Thursday, 20 September 2018

If I Had A Hammer...

Actually, I do have a hammer. When I went to Uni, my Dad gave me a small tool kit. It contained a hammer, screwdrivers, a Stanley knife and more. I always have a small Swiss Army knife on my keyring. When a work colleague asked in the office recently "has anyone got a screwdriver with them?" I am very proud that my daughter replied "Flat or cross head?" 
The late, great Heinz Wolff once said "We must bring our children up to be literate, numerate and manipulate" I don't know if you can use that word as an adjective, but I know exactly what he meant. We must teach them to use their hands, and not just for operating keypads and touch screens.
I checked out some more of Mr & Mrs Horth's "101" books and was not altogether surprised by the contents.
"101 things for a boy to make" shows a lad with a crane on the front cover - and a battleship and a lorry on the back. The 21st century re-issue says "More dangerous than 'The Dangerous Book For Boys'" You notice that MRS Horth is not credited with writing any of this volume.
Practical directions for the young craftsman- carving and cutting, sawing and sticking, nailing and knocking...
The parallel one is "101 things for a girl to DO" [no idea why she cannot make as well] And that is full of pages of sewing and knitting and crochet and lace. 
And I am irritated - but not surprised- that in the late 1940s girls were expect to find pretty, quiet little 'indoor' hobbies, whilst boys could climb and cut and set fire to things. I'm irritated because WW2 had just ended when women had worked machinery in munitions factories, flown planes, been lumberjacks  [sorry, -jills] They had cracked codes alongside Alan Turing, and been parachuted behind enemy lines to help the French Resistance. And now they can sit down by the fireside and stitch lace on a cushion. Huh!
What's out there now? I wondered. Here in the 21st century, when women are liberated and have had the vote for 100 years, can I find some good craft books? I discovered things to make and do for boys- and for girls- published by Usborne.
But would you believe it? - the boys' one has things like Egyptian Mummies, Stained Glass Windows, Dragon Pencils, Treasure Maps, Monster Masks, Cattle, Skeletons and Bats
All primary colours
And the girls' book has Mermaids, Unicorns, Fairy wings, Ice Cream, Flowers and Butterflies
Pastel Pinks and Turquoise
Surely they do not have to be like this?
I actually purchased a book of "Pirate things to make and do" a while ago, for a school activity.
I got it down from the shelf. Yes there are girl-pirates in there. I counted - 20%, 1 in 5 pirates is pictured as female. I suppose, historically speaking, the majority of pirate were blokes [but not all - Anne Bonny, Mary Read...] but this is a small yo-ho-ho in the right direction, I suppose.
Rosie is learning to use tools, ride a bike, build things...and to help her parents and grandparents in the kitchen and the garage. I'm glad she will grow up in a family where being a girl does not prevent her from exploring and discovering. She can be a scientist, a needleworker, a chef, a writer, a preacher*, an athlete....whatever 

- and we will support and encourage her decisions, I hope.
Well done Jocelyn Bell Burnell - who has at last been recognised for her contribution to astrophysics- and is generously giving away the £2.3million prize money to help fund PhD students underrated in STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering, maths]
**I have almost finished ranting, but to the elderly gentleman who asked me recently - NO, my husband does not write my sermons for me.
If I had an appropriate hammer, I would probably be using it to smash more glass ceilings.


  1. I’m not especially ‘crafty’ (although I am learning to knit), but as a child many hours were spent making Airfix models or buying balsa wood to make boats. I’m pretty good now at identifying WW2 aeroplanes.

  2. Philip, I'm sure your animal husbandry skills will involve some practical 'craftiness'. And well done for learning to knit, it's a very useful skill.

  3. Oh well said Angela, I too hope for better for our granddaughters. I’m very grateful you can now get dinosaur pajamas for little girls mind you.

  4. I always knew my childhood was a tad different , my single father didnt have a clue about girls so just raised me as he would a boy , My gran held me down and forced me to learn to craft . I suppose these days it would be described as being raised as gender neutral.

  5. It's sad when society dictates what sort of things one is supposed to do simply because one is a boy or a girl. Equal opportunity for everyone, I say.


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