"You Talkin' Ta Me?"
From time to time at my job (Aquarium), I’m asked to help out with crowd control in our large Marine Theater during sea lion shows. Basically, this entails seating people, keeping the reserved seating areas clear for people who truly need them (special needs), directing people to restrooms and stroller-parking areas, keeping people from leaning on the handrails that protect the sea lion pool, and keeping fire exits clear. It’s a simple, yet important function as our theater can seat over a thousand people at a time.
I usually welcome the change from sitting at my desk, but there have been times when this simplest of jobs can be most challenging. Why? I would have to say ~ because of some women. Bear with me.
Firstly, I’ll use the same disclaimer the AG did, and that is to say that I am not suggesting that ALL women are belligerent, combative and obstinate ~ but many have those tendencies. This is no more than a personal observation made over a three-year span of time, and one that I find rather interesting.
I have noticed that when I need to ask someone to abide by our Theater rules, they generally comply, but it’s my like-gender that puts up the biggest fuss and requires some sort of explanation. Men seem to just take it in stride, comply, and move on to enjoy the show. Sure some men will make a passing comment such as “well that seems stupid,” but it’s usually under their breath and it’s stated while in the process of complying. Women generally react as though I have just asked them to tap dance on the water.
Here are just a few examples of such behavioral differences:
Me: Excuse me ma’am, you will need to park your stroller in the designated area.
She: (with a look of total disgust) WHY? Why can’t I just leave it here by me? It’s not hurting anyone.
Me: Because in case of a fire, people need to be able to exit as quickly and obstacle-free as possible.
She: (clicking tongue) I don’t see how my stroller in the aisle here could possibly cause any trouble.
Me: I realize it’s hard to imagine but people in a state of panic could easily trip and fall over it, it’s a safety hazard where it is.
She: (looking at me as though I’m dog meat) I’ll move it in a minute.
Me: Pardon me sir, but we don’t allow food and drinks in the Theater. You’ll have to discard your soda.
He: (already getting up from his seat) OH … sorry! I must have missed the sign.
Me: Ma’am, you might want to ask your children not to dangle their hands over the pool handrail.
She: (without hesitation) OH COME ON! They just want to have a better look at the sea lions. That’s what we came here for!
Me: Well, it’s like this … the sea lions are often fed from this side of the handrail ~ we cannot guarantee that they would not mistakenly hoist themselves out of the water and bite at your child’s hand in a split second. That’s why we have signs posted.
She: This is completely ridiculous. I never heard of such a thing.
Me: Sir, I’ll have to ask that you take a seat elsewhere as these two rows are dedicated to handicapped individuals.
He: (already standing) Oh sure! I just thought since no one was sitting there it would be okay.
Me: No, we do have to keep them available in the event that someone with special needs enters the theater. Sorry!
He: (smiling) No problem, I understand.
(same scenario as above)
Me: Ma’am, I’ll have to ask that you take a seat elsewhere as these two rows are dedicated to handicapped individuals.
She: Well why should I move? No one is using them.
Me: They are designated seats ma’am, it’s a federal law that we provide this seating for people who need it.
She: Oh really? (in a huff) Well I fell down my front step this morning and twisted my ankle, so I need to sit here.
Me: That’s fine. I hope your ankle heals quickly (said with great enthusiasm)
I have neither embellished nor exaggerated any of the above dialogue. Amazing, isn’t it?
Now it took me awhile, but after having many chats about this with both men and women, I have come to a few conclusions as to why there is such a vast difference between giving direction to men and to women.
Many, many men, from the time they are young boys, are accustomed to taking instruction from authority. Some were Boy Scouts, some altar boys (won’t go there), and later on in life, more men than women join the military. Each of these environments is conducive to disciplinary action if instructions aren’t followed, and at least in the military, you learn quite quickly not to ask why. You simply follow orders. From an evolutionary standpoint, for many, many years men were the bread winners while women stayed at home to tend to children. Men have had to follow rules and instruction from bosses for many years before it was even socially acceptable for women to be a part of the workplace.
Women, on the other hand, are historically more accustomed to being in charge of the home while hubby earns the money. She was in charge of mending clothes, planning and fixing meals, keeping the kiddies in line, decorating the house and making all the executive decisions that pertained to such domestic goings on.
Perhaps when her husband came home, he resumed responsibility, but let’s face it, between work shift and bedtime, there weren’t really a whole lot of hours. So basically, she ran the roost while he hunted and gathered. She controlled the house.
Now that modern women (referring to the past 50 years or so) are most often in the workplace instead of tending to the house and children 24 and 7, the roles of the sexes are more evenly shared and divided. But fifty years isn’t a long time at all in the grand scheme of things.
The whole “don’t tell me what to do” business does seem to run more rampant among females than males in public settings (I've observed this in other places as well). Now, at home ~ well, that’s generally decided upon between couples during the first month of courtship.
Perhaps women, instinctively, are still attempting to maintain some semblance of control.
Perhaps while sitting in the Marine Theater at an Aquarium, they are actually trying to hold on to the position in society that was most comfortable to their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers.
I cannot stress enough that I bring out this post from a personal standpoint. It wasn’t meant to offend or to rile. As my handy little disclaimer stated, these behavior patterns don’t apply to all men or to all women. I don’t know … maybe it’s just an aquarium-sea lion show-marine theater-strollers in the aisle-drinks in the hand-kids running up and down the steep stairs-changing diapers in the bleachers-stealing seats from the handicapped type of thing.