Monday, November 7, 2011

How to Be an Independent Woman (for Realsies)

A Mother Life

Recently, I was told that I'm a “feminist” blogger. This was news to me. I didn't set out to be a “feminist” blogger, and I don't see myself as one. The mantle has been thrust upon me. Maybe because I don't blog about cooking (don't cook), or my kids (don't have any), or beauty tips (don't need any), or whatever else it is women are “supposed” to blog about. Household hints, or crafts, or gardening – whatever this mysterious topic, I'm beginning to suspect it's only supposed to be interesting to other women, and then only on the most non-threatening level.

It's true I've said some things that have made some men uncomfortable. Not all the men, of course, just the ones who suspect I might be talking about them. I blog about all kinds of sh*t, and only about half a dozen of the fifty-some posts I've done so far have anything to do with men or their behavior, but you know how it is, ladies – dare to suggest that a testicled individual may be anything less than utterly perfect, and you'll be heaped with scorn, branded a foul-tempered unf*ckable dried up old hag, and sent off into solitary exile in a cabin in the Yukon. Figuratively speaking.

And if you think that's bad, try telling one not to interrupt you.

But, I digress. I was going to say that, no matter what I set out to be or how I see myself, I am, nevertheless, apparently a “feminist” blogger. If you're going to have a mantle thrust upon you, you may as well wear it gracefully.

So, in the interests of feminism in blogging, I'm going to share with you ladies (and fellas, what the hell) the qualities and skills, that, in my opinion, help to make women more independent. Here goes:

Earn Your Own Money

This one probably goes without saying. You can't be independent if you don't have any money, unless, of course, you live in some sort of tribal society where the barter system is used. If so, good luck being an independent woman, because you're probably a commodity yourself.

Unless you're an Amazon, in which case, you should be writing this for me.

Fix Your Own Car

Okay, I'm not saying you should be able to take the whole car apart and put it back together again. This is a complicated procedure requiring various and sundry tools, and I'm a reasonable person. But you should know a little bit more about the car than where the gas goes.

The gas goes here. ~ Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

Learn how to check your engine oil and tire pressure. Don't let a man see you do these things, however, because he will laugh and make some snarky remark along the lines of “I've never seen a woman check her tire pressure before,” and then you'll have to say, “I've never seen a pig who could speak before.”

It's also good to know how to change a flat tire, since these things tend to occur at awkward moments, like when you're driving on a creepy mountain road in the middle of the night in an area with no cell phone service. Life's a b*tch like that.

Alternatively, avoid mountain roads like the plague. ~ James Tanch, Jr.

I also know how to flush a radiator and change its pipes, change the engine oil and filter, swap out brake pads, change spark plugs, and bypass the starter solenoid on a 1977 Dodge Sportsman RV.

I learned all of these things the hard way, by taking several cross-continental road trips in a series of broken-down, rusted-out sh*tboxes.

Pictured: The Hard Knocks School of Auto Mechanics. ~ Jeremy Holmes

Learn to Throw a Punch

Or karate, or something. It's almost inevitable you'll be attacked at some point.

Punching is especially good for b*tch-fights. The other b*tches will be slapping, so you'll have the advantage.

Do Your Own Home Repairs

Most home repairs are fairly simple. Hanging a shelf or plastering a hole in the wall is not rocket surgery. If you're an adult, you should be able to assemble that bookcase from IKEA without blowing anything up. I've had boyfriends who didn't know how to reset a tripped circuit breaker (or change a flat tire, for that matter), so it's just as well you figure out these simple home-repair matters for yourself. Your life will be easier, and it'll save you calling the electrician over a burnt-out light bulb, like a roommate of mine once totally did.

I wish I'd been home to see that. 

Open Your Own Jars

Of all the obstacles in my life as an independent woman, it's the godd*mn f*cking jars that get me every time.

F*cking jars.

