I was at the museum earlier this week and a fundamental double standard became aware to me when we were in the dinosaur’s exhibit. Kids love the dinosaurs at the museum for whatever reason. I liked Jurassic Park, but that’s about it as far as my interest in dinosaurs goes. There were a lot of kids playing around (and on) the exhibits. Of course, the museum staff was not happy about this, but crowd containment was clearly not this person’s specialty. Having grown up in the Milwaukee area I’ve had many trips and experiences at the museum and as I was watching these youngsters try to scale the wall by the dinosaur exhibit I quickly realized that these kids had it all wrong. In order to make it up the side of this wall you have to be able to stretch your legs out and be able to hang onto one of the stones while you work your feet up to the next rock. It takes skill and practice to get it right. I don’t think I perfected it until I was in fifth or sixth grade (approximately my third or fourth school museum trip.)
Of course I horrified my teachers when they saw me standing at the top of the exhibit and I thought it was absolutely hilarious that the museum staff were shouting at me as there was little if anything they could do about it. I was instructing these kids on how to make it to the next level when a parent came over to me and told me to “stop touching his son.” I was quite taken aback by his insinuation. I was merely showing him how he needed to grip the slippery surface if he was going to make it to the second level, but this particular parent was interested in what I had to say. He was convinced that I, a 29-year old man, must be a pedophile. Yet, when a woman who I was with delivered the very same instructions that I had given she was met with a smile from the parent. Apparently I can’t be nice to kids but women can because all men are pedophiles.
There is an obvious double standard at play here. Women can be pedophiles too, but the father didn’t think about that and my guess is that it probably didn’t even cross his mind. His mind was focused on the fact that I was a man and men apparently engage in more pedophilia than women. It was an odd interaction because I was left feeling like I had done something wrong and of course I hadn’t. I was simply trying to save him some time and effort by relating to him my experience. That’s what school is all about after all, but the parent chaperone wanted none of my advice and wanted me to have nothing to do with his kid. This got me thinking that this is one of the weirdest gender double standards we have in this country. Women are second class citizens in everything except dealing with kids. When it comes to dealing with kids men seem to want as little to do with them as possible. This probably has to do with the fact that children are a lot of work and let’s face it there’s a job that a man doesn’t want to do he’s probably going to try and make someone else do it. I still feel like my advice could have helped this young man realize his goal of climbing the exhibit and it’s disappointing to me that I was unable to help him realize his goal.