Can a woman paint a wall?

Here is an interesting thing.

For almost three weeks now, I have been visible, usually clad in a paint covered Brazil shirt, applying a pressure washer, render or whitewash to the house.

I have been up and down ladders. I have stood on a phonebox. I have sat on roof ridges and clambered around chimneys 40 feet up. For almost two of those weeks I have been working alone. For just over a week, my Dad was around to lend a hand – particularly to make sure roof ladders were secure and that I wasn’t about to plummet to earth.

For the weeks when I was on my own, I have had no less than 4 people stop on the road or come to chat, specifically to comment on my gender.

People actually stopped to congratulate me on the fact that, as a woman, I was painting a wall, “You don’t see a lot of women doing that!”

I thanked them politely, smiled and made small talk about “Well, if I had to wait for a man to come and do it for me, I’d be hanging around for a while…”

Firstly, hats off that they even noticed I was a girl. No-one on the mainland seems to manage that, particularly in ladies’ toilets, but that is a discussion for another day.

Secondly, I am genuinely amazed that they felt it was such a big deal that it needed mentioned, never mind that they didn’t so much as blink as they said it.

Is it that there aren’t many women around who want to paint a wall? Maybe. Maybe I am just an oddity – a woman who gets up a ladder and gets on with it. I know I am not alone, but maybe there are fewer of us than I had thought.

Thankfully, no-one has had the brass neck to wonder aloud whether I am doing as good a job as a man could, or indeed that the level of danger involved might be too much for my poor weak female anatomy. I can’t help but wonder though, if that was the subtext behind their comments – consciously or unconsciously.

You see, no-one made that comment when I was working alongside my Dad. Maybe it reassured them to know that someone with the correct gender was over-seeing proceedings. Maybe it was a fluke and I am reading too much into it, but it has made me think.

ps. The back wall is complete. It will need a second coat, but for now I am moving onto the South Gable. I have a bolster chisel and a lump hammer and I know how to use them. The third photo is stuff growing under the render on the south gable. A good reason to remove it!





2 thoughts on “Can a woman paint a wall?

  • 8th August 2014 at 6:31 am

    I have pursued various hobbies / activities which are widely considered to be “for boys” (e.g. skateboarding, archery, going to heavy metal concerts, sword fighting) and I also happen to look rather “feminine” (i.e. small, thin, long hair) so I’ve gotten plenty of those silly comments from the age of 14 or 15. It is so very annoying.

    I’ve painted a few (indoor) walls and done other DIY stuff around the house, both alone and together with other people, and judging by this anecdata, the results don’t magically get better when men are involved.

  • 8th August 2014 at 9:25 am

    No, you aren’t the only one, Rhoda. I spent many happy ‘training’ hours watching and helping Grandad, preparing surfaces, painting, wallpapering etc, and am happy to paint a wall with you any time!
    Skills perceived as masculine, like map reading, are found in far more women than most people think. Or what about enjoying shopping and having a good sense of colour, which does occur in the male species – if we are lucky to find one!! Maybe it is a question of being good at things that you want to do. So – take pride in your skills – and when the next person ( were they mostly male?) stops to comment, ask them if they would like to take over if they think they could make a better job!


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