Everyone had an opinion about how to hang the curtains: on a woman's right to use tools | Phoebe Paterson de Heer

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I had to gain the confidence that always seemed to come naturally to my partner to release my inner handywoman

Last year my partner and I moved into a new house. The whole exercise was exhilarating – finally, a place we owned – but it also unearthed in me a desperation, a deep frustration. For a long time I’ve wanted to be someone who fixes things, builds things, someone who is capable in practical day-to-day tasks. I own tools, I have ideas and I tinker with my surroundings, but I’ve never felt completely at ease in the tasks that various men in my life seem to take on with no backward glance.

In our just-built house there were so many jobs to do with drills, hammers, caulking guns. My drive to learn by doing was offset by disorientation and self-doubt. I wanted to begin improving our house, but I didn’t know what sort of screws I needed for the curtain rod brackets, or whether I could just drill straight into the plasterboard. My partner, a man, didn’t have much more experience in these things than I did, but approached the situation with a confidence and bluster that only confused me more.

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