I just chalked it up to the amount of times they got screwed over by people of lower ability, so in general, there was a lot of defensiveness. The male-role thing was apparent, but after earning respect and trust, they pretty much always got out of my way.
I've had, quite often, jobs where I was more or less helping the home owner build and those were the most enjoyable and memorable moments. Contrary to what this story suggests, it was usually the rich folk who got on their hands and knees beside me and pounded nails. I think it was about perspective. The rich folk seemed more willing to learn it, try it, and logic out the problem. The middle class folk didn't seem to willing to learn or want to get their hands dirty, so usually they weren't present and were more prone to complaining.
Construction is super easy if you can think about the problem from multiple perspectives. I find it surprising how few people have the capacity to view the world in this way.
Interesting thing mentioned in the article: Men are pressured to know this stuff, and women are pressured to know how to "cook and be domestic." I should add that I'm guilty of it myself. A work colleague got a flat tire, and he and his girlfriend were stranded until help came because he didn't know how to change it. I gave him flack for it before I realized I was being unfair to him. His girlfriend was much worse to him than I was FYI.
Well, the fact is that the pressure isn't equal anymore. Women, especially younger women, are pretty damned comfortable admitting they are terrible cooks. Annoyingly, I'm a much better cook than any woman I've ever dated, which I must admit is a sign of social progress. Their mothers didn't want them to feel like it was their duty to cook, so they were never taught. But rejecting a useful skill outright has its disadvantages.
My twin brother has very little building experience, but lucky for him at least has the aptitude for it.
His wife, a professional who is quite possibly the worst cook alive, has hounded him, in front of me, for not being a "real man" because he can't fix something himself in the house, and now they have to pay somebody else to do it. Over time, he's gotten confident enough to take on stuff himself, but I also advised him that everytime she pulls that shit to think of a very complicated recipe and ask her to cook it for him. When she replies that she can't cook it, give her the "you're not a real woman" treatment so she can see how unfair she is being.
Being broke makes you learn things too: for most of my 20s (and 30s, and 40s) I haven't had the money to pay people to do things for me. So I learned to do them myself - not always expertly, but they get done. I think a lot of people have fallen into the fallacy that 'time is money', and spend their time on Mad Men instead of fixing stuff around the house.
Or, the middle class folks didn't have time to hang around, while rich folk don't always work 9-5.
It does depend on what you are doing and how difficult the particular job is. Cutting wood and hammering nails is easy and somehow relaxing. Tiling walls and roofing are both difficult and easy to screw up, and I don't think I ever had the homeowner with me on those occasions. Painting, laying linoleum, hanging prefab cabinets, etc are all easy to do and easy to take part ownership in. I like the thought that a homeowner can brag to their friends that "they" built something.
I love to work on my muscle car. To me, just writing a check to buy someone else's muscle car is not interesting, nor does anyone have "cred" with me if they just bought it.
One possible reason for the disparity is that being poor sucks and is really hard in many parts of the world (like NYC I would imagine), however where I live, rents and other expenses are low and it's relatively easy to get government handouts.
I left home at 16, spent ten years homeless and hitchhiking, am told I'm quite good at what I do, and have spent the last 3 years or so exerting the herculean effort required to rise through poverty. I currently live half on a couch of some good people I know, and half in the office of the web shop I work in. I have never had government assistance. I wouldn't have known where to find it, nor been in a situation to be given it in most cases.
As far as handouts go, when you are zilch-zero-nada poor, at least in the US, there are a lot of things in life that will be higher on your priority list than either figuring out that they're there, or going through the process of acquiring them, keeping them, and then becoming self-sufficient. In many places in the US, government handouts are a joke.
I'm not going to try to go into detail, but I can tell you that I know a lot of people whose reason for being dirt poor is not so glaringly obvious as the ones you know, and a fair amount of people who aren't poor because they had the luck to be born to the right people in the right place at the right time, regardless of their work ethic.
I've been thinking a lot about socio-economic disparity amongst technically competent people a lot lately, I should probably try to gather my thoughts more cohesively.
