I have recently been informed by those “in the know” that grilling is the true route to female empowerment (see Christina Wehner’s excellent article in support of this belief). Not being a griller, I cannot make a qualified comparison, but I think a far simpler, far more satisfactory route to empowerment is through mastering of a sewing machine.
Being able to command any mechanical process involves a degree of empowerment, whether one is driving a car or using a calculator. However, being able to transform a pile of mending into usable clothes—to turn fabric itself into a garment—to possess the power to fix what would otherwise become refuse is surely one of the most satisfying and empowering actions, coupled as it is these days with the knowledge that few possess such skill. It puts one on par with the wizards of old, who knew a secret and dark mystery.
I know sewing has been lately been seen as “women’s work of the past,” a domestic accomplishment that is anti-progressive because it ties a woman’s role to the home, but what is made or mended at home is worn elsewhere. Such categorizing of tasks simply on the basis of their location is deceiving. Many people in today’s workforce delight in “working from home,” using their computers or telephones or a combination thereof to “remote-in”—especially if weather is inclement.
Sewing and cooking need be no more feminine that woodworking and grilling; all of them take place at home. All are empowering celebrations of humanity’s ability to conquer and control the elements to suit our purposes and tastes. I would, however, argue that sewing can be the most simple and expedient form of empowerment (once the skill is acquired).
As I sat back today and surveyed what I accomplished in fifteen minutes—the mending of a bag, two pajamas, and a pair of pants, all variously possessing faults that had previously rendered the objects unwearable and unusable—I felt a singular sense of power and accomplishment coupled with the pleasing thought that “I knew how to fix such things.”
Copyright 2014 Andrea Lundgren