filipino society. If only they had had collectible razor cell phones back in the 80s, she could have matriarchalized the whole Pacific Rim.

  7. Edith

    As I have mentioned a few times here, I live in a dorm. In my room, the only mirror I have is a hand mirror which I use only once in a while to see if I have any smears around my mouth or boogers hanging out of my nose. Our shower room has no mirrors in it. Many students have complained about it, but I find it refreshing. The only mirrors are, oddly enough, in the toilet room, where you can admire the expressions you make as you take a dump.

  8. Ms Kate

    The women I know who do their own work around the house, like painting, drywalling, decks, etc. do so for a variety of reasons – like they like to do it and it can be fun. In some cases, like doing your own paint/wallpaper, you can save a great deal of money too.

    Like me, many women learn to do these things because hiring people to work for you most often means bending over for a pat on the ass and all the “little lady” references to males in your presence (ignoring you, of course) as you get over run by sexist “professionals”. It is simply much easier (in my experience) to come at patriarchy soaked dealings with mechanics and home improvement contractors when you have some concept of how things work and how they should be.

    It is further possible to weed out the losers when they won’t deal with you because you know your shit, and spot attempts to featherbed and sell you unnecessary things because you are presumed – by din’t of vagina – to be willing to buy anything and not know the least about the work at hand.

  9. politicsnpoetry

    Reminds me of a poem I wrote:

    While corporate revenues top seven billion she steals

    a moment alone where music blares, cubes
    tinkle glass, and balls clack on green tables.
    She tries to find solace in her away from home
    break, a quick trip to the mall –

    the new Winners, next door, looking for wooden blocks,
    finding two sets: one letter-stamped with faded primaries
    the other, factory-carved, bright, bold characters,

    both stickered Made in China where, she knows, gears and buttons
    churn out purchases, plastics, assorted other toxins, and
    more of what she thinks she just might need…

    And she never says stop. Enough. No more.
    No more of the bore. No more more-more bore,
    cuz she’s hooked on the rush of the buy,
    the eightball in the corner pocket, the next fix –

    convinced this is freedom of choice:
    two sets of educational blocks.

  10. mearl

    Women buy 80% of what is sold in the world, and most of our purchases have to do with either household items, beauty and appearance, kids, cleaning, or food. Men buy big-ticket items, and pleasure items for themselves, like porn, liquor, electronics, sports crap, and women. I certainly agree that women should scale back on buying clothes, jewellery, hair products, kitsch, etc. and enjoy the fantastic feeling of taking the large lump of money we’ll save and owning our own houses or cars (out of all my friends, only 3 have bought dwellings, and those 3 are single and kickass: the others either live in shoddy apartments like I do or in houses/condos that their hubbies/boyfriends bought. I actually once heard a friend ask permission from her boyfriend to spend 15 dollars on a volleyball, because she pays for nothing, not her mortgage, not her tuition, not her car insurance, property tax, RSPs or leisure pursuits. He pays. She’s 6 years older than him and was living with her mom when she met him, and was making just over 6 bucks an hour while in university, and can be counted on to spend 50 bucks on a face cream).

    What I can’t understand is why any self-respecting woman would just swallow this marketing crap that says women can’t make use of anything in the traditional realm of guy-stuff unless it comes in hot pink and is covered in flowers and kittens. The colour pink has always been my nemesis, not because I have no appreciation for colour, but because of what it represents. Pink is a symbol for babies. Pink is also a symbol for women. Why, I ask, are women lumped in with babies? I thought about it once, and figured that maybe it had to do with an association of sex organs. I then concluded that if everything for women is to be labia-pink, everything for guys should be trembling, transparent, testicle veiny purplish-beige. That’s my new marketing ploy. Who thinks it will sell!!

  11. Lara

    “lavender-scented power tools”

    *wipes eyes*

  12. Mandos

    I then concluded that if everything for women is to be labia-pink, everything for guys should be trembling, transparent, testicle veiny purplish-beige. That’s my new marketing ploy. Who thinks it will sell!!

    I think this would be cool, ekshually, like science fictional cool.

  13. slade

    I wish we could get a Womens’ Consumer Strike going. I believe women buy ‘things’ because they lack self-fulfillment. Things suck. You gotta dust ‘em, insure ‘em, and more than likely pay huge amounts of interest on ‘em (since you didn’t pay cash). Resulting in what? Not happiness…that’s for sure.

