Oh FFS #156784563458

Generation Y losing ‘female’ skills” It must be a slow news day.

Horror of horrors Generation Y women are losing the skills their mothers and grandmothers apparently took for granted. In case you didn’t know, all women of the baby boomer and older generations were goddesses of cooking, sewing, ironing and all other housework related things. Todays modern woman is apparently too busy to learn to sew on a button and [OMG are you ready for this?!!!1111!!!] takes things to the drycleaners to be fixed. The hussies is all I can say. Although I have to admit some mea culpa in this [although I’m a Gen Xer and apparently the MSM have stopped angsting about us now for a bit]as I cannot use a mangle although my Grandmother (Nanny) certainly could, and I’m sure my Mum could if she had to, although she’d want a pretty good reason why given that they are such bloody dangerous things. Plus I have a flush toilet and have never had to empty the dunny down a pit although Nanny and Mum did that too. Nor can I do fine embroidery, which my paternal Grandmother was a dab hand at and my Mum and I still have some of her crocheted doilies. Nanny knitted cardigans for her children with rabbits peeking out of the pockets, she spun her own wool and taught my Mum to spin. I can knit but my children won’t wear my creations except for the purple scarf I made. So many many skills now lost. But we must not blame technology, the ease of purchasing relatively inexpensive clothing made overseas instead of making our own, readily available milk and bread so that we aren’t milking our own cows or baking our own bread [Mum and Nanny both milked cows when I was a kid, but I think Nanny gave up on the bread making pretty soon after it was readily available in shops and when the milking cow died she wasn’t replaced]. No, it is the lack of focus in today’s young women to blame. No longer are they content to be goddesses of the domestic arts and soothe their husband’s tired brow when he returns from a hard days slog and demands his slippers and pipe! No these brazen women demand their own wages, shop for things instead of making, mending and making do! They even claim, some 70% of them, to wash the car. They are taking over a man’s traditional responsibilities like mowing the lawn and taking out the bins! They are turning todays young men into men who cheerfully admit they can change a nappy more easily than they can change a tyre! The world as we know it is coming to an end! It is the end of days I tell you! I’m going to use some more exclamation marks because it is turning into that sort of post!!!

If you need something to soothe your tired brow after reading this, then I recommend heading over to Bluemilk and read what this Gen Y mother has to say.

Categories: Culture, gender & feminism, media

Tags: ,

26 replies

  1. My mother does some damn fine embroidery, but she can’t cook to save her life (only slight hyperbole there). My kids do wear the stuff I knit, and I am even learning to sew. But my mother and I (and a bazillion others) do this because it gives us pleasure. Baking bread? There’s a reason we have a saying “The greatest thing since sliced bread”. It was a game changer for people’s lives.
    Funny how no-one’s suggesting that women are bringing all our newly found skills into home management, or talking about leveraging the latent home-making skills of men now that they’re more engaged. No, home-based work is women’s work, and therefore not up for optimisation and being made more efficient.

  2. The aforementioned tasks that were traditionally handed down are not exactly rocket science. If I need to sew, iron or prepare foie gras then I’ll learn on a need-to-know basis.
    Personally I never found child raising to be the rocket science/daunting task requiring insurmountable panurgy.
    You do what you gotta do!
    Some people are just not competent and some love to complain how hard things are.
    It’s usually these people who want to tell me what I should be doing and what role I should be in.
    Today’s modern human is adept and adroit enough to adapt to any role, especially because no two roles or relationships are alike, so how do you prepare for changing attitudes, circumstances and economies?

  3. Confession time here folks. As my two (boy 1966, girl 1968) were growing up I had a strong feeling that things would be different as they grew up – yes, I was a stay at home Mum, until daughter was 10, then a part-timer in the family business (still there!). I made SURE that both son (gasp!) and daughter could cook, do some simple hand sewing repairs (esp the boy replacing his own damned school shirt buttons!), thread up, use and care for the sewing machine, wash up, use vacuum cleaner and washing machine, and iron their own clothes. Not all at once of course, but by the time they left home they could BOTH take care of themselves domestically. D-in-law just loves it!!
    Gae, in Callala Bay

  4. There was a meme on twitter yesterday following this article; “other female skills in decline”. The skills included corsetry, dying from teberculosis and lacking opinions. What other “female skills” are in decline?
    Laughing because otherwise I’d cry.

