A few years back I was struggling to use a gadget that was too stiff for me when another woman stopped to help. She struggled too; then she said, ‘men design things for their own strength, don’t they?’ It brought me up short, because I’d never thought of it that way before – but she’s right. And it set me thinking.
It’s not only ‘manly’ gear such as drills and chainsaws that this applies to (though it is annoying to have to grip a ‘hand-held’ sander with both hands in order to stop it going off on its own) – I don’t have particularly small hands for a woman, and yet I have daily struggles with objects that have presumably been designed by men without any thought taken for the 51% of us who might want to use them.
Take my thermos. It’s one of the elegant metal ones that don’t have a breakable interior; it has no handle and is therefore presumably designed to be held in one hand. Yet were I to try this I would risk spattering myself and the library with scalding tea. Oh, sure, I could’ve got one of those nice pink-patterned thermon (I think that’s the correct plural; if I say thermoses OH will have a seizure) but they don’t hold enough tea for any sentient human being to sustain life. And there’s the rub: if you want any deviation from the supposed norm you have to pay extra and get it in pink. So that living in this world as a woman you can come to feel a little bit like Gulliver in Brobdignag.