    Consumerism sucks. My motto: Just Buy Food. And for the hardcore strikers… Buy Only Real Food (No Processed Foods allowed). Okay, and some soap and toothpaste and toilet paper. All clothes are purchased at Goodwill or Second Hand Stores…and only IF needed. We truly NEED so little. And that leaves money for what really matters….FUN and FREEDOM!

  14. Leigh

    “The girly DIY websites (they of the pink hard hats) call this ‘confidence.’ I call it ‘more unpaid labor.’”

    Well, they’re easily confused, those two. It’s a rather subtle distinction, between personal fulfillment and economic exploitation. At least when your head’s up your ass.

  15. scratchy888

    Ew, women they are power grabbing in their own conniving way. They subtly control the males, through sex magic, which is the power of male genital control through remote manipulation, using female mysticism. Nontheless, once provoked, the sheik will not quit:
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/i-wont-quit-says-sheik/2006/10/27/1161749284120.html

    Female magic is a terrible crime. Control of male brain waves via sex energy is a crime deserving of execution.

  16. Sylvanite

    Buy things, ladies! It will give you the illusion of control, and that your man actually cares about your input.

  17. redneckmother

    Twisty, is that nuclear armageddon on the horizon of Fake Tuscan Villas?

    I read that NYT piece and thought it was telling that this homebuilder had to go to all the trouble to herd women into focus groups to discover that mud and laundry don’t mix, and that being able to supervise kids in the backyard while cooking is preferrable to not.

    I then concluded that if everything for women is to be labia-pink, everything for guys should be trembling, transparent, testicle veiny purplish-beige.

    Aha, Mearl! I’ve been in my current home for two years and never quite put my finger on why I hate the old paint in the master bath. When friends ask, I’ve been telling them it’s “Bruised Perineum,” but now I realize it’s actually “Blue Balls.” Gah! I’m calling the painter today.

  18. B. Dagger Lee

    Dual-Purpose “veiny purplish-beige” Sausage and Textual-Analysis Machine: “Ding, ding, ding!”

    From the Pedantic Footnotes for the Literal-Minded Slot: ref. Hayao Miyazaki’s “Porco Rosso.”

  19. saltyC

    Yes, shopping is a chore as hideous as cleaning the toilet. As Germaine Greer observed: look at the women you see when you go shopping, are they smiling?

  20. Mar Iguana

    A stroll down a super market aisle sure brings a tear to my eye. I remember how hard it was, as a single mom, affording decent food for my son. I have no idea how young parents are doing it now. I watch these young mothers with a kid or two in tow in a grocery store and I damn despair.

    I’m glad they changed to plastic cards instead of food stamps here. At least, on top of everything else, these moms don’t have to endure the stink eye they used to get from everybody from the cashier to the other people in line any more.

  21. Jezebella

    Ms Kate:

    Point taken. Some people do enjoy the DIY thing, but I refuse to feel un-virtuous because I don’t want to build my own deck or tile my own bathroom. I’ve got a drill, and I know how to use it, but when it comes to big stuff, I’d rather hold off until I can pay a professional.

    I am not promoting ignorance of how-to-do-it. It is of course essential to be an informed consumer when engaging in home improvement or any other exchange of goods & services, especially when you’re dealing with a man who thinks he can put one over on the “little lady.” The construction and auto trades seem to be the worst offenders when it comes to treating women like children and trying to cheat us out of even more money, but they’re not the sole offenders.

  22. T Rey

    I would also point out that this kind of “get out and shop” crap is the new liturgy in the religion of corporate America. We gotta keep the rich folk rich. I feel that the only acceptable change out there for the powers that be is not from patriarchy to matriarchry but to some white fat-assed male run corporatarchy(?). All hail the holy dollar and the supreme rich. Now be a good citizen and go forth and spend! Oh yeah and borrow and work for ever decreasing wages.

  23. danni

    Changing power tools and the like to a design supposedly more suitable for women has more to do with mens psyche than anything. The idea that women could come into a traditionally male sector and be competent and blend in so well as to use the same equipment would be unthinkable. The difference, and hence inferiority, has to show. It’s the same with pink weights. You can’t underestimate the subtle psychological effects this has on women.

  24. thelmyc

    Oh, those things never sell anyhow — why do you think they keep pushing them in different guise over and over every few years? Because some dipshit gets the idea that women would lurve pink power tools and makes some “let’s welcome the ladeez” marketing scheme … and the women in the Home Depot all raise a brow at the pink tools and go over to buy some more Snap-On, because no matter how prettily the handle of the ball-driver is painted, if it’s a cheapass piece of shit and snaps off inside the screw, it’s a cheapass piece of shit and snaps off inside the screw.

