I always love working with others as I find doing things together creates a great environment for deep chats. I particularly enjoyed talking to Kat about gender as we both chopped wood and I noticed just how much better she was than me. As a male, I might have felt emasculated by her wood chopping prowess, but instead I watched and learnt and the process became a great context to discuss a common gender dynamic.
Kat talked about how so many men assume she doesn’t want to do “manly” things, like filleting fish or using power tools, and it frustrates her because she’s physically confident. I most definitly support this statement. At this point, I was becoming frustrated with trying to chop through a particularly tough knot in a log - Kat kindly supported me through my frustration while chopping twice the amount of firewood.
She also said that her frustration with gender assumptions can also go too far as she sometimes gets annoyed at people trying to teach her things when she’s a complete novice and they are experts. I pointed out that I had noticed that sometimes she seems to assume that I’m putting her in a feminine gender box when I’m not. For example, becoming frustrated when I assumed Dave had cut something with the grinder because he was holding it. She had in fact been using the grinder too.
Kat then said something very wise - she pointed out that she would prefer to overly notice this dynamic and give men feedback about it, rather than saying nothing because she is unsure. I said that I couldn’t agree more - it so important to be challenging gender norms, especially when they go against her being the person she really is.
I learnt that I should get over myself and not take getting feedback about potentially gendering people personally. There’s a bigger picture here and all people, particularly men, need to be supporting a culture where women feel comfortable being who they really are.