Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

I'm a woman; I collect screws and think about sex

there's a nice graphic doing the rounds of how to tell whether a toy is a suitable gift for a girl or a boy

I think we need one for adults too.

I've now come across two different Man Tins listed as Christmas gifts. Now I know that labelling a metal box a Man Tin and saying it's for the screws and handy bits and pieces said Man collects is just an exercise in consumerist conspicuous consumption and buying someone a slightly amusing present that doesn't take much thought or knowledge of the recipient (if they really collect and stash bits, they probably have a system and would prefer a case that matches the one they're already using - and if they don't, a box with lots of compartments would be way better than a tin because you can organise the screws). But it also really grates because I'm fed up of the gender roles that say Barbies for girls and Lego for boys, math is hard and women make the tea/sandwiches, that underlie so much of the sexist garbage women face every day - not just in tech, though it seems both worse and better in this industry sometimes. And I haven't gone to look whether there's a Woman Tin to be filled with chocolate and sewing thread and makeup because I like my blood pressure where it is, thanks.

Men don't collect screws. Women don't collect screws. People collect screws - and other people don't. Men don't hoard duct tape and Swiss army knives and handy pliers and spare washers any more than women do, but some people hoard those things in a box under the stairs and some people don't. It's not a gender linked trait; it's a trait somewhere on the spectrum between practicality and thrift and OCD and it is probably somewhere between nature and nurture as well. My grandfather kept (and labelled) bazillions of things; my mother kept things (the stash of brown paper bags was untidy but useful) and so do I (screws, washer, duct tape, multitools, hotel shower caps for covering food in the fridge, beads, things to make into keyrings and a whole lot more, tucked into drawers and jars and tins and compartments in boxes; my life as shed, so to speak).

The other gender role that grates is the whole 'men think about sex' thing (which graduates into the myth of the werewolf male who simply can't control their arousal when there's a woman around doing something that arouses them like, say, breathing and wearing clothes, which is just plain offensive to both genders*). If books like 50 Shades of Tacky Sex Scenes haven't made it clear (and Nancy Friday's books cataloguing female fantasies decades back didn't manage that), women think about sex. In some cases a lot, in some cases not so much. Just like men in fact.

Maybe more men than women collect screws and think about sex 20 or 30 times a day. Maybe not. A Man Tin is just for Christmas but a sexist attitude about what's appropriate for someone based on their gender is for life.

Or in the words of Sandra Bullock; you can take this gender role and shovel it.

*any use of the word gender implies nothing about birth/chosen/presenting gender, chromosomes, the actual number of physical genders or anything but idiot societal views of what's appropriate
Tags: rant

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