Monday, 4 November 2013

Friday Feminism: the means and the will

I started off thinking this week's idea was a bit on the flaky side, mainly because what I want to talk about is a bit on the gender stereotype side of the spectrum, and I want to be all "yeah! feminism makes me tough! no hurdle too big!" etc.

But then I thought, really, this Friday theme is meant to be addressing anything and everything that catches my fancy; it's ultimately meant to be applying my feminism to all the things in the world. And this week's particular thing has been independence. 

I got to thinking about how some things shouldn't be a big deal, but they are for me. I started realising that actually, for other people, the things I think are silly to make a fuss over are actually a huge, huge deal in terms of autonomy and empowerment.

Enough of the mystery though, I'll tell you what I mean exactly: I'm talking about mechanical stuff and things. I'm also talking about life skills. And I'm talking about education and self-education, and expectations.

So this week I paid my car registration. Not only did I pay my car registration, I sorted out the green slip, and the big news was I changed the name of the owner on the van so it is now MY name. Yes, that's right, I officially own Maude the Mazda. Me, an owner of a car. Things are crazy.

Craziest ever was that until this week, I had no idea how it all worked. The fact that a green slip is separate from registration. That you have to go see a mechanic first. That all this stuff costs money. Why didn't I know this stuff? The simplest answer is that I've never owned a car before, and so why would I know it? But then I wonder: when do other people learn this stuff? Have I failed to be listening to the right information at the right time? Was there a day in highschool where they talked us through basic car ownership procedure? 

Methinks no, there was not. 

With me, and I don't know about you all, but the longer I go without knowing something, the bigger the stumbling block it becomes for me to learn it. It took me 10 years to learn to drive a manual car after I had my license, because I somehow managed to get around it for that long, all the while developing an inordinate fear of gear-changing.

Now, I totally rule at gear changes and really love driving a manual. Because it's the best, obviously.

Something clicks over when you own and can competently drive a car. Suddenly, you have this heady power at your fingertips. This is what I mean by 'the means and the will'. My lesson, learned over a stretched out period of time, is that the more ability you have, the more you want. It's sort of like how snowboarding was. Once you have beaten down the voices in your head that say 'you can't drive that van, that van is too hard for you to drive' or 'you can't go down that slope, it's too steep for you to manage' or 'you don't know how to do that, so just stay home with a nice cup of tea and read your book, would you?' ... once you challenge those voices and the scary part is over, the feeling of power and self-satisfaction is immense.

So this week was maybe no so much about being a woman, but about being an adult and grabbing onto great power (and great responsibility).

Anyone else had a thing like this? A thing they let someone else do for them for a long time before learning how to do it themselves?



  1. What an awesome topic for a Friday. Love it! Last weekend I got my husband to show me how to use the air hose at a petrol station to pump up my bike. Ridiculous I know, bloody ridiculous. But I'd never done it, and felt a little intimidated by not exploding the things. Now?.. sorted.
    (jumped over from Pip :-)

    1. thanks for popping by :) a theme for friday means i'm guaranteed to write at least once a week ;)

      it's so nice to feel like i've made some kind of progress into the knowing stuff that's meant to come with being an adult... even if it's just one tiny thing at a time!