It is a smart play, IMO, to not let random people walk into your house with no one there to protect the fortress, if you get my drift.
When you make good money, you have the option to learn and try new things. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy you the luxury of not being accused of "not willing to learn, try, and logic out things".
I`ve definitely have had my share of folks that like the pretentiousness. As it turns out, they are also the easiest to screw with.
The upper classes would never get on their hands and knees and pound nails, because they feel that it is beneath them. The uppers are content with who they are, and don't give a damn what the lower classes think. But they are also uninterested in new ideas and would not be curious about your profession.
The rich people that you work for are likely to be upper middle class. They are likely to have earned their wealth by working hard, so they can relate to the hard work you do, even if their work was "white collar" instead of "blue collar".
The "middle class" that you describe seem to be Fussell's "middle" or "high proletarian". They are near enough to your class that they are bitter to you because they feel threatened by you, or because they think that their snobbery makes them better than you (it doesn't — usually this is the mark of a person with low self confidence). They might also not be there when you work, because are also at work.
Looking at the book description, I take it that these are meant to be heuristics for guessing a random person's position in the class system? That seems more useful. I'm still not convinced it makes sense to apply that here, though, as the OP was working in these people's homes, and certainly has a very good idea what sort of people they were.
I grew up here in the U.S., but I still find Westerners weird sometimes. My dad grew up in a village in Bangladesh, and for him it's always been a great point of pride for him that he could afford to pay someone to do "man work."
Of course, the trick is finding the good tradesmen.
As others have pointed out in the thread, there really is a feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something yourself, but we seem to have conflated that to mean you should do everything yourself.
Yes, and it's not just about building things.
I feel guilty every other day about how much house should be cleaner. I could probably hire someone to come out once a month, do a much better job than I could, more quickly, at a price I can actually afford.... and yet I feel it's my responsibility and that I would be somehow negligent if I were to do that. Different cultures, man...
I think the reason so many people aren't as handy as they used to be has to do more with culture than with anything else, here's an excellent TED talk from Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs) on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRVdiHu1VCc
This is great advice, anyone reading who doesn't have at least the basics please get them. I have a few friends who I help out on occasion and it is incredibly frustrating to not have the basic tools available.
Decent screwdriver set
Just these basic tools can get you a long way to solving problems.
I hated it at the time, but I spent nearly every weekend of my 8th and 9th grade years remodeling our house with my dad. Being able to understand the job that needs to be done, even if you'd do a poor job doing it yourself, is invaluable.
A younger guy at work asked if he could borrow one of the screwdrivers I keep in my desk. I thought maybe he was going to pop open his computer, he said he was going to put a bed together. At his apartment.
He didn't even own a screwdriver. C'mon. I sarcastically asked him, "You're a manly man, aren't you?", then handed him a large phillips screwdriver.
Another guy in the office overheard the conversation and laughed about it with me, and then we went down to Harbor Freight and bought him a $7 screwdriver set.
Last time I was at Frys I picked up a multimeter for him, told him it was a shame that he was an Electrical Engineer and didn't have one.
I just shake my head.
Want to hang a shelf? you have NO idea how many types of hanging fasteners there are. From a single penny nail to a $2.50 self-driving metal compression anchor. Then all the reassurance in the world from the guy at the hardware store doesn't mean anything when you get home because your house will be different. When things start crumbling, (and they will) then you went from 1 task to 4. Big mess, wife gets pissed. You want to die.
How do you find studs? Too bad nearly EVERY single stud finder is a mediocre piece of shit. Most people don't even know that to cut a straight line on plywood, you can clamp a long level and use it as a fence. A circular saw is worthless without a good straight edge fence.
Need to do some wall patching? Guess what. The joint compound you see at the store. That's the gimmicky crap that vendors pay for premium end cap space. Get it home and it's shit. The real handymen laugh because they know the real stuff is the powder and its in 50 lb bags, costs 1/20 of what you paid and is found back in the dusty dark corner.