  5. Have noticed a definite lack of fainting, swooning and giggling coquettishly around here lately. Also no children being seen and not heard, damn them. Much more likely to be heard and not seen.

  6. It’s when you can neither see nor hear them that you’re in trouble 😉
    One of the things I rather like about historical reenactment is that, despite it being all about the good old days of strict gender roles, the craft skills tend to have become decoupled from gender, people do what they are good at and enjoy whether it’s weaving and sewing or blacksmithing and woodworking or cooking and brewing, and they’re all interested in preserving the skills for posterity.

  7. I’m gen Y. I can cook, sew on a button and garden (though I don’t recognise all the plants). I certainly can’t knit, and sewing machines don’t seem to cooperate with me much (my Gen X boyfriend manages that when needed), and I don’t know how to make soap (though I’m sure the internet could tell me).
    And that’s just it – No one seems at all perturbed that my Nan can’t use the internet, that she didn’t know how to conduct research, or act as an advocate, or work full time, or negotiate a contract, or an equal relationship, or stand up for her rights.
    I’m not knocking my Nan, or her generation – they knew what they needed to, they had relevant skills. But so do I.
    I do get annoyed that the MSM care about a decrease in knowledge of the homemaking arts but not about the increase in workplace and, well, life skills that are relevant now.

  8. Gen Y here too. My cooking skills are… hmm. Patchy.
    But I can definately sew (machine and hand), and can do quite decent embroidery (particuarly cross-stich). I cannot, however, knit. AT ALL. My beloved Grandma taught me over and over, but it just refused to stick.
    In more modern woman-craft though, I am a dab hand at sorting out various computer meltdowns; configuring the TV/DVD/Wii/Digital tuner; and putting together the ikea furniture without losing the plot, or ending up with things upside down…

  9. Baby boomers and GenX were all domestic goddesses??? Depending on which source you consult, I’m either the very tail end of the BB or a very early X-er and I once could sew really well. This was a novelty in my peer group, many of whom couldn’t sew a button on and regarded my dressmaking exploits with amazement and (often) envy.
    As for GenY having no skills, I was under the impression that sewing and ‘crafting’ was making a comeback in the cool stakes. I was in a groovy/ arty bookshop the other day and noticed several crafty/ sewing/ knitting books that a decade ago would have been considered hopelessly daggy.
    I am, sadly, a crap cook.

  10. I’m a tail end baby boomer, 1963.
    When I was in 2nd year high school, I was part of a delegation to the headmaster to lay a proposal before him: the girls wanted the opportunity to do woodwork and metalwork, the boys to do cooking and sewing.
    We girls said that we needed to know how to use tools because the days of going from fathers house to husband were long gone and we needed practical “handyman” skills, the boys said they were not going to be living at home being looked after by Mum and would need to know how to cook and look after their own clothes.
    The Head accepted the petition and the classes were offered accordingly, and all were mixed sex.
    I note that before this, cooking and sewing were compulsory for girls for 2 years, and woodwork and metalwork were compulsory for boys for 2 years. Afterwards, everyone did all 4. (I think it was half a year each subject, but not sure.)
    I treasure the reportcard which said “Zebee does not seem interested in clothing and fabrics”.
    (My mother does too, it’s the only one she kept! She wasn’t into that sort of thing either, and at 79 still isn’t. She’s currently in the guts of one of the 3 computers with their covers off swearing at hard disks. Women have never fitted the stereotypes…)

  11. I blame my parents, baby boomers who raised their Gen X girl to mow the lawn and Gen X boys to iron their own shirts. All their fault, for sure. But then, my dad did the shopping and cooking and my mum the gardening…it’s as if people don’t always fit into assigned gender roles! Amazing!

