To fix or not to fix. Is the language of repair sexist?

Sugru recently launched a series of live chats on Instagram called ‘Who Gives a Fix?’, where Jane (inventor of Sugru), talks all things repair and DIY with a host of people from around the world.

The first of these was with the brilliant author and circular design enthusiast Katie Treggiden, who touched on everything from craft and activism to government responsibility and individual creativity.

Katie Treggiden

Don't worry if you missed it. You can catch it here on our Instagram channel.

One topic that really caught our attention was the language used around repair and fixing. Katie comments: 

“There are slight definition differences in terms of whether you are restoring something back to new or whether you are restoring the function of it… but interestingly, I have noticed that the word mending tends to be associated with women. It tends to be associated with unpaid labour, and it tends to be associated with textiles. Whereas the word repair tends to be associated with men, tends to be associated with hard materials like wood and electronics, and is more likely to be associated with paid labour. Not always, but more likely.

Clothes repair tools and fixing tools

It’s really interesting that there are these different words, for effectively the same bunch of stuff. If you’re darning a hole in a jumper you’re effectively doing the same as if you’re fixing a hole in a leaky teapot but they’re gendered and they have different value weightings. I think there’s an awful lot of social and cultural weight in all of this stuff.”

It certainly seems so. Team Sugru will be exploring this more over the coming weeks and months, sharing as we go of course. We’d love to hear your thoughts and as ever can be found via @sugru across social media.

Katie’s second series of her popular podcast Circular will be launching soon and covers some of these issues and more (listen out for an episode with Bridget Harvey). We’ll certainly be tuning in for more!