The handyman business is full of tricks the pros have had time to develop and then taken to their graves.
My battery was dead on my motorcycle. The manual that came with it had NO information on what to do. My cycle is a couple years old, but not old enough to have a 3rd party repair manual. Had I hooked up the car charger, I'd have ruined it. I asked the sales guy at the shop... How am I supposed to know this stuff if it's not in the manual. He said, 'well people just know it from working with and owning motorcycles.' For fuck sakes man.
The world of home improvement shows is riddled with holes in the processes. Sure you see a nice polished tutorial that completely glazes over the clean up process or the variance in materials.
I've refinished wood floors in 3 different houses. I've yet to find a proper tutorial on the process that comes close to what I've had to do. They are all missing tons of important detail on how to do the job right. and guess what, google has been completely gamed with bad SEO sites. So the first million results for the home improvement problem you're facing. Guaranteed to be advertising masquerading as help.
Here's my absolute favorite one though. The solvents and other chemicals you buy. There are NO proper methods of disposal for the average person. So then you're stuck with 25 cans of flammable poisonous liquids in your garage for the better part of a decade. You can only hope that you happen to know when the next chemical disposal event happens at your nearby church or community center. Otherwise, you're fucked if you want to legally and safely get rid of the stuff.
So yeah being a weekend handyman. Fun.
I was taught by my dad. He was taught by his dad. I learned to rebuild an engine at around 11 and I helped build two houses by the time I was 16. I have rebuilt two cars and fixed (and broken!) countless others. I have done general construction and carpentry.
I'm happy to share my knowledge. But I've found that the people who could learn the most are the most resistant to learning. They get offended when I ask if they did something. Asking questions is how you avoid mistakes. They feel like it's an affront to their manhood when I offer to help. That they should be able to do it on their own.
I don't understand it. I know I don't know everything and am happy to learn from those who know more than I do.
PS, don't forget to use a hammer drill with that masonry bit or you'll be there a long, long time. And to put some plumber's putty behind that faucet flange (but leave a gap at the bottom for water to run out). Your studs are 16" on center unless they're 20" or 24". Tap tap tap. Unless you are working with plaster & lathe. My area has a hazardous waste facility that's open to anyone living within the county. Antifreeze, solvents, paints, etc are all welcome.
At 24 years old I can answer most of the questions you asked, and I know exactly who to ask for advice on the one question I don't know the answer to.
My dad taught me the basics of home building/improvements. I can drywall like the best of them, look for studs, hang stuff without issues, know what type of anchors to use. I've built many a desk from 2 by 4's and plywood, built shelves and a lot of other things.
My friends were always playing and working on their cars, I learned more about cars from them than anyone else. I have rebuilt an engine, I have changed timing belts, oil pumps, water pumps, A/C systems, spark plugs, wires, changed timing on older cars, changed sensors, figured out why a car wasn't running properly. Even today I still have the ability to listen to a car and with almost 80% accuracy know what is wrong with it. I can hear when a car most likely needs an oil change, when a belt needs to be tightened (before it does the whole squealing thing), I can feel when an engine mount is due for a replacement, I know what a failing automatic transmission feels like, or a bad clutch...
Yes, these are all things you learn over time, but to imply that even a basic knowledge won't help, or a basic toolbox won't get you far is just flat out wrong. Not only does it give you the ability to fix things yourself, it is an opportunity to learn and improve yourself. It is extremely satisfying.
Being a weekend handyman/car mechanic? An absolute blast, would highly recommend it to anyone!
You're actually agreeing. You were taught and brought up in an environment where people learnt the skills then you can get by fine.
I certainly wasn't, and I have wasted much time, effort and money getting shoddy results which I'd then have to pay a tradesman to fix afterwards.
You don't need to fix anything and everything, that's what professionals are for. Being able to know some simple things like how to jump start a car, how to change a battery, how to put a nail in a wall, how to fix your clogged sink, etc. are all super useful day-to-day. And they give you a little bit of grounding to be able to partially understand more complicated stuff that a professional might do when he or she is repairing your car or upgrading your kitchen.
