Saturday, January 7, 2012

Perpetuating A Macho Myth.

Within our culture a singular concept exists that has been reinforced in
countless forms, for as long as we can collectively remember. The simple
unspoken ideal that if it is broken a man can fix it. Anything from a leaky pipe
to a ancient tractor. Chances are if you've seen someone on the side of the rode
and they're male most people will assume that he must have it under control.

This established idea has puzzled me for years now, but not as you might
imagine. You see, growing up my father had a simple mandate - if he could fix it
himself he did so. And whenever he did any such repair we were required to
assist him. Actually, he also insisted as we got older that he would show us how
to perform a set task once, then he might assist us the next time. After that we
were expected to be able to accomplish said task at anytime without requiring
his direct supervision.

It was this very routine that we never questioned. As I became older it became
such a part of my upbringing that it never occurred to me that not everyone
experienced the same. Ironically enough I actually came to stand dumbfounded
when I was told many of my peers as well as other people I met couldn't preform
some simple repairs. I have met young men who had no clue how to change their
oil, replace brake pads, or even change out a section of pvc pipe. These were
the kinds of things I didn't have to go to school for, I learned them before
even entering junior high.

Long before I ever had a degree I could manage to take care of a lot of things
myself, even troubleshoot some issues. And now that I have been to college I have
found with the right reference material there is even more I can tackle with
some degree of faith in myself. Is it rocket science? No. Do I expect the average man
to do a major overhaul of a HVAC system's unit? No. Should the average man
have some idea why his mower won't start or how to change a toilet's float
valve? Yes.

The cultural stereotype that a man can fix anything may be somewhat erroneous,
but it is a notion that many men out there could do with perpetuating. Perhaps I
am biased because of my background, but there is some sense of self-
worth/accomplishment in fixing even the most trivial of issues. So next time you
have a problem do yourself a favor and just ask if it's something you can
handle. You can always read a article or watch a video online if you need some
help. It might surprise you and those around you to discover not everything
requires an expensive repair man.