A trowel for her

After the feminist comic Bridget Christie’s recent win at the Edinburgh Comedy Award’s this summer – only the third woman to win the competition in its 33-year history – the subject of her show got me thinking about a recent story that did the rounds of the Site Hut.

Her show was called ‘A Bic for Her’, and the title comes from a ballpoint pen ‘in pastel shades and with an easy grip’ – marketed just at women (If you want a good laugh – just check out the Amazon reviews!). There’s a hilarious section where she wonders whether the Bronte sisters would have been able to write their masterpieces without it, as she demolishes the kind of everyday sexism we see around us without really thinking more.

Remember that catch phrase from Little Britian – “I’m a lady…”  Well I’ve been hearing that a lot around site lately as the current hot topic du jour is that a certain archaeological tool company is marketing trowels designed exclusively for women. My first reaction was to laugh at the crazed marketing strategy: a) why was this specifically a trowel only for women and b) what’s wrong with the trowel I’ve got?? According to their website the trowel has been developed as a joint venture with Battifero and offers the female user:

‘a natural hardwood bulbous handle smaller in size than regular archaeology trowels….the smaller tang decreases hand fatigue and strain on the wrist and fingers’.

Blimey!  All that in a TROWEL?!?  Not to mention, shock horror, this beast – errr sorry, lady trowel – has a sharpened 11cm blade…(WHHAAAT???).

As you can imagine its enraged both males and females in the profession. A trowel is a trowel is a trowel – and nothings going to stop you from getting “hand fatigue and strain on the wrist and fingers” if used properly and with gusto.

Trowel for Her

Introducing… the Lady trowel!

I decided to do a quick poll of male and females archaeos on my current site regarding the ‘trowel for her’. Lets just say the comments ranged from; “oh god, its not pink is it?” to “thats just downright offensive”.  All in all lets just say 100% of the comments were not too favourable. I can’t really envisage Kathleen Kenyon stopping in her tracks and wondering that the only thing keeping her back during her excavations at Jericho was the sharpness and size of her trowel.  Archaeologists both male and female have been coping with a good 4 inch pointing trowel for decades.  If it aint broke don’t fix it.

What it comes down to is this: I don’t want someone to try and sell me a product with a gender specific label.  I just want a tool that is preferably not pink, reliable and that helps me do the job quickly and efficiently, is that hard too ask?  God forbid if anyone starts to mess with my beloved mattock…now where is that sledgehammer…?

PS: For non-patronising archaeology tools, you could do a lot worse than buy from the lovely people at  Past Horizons tools store!

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Raksha Dave

Raksha Dave

A long-time member of Channel 4's Time Team, Raksha Dave is one of the country's best loved archaeologists. Unequivocally, she has never, and will never, be married to Matt Williams.

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