If you approach your projects with that attitude, things become much easier. Moreover, most trades people are not very good at learning or analyzing. They just do things one way or another because 'they have been always taught to do it this way' by some master carpenter/plumber/electrician when they just started. So the whole trades industry is full of misconception and myths.
Or completely worthless if you have plaster and lathe walls.
There are three on the frontpage right now, with 2 more in the next three pages (all of which frontpaged at least for a moment).
The other two atlantic articles on the front page are from 2-3 year old accounts that likewise post a lot of pieces from various newspapers.
You're welcome to dig through their posting history for a conspiracy, but it's not jumping out at me.
The author makes it sound like negotiating over an estimate is a character flaw.
Stereotypically, men are more likely to negotiate over almost anything. At least that comes up during discussions of pay inequality; I'm not really sure what the facts are.
Also, negotiating is probably a more common, habitual practice among "rich" people (by which I assume he means businessmen, lawyers, etc.). I don't see any evidence that it comes from some kind of classism; rather, it's a useful and important skill in their job.
People who really don't know anything about handywork are likely to use what they do know to attempt to get quality work at a fair price.
At the risk of sounding inflammatory, many home owners want everything cheap as humanly possible, so they find people willing to do it for below minimum wage (immigrants) and buy the cheapest, warped material they can find at Home Depot. Sometimes spending a little extra money for expertise is worth the sacrifice. You are, after all, paying for a service that affects the most important piece of property you own, and you may have to live with a regret for 30 or more years.
Now days, you can get references, see photos of prior work, and of course someone with high quality tools (not Craftsman) and a truck is likely to be a better choice. Someone that is willing to say "no" to you is also a good sign.
I decided not to take him to task for it, since he was probably giving me the price his company told him to, but it was still irritating and something I'd like to avoid repeating.
If you want to take that on yourself (and it's not really difficult, fundamentally) you can save that markup and the shop's labor charges. I used to do this a lot more than I do now, because even though I enjoy working with tools and fixing mechanical things, when I compare spending 3 hours replacing a water pump on my car to the opportunity cost I very often decide its not worth it (this has changed as I have grown older and my free time has become more valuable to me).
It's a something you have to weigh off, and decide yourself. I'd rather pay someone to work on my car now and be able to spend that time working on projects and making money than work on my car and spend those hours on that (although I do miss it tremendously, that's what getting a project car is for though ;-)).
See, this is acceptable, but no one told me this.
If he's keeping a stock of a lot of parts it can be worth a markup. But in general the cost of having someone buy a part and install it vs. buying the part yourself and paying someone to install it should be pretty close.
For the record, many home builders also think this way. Unfortunately, most home buyers and owners don't have any sense of what qualifies as quality materials or labor.
Before undertaking any major project study it intensively, and you'll feel much better about it.
If you can't do the study yourself then find a trusted, disinterested, 3rd party to do it for you. (Of course that entails some study itself...)
Industrial Arts, it was called. We learned to make jewelry, forge with iron, etc. Then in high school I did woodworking instead, and made furniture, which most of us sold as a side job.
I just thought that was totally normal. I'm still not sure why it isn't.
I enjoyed reading that book and it relates to the topic.
I remember reading that 'industrial arts' were trashed in favour of computers and to prepare for the coming of the 'information era'.
He didn't strike me as a Luddite. I think that's because he spends a lot of pages glorifying manual labor for its spiritual and liberating side rather than mourning the jobs destroyed by assembly lines for economic reasons.
I don't think he is as much a luddite as he is against mindless and seemingly pointless "work". Unfortunately he is walking that thin line along the whole book. He is not against the industrialization of the world or "the machines" although he does states that those events broke men.
In the book, he complains more that skilled artisan were chained to assembly lines while Luddites were replaced by assembly lines. Again, it's a thin line.
Assembly factory workers and data entry monkeys are one and the same for him.
