I always have some kind of bizarre problem signing in to Feministing, so I end up simply not posting my comments. Well, I'm tired of that. What is a blog for, if not a personal soapbox?
So here's the original post, about a woman with a doorknob to fix.
I was a little surprised to see so many commenters suggesting she have her boyfriend walk her through it. Or telling her it doesn't matter that much anyway, so don't fix it. Or implying that maybe she's not really mechanically apt, anyway.
I think they are missing the real issue entirely. So here's my response, not that she'll ever see it:
Oh, Courtney. Maybe you're not mechanically apt as some have suggested. But I doubt it. Most people of average "intelligence" (whatever that is) could surely fix a doorknob if they knew how.
Maybe you can ask your boyfriend to show you how to fix it, as a whole heckuva lot of people have suggested. But I have a hunch this would just perpetuate your feeling of being one-down to men when it comes to this kind of task, regardless of how personally nice and helpful your specific man may be. Teach me, O mechanical one! --I've been there, though not necessarily with this specific issue. If you're already feeling like a hardware loser, it will just make you feel like a (comparative) kid.
Make no mistake: this is not about the immediacy or urgency or importance of fixing the doorknob itself. This is about your sense of agency in and ability to affect your world.
The thing that made me start Doing Stuff like this myself was having a female friend who Did Stuff. Seeing her Do Stuff made me feel that it was a given that I could Do Stuff too, and why on Earth hadn't I Done Stuff before?
If, as you say, you learn best by having a human person help you with it, find a nice hardware-oriented chick to help you with it. I liked the suggestion of finding female store employees if you don't think any of your female friends are into doorknob fixing. Maybe you'll still feel one-down to her, but I doubt it. It won't perpetuate this belief you've acquired somewhere along the line (along with the rest of us) that Men Do, Women Do Not.
It's waiting to come out. Do Stuff.