    So they advance those tools, no one in their right mind buys them, they die out, the shitheads in charge conclude that “women don’t like power tools,” and they proceed to continue to market to men — until the next few years, when Dipshit #2 realizes there’s wimmin buyin’ these things, maybe we should paint `em pink! Chicks dig pink!

    And the cycle begins again. Seriously — these idiot promotions are designed by men. The same gender that is so well-informed about women that the vast majority of them think we pee out of our vaginas. You think they’re actually gonna get it right as to what a woman wants out of a power screwdriver or a socket wrench set?

  25. finnsmotel

    “Before you start high-fivin’ everybody over at Hairy-Leg HQ in anticipation of the demise of white male domination, please note that Michael J Silverstein is blowing smoke up our ass.”

    Hee!

    It may not be a consolation, but, Hairy-Leg HQ can give an all-around high five for at least having reached the numbers to constitute a target demographic. These dummies obviously haven’t figured out how to properly target it, yet, but still.

    I knew I was a target demographic the first few times I wandered through the store (any store, you name it) and started hearing tunes (some that I actually liked) from my highschool years being piped in.

    Am I disturbed that Consumerism has taken hold of our society? Sure. But, if they play REM in the background, I still might buy an extra t-shirt.

    Twisty, you make some amazingly sharp observations that couldn’t be more on the mark. You do so with the wit of a thousand writers. But, it is really tough to live a day-to-day existence in this world of ours without, at some point, being one of the people you are lampooning. In other words, you’re so ‘right’ that it hurts.

    -finn

  26. Nia

    The identification of DIY with more unpaid labour is certainly true, but I think that I need to know how to use a drill and a saw so that a) I don’t depend on the nearest man to use them for me, b) said man does not assume that because he used the drill I get to clean up after him, cook his dinner and do the dishes afterwards. Those tasks need to get done to, and I’m willing to do them if it’s not taken for granted that they are mine.

    Besides, I like to be able to use tools because whatever you do with them lasts, and for that reason feels more worth it that the everyday household task that women are normally condemned to do.

  27. Nia

    Sorry for the typo. “to get done too”, of course.

  28. thelmyc

    It’s very similar to something I remember seeing on the Omnidirectional Cultural Sludge Pump before I got rid of cable, a story about — what else, this was the fucking Hitler Channel — toy trains. They always put up shows about guy junk. (Although, to be honets, model trains are actually kind of cool. I love the old HO gauge ones … Anyway.)

    They talked about an attempt in the 50s to get girls to buy trains, because we were obviously cringing in fear away from themlike monkeys scared of a new toy in our cages. What else do you think Lion-L did but paint them pink?

    And the announcer said precisely what everyone here is saying: it was a stupid idea, and it died a quick death. Boys would sooner die than buy a pink trains, and girls who liked toy trains (I was very surprised to hear him make this observation) wanted trains for the same reason as boys, not some mystery girl reason: because they liked trains and wanted to buy small model versions of the ones they’d seen. NO ONE wanted a fucking pink train set.

  29. Sniper

    Speaking for all women, as I understand every single one of us does, I want a much higher salary – plus 50 per cent would be nice. I promise to spend a large portion of it on consumer goods or services if this happens.

  30. B. Dagger Lee

    Every woman needs to have and know how to use a saw in case of a dead body in the bathtub.
    –BDL

  31. Kali

    Brilliantly funny analysis. How do you do it, Twisty? I remember reading that NYT article and had the same reaction but the most articulate thing I could come up with was “Gah”.

    Agreed about the “more unpaid labor” point. Give me equal pay for equal work and I’ll be happy to pay someone to do the bathroom tiling. And spend the time I save in searching for female owned/operated businesses to hire.

  32. Hawise

    I object to trying to stop stupid paint-it-pink promotional plans- they invariably fail and result in a glut of cheap power tools at tremendous prices. The stupid pink paint wears off but a 90% discount is forever;) (as long as it is a good brand.)
    I remember reading about the man who developped the old Michelin tire ads with the babies. He knew nothing about tires and so went to his dealership to do a little research. He asked all about performance and what men wanted in a tire and finally the dealer said- nothing. He told the advertising guy that men don’t buy tires, they send their wives to do all the car maintenance. He said guys buy cars and after that, unless they do the work themselves, it is the wives who do the rest. Those ads sky-rocketed Michelin to one of the major tire companies.
    Of course, advertising and company promotional departments tend to have a huge turnover and so they have to reinvent the wheel every five-ten years.

