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The Blue & Gray Press | August 18, 2019

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Self-sufficiency important for all


In the past few years, it has become more and more natural to see men carrying miniature mutts to their hybrid cars after leaving the salon, and women loading their 100-pound labradors into their pickup trucks and finishing a repair job on their own vehicles. Clearly, this is not the scene that society molded us to expect. So, when did this happen? And is it a good thing?

More often than before, I notice men and women doing things that don’t fit with archaic gender stereotypes. A decent example of this is what I recently noticed in a car commercial, and while I can’t remember what car they were trying to sell, the underlying point still stuck with me. The commercial showed a woman stating that this particular car had everything women wanted, and then listed logical reasons to buy the car, such as resale value, life span, maintenance and upkeep costs.

In the same commercial, a man said it had everything men wanted, listing only aesthetic characteristics of the vehicle. While the designer may not have the commercial to be interpreted this way, I found it to be a decent synopsis of the apparent reversal of mindset between some men and women.

For the most part, I think, “to each their own.” But when it starts negatively affecting a person’s ability to be self-reliant, I start to get aggravated.

I grew up around women who were able to fend for themselves. I’ve seen my sister covered from head to toe in grease while helping my dad fix equipment. I’ve seen a young lady working on her boyfriend’s car on the side of the road as he relayed assistance from her father because he couldn’t tell the difference between a radiator and an AC compressor. This mentality of self-reliance, or desire to be so, is something I have been seeing more and more frequently in women, and I applaud this willingness and drive to do, or learn to do, for oneself.

The thing I have a problem with is the converse: guys who have never seen what’s under the hood of their car because they always take it to a service station, or guys who rely solely on others to do anything that is not their job or a bodily function. The problem is what happens if, for some reason, you can no longer expect experts to do these things for you.

If you don’t know how to prepare food, what happens if you can’t afford to pay someone to do it for you? If you can’t figure out any basic plumbing, what happens if you break a waterline? Does your house flood until a plumber shows up? If you can’t fix at least some things on your car, what happens if you break down and there is no cell service? If you run your battery dead and someone eventually stops to offer help, how patient are they going to be if you can’t find your battery? What do you do then?

In these quasi-emergency situations, people like me are usually willing to lend our experience and muscle to assist others if we can, but we become less and less inclined to do so if it seems as if the recipient of our hospitality has no interest in learning to fix the problem for themselves, or even having a basic understanding of what they’re dealing with.

While I would never blame anyone for not having done something before if the problem never arose, I do expect a little knowledge, or at least the willingness to obtain some. You do not need an automotive degree to know where your battery is, a plumber’s license to know where your water shut-offs are, or an electrical degree to know how to flip a breaker. A little knowledge and some common sense can go a long way.

I believe that everyone, male or female, needs to take a page from the upsurge of women’s desire to be self-sufficient, and, if they don’t already, they need to at least try to acquire a basic idea of the workings of the things in their life.