The other night, one of my best friends and I went to Sky Zone. It’s a trampoline park in the Twin Cities, and we had a great time (except for when my old, fat butt had to rest, then just Kristen jumped and had a great time).
I was disheartened, however, by what I saw in the teenage display laid before me. Yes, since this was 10 pm on a Saturday night, we were surrounded by a group of teenagers – even the workers. Oldest manager must not have been more than 20. It’s weird to feel this old! The age thing wasn’t what bothered me though.
What bothered me was watching the young woman who was working there, monitoring the courts. There were a bunch of young men acting like idiots (they were 16, it happens) and when they’d break the rules, she’d holler and rather than stopping it, they’d make a silly comment, or tell her to “make them stop.” It was borderline harassment and she just shrugged her shoulders and kept looking at others.
At one point, on one of my many rest breaks, she caught on that I was frustrated. I said to her, “There’s no way they’d still be here, acting like that if I were working.” She smiled and said to me in a really saccharine-laced voice, “Yeah, they are pretty annoying, huh.” “Not as annoying as you letting it continue,” I thought.
This was all par for the course – as a youth worker, I’m used to those who take the, ‘sigh and move on’ approach when a young person ignores your yelling at them. I’m not one of those people, which might explain why my voice is often hoarse and my groups fear a red face.
The thing that disturbed me was that when a coworker, a young man, came up to watch the trampolines, and one of these jerks did something against the rules, if he yelled, they stopped, with little to no sass. I was pissed.
First of all, this coworker saw those guys acting that way and didn’t back his coworker up – he wouldn’t have had to take over, but encourage her to enforce those rules. Secondly, I realized that as a young woman, she felt she had no authority to actually get them to stop. I’m not talking physically, but taking them off the trampolines and giving them a warning, and following through if she had to. She did none of that, and when stuff got really ugly, she turned her back on it. It was more important to smile, and be having a good time, and look cute, I suppose.
I also saw that several girls, rather than show off their very capable flips (I saw it before guys showed up) kept falling and giggling and asking for help. Even now, as a woman, showing ability and strength isn’t valued?
What is wrong with this world that we live in – women of the generations past marched with signs, burned their bras and gave up their time to get equal rights, and here we are, so many laws protecting us, and we use it how? By feeling that as a girl we don’t have the authority to stop someone when we are supposed to be keeping order and safety in a public place? Frustrating.
Women have the ability to do anything with their lives – including marrying and bearing children – but are men so threatened by a strong women that we feel we must act demure in order to secure a mate? I remember doing it myself. Those relationships always ended – and badly. Now that I’m my, “I can lift those heavy objects myself, and hammer a nail, change my oil, etc. thank you very much” self, I have a husband whom I love, I enjoy spending time with, and he knows me in and out, and loves my toughness.
I won’t ask if I’m lucky, because I consider myself very lucky to have a partner who is actually mad when people assume he should be listed first when we purchase things, or if I’m listed as, “Mrs. Your Husband” on anything. But am I so very unique to have a husband that loved me for myself – the qualities that may not have been seen as “lady-like” and those that were?
I know it isn’t as easy as this, and that there do exist people that are themselves, but I wonder, what can we do to encourage women to stand up for themselves in situations like I saw at Sky Zone – and how can we encourage young men to embrace the idea that even if a girl can kick your butt in a sport, or carry heavy items instead of you, she might be worth spending time with?