Sara Mosle “came of age betwixt and between,” she writes on DoubleX—after feminism had freed women from the need to learn “traditional female skills” but before “they had begun to make real inroads into traditional male pastimes and professions.” So that left her with an English major and a love for Auden—who, she notes, once wrote, “Poetry makes nothing happen”—but nothing to do with her hands.
“We women lose our sense of mastery over the physical world at our peril,” writes the New Yorker, who realized, post 9/11, that she "didn’t have a single concrete skill to offer in an emergency, besides, maybe, reading a poem at Ground Zero." So she bought a drill and started using it. “I found the work particularly satisfying, intellectually. I was problem solving, and because the problems were concrete, success was immediate and palpable.” And that “mastery,” whether it’s “knitting or wielding a welding torch,” is “an essential part of what makes us human.” Men get to do it; “women should insist on no less.”