Busy-bodying around, or: Girls can do it too!

Nick and I were lying in bed one night in our rented apartment at Ibiza. The kids had just fallen asleep after a long evening of card games and laughter followed by me reading aloud a few chapter’s from The Bend Coin. Such harmonious and close-knit evenings with the kids happen rarely to us, the family format does not come naturally to us, so this evening we felt extraordinarily accomplished and satisfied. Ideally, now that the kids were in bed, we would have sat on the balcony over-looking the bay with a cold beer but the mosquitos had put an end to that scenario. Hence we were in bed, content, and now off in our private spaces facilitated by electronic devices. I was trawling the news for anything related to Brexit, feeding my at-the-time pet opinion that Teresa May was the only adult in Parliament, holed up with hundreds of babies. She looked more and more haggard by the day, now on the verge of losing her voice completely. Meanwhile Nick was watching DIY videos on youtube.

“You should look at this”, he said, “Youtube is just full and full of men busy-bodying around doing stuff….” I looked. A man was pouring concrete unto his driveway spreading the substance out evenly with a stick and then doing something with a different stick, which makes the bubbles rise up out of the concrete resulting in a smooth surface. The guy was narrating the process as he did this, sometimes turning to face the camera held by an unknown person. Sometimes other men would appear in the frame. Nick pointed out the bystanders: “Men are often in packs when they do these things.” He showed me another example of a group of men cutting down a huge tree. These videos serves, it seemed at first glance, the dual purpose of documenting to the world what you have done while also teaching other people how to perform a task, step by step.

I kind of agreed that these youtube videos might be related to what I was trying to get at but was yet again at a loss to explain how or why. Something with men. Something with doing stuff in packs. Something with the urge to broadcast it. But might women not do the same things? How would I find out? Like Thiel I had the problem that I was looking for a pattern that was already editing out what would contradict it: A first search on the DIY in youtube will have you believe that women’s DIY is exclusively concerned with grooming their bodies, their offspring, or their immediate surroundings. Doing your hair, nails, skin, makeup, tonic for colds and fever, etc. While men do stuff involving electronic circuits, tools, and building big stuff. Then if you make the search more focused, like “felling tree”, you cannot easily find the ones with women in them, but if on the other hand you search for “women felling tree” you get stuff like ‘chainsaw babe’ or ‘see a woman use a chainsaw for the first time’, or ‘girls can do it too’ where a group of men tutors a woman in felling a tree with an axe or a chainsaw and yelp out in amazed hooting when it turns out the chainsaw cuts through the trunk even when held by a woman.

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