I think his main practical argument against white collar job is pretty weak because he takes it from his personal life and he was a qualified mechanic, not a skill-less minion. So he colors much of the "manual" experience. He is a mechanic, a masculine glorified profession (insert coke adv.), working alone for hours (and for himself) on something deeply engaging and getting some kind of meditating and enlightening and relaxing experience... he's not a wielder working on some tubes along the road with a chief supervising his every actions on the job. Also he's deep into philosophy so I hardly buy it he has the same experience as regular mechanic trained since his teens as an apprentice and whose definition of culture is the latest blockbuster. He isn't one of the typical manual worker he describes in the book.
I wish he had shared his thoughts on software engineering and how it compares with 'code monkeys' and data entry clerks.
What bothers me most is that he didn't expand much outside of the "life of a mechanic" and life of a "mindless encoding drone in the publishing industry". The essay falls short on that.
Personally I read that book at a time of my life when I was fed up with webdesign/webdev and wanted to do something more real. I'm in the process of retraining myself to get a bachelor in industrial and electronic computer science and I am more than happy to deal with real wires and boards and huge factory machines now. I will revisit the book in the future.
To make it short: I believe that industrialization is good because it frees men from mind-numbing jobs, not because it saves money. And that's certainly a naive white-collar opinion :(
I am not sure I was really coherent, I'll clarify if I can and if needed.
Many schools would love to get more arts back in their curriculum, but their funding goes away if they don't focus on those damn tests to the exclusion of all else.
Seriously, I hear a lot of kvetching about schools burdened by having to "teach to the test". I never very little about which specific parts of the test are unfair or about things students shouldn't be expected to know.
To dismiss NCLB as anything but an attempt to sabotage the entire public school system is nieve.
Actually, yes. I volunteered weekly in a 4th grade class at a public school for five years. But even if I didn't, and even if I were just now finding out the managementspeak::bandwidth allocated to passing the tests, it wouldn't matter. The fact that it's so hard to get the students to pass simply means the teaching is inefficient and using ineffective methods to teach students the most important, core skills that they need in the real world.
Again, don't tell me the tests take up a lot of resources. Tell me why the tests are unjustifiably hard and why it's acceptable to graduate kids that aren't passing them. Show me, say, a test problem that you don't think an 8th grader or whatnot should be unable to answer and yet be tossed on to high school.
(You'd be the first to try.)
I was lucky enough to have a step-father who was fairly handy, had a large amount of tools, and my mother always had him working on a project around the house. Building a deck, remodeling the kitchen, that kind of stuff. I hated being dragged away from friends and video games to help him out with random stuff but I learned quite a bit.
I also had the fortune of learning from my birth father on how NOT to do certain things. He'd always take shortcuts that ended up hurting the end result, which to this day I point out as we work on things.
When speaking in the general case, I think it's worth thinking about using gender-neutral language. The attitudes in the article that home improvement and all things handy are "manly" things are worth challenging, and using gender-neutral language is a simple step you can take.
The sentence "What ever happened to learning this stuff from good ol' dad, or your grandfather?" tacitly reinforces the idea that handiness is a man's skill because it is in line with that norm. Phrasing it in gender neutral language makes it clash against the norm, and that clash encourages the reader to pause for a moment, consider the norm, and possibly conclude that there's no inherent reason that a mother or grandmother couldn't be the handy parent. Or that both parents could be handy.
Why does this matter apart from political correctness (which I find obnoxious when it's for its own sake)? Getting over the idea that cooking is a woman's role or that repairing things is a man's role encourages people to pass on knowledge in ways that doesn't reinforce these traditional gender roles.
If a person lives their life without ever having these challenged, and then passes knowledge on to his or her children in a way that reflects the roles, the cycle continues for another generation. Then we have another group of boys who can't cook or sew and another group of girls who can't hang a picture or replace the fill valve in their toilet. If you think those are worthwhile skills for all people to have, please think of how your choice of nouns and pronouns reinforces or challenges the attitudes that lead to people deciding what to teach their children.
