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I Am Woman, Hear My Chainsaw Roar

Susan Stephens


I love power tools.  But all my life I’ve been told chainsaws are dangerous and I can’t use one. Of course there’s danger in using a power tool if someone doesn’t learn to respect the machine’s power. However, that statement involved more than just concern about danger. It held the underlying cultural expectation that girls and women cannot use chainsaws because we are too weak, too fragile, too silly, too ignorant, too whatever. The power of that silent expectation has stopped me from doing many things.  


Yet I often find myself challenging it as I make decisions. Just the other day, I broke that cultural expectation and bought myself a chainsaw.  


Seeing the chainsaw, my daughter asked why my parents hadn’t taught me these things I love so much. Unlike a younger me, Julia hadn’t automatically accepted she couldn’t use a chainsaw. Relieved I hadn’t passed on the presumption that girls can’t do things, I offered to teach Julia to use the chainsaw. She responded, “It’s too dangerous.”   


I couldn’t let her believe she didn’t possess the strength or intelligence to use a chainsaw with care. Yet I didn’t want to force her to do something she didn’t want to do. So I questioned her more and understood that she wasn’t ready to harness that power yet.  


That afternoon, I started the chainsaw and smiled. I do not have to live out cultural expectations. I can use a chainsaw and it is amazing! 


I’m Elsa Glover and that’s my perspective.  



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