My eight-year-old son walked through the garage the other day, and stopped in front of the silver toolbox.
“Craftsman?” he asked. “Shouldn’t it be Craftsperson?”
I’m working to raise feminists. And that means, to me, getting them to see injustice and call it out. See labels that limit and call them out. Change them.
So in some ways I smirked and thought, “Well, I’m done. I won at parenting.”
But feminism doesn’t end with noticing. The question isn’t much without some attempts at an answer.
So I asked him, “Why do you think?”
“Maybe it’s really old and it’s from when people thought women didn’t do things as well as men.”
“Some things,” I suggested.
“Some things,” he said.
“Maybe. Why else?”
He thought for a while and couldn’t come up with anything.
“The interesting thing,” I said, “is that it’s pretty new. It’s from right before you were born, so long after Americans decided that women hace the right to vote, read, have jobs outside the home, have jobs inside the home, and be the bosses of companies. That box is from after people all noticed that women are just as human as men.”
“Oh. [beat] So do they sell a Craftswoman box?”
“Nope. They sell Craftsman. And after all these years, their company name hasn’t changed. Either they don’t notice how women might feel about being excluded, or they don’t care.”
He didn’t say anything.
And I didn’t say anything.
The Craftsman name was registered in 1927. For a long time they had incentive to change the name, since Craftsman was associated with quality. But that reputation is in freefall. Craftsman is facing extinction, but also faces massive brand equity losses if they change the name.
So Craftsperson becomes a strategic talk I don’t need to have with an eight-year-old. (Didn’t keep me from having that discussion, though, later. Over dinner. Because I’m fun mom and brand-naming mom, all rolled into one.)
I’m glad my son can call out gender conservatism. I hope he will be able to call out cis- and hetero-normativity, too. And rail against them. And I’m glad we talked about it. But sometimes, it feels as though nothing is going to change. Not with just noticing and talking.
My husband has this thing that female plumbers would be in high demand, based on his theory that it’s mostly women who call plumbers and are home alone when they come, so they would be more comfortable with a woman than a man. I can’t say I’ve ever felt threatened by a plumber, but he may be right.
Last time our (male) plumber came, he had a new assistant. Her name was Roxy. She was a middle-aged lady whose three kids were grown; she was unmarried, she never got any higher education, so she decided to become a plumber. Awesome.
You go, Roxy!
As I read your comment I briefly tried that idea on, and realized that as a woman I would expect to feel threatened *as* the plumber, depending on who called me into their home. I doubt this is a consideration for men who go into that line of work, and wonder about the extent to which it might be a barrier for women who might otherwise be interested in learning such a trade.
Now that is a very interesting point,k. Switching the viewpoint around does make a difference. I always figured a tradesman (purposeful use of “man”) would be unlikely to do anything inappropriate in a professional capacity. But it seems more likely a person might do something inappropriate in his or her own home with a female there.