  33. Jezebella

    I’ve just had a thought that all this DIY business is directed more at upgrades than at actual repairs. If women feel we need to redecorate every so often – or every season, if you believe the decorator rags – then we will spend more on home stuff. If you can’t afford to pay someone to redecorate every year, maybe, just maybe, you can afford to do-it-yourself. It’s still consumerism, for the most part. Why else do appliances come in new colors every year? The same reason hemlines change every year. The message: YOU NEED NEW ONES!

    Repairs are one thing; continual “home improvement” is a whole other industry. Home Improvement is one of those moving targets – you can never be too rich, too thin, too feminine, or too fashionable (in your person or your home). It’s profitable to keep us all aiming at the moving target of fashion, whether in the form of this season’s Prada kitten heels or this season’s Viking range.

    Though I’m not interested in pink tools, I would like to have a drill with a smaller handle as the one I have is apparently designed for someone with orangutang-like giant monkey hands. It’s fine for quick jobs but I couldn’t use it for long periods of time.

    PS: BDL, I heart you.

  34. Pony

    That 2006 Koufax is so yours Twisty.

    Heh snort, BDL, ever the practical one.

    Hi saltyC, heard you all the way from the heartland.

  35. amananta

    Mar Iguana – it would be nice if the real motivation behind the little plastic cards for food stamp and welfare recipients was the dignity of women whose life work is caring for their spawn, but the real reason is that the powers that be were unhappy that all those “welfare queens” got actual cash money back in change from their food stamps, because we all know those morally degenerate recipients of our government’s largesse ($228 dollars a month total between AFDC and food stamps for me and my toddler when I was flat out destitute in the late 90s) are a bunch of drugs addicts who use that motley collection of change to buy unapproved of items such as – soap, toilet paper and shampoo. How dare those beggars want to be clean!
    Not that I’m bitter or anything.

  36. KMTBERRY

    Women doing MORE unpaid labor by doing the home improvements TOO is nothing new. My Aunt and her best friend totally remodelled every home my Aunt and Uncle lived in, including doing all the drywall, and that was during the years 1950-1990. I bet you anything she was not alone…..and the family tradition continues. I think it has at least something to do with what wage you command: I make less per hour than a male laborer, so it makles sense for me to do it myself, otherwise I will be paying someone MORE than I would have made if I spent all the hours working.

  37. B. Dagger Lee

    Since I just went running, I heart everybody and everything, especially my saw (Japanese pull) and you too, Jezebella.

    Pony! Where have you been? I missed the tapping of your hooves.

    yrs, BDL

  38. final repose

    Twisty,

    I have been reading your blog for over half a year now and I just wanted to thank you for your writings. English is not my first or second language and reading your blog (and comments) motivates me to read every sentence twice, tree times and even more. And the more I read your creations, the more I appreciate them. And thanks to IBTP, I now even know what a Mondegreen is… even a VISUAL Mondegreen.

    Heh, thanks.

    Everytime I clean the bathroom I just HAVE to play the too too too too too too too tool of the patriarchy on my blame-o-phone.

  39. Erin

    I read the Crave Parties as involving shopping, bondage and professional networking, and I thought “Oh shit! Here we go!”

  40. KTal

    “Like me, many women learn to do these things because hiring people to work for you most often means bending over for a pat on the ass and all the “little lady” references to males in your presence (ignoring you, of course) as you get over run by sexist “professionals”. It is simply much easier (in my experience) to come at patriarchy soaked dealings with mechanics and home improvement contractors when you have some concept of how things work and how they should be.”

    Well as a remodeler/builder myself I have to tell you that I close a lot of deals based on the fact that I am a woman. Not only are women more comfortable with me, but men are as well. By the same token, women as well as men can be sexist asshats and refuse to work with us based on my gender, or figure they can get one over on me. I’m dealing with an electrician subcontractor of just that stripe right now.

    But then again, I often have to tow along my carpenter partner to officialize everything, since no matter what I may know, I don’t know a damn thing and I have to have a man to nod approval or make his little assertions here and there. Having the correct type of man to do this is essential, it is a rare breed as the average man would never allow a woman to tow him around so he can play second fiddle to her being the company boss. Over 50, self secure, a little shy and not feeling the burning desire to rule the world is essential, among other qualities.

