Some personal anecdotes and the settled conclusions I reached.
Last weekend my nine year old wanted to go to a pool. Any pool. We left pool ownership when we left Texas so now this means we attend the neighborhood pool or we go to our YMCA. I prefer the YMCA because it is massive and doesn’t have my neighbors there.
Soon after we arrived the lifeguards announced an adult swim. Four lifeguards, one male. As the time for kids to re-enter the water neared children were agitating in groups beside the pool. There is a yellow line approximately four feet from the edge, behind which I suppose the letter of the rule says the kids need to cool their heels as the minutes become seconds and they can hit the water again.
On the side where the young man was lifeguard the kids were eager, standing either side of the the yellow line but not being overly physical mostly they were calm. The kids were talking to one another, speaking to parents seated nearby, just passing time. On the sides where the lifeguards were female the kids were unruly, taunting the lifeguards and shuffling unbalanced around the pool decking, stepping over the yellow line and back .
I figured out why the next time the cycle repeated. The female lifeguards would immediately start admonishing the kids, all throughout the adult swim time, to “stay behind the yellow line”. The female guards did this non-stop, even when the kids were simply walking from one place to another. Zero tolerance yellow line enforcement.
This week we made our annual trip to Florida’s panhandle. Hastily conceived after we missed our Antigua trip, we brought nine people including BFs and GFs of the older kids. Plus, due to what appears to be the best economy since 2007 we had to split our stay between two condos, moving mid week. Pain in the rear.
During the scramble to relocate, more than once I was perched on a stairway landing waiting to go down or walking a narrow walkway where I’d encounter other people. I noticed that, unsurprisingly, children do not see a man burdened with bags hanging off him and make way. They even move into the open spaces that exist and block the way. Most men/dads see whats happening in advance, spatially extrapolate and adjust so that I could pass seamlessly. Women mostly reacted when I got right up to the point where I could move no further, and even then only when I made a strained face while standing and dripping sweat. This is why men should lead.
The worst was when I stood on a landing waiting to go down the steps. A woman, alone….maybe around 40….was coming up the steps wearing one of those large floppy sun hats. She never once raised her eyes. She looked directly at the steps as she walked up. This to the extent that when she reached the landing she STILL didn’t look up and I had to quickly back away until I pressed my back against the wall lest she walk right into me. This is why men should lead.
When she heard the things hanging from my back strike the wall she looked up and said, “Oh sorry, didn’t see you there”. As I walked down the steps I couldn’t help but say, “that’s because you were not watching where you were going”. [***see below for hastily hypothesized theory tangentially related to the topic]
These things exasperate me. I approach women in the grocery as they study the shelf before them. I come from exactly 90 degrees relative to their straight line of sight. I stop and wait. If I ask for passage they react as if it is simply astounding that I managed to slither up near them unbeknownst. If I wait for them to finish the better ones will apologize while the rest will move on about their business never even realizing that I was there, that I had waited, and some, once moving, see me as the obstacle as they politely ask that I may give them passage. This is why men should lead.
According to Wikipedia for both eyes the combined visual field is 130-135° vertical and 200-220° horizontal.
The bold horizontal range suggests that if there is visual symmetry, the woman ought to see me safely inside her range, which would extend 10 to 20 degrees beyond my position at 90 degrees.
NAWALT is worth of stating with regard to this line of inquiry. More, the problem grows worse by day. Though far fewer, there are significant numbers of men suffering this malaise as well.
Finally, peaceful days at the beach. I didn’t learn anything new but I experienced this last bit in context with the other things written here.
For over 20 years my family has plodded to the Florida panhandle for summer vacation. I expect we will continue. Crowds have long since passed critical mass and this year was unreal. When we sought accommodation (due to late booking) many companies said they were sold out from Panama City , FL to the west side of Gulf Shores AL. Yep. I concur.
When my three older kids were little I looked like this guy when I had to carry all the stuff to the beachHow nice it has been that they need less, they carry what they need, and they carry the heavy stuff like coolers.
But something still wasn’t right. realization burst like sunrise when I saw the same dynamic being played out up and down the beach. Women seem the most content when they are seated and able to offer suggestions to the men as to what the men need to play with their little children, how far from the waters edge they take the children, how often they put the child under the umbrella, how frequently they put on and take off shirts and or add sun block, how much water and juice and hummus the kids can have, how many times the man needs to re-secure the umbrella and shake the towels, how frequently he needs to carry the two or three empty cans they have generated all the way to the trash receptacles that they would pass by as they exit…on and on.
