Monday, September 29, 2008

Gender Territory

In this advanced and progressive world we live in, it's not amazing at how gender lines have changed. Areas that used to be gender-specific, such as clothing, hobbies, etc., have now blurred to where it's hard to find where to draw the line. For instance, at one point, sports like hunting and fishing were predominantly male. If a woman found interest in those things, she kept it to herself and watched wistfully as the men went off to have their fun. Now most women think nothing of pursuing whatever hobby interests her. I know ladies that wouldn't miss out on hunting season each year. I also know some that enjoy fishing. I know some that enjoy golfing, and if that's not crossing the gender lines, I don't know what is. After all, I've heard that the term GOLF used to be an anagram for the statement: "Gentlemen only. Ladies forbidden." Try that term in today's politically correct society!
But this is not just a one way road. Men have crossed that line too. I know several men that actually enjoy cooking. Some are better at it than their wives are. It used to be the thinking, too, that playing the piano or organ was a feminine trait. But some of the best pianists I've ever heard were men. I've watched men dissect a dish of food while they were eating it, analyzing the ingredients, spices and seasonings used in its creation. Times have changed.
But there are some areas where gender territories are still following hard and fast lines. Places where specifically a man will not or cannot give up what he feels to be his God-given rights. One of these areas is the remote control. I think the very fact that this device has the word "control" in its title causes men to feel it's a tool that belongs to them. Even if they don't actively insist it be given to them, they get antsy if they're not the ones holding it. Eventually they find themselves walking away to putter around in the garage (or the kitchen) because they don't know what to do with themselves if they don't have possession of the remote. It's their territory and they cannot give it up.
The remote control is an obvious one, but there's another area where men continue to dominate, and they probably don't even realize they're doing it. I'm sure when I mention this particular area, though, most women will agree immediately that most men see it as their territory. The one area that men can't seem to give up is the armrest. This truth was brought home to me recently when I was flying home to Orlando from Minneapolis. Now, anyone who has flown recently can testify that the concept of personal space is completely foreign in the coach section of an airplane. I am continually amazed at how many seats they can cram in, and how close they can be to each other. When I boarded the plane and found my seat, in the bulkhead section (translation: I was facing a wall in front of me), I discovered I was in the center seat of an impossibly small row of three seats on our side of the aisle. The guy in the aisle seat was a big guy (I found out later he was a retired marine.) The guy by the window was--well-fed I guess would be the best way to describe him. And there I sat between them. Both men automatically rested their arms on our shared armrests, leaving me no place to put my own extremities. I crossed my arms into an awkward, pretzel-like stance in an effort to keep from actual physical contact. Both men were polite, but they seemed to take for granted that the armrests were theirs.
My connecting flight from Atlanta to Orlando was even worse. There I was in a window seat. The man next to me was smaller, but what he lacked in stature he tried to make up for in the amount of space he took up. He sprawled in his seat. He not only took the armrest, but his elbow dug into my ribs through most of the flight as well. His attitude was not so gentlemanly, and I got the distinct impression he was arrogantly trying to take up as much space as possible just to prove he could.
So I guess armrests and remote controls are still their areas. But we have ours too. We don't need sharp elbows to keep our places to ourselves. Just put out a bowl of potpourri or a scented candle. That marks your spot better than anything and the men won't go anywhere near it. There may be differences in the sexes, but I guess we have our own gentle way of digging our elbows into their ribs.

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