This Week in Misogyny: “A Woman’s Place is in the Home Depot”

By LAUREN COLE NORTON

july 2014 924

I was chatting with some punters outside a show I was running in Davis, enjoying a blast of cool air, when a man, probably in his mid-thirties, said to me: “It was enough you were pretty, but you seem to have ideas too.”

Now this is a sentence I can’t ever imagine articulating – out loud – to another person.  I know I’ve experienced a similar feeling of surprise when a person exceeds my expectations of them, but I usually contain my physical reaction to a raised eyebrow or two.

I was also unnerved by the fact that he probably intended this bit of condescension to be highly complimentary.  A cheeky kind of flirting designed, perhaps, to test where I fall on the feminism spectrum.

This interaction happened about 24 hours after I was looking to rent a steamer on HomeDepot.com.  I discovered that the Sacramento store not only offers free DIY workshops, they have a “Do-It-Herself” category, accompanied by a picture of a pretty blonde woman happily slapping grout on mosaic tiles.

While the DIY (AKA Do-It-Himself) classes cover everything from electrical updates to installing hardwood flooring, DIY for Girls has just one offering: “Decorative Paint Finishes.”  It took more of that self restraint I mentioned earlier not to throw the laptop against the wall.

Before Hobby Lobby and the landmark decision to restrict women’s access to healthcare, I would have laughed this stuff off.  I would have posted a screenshot of “Decorative Paint Finishes” on Facebook and engaged in a fierce send-up of Home Depot’s effort to appeal to half of their customer base.   I probably would have joked with the guy at the show that his male pattern baldness was enough for me not to give a monkey’s.

Now I’m finding it all very hard to digest.

One of the reasons I put down roots in Sacramento was that I liked the things I saw women doing here.

Female entrepreneurship is everywhere in this town, and while I do not think it is surprising for women to have ideas, I do think it is difficult to find environments in which women with ideas are able to flourish.

It just so happens that I’m writing this article while sipping a smoothie at the Sun and Soil Juice Company at 19th and P—an establishment started by Tatiana Kaiser and Molly Brown that’s so typical of what awesome women regularly do in this town.  They start businesses that benefit the local community; that are environmentally sustainable and pitch perfect in their execution.  Walking into Sun and Soil makes you feel like everything is right with the world and will soon be right with your kidneys too.

I’m excited to write for Girls on the Grid to rally behind these women and to rail against the larger themes of sexism that are happening not only culturally, but systemically in the US.  The Grid, and everywhere in a reasonable biking distance of Midtown, will be my backdrop.

P.S. Home Depot, if you’re reading this, I live in a hundred year old craftsmen bungalow with a lot of problems, so I will be visiting you often.  If you need help with your messaging for women, shoot me an email, I do that kind of thing to earn a crust.

 

LAUREN COLE NORTON is the President of Third Space Media and operates a multi-purpose venue in Davis, CA.  Lauren has completed projects for major brands like GE Healthcare and Fox Searchlight Pictures, collaborated with artisanal food producers (Pepper Peddler Coffee, Fuzion Eatz), and promoted international recording artists (Mick Flannery, Anais Mitchell).  She enjoys local food, local cats, and taking DIY classes that acknowledge the historic exclusion of women from the world of building things without being condescending.

 

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