Fighting with the Sky

A Mall-Working Rant

Posted on: September 22, 2009

This post is going to be less theoretical or analytical and more of a rant, just so you know…

I work in a mall.  While I don’t spend a lot of time in the mall outside of the store that I work in, I do occasionally venture out there to browse some stores or to get lunch in the food court.  Malls are stereotypically populated by teenagers, and on the weekend, that’s pretty true.  I have no inherent problem with teenagers, but some of them seem to have this sense of entitlement and feeling that they are the only person that matters in the world.  Don’t get me wrong, I probably had some of those tendencies when I was a teenager.  It might just be a symptom of adolescence.

But let’s get to my real topic of this rant.  Teenagers and PDA (as in public displays of affection).  This seems to be a problem primarily with teenagers.  It’s not that people older than teenagers partake in PDA, but people older than teenagers seem to know what is appropriate for public and what is not.

Maybe it’s that their parents aren’t around when they are at the mall.  Maybe they just don’t care about the people around them.  But I am really sick and tired of seeing all of this PDA, especially when I am trying to eat.

I’m not saying you can’t touch each other or show your affection.  There’s nothing wrong with some hand-holding or brief kisses in public.  That’s fine.  It’s actually kind of cute sometimes.  But when you are full-on making out in the food court of a mall, I think there is a problem.

Part of me wants to say that they should be free to express their sexuality.  But most of me wants to say, why can’t they express their sexuality in a place that is more private.

I don’t know if this really has much to do with feminism or my feminist values, but it has been bothering me for a while.  I have always had a problem with excessive PDA, not just since I started working at a mall.  I just thought that I would bring that into context.

What are your thoughts on PDA?  How much is acceptable?  And where?


7 Responses to "A Mall-Working Rant"

It depends upon the context. A mall; holding hands seems appropriate, maybe a hug, a quick kiss if absolutely unavoidable. A train station or airport; a prolonged hug and a lingering kiss might be appropriate.

Making out? I don’t think there are many situations at all in which making out in public is appropriate. It isn’t something I’d want someone else watching me do. Given that my eyes are closed during much of a make out session, it apparently isn’t something I’d want me watching me do.

Then again, I feel awkward watching people make out on television.

I am a PDA loather (especially hetero PDA, ugh). There’s something about watching people basically dry hump in public which really irritates me; I’m all about making the personal a public and political act, but, uhm, there’s nothing political about playing tongue hockey with a person of the opposite sex. Like Ben, I feel kind of squicky seeing people make out/have sex on television, even though I am not prudish by nature, it’s just…some things…you know…I don’t want to see.

That said, norms about PDA have changed, and I wonder how much of my loathing is due to socialization? If I had grown up in a culture where more sexually aggressive behavior was considered acceptable in public, I probably wouldn’t find anything remarkable or repulsive about it.

(Note: This comment is from a teenager in no current relationship)

I’m usually in bookstores, where there is a shocking lack of PDA as opposed to other parts of the mall, so I actually don’t see a lot of PDA.

As far as mall PDA goes, I don’t mind a kiss, a hug, cuddling (while sitting upright) on a bench, or even hooking arms around each other. I see those as acceptable forms of affection in public.
I do, however, draw the line at making out where you know that people will see you (basically everywhere in a mall) and innapropriate touching. Believe it or not, I can do without seeing your hand halfway up your girlfriend’s skirt.

For some though, doing it (no pun intended) in public may be the whole point. They like the thought that everyone is watching them as they make out/ touch each other/ etc.

I would say that teenagers tend to do things like this because most of them aren’t permitted any privacy to express themselves sexually. While a teen, you have all sorts of authority figures regulating your life. I know I heard such things as, “no boys in your bedroom!” “you’re not allowed to be alone with someone of the opposite sex!” et cetera. Since teenagers live at home, they have no privacy. Ergo, PDA.

As a former high school teacher, I too have seen my fair share of teen PDA. And it’s gross.
I think part of it is the rebellious, pushing to see how far they can go nature of the teen years, combined with new-found freedom (to express themselves, to do those taboo, “naughty” things, to be away from parents), plus a desire to show off that you’re in a relationship and/or just plain ol’ kissing’s fun and they don’t have anywhere else to go.

By the way, I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like watching people make out on TV! (Whew!)

I have to agree with Brittany-Ann. I remember my first serious boyfriend, and between the haze of hormones, the exciting newness of it all, and the lack of privacy to do our making out anywhere else, that time in my life was a mixture of furtive gropings anywhere we could get out of public view (not often), and embarrassing PDA’s most of the rest of the time because we couldn’t *not* do it. Teenagers aren’t really known for self-denial and icy self-control.
I *was* embarrassed, but my options were few. And I do remember that time. So when I see teenagers do it now, I sigh and look the other way. It’s annoying, but it was annoying to be in that position when I was younger.

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