Subject: Sex Roles, Tools and Slack
From: !!!firstname.lastname@example.org (TarlaStar)
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 12:48:17 GMT
This morning I went into my studio, found my mitre box, grabbed my
drill and went to work. I'm making the base and armature for a new
sculpture. I measured the base supports and cut them down to size,
then pre-drilled the screw holes. When the base was solidly supported,
I screwed in the base flange and the upright pipe-nipple-pipe
arrangement that will be the center of the armature. It looks damned
good and is strong enough to support a group of Chinese acrobats, much
less a mess of foam and clay.
After I sat back, covered in sawdust, I caught sight of myself in one
of the studio mirrors and had to laugh. I looked like...I dunno, a
middle-aged dyke maybe? My short hair, my stained (albeit clean)
sweats, my beat up t-shirt and a big ole fucking drill in my hand. It
made me think about sex roles, especially in the light of Annnna's
When I was in grade school (back before pantyhose or The Pill) little
girls would sit together playing jacks at recess and say things like
"When I grow up, I want to be a: nurse, teacher, mother, ballerina"
Those were about your only options. Occationally you'd get a girl who
wanted to be a "cowgirl" but that was Arizona and no one really
believed it could happen. Not me; when I was 10, I wanted to be "a
translator at the United Nations." The other girls thought I was
crazy. Cindy Kennedy bet me $10 on it. I guess I owe her a tener, but
I DID grow up to be an anthropologist and that's pretty close.
When I was in high school, we took those aptitude tests. They told me
that I was right about not wanting to be a nurse. The only field in
medicine that even came close to being within my aptitude was,
Psychiatrist. But that meant going through med school and med school
meant chemistry and chemistry meant math. Math and I are not friends,
so Psychiatry was out. I did score high on mechanical aptitude. But
what good would THAT do me? I was female and females did NOT become
mechanics. No self-respecting girl would attempt to tear a car down
and repair it. The closest we would come to that would be to hand a
beer to our boyfriend while he was changing the oil.
My first husband could fix cars. His cousin taught auto mechanics in a
high school in Nogales, Az. and Wes picked up a bunch from him. I once
made Wes describe the internal combustion engine to me, so that if I
ever got in a car bind, I might have a chance of figuring out what the
hell was wrong. My greatest mechanical triumph came when I was
divorced however. I had a truck that I bought from my dad. It was a
'67 Ford f-150 with 3 on the column. One day, while driving home from
work, the gear shift came off in my hand. The collar that held it in
place had simply worn out. I called a repair shop and they told me
that it would cost about $15 for the collar and $100 for the labor.
There was no way in hell that I could afford that at the time. So I
I spent about an hour on the phone with my father. He described to me
exactly what I would have to do. "Get yourself a 'wheel pull' at the
auto parts store. It'll cost you about $4," he began, and talked me
through the whole process. I did just that. I marked every wire that I
disattached with tape. It took me four hours to get the old collar
off. I rested for the day. The next day, I went back to work. It took
another four hours to get the new collar on, and all the wiring
reassembled. When I was done, it shifted like a dream and I still had
all my turn signals. Nothing could have made me feel better at that
moment unless some MAN had been standing there handing me a beer.
I was Superwoman! I was MECHANICAL!
Now I make my living as an artist and writer. These are asexual jobs
to a great degree. Sculpting is still male territory for the most part
however. I rarely meet women who create full-sized sculpture. Why?
because it's dirty, sweaty, hard work. There's nothing pretty or
glamorous about it. Maybe that's part of why I love it. I feel
powerful with the torch in my hand, bending a piece of rebar or
running the chop saw. I have eschewed appearance for the sake of
Slack. There was a time when I got my ego-satisfaction from having
every man in the room drooling over me. Now I get it when they step
back and say, "Man, that's a lot of work!" I enjoy being covered with
plaster, silicone rubber, metal shavings and blisters. It means that I
am the equal of every man in the place. I don't need to flatter anyone
to get their attention. I don't need to be a sexual object. I am
capable...and I am a woman.
A big part of what I am comes from growing up in the time that I did.
If you wanted a husband (and we ALL wanted husbands) you had to play a
game. You could be smart, but you couldn't be smarter than your
potential mate. You could have talent, but it should be a compliment
to your mate, not competition for attention. You could like men, but
you should hang out with the women. I rebelled at that idea. Feminism
came along just in time for me. The INTERESTING conversations were
where the men were. There's only so much fun to be had in sharing
recipes and talking about baby drool. If you had political opinions,
social ideas, then you HAD to talk to the men. You had to be as smart
or smarter than them or they would ignore you. I refused to allow them
to ignore me. I read books. I learned to play chess, not because I
cared about chess all that much, but because it was a MAN's game and I
wanted to be able to beat every man at his own game. I joined the Army
(becoming a translator), because that was a man's world. If woman is
the nigger of the world, then I am a successful Negro. I can pass.
Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I was as bad as many men as
well. In my mind, I found that I had accepted the line of thought that
said that women weren't quite as good as men. *I* was, but then I was
superior to everyone. I questioned my own snobbishness against my sex.
I had to start over again and start learning the ways of women. I
learned to enjoy women, to enjoy being one of them. We have our own
ways of power. We are subtle and use men's arrogance against them. We
share our feelings and love each other openly. By rejecting sexual
roles, I have found freedom and power over my life. I can choose
whichever group I want to be in at the moment. When the girl-talk gets
boring, I can switch over to the boys. When the boys go off on
something stupid, I can go back to the women's circle. And
occasionally, I meet a woman like me and love her for all she's worth.
And a woman like me is worth plenty.
Reverend Mutha Tarla Star of the Little Sisters of the Perpetually
Juicy; a Proud jism schism of the Church of the SubGenius.
Worshipping Juicy Retardo and "Connie" Dobbs since 1986.