  12. Even as a guy, reading that article in the paper yesterday made my blood boil at the gender stereotyping. No home task, from baking a cake to mending the fence requires anything other than the will to get it done, the proper tools, a little practice, and time (I’ve been known to bake cornbread every now and then).
    Or enough money to pay someone else to do it and save the hassle. I don’t mow the lawn – I have people for that. And the rain washes the car.
    I got all kinds of crap at high school for taking touchtyping class instead of shop class (early-1980’s), even though typing was much more useful to that future computer programmer than knowing how to use a hammer. And Mum taught me to cook so I wouldn’t be as useless as my Dad in the kitchen.

  13. Gotta take up another assumption on behalf of the original author – just because I can sew and cook, doesn’t mean that I have the time and energy to do both – mainly because I also garden, fix shit and work for a living.

  14. I was under the impression that sewing and ‘crafting’ was making a comeback in the cool stakes. I was in a groovy/ arty bookshop the other day and noticed several crafty/ sewing/ knitting books that a decade ago would have been considered hopelessly daggy.
    But the wailing and gnashing of teeth is also about women doing these things for fun because they’re fun, rather than taking pleasure in fulfilling the duty of them. (And men doing them at all, let along finding them fun).

  15. Y’know, given the subject matter, I really should have included rending of garments along with the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  16. I can cook, sew, embroider, knit, and a host of other “lost” skills besides, but you know, they have books for that sort of thing now. My mother, born in the 1920s (I was a late child, adopted) could not sew on a button or fix a hem to save her life – I did all that sort of thing for her. She was too busy supporting three children single-handed and carving out an amazing journalistic career to be arsed with things other people could do instead.
    We’re all remarkably self-sufficient, my family.
    There’s this magical fantasy 1950’s land out there somewhere, isn’t there, populated with unicorns and women in gossamer hostess aprons and big skirts (a fashion I love, but not appropriate for housework of any kind) soothing their husband’s tired feet after a hard day on the links where every misogynistic pathetic excuse for an opinion writer grew up, right? Otherwise I’m a bit stumped where all these ideas come from. The ads in the old women’s magazines I collect (1940s thru 1960s) weren’t reality, and the “advice” articles in them were as removed from real life as “Cosmopolitan” is now.

  17. @ Mimbles: Yay for re-enactment! The everybody-does-the-things-they-like thing is one of the things I love most about my (late medieval) re-enactment group. That, and the fact that although the gender roles can be restrictive, nobody cares about your gender – however you identify, you can re-enact as a man, woman or both if you feel like it 🙂
    Incidentally, I have no idea what generation I am (I’m 22) but I can knit, crochet, hand-sew, machine-sew (just!), wash, iron, clean, cook… and build flat-pack furniture, change a lightbulb, hang a painting, paint walls, take out bins, unblock drains, unload 10-15kg boxes of stock when they arrive at the warehouse I work for, create and maintain a budget, take control of bills, re-assemble a computer (albeit in the simplest possible way – I don’t mess with the innards!)…
    It’s almost like I could live as a self-sufficient adult! The horror!

  18. No home task, from baking a cake to mending the fence requires anything other than the will to get it done, the proper tools, a little practice, and time […]

    And the energy, physical and mental capacity. Lots of people around these parts have various not-typial versions of same; it’d be nice to not assume we don’t exist, eh?

  19. No home task, from baking a cake to mending the fence requires anything other than the will to get it done, the proper tools, a little practice, and time […]

    And the energy, physical and mental capacity. Lots of people around these parts have various not-typical versions of same; it’d be nice to not assume we don’t exist, eh?