    And, I haven’t met any woman yet who’ve done much heavy duty remodeling as they probably don’t call contractors anyway, except for the neighbors of a place where we were doing a build last year. She did quite a lot of work, he mowed the lawn. He was also quite proud of her skills. She’s not working and he wants her to go to work. She won’t. I said she could start at the union to learn more or work with a local contractor or me. Nope. Like it the no-pay way. That I don’t understand, except maybe fear keeps her at home, or maybe she just doesn’t want to work, period. I hear tell she rules the castle anyway.

    And yes, to choose a professional to do the work when required is a smart move and I always enjoy having someone who knows what they are talking about — if they truly do know what they are talking about and not just applying learning from a few sessions in front of HGTV or This New/Old House Rip-Off.

    I’ve seen some ‘do it yourself’ work and mostly by men and let me tell you, most at least reduced the value of their property, some actually threatened the safety of those living there.

    As for women and shopping ‘news’, seems to me nothing more than another ‘news release’ sent into the news room by a savvy advertising agency and a lazy, bored reporter jumped all over it and made it into something worthy of a paycheck.

    And yes, I want to hear more men say to me,

    “Well, we’re kind of short on the financing, I need a larger kitchen, but my wife here bought a new boat and a new Harley, so I guess I’ll settle for a little less…although I’d like a central vac system. But its her house, so I guess she has the last say.”

    I haven’t heard that yet, but I’m patient.

  41. KTal

    I have to relate a funny story told to me about those neighbors by the people we were working for.

    Husband next door comes over and asks my customer’s husband, “Hey, um, can I borrow your car tomorrow to go to work?”

    Customer husband: “What’s wrong with yours?”
    Neighbor: “It broke down yesterday and its in the shop for three days, I don’t have a car to get to work tomorrow.”
    Customer: “But you’re wife has a car doesn’t she and she doesn’t work?”
    Neighbor: “Yeah, but she won’t let me use it.”
    Customer: “She wont’t? Why?”
    Neighbor: “I don’t know, she says she has things to do, like take the kids to school.”
    Customer: “But the kids catch the bus up the block?”
    Neighbor: “I know, but she said no. [hesitation] Oh well, I’ll see if my brother can take me to work, just that I’ll have to get a way from his house to home.”
    Customer: “Ok, let me know.”

    Customer hears through neighborhood grapevine that neighbor had to bike all week from brother’s house in the morning and then back home. One day, wife is coming home with one of their children in her SUV. Child says, “Mom look, its Dad!” Mom doesn’t slow down, “Aren’t you gonna pick him up ma?” says child, “Nope, he’s doing fine.” wife says as she passes her husband, huffing and pedaling on one of their kid’s old bicycles.

  42. Ms Kate

    So Ktal, what do you think of all the tool catalogues where everything is showcased like a prized phallic by women in bikinis? That shit still around?

    My favorite was the woman taking a bubble bath in a solvent tank.

    When I worked as an engineering tech in my late teens, I used to make paperdoll outfits for the poster women, put OSHA notices about proper work attire on them, etc. Then The Germans took over the company and immediately removed all the posters and calendars from the tool crib because they were unprofessional.

  43. Ron Sullivan

    Pony! Old Home Week!

    BDL — Tshirt! Sampler! Tattoo! Though a cleaver might be just the tool if you know human anatomy.

    Jezebella — my hands are far from dainty but they aren’t big either. I’ve had good luck with Japanese tools (like BDL’s saw), the major exception being Felco pruners (with which I used to make a living)because they come in various sizes and handle shapes. I think my beloved Hida Tool has an online shop.

  44. cycles

    Customer hears through neighborhood grapevine that neighbor had to bike all week from brother’s house in the morning and then back home. One day, wife is coming home with one of their children in her SUV. Child says, “Mom look, its Dad!” Mom doesn’t slow down, “Aren’t you gonna pick him up ma?” says child, “Nope, he’s doing fine.” wife says as she passes her husband, huffing and pedaling on one of their kid’s old bicycles.

    Well, obviously he needs to get a decent adult-sized hybrid bike for commuting. Put some panniers on that sucker, learn to clean and lube a chain, feel a couple weeks’ worth of muscle built up on his legs, and I’ll show you a new convert to cyclocommuting.

    Sorry. Like I said. I’m horribly biased.