In case it matters to anybody, I'm a guy. I can cook, but my sewing skills are self-taught because (in my specific case) my mother didn't teach me. And obviously I didn't pick up on the gendered language before the edit window ran out. It isn't my intention to make you feel called out; rather, writing this was in part an exercise in figuring out for myself why it matters so that I might be more aware of my language in the future.
I was lucky enough to have a step-father who was fairly handy...
Whether you meant to or not, you've answered your own question. Suppose you lived in the alternate universe where you didn't have a stepfather and learned everything from your birth father. Who would you have learned the skills from then? The problem with relying on passing handiness down from generation to generation is that once it fails to propagate for a generation, it's very hard to get back.
It's hard to find a teacher for adults for handy skills, and a lot of being handy comes from having long term exposure to handiness anyway. Taking a weekend class (if one exists) or reading a book from the library on how to hang cabinets (for example) isn't going to cover all of the possible gotchas that could come up. Some of those gotchas are probably best solved by people with a lot of experience hanging cabinets, but there are probably others that you could probably solve if you've lived a generally handy life.
If this sounds like institutional knowledge, that's probably a fair comparison. It's just that the family is a very small institution that doesn't necessarily have a lot of redundancy in who has the institutional knowledge. Once you lose it, it's pretty much lost, and that's the reason to have a shop class in school. It provides a mechanism to add that knowledge to families that don't have it from a (hopefully) experienced person who has enough time in contact with his or her students to impart more knowledge directly and pass on general handiness as a mindset rather that a specific skill.
My dad worked nights, so I learned what kind of noise was or was not going to wake up my dad. My grandparents were about 23hrs away by car. So not everyone is that lucky.
Still today, if I really want something made right out of wood, I know I can do it.
Only wish there had been obligatory metal working, too.
And FYI, women have it significantly worse in this regard. The division between feminism and traditional roles has created a trap. You'll be judged both for having and not-having traditionally female skills.
Also, living in an apartment is weird because it's not your house. I want to replace the kitchen cabinets, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to. I'd love to be able to just own my own house, I even dream of just getting an old house and redoing the electrical, fixing it, getting a 203k loan, but that's not very easy in the bay area.
I don't have any trouble letting other people do stuff for me, but I usually want to be right there talking to the person the whole time, usually learning whatever new things I can.
I've often wondered how many people in tech would probably be mechanics or carpenters (or welders/blacksmiths) if there was no more lucrative occupation. It seems to me there's a great number of people in my network who do these things as hobbies. Scratches an itch.
The handyman/contractor/mechanic has the skills, and the tools, and probably knows what to do, but in my experience often doesn't give a shit about the quality of his work. (But see below)
I don't have the skills, and may not have the tools, and I don't know what to do, but given time I have proven myself able to learn, and I really do care how things turn out.
Often 'giving a shit' makes up for a lot more of your initial ignorance than you would think.
If there was some great way of finding that rare someone who did have pride in their workmanship (or at least could adequately describe the various tradeoffs that might be made) it would be a lot easier for me to trust someone else to do the work.
So far I still rely on person-to-person recommendations. Many suggest that Facebook could hold the keys to that particular kingdom, by providing a verifiable online identity. AirBnB is one of those that uses Facebook for that.
As an example, my friends furnace is going out. Not a huge deal, they can buy a new one and have it installed. But wait! Now the AC unit that sits outside isn't up to code - it's too close to the property line (although it was fine back in 1989). That has to move, along with a fair amount of electrical and plumbing to support it. How would he know that?
It's just not worth it if something is done incorrectly. Better to pay a bonded contractor to do something right and spend your time doing something fun. If something goes wrong it's on him.
Also, I think HGTV has screwed us as a nation. Now every wife on the plant thinks it's so easy to tear down a wall and get that open floorplan to the kitchen. What's worse every husband agrees! And it's all done in a half-hour! Months later, when your marriage is on the skids and you've gone to Home Depot 30 times and spent twice what a contractor would charge you finally learn your lesson.
It's sad, but I don't dwell over it, and it's not really a source of insecurity because quite frankly, none of my friends know how to do it either, otherwise I would have asked their help for it.
One thing that I have noticed that may be a source of this insecurity is the significant other. I can't even count the number of times my wife has said "You're a man, you should be able to do that" before or after asking her dad to fix something or work on something. It doesn't bother me and I retort "You're a woman, why aren't you making my meals and doing laundry as well as cleaning", which are tasks I do myself and have no expectation of my wife doing those solely on her own. My point being is that gender roles are typically ingrained in both genders and while a male may be comfortable not knowing how to do something, there may be an discomfort generated by the response of the significant other.
That is a career. I imagine the work at home was a form of relaxation and a way of spending time with family, as well as seeming natural from childhood.
"It's clear, however, that even though boys these days usually have little opportunity to receive vocational education at school or elsewhere, there is still pressure for men to somehow have absorbed traditionally masculine skills by the time they are grown up."
We seem to have lost the idea of education somehow in our chase after pass rates (UK perspective), so schools are pushing the book learning more. Families have less time these days for informal education by helping.
It seems parts of our brains will always be primitive. Tarzan and Jane sort of relationship. I don't mind. As a man, I enjoy doing these things. I like helping my wife, saving money and using my hands to fix stuff myself rather than paying someone else. The only big hurdle I face is finding time to do these things. It's not an ability issue, but a time issue.
Also, manual labor is a nice break from coding and technology and my wife rewards my efforts handsomely as sometimes I get kisses and cookies ;)
Our friends house is not light frame construction, hence no studs (I guess it was build of something along the lines of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoclaved_aerated_concrete ). Also the painting is frameless so pretty light so it should be sufficiently supported by a single nail (although at our home my partner prefers to hang them on wall plugs. She's overcautious with a lot of things).
I assure you that our friend was deservedly laughed at by us (and only by us, we are nice people) and we respect him all the same.
I'm not saying the work couldn't be done by a handyman, just that with current codes there are many obstacles for a homeowner to perform their own home maintenance and improvements.
I learned to have zero issues with the "man tasks" thing.
On the topic of your post: I was (more or less) using effeminate to mean "not masculine", with maybe some connotative meaning thrown in. This seems to be standard usage based upon my extensive perusal of the copious amounts of information available at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effeminate
Our roles in the professional landscape have become highly specialized, and gender plays an ever-decreasing part in them. And yet, in our responsibilities at home, we often cling to the traditional notions of gender segregation and territoriality. As we make progress toward equity in the workplace and fair division of unpaid family labor, we would do well to distance ourselves from the gender expectations at home that developed centuries ago, before contractors, caterers, and housekeepers made them virtually obsolete.
Then you have the following (admittedly out of context):
> I looked on in horror as my foreman taunted my friend who seemed to be driving a nail for the first time in his life: "Aw, c'mon, sister! Why don't you just hit it with your purse?"
> Even if their own fathers were in the trades, my male clients, especially those who are younger than me, tend not to have worked alongside their dads, much less taken a shop class. They're more likely to have taken AP classes and played sports.
> While I must admit that part of me sometimes wants to say, "It's okay, little buddy, Daddy's here now,"
I should note: I do not think that he's arguing that lack of handyman skills is effeminate; as I said previously, he might not (probably does not?) believe this intellectually. The impression I get reading the article, however, is that he does believe it at an intellectual level. Obviously YMMV, etc.
I see it as a pretty common bad habit in lots of people and tie it to ignorance rather than insecurity about gender roles. If you don't know much about an area it's hard to tell what tasks within it are easy or hard, so it's easy to assume that all jobs done by other people are easy.
I've seen it expressed as "this is just a website, so I assume you can have it done by Friday" or "sounds like a 10 line Perl script to me" or "I need a favor. I'm sure it will only take you 10 minutes" or "What took you so long?", but the pattern is the same.