The women are most content when the men are fluttering over the kids. But worse, its not simply that she assigns some things and he agrees. Nope. From the outside it would appear that the women are watching the men for any sign of contentment amidst the chore. So the woman must optimize, she must speak improvement suggestions into the activity, she must, metaphorically speaking, have a white board hanging on the man with a list growing and being marked off, but with open items never numbering less than six. This is why men should lead.
When I see this image I think, ok, posed but cute. If this scene was happening in front of the mom at the beach she would likely be bursting with the urge to optimize, to improve, to adjust, because to do those things generates desired feelings. There are rarely places where men families gather and men are left with consequential contiguous amounts of time to simply relax. Its as if men who work day by day and take the family on vacation once a year need to find a way to take their own vacation, separately, maybe with male friends. Or if he has older sons like I do, take trips with just the boys. If there is a female introduced into the space it will do what I call… stress the hours by nagging the minutes. This is why men should lead.
I recalled family gatherings over the past 26 years. My wife’s family is massive and my kids had well over 30 cousin cohorts. I cannot recall a single event where men were not being bounced from one chore to another as women seemingly brainstormed more and more things to make sure no two men found themselves chatting or laughing.
“Honey, can you make sure the car is locked”. “Would you go look in on baby sleeping, teen so and so is in there and I went in five minutes ago but Id like you to check on the baby”. “I think Betty needs help over there, look she is trying to rearrange those dinner rolls”
This is why men should lead. But we double down. (socons again)
I was thinking during some eyes closed smell the salt air time, what the heck is this all about. Before us the ocean, tackled by men on wooden boats now traversed by man made boats and flying craft. Behind us gigantic buildings housing the oiled masses of tourists and every kind of service and recreation one can imagine. the overwhelming majority of these things invented and built by men. Everything we used to get to the vacation, used during the vacation, and will use to get back home, all made by men. All safe because of men. Yet men need to be micromanaged as dads with little kids to the point where it looks like a resort for chubby women where man servants tend to kids and wives and arrive back home with some form of narrative about how wonderful their vacation was.
Probably a socon thing.
All of this called to mind images Ive seen from muslim countries where women tend to kids and males create male spaces where ever and whenever the hell they want. The idea of hanging out at the beach with only men lacks appeal, I grant you. But the idea of socializing with men for long stretches of time, where conversation flows linear and is easy to follow, to enter into and to exit, to be funny or grave, to understand and to be understood, and to not encounter a wit of subtext or passive aggressive voice or inflection.
Imagine the planning for a trip if men did it and it only involved men. Activities would not solely be planned because of the feelings they evoke when imagined. Unintended consequences would be considered as future thinking would be the norm, so instead of “lets go do X at 00:00 o’clock on Tuesday” there would be the ordering of the big items so as to avoid problems that comprehensive planning can reveal. Even men who embark with no plan can somehow manage to string together days of activity and remarkably still have meals, bath, stay safe, etc. This is why men should lead.
The problem isn’t about vacations. That’s my vehicle for conveying the points. The problem is profound and worsening in the U.S. Males for the most part are left with accepting the roles as defined above, or worse, finding very unhealthy outlets for male energies, ranging from sex to drugs to sports obsessions etc. the reason is there are afforded few opportunities for men to do otherwise. Male gatherings at church are contrived to distract men from the unhealthy things when they ought to be contrived to allow men to down pressure from the stuff Ive described above. But to do that would be to acknowledge that men have external stress that may even originate in the person of their spouse who has never been told that she has natural tendencies that torture her husband. Not gonna happen. (socons again)
The present choices that inform our dichotomy can be described as, Women and children rule vs. sharia law. There are other choices but these are the two with least resistance.
This is why men should lead.
***Its a side theory but I see the population centers that have and are growing in fly over America as psychologically unprepared for the inconveniences of overcrowding. On the coasts cities have dealt with tight population density as the norm. Residential cities have critical mass of true urban dwellers as to cultivate the instincts needed to manage so many people doing so many things.
Midwestern cities are a mixed bag. The contrived cities, like Greenville, SC, (Remember the old Sci Fi movie Westworld where Yul Brenner went ape shit as an android cowboy and started killing the guests, Greenville is like that… where restless southern hipsters wanted to create an admixture of culinary-delight-and-art-house metro area with some high rise flats. Just watch out for the murderous android baristas) These cities feature mostly suburban populations that want to go get services in a crowded inner ring. but the people are blissfully unaware of their surroundings and utterly lacking in anticipatory micro planning, realizing in advance the consequences of small actions that build into huge inconveniences. In Manhattan, we may say rudeness defines the transaction, but dang-it the transaction is once and done and if you don’t watch your six you’ll be plowed under. The one causing the delay is considered the rude one, not the one trying to get their tasks completed. The mounting pressure in the ill prepared cities like I live in, all across middle America The mounting pressure in the ill prepared cities like I live in,