Of course women can hammer nails and mow lawns but doing everything risks nurturing dependent males

Question: When a nail needs to be hammered into a wall. Do you a) Just do it, b) ask your husband to do it or c) know that you could just do it but ask him to do it anyway because it makes him feel important?

If you answered a) then you are the type of woman I used to be before taking on the challenge of being a supportive wife for a year. If you answered b) then you've always been a supportive wife and if you answered c) then you are the kind of wife I have become.

I have realised that there are generations of men, raised by women like me who have no need for a hammer, a screwdriver or a saw, because women can do everything.

I've always been a bit of a fix-it kind of girl. I once did a valve grind on my Hillman Hunter - a story which has bored countless people and which, when I begin to tell it, is immediately silenced by my family who have heard it a million times.


I know how to find those bits of wood behind the wall (struts? supports?) so that you can bash in a nail and it will hold so that you can hang a picture on it.

The first present my husband ever bought me three months after we met was a tool box, so impressed was he with all my tools. (He also popped a pair of exquisite shoes inside for good measure).

But, if you're running around doing all the supportive wife things which are traditionally "women's work" such as washing, cleaning, cooking and nurturing, and then you take on all the traditional "men's roles" such as hammering, screwing and digging then where does that leave your husband?

Obsolete. Which is a theme picked up by well-known dissident feminist Camille Paglia in Time magazine.

She says: "When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys."

I have to agree. I have seen generations of young men, raised by strong women, who simply refuse to grow up. They remain incapable of taking responsibility, committing to anything worthwhile and seem to spend most of their lives wandering around well into their 30s relying on women to support, feed and love them. Some still rely heavily on their mothers well into adulthood, and if not their mothers they manage to find a partner prepared to mother them instead.

Men are obsolete, Camille is right. Women can do anything they want and many of us can fix cars and mow lawns. And many of us take perverse pleasure in these activities because we've crossed a boundary.

Our mothers would never be seen dead with their head under a car bonnet, but we are cool with it. We are very clever, capable feminists.

Lately, I've taken a step back and let my husband borrow my tool box. To my amazement he's quite good with a hammer and nail, can dig a garden over in half the time it takes me and will get up on the roof.

"I had no idea you could be so ... well ... useful," I said to him last week.

"You never gave me a bloody chance to be," he replied.

In recent weeks he and my son have gone off and done "men things" together like lifting heavy objects and transporting them from one place to another and hanging heavy mirrors. I see in them a certain joy at doing these things together and I wish I had seen this earlier.

I think it's important to let men be men and have a definition of who they are and what they are capable off.

If we don't then what are they to do? Feel as miserable and ignored as we women felt before we demanded equality.