  20. Another Gen-Xer here (my parents were both wartime babies, born in 1941).
    I can cook reasonably well from memory (including roasts – I can remember telling my mother about my first home economics lesson, where we got to watch the teacher show us how to boil eggs and butter toast, while I was cooking a roast chicken dinner for four); follow most recipes with a degree of certainty; and I can certainly sew and embroider better than my mother (not that this is difficult – my mother was bad enough at sewing to leave mental scars on her home ec teacher which persisted fifteen years later!). I can also garden; change a tyre; check my car’s oil levels (I know more about engines than my partner does… again, not that this is difficult; he’s more the “the key goes there, and magic happens” type); prune roses; knit; crochet (I’ve made four blankets so far); do most household cleaning chores; and I can read and follow instructions to do other chores, too. I’m also skilled at assembling flat-pack furniture (provided I’m allowed to swear to my heart’s content while I’m doing so). I can also paint walls and furniture (and could probably do a better job of both than the people who painted our current rental – I at least have an understanding of the nature and uses of masking tape).
    Really, I learned enough basic skills from my parents to be able to perform most tasks required around the house. What I don’t have, most of the time, is the interest in or inclination toward doing them. I prefer to do things other than worry about keeping the house in “display home” trim, manicuring the garden, or doing a whole heap of pointless handicrafts purely to fill up the empty hours. If it comes right down to it, I’d much rather read a book or play a game on one of the consoles. As for mending stuff, taking up hems and similar… well, I can do it, but I don’t particularly enjoy it, and I’d much rather pay someone else to take the time and do it for me.

  21. A different thought. I’ve been reading Georgette Heyer novels lately, (set in the 1700s and 1800s in England and France) and it struck me in thinking about this crap, crap ‘research’ piece, how all the (handsome, dashing, devil-may-care) uppercrust male heroes tend to have a Very Loyal Man who won’t let Anyone Else touch His Lordship’s Boots. They iron, they pack, they choose outfits… yet they’re all very manly men, the heroes and the servants.
    Funny how we got from the time of servants and men being perfectly able to iron own shirts, shine boots, choose fabulous outfits (the Hero can do all these things too, just not as fabulously as his indispensible ‘man’) to ‘omg womenz skillz r dyin out’!

  22. Good point Hendo. Also the numerous ex-navy or current navy personnel whose ironing skills really put mine to shame. I can’t imagine Bertie without his Jeeves, Poirot without his George, Inspector Clouseau without his Cato, Batman without his Alfred. “Female skills’ indeed! British army officers didn’t take their wives to war they had batmen to polish their boots and shine their buttons.

  23. As it happens, Hendo, my 5 times great grandfather WAS a valet in a ducal household – it was actually not regarded as a’menial’ position, more of an ‘executive’ in the household. And a LOT of the actual work on His Lordships boots’n’duds was actually done by the ‘menials’ under the fierce scrutiny and supervision of the ‘man’, who then presented the results to ‘the boss’, who did not really know or care who had done it.
    Having said that, the relationship between master and man could be a very strong one, and my ancestor’s duke thought so highly of him, that he sponsored and educated his eldest son.
    Master and man were also deeply involved in the running and organisation of the local Militia, so grandfather was as much aide de camp as valet.
    Gae, in Callala Bay

  24. I’m a Gen Y woman. I can’t sew, knit, crochet or garden. My chilies died horribly, and it looks like my rosemary will too. Thats right, I managed to kill rosemary.
    And honestly, I’m lost as to why I should care that I’ve “lost” (read: never acquired) these skills? They arent actually needed to be self-sufficient. It’s great if you can do all that, but I can’t, I don’t want to, and I don’t care.

  25. Great post.
    As a Gen X, I have dedicated my life to learning lost male skills, the kind I wouldn’t have been allowed to learn a couple of generations ago, like letterpress printing.
    My husband is dedicating himself to learning lost female skills, like jelly-making and the art of knitting at the football.
    Lots of fun, and I’m sure everyone else is doing their little bit to upend the dominant paradigm as well. Why be normal?

  26. &Duck, you are constructing the new normal, I hope.

%d bloggers like this: