I’m Teaching My Daughter to Change the Electrical Outlet Because Why Not?


I got electrocuted today. Well, shocked really. It was just that bit of a buzz that comes through a wire when you’re taking apart an outlet and your husband didn’t flip the right breaker.

I’m fine. Better than fine. I dropped the screwdriver immediately and sent him back downstairs to start flipping switches. In a few moments I was back in business and there is now a three-pronged outlet near our TV where a two-pronged outlet has sat for years.

Changing outlets is one of those tasks I learned shortly after becoming a homeowner. It’s one I picked up while my husband chose other paths. We share the duties here, truly share them. He knows now how to install laminate flooring. I’ve taught myself how to stop the toilet from running, to switch out outlets, to replace a faulty plug on a perfectly good lamp.

These are skills I might be able to get through life without, but I wouldn’t feel good about it. These are the skills I want to pass on to my daughter. Because why the heck wouldn’t I?

I have friends who wouldn’t dream of changing an outlet. Smart friends. Capable friends. Friends who could easily pull up an Internet tutorial and figure it out but who prefer to pass the job to a man, any man … whether it’s one in their life or one they bring in for a price.

At the risk of alienating some of them with this blog post, I have to say it. There is still “women’s work” and “man’s work” in 2012 because each passing generation is peopled by women who like it that way. 

They LIKE not having to figure out how to re-wire an outlet because then they don’t have to get on their fanny on the floor with a screwdriver and actually do it. They LIKE not knowing how to rejigger the float in the toilet because then they don’t have to stick their hand in the guts and get it soaking wet.

They LIKE being a little bit helpless because it’s easy.

They’re lazy.

Maybe that’s over-simplifying. But I should point out I don’t mean the women who are legitimately busy. Nor am I talking about building a house on your own, revamping an entire bathroom, even mowing your own lawn (this is a job I do pass to the husband for one simple reason … he’s got the upper body strength to move our mower that I just do not have).

I’m talking about the women who would sit on top of the dryer all day with a broom rather than figure out how to set a mouse trap.

I won’t let my daughter be one of them. I want her to be the one pushing the man in her life out of the way saying, “Just move over, I can do it.”
Won’t she be able to hire an electrician one day? A plumber? I suppose. Technically I could too. There are some jobs around the house that are farmed out. My best friend’s husband is currently rebuilding our closet. My air conditioner was installed by my kid brother. My babysitter’s dad cleaned our furnace this week. There’s no shame in hiring help for the big jobs. But the satisfaction of “doing it yourself” becomes more satisfying, I shouldn’t have to add (but I do) because I am a woman doing work that’s still — even in 2012 — considered the man’s portion of the home duties.

I would rather be the one getting shocked by the outlet than the one sitting on the couch day after day, month after month, year after year saying, “He really needs to change that outlet one of these days.” I could sit around hoping my daughter would think the same, or I could teach her. I’m adding it to my list of household duties to do the latter.

Who does the fixing at your house?

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Image via dno1967b/Flickr

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