Lawn-mowing and masculinity
A few days ago, I came across an article on power-less lawn mowers and their growing market share in recent years (though still a very small percent). (I forget where I saw the article, but I'll add the link later if I rediscover it.) One thing I found interesting was that it said much of the growth comes from women who are mowing the lawn, and that men are more likely to want/need the feeling of some kind of silly validation that comes from the growl of a gas engine.
Now, I've had a powerless mower ever since we bought our house. With lawns our size there's certain no reason for a riding lawn mower, and in my opinion no reason for any kind of motor. But I do seem to be the only one of the nearby neighbors to feel that way. I did need assistance to find the mowers in the local Home Depot, and when I first asked he though I simply meant an electric mower (which probably would have been my second choice, since at least it's not coughing out pollution as I mow). But I had no idea I was challenging masculine assumptions by buying a powerless mower. And I say great--I have no need of a gas motor to assure myself that I'm male. And I'm very pleased with mowing this way--it cost about the same as lower-end push gas-powered mower, but I haven't had to buy any gas or do anything except spray it with a bit of WD40 ever time I'm done. Plus, it's quiet, so it doesn't wake a napping child (or wife).
So you can keep your gas mowers and whatever else you need to validate yourself--I'm fine, thanks.
It does make me think about all the discussions around (Nightshade forums, for example) about male vs. female storytelling (which doesn't necessarily correspond to the gender of the writer). I'm still trying to absorb the discussions and get a handle on it, but I do know one of my favorite authors was identified as writing male stories, though she's female and definitely uses stories to explore gender (LeGuin), and another of my favorites was identified as writing female stories (McKillip). I'll leave it to someone else to analyse my stories and tell me what I write...but it is something I enjoy thinking about and reading the discussions, whenever they don't descend into silly flame wars. I would ultimately guess that trying to divide stories into either/or (either male or female) is simplistic, but it's interesting to think about stories in those ways at times both to understand and challenge my own conception of how stories relate to each other and to understand particular markets.