… and it’s not about the Reproductive System, either:
(c) 2014, Davd
One early March morning, as i was sitting in my bed doing an important chore, it occurred to me that an average-sized woman could do it better than i was, for good anatomical reasons.
(Yes, the bed is a clue. The fact that i was sitting up in bed [with my back propped against three pillows] is a better clue.)
I was mending a felt boot-liner, with a needle and thread. Some seams had come open, probably due to the original thread wearing through; and while the felt is fairly easy to sew, the places needing mending would be impossible to fit into the business end of a typical household sewing machine *
So there i sat, mending seams in a felt boot-liner; and the work went just fine except when i had knots to tie. I was using polyester thread, because it “takes wear better”, and a small-eye needle so as to disturb the integrity of the felt as little as possible. Threading the needle went almost well, given good light; though the diameter of the thread was something like 80% of the diameter of the needle’s eye. The problems came when i had to tie knots in that very fine thread, and couldn’t do it by manoeuvring the needle. Tying two short [2-4 cm] lengths of fine sewing hread—well, guys, as most of you know, our fingertips are just too [ahem.. NetNanny won’t allow that word] stubby to do it even half easily. I got the job done, but not nearly as easily …
… as a woman whose three middle fingers are about the same thickness as my “pinkie” [aka “little finger”—NetNanny seems to be OK with baby talk, and that’s one BabyTalk word that fairly many “grownups” actually speak.]
With three fingers a few mm thicker than a pencil, and a pinkie about the same thickness as a pencil, on each hand; a woman in the smaller half of the hand size distribution would have found that knot tying much easier than i did.** So while hand mending isn’t necessarily “women’s work”, some of it is work that should be women’s when the men have work to which our anatomies are more suited, enough to keep us busy—work like heavy gardening, for instance.
It made more sense that cold March morning, for me to spend an extra 5-10 minutes tying knots that a woman’s hands were more suited to tie, than to take the job somewhere else for smaller fingers to do. Taking the job elsewhere and fetching it back would have taken much longer. It makes more sense for me to do fine detail work involved in growing tomato plants indoors to be planted out when the frost is gone, for the same basic reason. But if i were living with a woman whose hands were less stubby than mine are, i’d dig the transplanting holes (over a cubic foot in size, anyway) and split the firewood, and she could transplant new tomato sprouts. We’d each be doing sex-appropriate work.
* Perhaps a shoemaker would have a machine that could do such jobs, and i can remember when there was a good working Scandinavian shoemaker in Thunder Bay, to whom i took not felt liners but leather boots for work. That was 25 years or longer, ago; and i wonder if there are any shops like his, today.
** (Assuming, if anyone had thought to quibble, that her hand-eye coordination be about as good as mine and her intelligence anywhere above the bottom quarter of the range.) There may be times when small boys can do fine-fingertip work better than their stubby fingered fathers and elder brothers.
I do some 50 hours of mending, give or take a dozen or two, each year. That’s partly because i don’t care a [ahem.. NetNanny might not allow that word either] of a lot about Looking Nice when working in the forest and the gardens, and partly because it costs me an hour or more, and $10 or more [sometimes much more] in fuel, to “go shopping.”