I was on a mission to find the furnace filters at the grocery store when I passed the brightly-colored subset of the tool section: the dainty women’s kits.
It was the perfect aquamarine bag and pliers that caught my eye, but it was the “Her Hardware” logo that stopped me dead in my tracks. For the record, shopping carts screech like cars.
Lady tools. Really?
I was sick about it. First of all, they’re actually adorable, and kind of practical for my small hands. But come on! The slogan says “Do It For Yourself” and is supposed to be A) empowering and B) not interpreted as a euphemism. Nope and nope.
No matter how cute or practical, I’m not buying that adorably packaged misogyny.
Now, don’t roll your eyes and call me a hairy-legged women libber (although, depending on the season, I may be all those things), this is serious. When are we going to stop telling girls we believe in them and just actually start believing in them? In this case, believing in their ability to use tools that don’t look like they come with a box of tampons and a unicorn ride. Or how about not assuming they’ll rely on a man if pastel lightweight hammers don’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea of aesthetically pleasing tools. It’s why I like Apple products and bought my cheese knives from an art museum gift shop (they’re so pretty). In fact, if it weren’t for the disempowerment wrapped in false hope, I’d buy a bunch of disassembled furniture this very minute just to have reason to put that gorgeous screwdriver to use.
And, sure, it’s likely well-meaning dads and brothers, who are thinking of their daughters and moms when they make stuff like this. As my friend, Rob, said , “There was a meeting where 10 men patted themselves on the back for not making this pink.”
So, I’m sure there’s no malice here, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some unfortunate subliminal messages. It turns out that my boo, Tyler, had imagined an ad when he ran into a similar kit a couple of years ago and posted this to Instagram, “Ladies! Have you been struggling all these years trying to use those pesky, heavy, unattractive man-tools? #Lowes has come to your much needed rescue! Introducing #LADYTOOLS! Now you can hammer, screw, and measure almost as well as a man!”
Everything about this Her Hardware toolkit from the very-thin-but-well-endowed modern Rosie the Riveter-posed character to the cursive script and tagline gently whispers that girls are weaker but totes encouraged to dabble in some lite man stuff (so don’t say we’re not treating you equally (and don’t forget to always be sexy!)).
On the flip side, did you know things like Dude Wipes exist? Unscented flushable wipes for men, because I guess man bottoms (or egos) require something special (like the veil of dark packaging) and something different (oh, nope, those are the exact same wipes in there). It’s like we shouldn’t expect hygienically-inclined men to suffer the emasculation of buying detestable gender neutral wipes.
I don’t know how we’ve gotten to a place where things like tools and toiletries are the battlegrounds for gender norms (I can’t even with the Ultimate Q-Tips for men or Brogurt: A Greek Yogurt Just for Guys), but I say screw you to Her Hardware. I’m literally not buying it.
Marina Gomberg’s lifestyle columns appear on sltrib.com. She is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.