Practical Home Repair for Women

Practical Home Repair for Women cover

Practical Home Repair for Women: Your Questions Answered

Submitter: I found this on the shelf at an academic library and got a good laugh out of it…

1. Paint – I’m so glad Bruce told me what paint was.
2. Emergency – And that “needle and thread and cloth are [my] province”.
3. Preface – And the “man of the house” is busy busy “commuting, working and traveling” so he’s “never around when he is needed for that important chore”.

Holly: This seems like an odd choice for an academic library, even in the 1960s. Maybe they saw it as a sort of “adulting” collection for their students at the time. A really, really sexist one.


paint components



  1. Apparently darning socks in the military was one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell” situations.

    1. This clashes with what I know of the military pre-this book. My dad wasn’t ashamed to darn his own socks or sew up his uniform in front of the other guys.

      Bruce maybe had some serious Issues.

      It’s like he’s writing as or for aliens. Ones who didn’t invent paint. (There’s an old SF story about that, I think by Simak)

  2. Yes, all the women I knew had no idea what paint was.

    I remember 1970. My mother did ALL the interior painting in every house we lived in from before I was born till she died. She was also a dab hand with minor repairs like the shelf example. I inherited her tack hammer. AND she could sew like nobody’s business — I didn’t get designer clothes because Mom could replicate them cheaper. And sometimes she did paint by number for fun.

    My dad did indeed work, commute, and travel for his job yet somehow he managed to do the minor repairs, fix the small car problems, do some of the gardening/yard work, etc. My bedside table is one he built and finished, and it’s sturdy and attractive. He didn’t use any instructions or pattern.

    I don’t recall any handymen coming to the house unless it was something big and systemic like plumbing.

    Bruce is/was a sexist ass, and whoever bought this book for an academic library (?) did not have the judgement I want in my librarians.

  3. There’s something fascinating in books like this that simultaneously tell women You Can Do It while being extremely condescending (little girl, have you ever heard of paint?).

    1. I read it as being mostly intended as inspirational, but couched badly so it comes across in a gender-snob way. The answer to “what is paint” uses terms (oxidation, evaporation) out of character with an assumption of utter unawareness. Similarly techinically specific terms come later, like binder, vehicle, emulsion (!). If the first question was just deleted and the answer made a intro blurb, the rest of it becomes normal.

      The “province” statement, again, makes as much sense when interpreted as “You already know one type of complex work, sewing, there is no reason you cannot learn another one, carpentry.”

      And so on. Sexism and unjust gender expectations were certainly common in 1966, but not every thing or every one in 1966 was pushing them.

  4. My feminine hands just can’t saw a straight line or pound a nail! Dear me. Where’s a big strong man when you need him?

  5. Gosh! This reminds me of when I was shopping at a large chain hardware store here in Australia (not that long ago) and they gave my young son a shirt which said ”my dad is a tradie” despite the obvious fact that *I* was the one buying all the hardware and certainly the one using it when we got home. Who did I learn my building skills from? My Grandmother, who was an accomplished amateur carpenter, artist AND also made all her own clothes. She would have been busy fitting out a bus as a house from scratch when this book was printed.

    This book is just as offensive as the shirt, but you know, a whole book worth.

    1. Tradie must be one of those Astralian things. The only [occupation]-ies we have in the United States _that I know of_ are roadies and groupies.

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