Honestly, I don't what it is. Maybe my hands are too small (unlikely), or my grip is too weak (very likely), or my upper-body strength is lacking (possible). Whatever it is, for some freaking reason, I always freaking struggle to open the f*cking jars.

Maybe women just aren't meant to open jars.

There are tricks to it. You can tap the side of the lid with a spoon, which loosens it up, I guess. If that doesn't work, you can run cold water over the lid. That makes the glass contract, or something. If that doesn't work, you can scare it open by cussing loudly and threatening to smash it.

Smashing the jar is cheating, but the jar doesn't know that.


  1. Still don't know shit about cars but my dad and family members help me or at least can tell me when an auto mechanic is trying to rape me. The rest you just have to deal with if you're single anyway. Wouldn't have it any other way now.

    Curious about what the red balls are in the jars. Some of that stuff doesn't look edible.

    Great post

  2. I'm wetting myself laughing, and it's not a pretty sight!

    As always - your insight is bang on. I must admit I can't open jars either, and it's definitely small hands, weak wrists, and a husband who can do it much faster -- if I was desperate though, I'd run it under water, tap with a knife and that works.

    My own money ? Absolutely a no-brainer. Any woman who only has a joint account with her husband/ significant other in this day and age is just asking for trouble.

    Can't say I'm great with the car stuff though, but I do most of the carpentry in the house, and I'm fearless around power tools, so that kind of makes up for it.

    Great post, as always ;)

  3. Actually its hot water that makes the lid expand lol.

    And apparently you've met alot of shallow people in your life...

  4. You had me at "testicled individuals".

    Great post! I would add one more thing I've found handy. The ability to carry large amounts of groceries from the store and/or into my apartment without having to make too many trips. If you're the only one carrying them, then you gotta make the least amount of trips as possible. Not so much fun in the winter in DC when the walk back home was up hill. :)

  5. I've also found, for opening new jars of stuff, that jamming a butter knife up under the lid pops the vacuum seal.

    I once wrote a missive about how I could handle being alone, but sometimes, like when I need to open a jar I just want to cry. Do you know how many people gave me jar opening advice? TONS. Do you think ANYONE commented on my apparent state of abject loneliness? None. ASsholes.

  6. I love the tips. My step-dad insisted that I learn to change a flat, jump off a car and drive a stick. You never know when you might need to do one of these things! And yes, these skills came in very handy in college when I drove a klunker.

  7. Well I know a hell of a lot of men that haven't got half those skills, and a lot more that can't darn their own socks or create a good meal from the few items left in the fridge (something I'm sure all your above commentators could do).
    As for jars some of them just don't open (for me). Although I normally try hot water over the metal lid to make it expand, thanks to my mum for that tip :)

  8. It's interesting that you say women need to know how to do these things in order to be independent. I think women need to make men do these things - if you let them know you CAN do everything then sooner or later you find yourself ACTUALLY doing everything. My reputation for terrible cooking precedes me for precisely this reason. The only way you will get a man to cook for you regularly is if he thinks his life will be in danger if he eats anything you cook. I call this equalising the household chores. My husband doesn't do 50% of the work (although he THINKS he does about 75%) but it's probably close enough. Why? Because I make like there are things I can't do. In fact, it's easiest to get my husband to do the things he THINKS I can't do. If he thinks I can do it, then I SHOULD do it.

    Of course, maybe the key word in there was MAKE like I can't do them. I can cook. A bit. But shhhh, don't tell him.

    A viable alternative to #2 is to have a mad roadside assistance service, which you can pay for using #1. Provided you don't drive anywhere with no cell phone service. Which I usually don't. Not alone anyway.

    There might also be a #6 - Learn to climb a ladder so you can reach stuff out of reach. Probably won't help at the grocery store though.

    Ironically I do hardly any of the things on your list and yet I've been told I am 'too' independent. I didn't know there was such a thing....

  9. @Christina You're lucky your family knows something about cars. Like I said, I had to learn the hard way.

    The red things in the jars are what happened to the guy who laughed at me for checking my tire pressure. JK, I think they're pickled onions.

    @Eden And yet, I meet so many women who have no money of their own, only what they share with their husband/partner. Hell, I even meet some who can't even get their name on the household bank account and just have to hand over whatever they have to their husband to put in his (the only) account, presumably with the hope that he will share it with them later. Grrrr.

    I prefer the carpentry stuff myself. Less grease.

    @Anonymous A fair observation RE: shallow people. If you haven't met any yourself, you must be living under a rock.

    Seems the cold water works just as well as the hot. Hmmm...

    @Katie A I was going to put something like that in there ("lifting heavy things") but I was thinking that was probably a matter of biology. I guess I could buy a lever?

    @Yandie Maybe they were afraid you'd rip their face off. No offense. But I think it's generally considered dangerous (by intelligent or considerate people) to mention a single woman's singleness. You know, in front of her.

    @Tiffany I still haven't learned to drive a stick! Thanks for reminding me!

    Glad you liked the post! :)

    @Nigel Nobody darns socks anymore. You're showing your age ;)

    @Ciara Learn to climb a ladder? I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was a skill that needed to be learned. I thought you just, you know, climbed it.

    I *did* mention that I can't cook (wink wink, nudge nudge). Guys my age seem to do the cooking and other domesticated stuff alright, actually, but DO NOT ask them to work on your car. You will wind up stranded at a gas station in the middle of the desert, four hundred miles from civilization, for several hours until the apprentice to the mechanic across the street feels sorry for you and comes over to work out the firing order on your spark plugs so you can finally reattach the wires.

    You do know what they mean when they say you're "too independent," right? Refer to paragraph two.

  10. see, this is where I come in handy, becuase I know how to cook. I cook like a . . . like . . . I'm trying to think of a snappy metaphor (preferably with the devil referenced in it) for this and I can't.

    Anyway, I cook really well. And I can open jars like a motherfucking CHAMP. AW YEAH INDEPENDENT WOMAN.

    But if you asked me to try and fix your car you would have to start out by explaining what a car is. THEN we'd see just how much more I could break it while pretending to know what I'm doing.

  11. How about killing a bug?!?!?

    And I'm going to go here...paying the bill. I'm also going to write about this sometime. But I have a saying...

    'Chivalry is dead, until it's time to pay the bill'.

    Far to many women I've known in my life want to be all super independent and running their own show, doing their own thing until it's time to get the check or open her own door. Then they wan't a knight in shining armor. They have their own money, it's just they using to buy the things THEY want.

    Just saying.

  12. @Paulie Yeah, see, I run into that sort of thing a lot, which makes it even more important for me to know what I'm freakin' doing. Unfortunately some dudes are too hung up on their machismo, I guess, cause they'll totally insist on working on on the car even though they don't know what they're doing, and wind up f*cking it worse that it was before.

    @ChopperPapa I am going to have to write an entire blog post in response to this one. Thanks for the idea, mate.

  13. Won't it be a beautiful thing when everyone drops all of the labels and just says you're an interesting human with something worthwhile to say? Oh yeah, and that you say it with grace and humor. I'll be back for more, and that, my new Tweetie friend, is saying something.

  14. LOL That's never gonna happen! :)

    Thanks for the compliment! Glad to have you here. :)

  15. Excellent post. I'd like to add that independent women don't scream like idiots when a 1/2mm spider walks up the living room wall and continues the hysterics until a man sends the thing to Stomptown.

    If you want it dead, kill it yourself. Better yet, coax the itty-bitty arachnid onto a piece ot paper, cover it with a cup, and release it outside. It's not out to do you in--it just took a wrong turn and needs help getting back to where it belongs. If you were lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood, my guess is that you wouldn't want someone to kill you for your lack of internal GPS.

  16. @Word Nerd You're right, I forgot to mention killing bugs. Though I'm fairly certain one or two of the spiders in my house have been out to do me in.