Women and Tools

So this blog is mostly about my DIY projects with a secondary purpose of documenting my life, and very rarely will I share a rant or a whole post about my feelings… that’s just not my purpose in starting a blog, but yesterday I was reading my Glamour magazine over lunch.  It is a magazine I have subscribed to for several years and I like the balance it strikes in covering both real women who are strong and independent as well as the fashion, makeup and ‘girly’ side of our lives.  This is a balance I try (sometimes more successfully than others) in my life.

I am a woman who loves power tools and manicures. I like when my husband buys me flowers, and when I can fix a running toilet.  I wear both stilettos and work boots; make up and safety glasses.  These things are all me, and in my life one doesn’t contradict the other.  I am unbelievably proud of myself for figuring out how to build a table from scratch, and equally proud of myself when I learned how to untangle the thread from my sewing machine.

But yesterday I read one of their normal monthly ‘columns’ entitled ‘Hey, It’s Okay’.  Its a column I traditionally love, and regularly laugh at and agree with.  Most of they entries finish the Hey, Its Okay… with things like…

  • …to decide that if wearing Uggs is wrong, you don’t want to be right
  • …to shove it in the closet and consider your place cleaned. (all courtesy of Glamour here)

But the first one listed in the October 2013 Magazine was: “… if the only tools you know how to use are an Ikea allen wrench and a flat iron”.  And this got me a little bothered.  That’s really not okay.  Now I know that every woman is different and I definitely don’t expect every woman to own a saw and be able to make their own table from scratch, but I do think every woman (and man for that matter!!) should have a basic understanding of how to use a few tools.  Everyone should be able to change their own tire, hammer a nail in the wall, and other minor home repair. Although I almost NEVER write a letter to the editor (in fact I think this is my first) I wrote a short note to the Glamour editors:


Dear editors,

One of the reason’s I love Glamour and am a subscriber is because it is a magazine that is pushing the boundaries of the stereotypical woman.  I love that you feature women who fight against the glass ceiling and aren’t afraid to venture out of their comfort zone.  So you can imagine my shock when I read the first thing on the list of October’s Hey it’s okay… which read: “if the only tools you know how to use are an Ikea allen wrench and a flatiron.” I’m one of only a few women in the construction industry (we build highways and bridges) and in my personal life I own all the tools, not my husband.  It is MY miter saw and drill in the garage that my husband and brother borrow when they need one, and some of my expertise that helps them accomplish projects.  The virtual world is flooded with talented women who do it themselves and aren’t afraid to wield a power tool or two, even while maintaining their femininity and love of good fashion.  I believe Glamour (and you aren’t the only ones!) does a disservice to young women to tell them that It’s Okay if you don’t know how to hammer a nail into the wall or learn how to tighten a loose screw.  This world desperately needs more women trained in ‘tool-wielding’, male-dominated roles, specifically in engineering and math and science oriented positions.  But even more than that, it is powerful (and way more frugal) to be able to handle the simple tasks of owning a home or apartment on your own… which you most decidedly are not able to do with an Ikea allen wrench and a flatiron.



When my brother moved into his house, we had a housewarming party for him.  At the party we were discussing the possibility of building a treehouse in his massive backyard tree. One of the boys quipped… yeah and we can post a sign… no girls allowed.  My brother quickly remarked… well except we would need MJ’s tools to build it. And another added in… Let’s be honest… you’d need MJ to build it.

If you are unable to use any tools, it makes you helpless, constantly relying on others to come bail you out (and if you are constantly calling in the pros, it gets expensive!) Being able to wield a tool or two will get you pretty far in this world (and feels pretty good on your self confidence too!).  If I could teach a lesson to the younger generations it is that you do not have to be helpless. There is power in knowing how, or being willing to try.

I love when my husband does things around the house for me or fixes things, but I also know (from years of being single) that if he isn’t there, I can do it myself.  And if I don’t know how… Google does.



  1. YES!!!!!!!

    Ok, well, I may not own a miter saw or know how to build a table. But I can fix a toilet, and use my power drill regularly, and can assemble any piece of furniture faster than most guys I know (you’d better believe I read those directions!). And I can do so with perfectly flat-ironed hair. 😉

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for asking for help, or even hiring out repairs when needed. But we live in a YouTube world nowadays, which will show you how to do virtually ANYTHING. And I’m proud of the little things that my girlfriends and I have learned how to do along the way!

    Well done writing the note to Glamour. But much more, well done for setting the model for what it can look like to be a strong, capable, and confident woman — both in the workplace, in your community, and in your garage with those power tools. I think you are amazing!

  2. AMEN!!!

  3. Sarah Wilke says:

    Brilliantly stated!
    Love you! Always have, always will!

  4. I’m a little late to the party, but a search query on Google brought me here. All I have to say is, “Amen Sista!”

Speak Your Mind