28/10/2015 05:08 GMT | Updated 27/10/2016 06:12 BST

Why It Can't Be One Rule for Us, One Rule for Men

Something happened on Saturday that made me feel like a terrible feminist.

Picture the scene: I was running late to visit a friend in Brighton and waddled to my car under the weight of tons of bags. As I put the key in the ignition, the car coughed, hacked up a lung and died.

My brain went into panic mode. What the hell was wrong with my motor? Why was the engine dead? Why, despite me beating the steering wheel, was it failing to co-operate?

I'm afraid to say at this point, I committed my first act of treason. Which man could I call to sort this out? Normally this would have been my husband, but being a widow, this was no longer an option.

I realised that, despite being a card-carrying feminist there were an awful lot of 'man's jobs' I left to him which were varied and included: sorting the car out, taking out the bins, putting stuff in the loft, getting stuff from a high shelf in the supermarket and picking up poo (human and dog).

But, after taking a moment, I rallied and got my act together (this would only last briefly).

I didn't need a man. Hell, I didn't even need the internet. I had my car handbook.

A quick read revealed that through some fuckwittery, I had drained the battery. What I now needed was the kindness of strangers, and some jump leads.

This led to running up and down the street stopping cars, and finally, thank Christ, I found one lady who had a pair (of leads). But I'm not going to lie - my heart sank because I realised there is no way on the planet this woman, like me, was going to know how to use them.

She quickly confirmed that she may have had the foresight - unlike me - of purchasing jump leads from Halfords but no, she did not know what to do with them.

"However," she said brightly, "I can Youtube it."

As we both stood there in the rain, looking at our car batteries like hopeless idiots, I then committed my second act of treason. I looked at her and said miserably: "I hate to admit this, but I think we need a man." She nodded with the same rueful expression.

What we were both feeling was a deep sense of shame. I can't speak for Jump Leads Lady, but I realised in that moment, I have been so busy banging on about gender equality that I missed a key trick - I didn't apply that to myself.

I was perfectly happy for the men to do the men's jobs because they were too difficult, boring or in some cases - offensive to the nostrils - that I a) trapped them in the very gender roles I was trying to break for women and b) left myself in a vulnerable position where I didn't know basic life skills like jumpstarting a car.

And - worse still, I couldn't call my dad because that man, although he wouldn't necessarily use the word - is one of the biggest goddamn feminists I know.

He has been banging on at me to learn how to check my tyre pressure, the oil, figure out how to change a wheel and be self-sufficient and guess what I did when he told me this, dear reader?


As Jump Leads Lady continued to scroll on her phone for Youtube videos, I spotted a craggy old man walking with his son. Now that's a guy who will definitely know how to jump start a car, I thought.

After hailing Craggy down and imploring him to help, he just efficiently got on with it. He took care of business, and he didn't crack any women driver jokes.

While he was sorting everything out, I made a silent vow. I vowed not to be a disgrace to my gender and I would learn how to build a chair. Or maybe a table.

And at some point, I would gain bush skills of learning how to build a fire or forage mushrooms. I would be the poo-remover, and the next time something broke I'd try and fix it rather than consigning it to the bin.

Suddenly, there was the beautiful sound of my engine coming to life. Craggy had saved the day!

Then his son - a young man in his early 20s piped up: "Why've you never taught me how to do that, Dad?"

And then I realised. This basic life skills stuff may be a gender thing for my generation.

But the generation below me? Yeah, you're all screwed.

If that isn't a beautiful sign of gender equality - where no one knows how to change a plug or plumb a sink - I don't what is.