  45. junegloom

    This post raised a question in my only marginally gender-studious mind: Isn’t consumer culture also feminizing in that special “femininity” kinda way the Western, industrialized males of the species as well?

    Isn’t that what the whole metro-sexual thing is about: manicures, form-fitting designer clothes, and girly skin care regimens for the boy pals as well as the gal pals? I swear those tight sweater-wearing urban strip club hoppers are about two years away from a nice matte powder/foundation combo being socially acceptable and even expected. A neutral lip gloss will inevitably follow, and the gender war will find itself fighting on yet a new frontier: the Mac counter at Macy’s. Male marketing images have become so glamorized and prettified they look just as pornographic as the girl images, and I use “girl” deliberately since the majority of “women” in advertising look fourteen tops.

    This seems to be the diabolical genius of advanced capitalism: it subjugates everything in the end, even the ideological and social constructs it uses to amass power (i.e. democracy, patriarchy, etc.). One of the reasons I feel compelled to rail against consumption first and the patriarchy second, is that our suicidal consumer culture that is leading us straight into global disaster and economic collapse (read the Reuters headlines today, anyone?) seems to be increasingly egalitarian in its insistence on brutally objectifying and exploiting all manner of people (as delineated by race, class, gender, faith, etc.) for the sole purpose of glutting ourselves into oblivion.

    No doubt women always bear the worst of the brunt. And of course I am more concerned with the plight of women than callow, hipster pigs, and other varieties of male, for that matter. But it still seems to me that the patriarchy itself has just become another machination of corrupt capitalism, which was, ironically, fathered by the male world order. And now capitalism will eat the male order that spawned it along with everything else in its path. Like totally Ouroboros, dude.

    I apologize if my ponderings are obvious and facile to you more scholarly types. It’s all very confusing for a grad-school dropout doom-monger, and I get such a thrill clicking that glorious “blame” button, I sometimes just can’t help myself.

  46. Mar Iguana

    amananta, I should have known. In the patriarchy, for women, it’s heads you lose, tails you lose.

  47. Ann Bartow

    I’m sure I’m not the only fan of Amananta’s blog “Screaming Into The Void” reading this thread. Could y’all read the post at the following link and brainstorm with me?
    http://amananta.wordpress.com/2006/11/04/oh-mama-can-this-really-be-the-end/

  48. Mar Iguana

    Regarding yet another mind-fuck contribution from messed-up-in-head Austrian ilk (I’m one quarter Austrian, birthplace of Hitler. I can call them assholes all day long if I want to) I remember reading, in Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique,” about this Aryian jerk, Ernest Dichter (as in “he earnestly dicked ‘er”) (ya just can’t make this stuff up; worthy of Dickens). He was a shrink from Vienna practicing the pseudo-science of psychoanalysis.

    Apparently, after WWII, the mind-fuckers had learned all this stuff using a new-fangled weapon call psychological operations. The war ends and they look around for something else that could use what they had learned about human (read male) psychology for fun and profit. Lots and lots of profit. They found Madison Avenue a perfect fit.

    “So the Handlers hired Ernest Dichter, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Motivational Research in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, to do a study for them. In 1957, Dichter was considered a marketing genius; people like Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique”, considered him an evil genius, for being able to zero in on people’s weaknesses and use them as a marketing device.

    “For example, in his research for Chrysler, Dichter found that “men viewed sedans like wives; they were “comfortable and safe”, while convertibles were like mistresses; they were “youthful, beckoning to “the dreamer” within.

    “Dichter exploited their misery by seeking to fill their anguished, barren lives with products. “Properly manipulated (‘if you are not afraid of that word,’ he said), American housewives can be given the sense of identity, purpose, creativity, the self-realization, even the sexual joy they lack–by the buying of things.” (Ibid, para. 1, page 38)

    “So it was only a short step from making Mommy want to buy things to relieve the stress and boredom of being a housewife to making Mommy’s little girl want to buy Barbie and all her pretty clothes and accessories, so she could play at being the independent career girl that Mommy never got to be, but she still had a chance to become. After interviewing hundreds of housewives and their little girls in the 8 to 13 age group, Dichter came up with a marketing strategy for Mattel: Convince Mommy that the well-groomed, well-dressed Barbie doll would be a good influence on her tomboyish daughter, that acquiring a Barbie doll would teach her little roughneck to dress well, to accessorize, to appeal to men in a more ladylike way as she grew old enough to care what boys thought of her. So Barbie was marketed as a teenage fashion model, making her official debut at the American Toy Fair in the winter of 1959 in her black-and-white swimsuit and bushy blonde hairdo. By the summer of ’59, the doll was flying off the shelves of toyshops, and thus a star was born.”

    http://www.zoominfo.com/people/dichter_ernest_13081652.aspx

    “Properly manipulated (‘if you are not afraid of that word,’ he said), American housewives”

    Riiight. Now why in the world would the word “MANipulated” scare the living crap outta me? I must have a psychological problem.

