I have become completely aware the last few weeks that there is a parallel universe going on right in front of my eyes. No, I have not been adding a new brand of “mushroom” to my dinners. And no, I don’t think that anyone (or anything) from this new world is out to get me. The truth is that my discovery isn’t all that revolutionary or frightening. Well, actually it is a little frightening. You see, I have realized that men live in a completely different world than women. A parallel universe where language, perception and customs are based on some unquestioned, unchallenged and immovable truths or “rules.”
Like I said not revolutionary. In fact, perhaps the fact that I am 35 and up to this point thought that men and women shared the same spacial plane is overly naive. But now everything – all the confusion, frustration, mis-communication, chaos, heartache and irritation makes sense. When I thought my words and actions were completely clear the male of the species has either heard the “wha wha wha” of Charlie Brown’s teacher or failed to recognize my actions because it would have required them to adapt their behavior.
I, social scientist hat firmly planted on my head, decided to gather data from carefully selected test subjects. (I walked around and asked random guys in the warehouse questions.) Following are some of the key rules of reality in the “other world.”
Rule #1: The man does not adapt, adjust or accommodate unless a more powerful male is involved. If adaptation or accommodation is required the result is grumbling and plotting to overthrow.
Note: Rule #1 for women, something taught from our earliest days is that we must accommodate, putting others’ needs and preferences first.
This researcher has historically parked to the left of Subject A setting up an established behavioral norm. On the test day, I arrived early and parked in Subject A’s actual parking space. Subject A arrived moments later and parked to my right. The three following cars (who usually park to the right of Subject A) followed suit parking in the established order, just one space over. The last male subject to arrive, however was unable to park in his customary order given lack of space, necessitating him to park out-of-order. The result caused irritation and mildly bad mood for the remainder of the work day.
Rule #2: The man is the center of the universe.
Note: Subject B was given the task of organizing paperwork in a particular order. He was shown to a room with tables and chairs arranged in a circular formation and instructed that he could move the chairs out of the way for ease. Subject B moved one chair and climbed under the table, inserting himself into the center of the tables working from within the space instead of the directed outside. Noted the researcher conducting the experiment “It’s kind of terrifying. Men really think they are the center of the universe.”
Rule #3: Ease of the end action outweighs the complexity necessary prior. [Or the backing-in phenomena.]
Note: Observation of several subjects’ daily routines showed that roughly 20% of the cars in the test area backed-in to their spaces. An additional 40% were “pull throughs” and the remaining 40% of cars just pulled in. Given that roughly 40% of the workforce in the test area were male, an estimated 56% of the male demographic backed into their parking spaces.
A field study was conducted. Women were asked why they thought someone would back into their parking space, responses ranged from “so they don’t get leaves on their windshield” to “so they can prove they can.” Four men were asked the same question. Three answered “so I can pull out faster/easier.” (The fourth failed to respond due to a sudden, violent case of laughter.) What ensued was a complicated explanation regarding the change of gears and timeliness.
[To remain a distant observer, this researcher refrained from explaining that the “annoying” steps the subjects sited they were avoiding were actually practised to back-in to said spot.]
I realize that the current research into this new world has more antidotes than fact-based thus more field research and observation will be necessary. This fascinating “other” universe will keep me busy for some time.