    Small correction to the above: Barbie was officially debuted in the male-bastion tobacco shops in Berlin, sold as a prostitute doll the boys could dangle from their rearview mirrors. Mrs. Mattel saw one while on a visit to Germany and the rest is history. Bad history. She didn’t change the look of this nasty, little, tits-on-a-stick doll one bit.

    I was about twelve when Barbie hit the shelves. Gave me the creeps first time I saw her. To my mom’s credit, even though few moms were dealing with daughters more tomboy than her own, it creeped her out too and Barbie never darkened our door.

  49. Buttercup

    I was on my way over to hairy leg hq when, dammitall, i got distracted by a goody bag. it turned out it was full of lavender-scented power tools.

    twisty, you’re batting 1000 with this one. good stuff, good stuff indeed. eminently quotable. and the truth (as opposed to truthiness) just pours off of it.

    home depot is doing the girly display (butterflies and tampons) thing too… i scoff at them as i walk past, confident in my ability to fix almost anything that my home throws at me, despite being a frail flower of femininity… or something. gimme reasonably priced power tools without the pink decals, please. i just peel ‘em off anyway.

    meet you guys over by the sheetrock 101 class. we can heckle the instructor, mmk?

  50. KTal

    “So Ktal, what do you think of all the tool catalogues where everything is showcased like a prized phallic by women in bikinis? That shit still around?

    My favorite was the woman taking a bubble bath in a solvent tank.”

    Well! Now you’ve hit a chord. I haven’t seen a lot of the ‘hotties holding teh man’s tool’ stuff, but I’ve seen this that drives my ire:

    The general assumption among all catalog designers and work clothing manufacturers that there isn’t a single woman anywhere doing any kind of trade work, nope, not a one. All clothes made for men, modeled by men. Of course, in some such as Duluth Trading Post, they have a seperate section ‘for the Ladeez’ repleat with gardening gloves, gardening clogs, sun hats and other necessities for puttering around the posies — all ona weekend while husband lounges in the hammock.

    Or Working Wear which according to them, women are all nurses and of course, being nurses they all are dying for the chance to wear smocks with little teddy bears on them, or cute swimming fishies, or whatever.

    Actually, I also wanted to add, Twisty mentioned pink hard hats being worn by ‘de womenz’ on these DIY shows. In the union around these parts, a pink hardhard is given for the employee who forgets to bring his own when shows for work. Nothing like girl-shaming.

    Every local hardware store I’ve been into (I really try to stay away from that big orange place) always has a little Point of Purchase display (usually a smallish box) filled with little retractable knives with a jazzy flower design and an optional matching mini-hammer that comes apart to reveal a mini-screwdriver inside the handle. Guess us women with our mini hands need mini hammers so we can do our little mini projects and of course don’t forget the flowers, causing holding a real tool might cause us to think we are people. Then we’d cross over the guy-land where all the fun is and then where’d we all be?

  51. Buttercup

    Every woman needs to have and know how to use a saw in case of a dead body in the bathtub.
    –BDL

    B Dagger Lee, dontcha know that’s one of those jobs I’d hire a pro to do. I know my limitations.

  52. rainie

    Through much of my life I have not been in the position to hire things out. I was married too long to someone who was really no more than a stone to drag around. Money was a scarce commodity and if home improvement was to be done, it wasn’t going to happen unless I did it.

    That said, I find/found a strange satisfaction in some tasks. Home improvement tasks are tangible and lasting. See that lovely closet around where there used to be a furnace visible in the corner of the kitchen, yeah, I built that. Household tasks that are typically considered female are fleeting, done today, need to be done again tomorrow. Yet, I fully understand and agree with adding home improvement to the “lil woman’s list” being just more unpaid labor, just more drudgework.

    My moment of epiphany: I was 5 months pregnant with my now 15 yr old son, lying on the ground under my car, unscrewing the plug from the oilpan of my car… and I thought.. “this is so fucked up”. (Ok, I said epiphany, not elegant eloquent epiphany.) 8-) I have not changed my oil or done any of my own car repair since.

    I had long felt that glorification of the earthmother able to do everything persona was just a way to get more drudgework out of women.

    Thank you for saying it well.

    Use of the word drudge made me smile. I used to ask my now-ex if there was a neon sign above my head that said drudge and no one had told me about it.

  53. hedonistic

    Drudge Repo – - – oh I get it now!

    The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker can certainly be slow some days. Anyhoo, this was an AWESOME essay that hit a little too close to home and inspired my own blogrant.

    (Sometimes the commentary at this site is equally inspiring, by the way. Thank you!)

  54. drumgurl

    Twisty, does this mean you own a Daisy Rock guitar? ;-)

  55. Blamerella

    And, Twisty, I’m with you on this DIY bullshit. I’d rather save my pennies and pay an expert to tile my bathroom in mere hours. To me, DIY means you spend hours taking multiple trips to Home Depot and watching HGTV (aka The House Porn Channel), and eventually spend at least as much money on supplies and esoteric tools you will never need again, and then you have to devote an entire weekend to tiling the damn bathroom. Eff that. Eff it, I say.

    One post in and I’m commiserating. DIY is the biggest scam ever foisted on humanity. I’ve yet to meet a single person, including myself in a brief moment of insanity, who has not spent MORE trying to do shit themselves than if they’d just paid the damn professionals that they have to call in to fix the eff-ups in the first damn place.

    Right now I’m looking at a few grand to hire people to repaint the interior of my house because I got it into my head that plain off-white Just Wouldn’t Do! And I was a miserable waste of life if I couldn’t create Vibrant Accent Walls! With Fashionable Decorative Finishes! So my living room is a splotchy, streaky burgundy and the flat white paint I used over the unmatching semi-gloss marigold that I painted the wall next to it with cracked so that looks like shit too.

    My parents lived in the same house for decades and never changed the decor a bit. I think they had the right idea. I blame the patriarchy for DIY.

  56. thebewilderness

    Many years ago when I was a young and ignorant git I helped my grandpa do stuff. As a result I grew up ignorant of the fact that the stuff we did was not patriarchially approved girl stuff, but rather guy stuff. Then I made a miserable marriage and shortly became a single parent. After several less than successful relationships, I made a discovery. Men covet tools. Men do not think women are entitled to own tools. Therefore when a relationship ends men confiscate all tools that do not have pink paint on them. Pink paint was originally applied as a man repellant for tools. There is not much sadder than a man casting googly eyes at a DeWalt compound miter saw with a pink man repellent racing stripe. Those marketing wizards who fail to win the tool loving womens hearts with their cheap ass pink tools clearly do not get the joke.

  57. Jezebella

    bewilderness:

    This is perhaps the best new breakup/divorce advice I’ve encountered in ages: if you don’t want your soon-to-be ex to take something, Paint it Pink. Genius. I wish I’d thought of this before I lost my good hammer and some other tools to my last ex. He would never have “mixed up” pink tools with his own abundant supply.

    I bet it works with just about anything you might want to keep: slap some flowery stickers or pink paint on the gas grill, and its yours! Fridge, stereo, TV… all worthy of a dash of man-repellent. Finally, home decorating serves a worthy cause.

  58. hedonistic

    Oh, Jezebella, that’s BRILLIANT! Too late for me, unfortunately: My ex even took my grandfather’s tools. I screamed bloody murder over it and was able to retrieve the ones I recognized, but I’m sure my ex still has most of them.

    I’m TOTALLY giving this advice to my sister, who is going through a divorce but still has the keys to the house she shared with her now-ex . . .

  59. grrr kitty

    The only power tool I enjoy is my chainsaw. It was a birthday gift from my sister and it is not pink. I dream of using it on the patriarchy and smile whilst artfully sculpting the shrubs in the front yard.

    Hairy-Leg HQ, ho ho ho.

  60. Pony

    The only power tool I want is the one I used to have, my father’s long barelled 38 revolver, which is now in the illegal position of a male nephew.

  61. Pony

    Well yah I guess he’s a male nephew. I was going to anonymize him, then decided he doesn’t bloody well deserve it but didn’t edit it properly. Would I could edit him. MALE relative? Non. Nephew.

  62. grrr kitty

    Yes, Pony, I totally empathize. I have a conservative republican nephew whom I’d dearly love to edit. I donated my father’s .38 to my sister’s husband, who is of a more stable, sane temperament.

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