Hold the Door…

This post, by Deb over at Punctuality Rules!, has had me thinking for a few weeks about holding the door. Back in July, I wrote a post about women who eschew the term feminist, because to them it divides us as women, or because they don’t like the stereotype of women who are unfeminine man haters, and wish to distance themselves from that idea altogether. I’m not sure why Deb’s post got me thinking again about my previous post, and the comments in that post, but it did. Whenever the issue of feminism comes up, the issue of holding the door open comes up. Some men were raised to believe that to hold a door open for a lady is a sign of respect, and some women were raised to believe the same thing, and thus they see a man holding the door open for them as a recognition of that same respect. Some women feel that for a man to hold a door open for her means that he doesn’t feel that she is capable of holding the door open for herself, and that she somehow needs special treatment to function in the world. Special not being a compliment in this case. My mom raised me to be a feminist, raised me in the 70s and 80s, and to believe that not only could I hold a door for myself, I could also change the oil in my car if I so chose, balance my own checkbook, live wherever I wanted, get whatever education I wanted, etc. In none of these lessons did she say that by doing these things, I was losing my femininity. In none of these lessons did she teach me that men are the enemy. In none of these lessons did she teach me to be strident or angry if a man chose to open a door for me. Indeed, I was taught that it is good manners to hold the door open for anyone coming behind you, be they male or female, and bad manners to close the door in a person’s face.

Over the years, I have worked with many men, especially those a generation ahead of me, who hold the door for women. It’s never bothered me one way or another. I always found it to be polite, always said “Thank you”, and always opened doors for them if I reached the door first. Some of them will take the door from you and allow you to go in first anyway, which again, I’ll just say “Thank you”, and go in, though I find it a bit strange.

A few years ago, I worked with a man who was insistent about opening the doors for women…annoyingly so. If I reached a door first, meaning, a good 10 steps ahead of him, I was supposed to wait for him to run and catch up and open the door for me. If I opened the door for myself, I got an exasperated sigh and an eye roll as he took the door from me, and held it until I went through. So wait, I’m supposed to stand there like an idiot, pretending like my arms don’t work, because you’re a gentleman? I don’t think so. I was brought up with better manners than to just open the door for myself and go on through and let it hit him in the face, which is what I often wanted to do. Now, perhaps he thought it charming to chide me in this way. Perhaps he was trying to be playful and tease me, and I’m just uppity in letting it bother me. And perhaps, if it had only happened once, it would not have bothered me at all. But it was every time I happened to get there first, and opened the door. Every. Time.

So I’m sorry…I’ll hold the door for you if you’re coming behind me, and I’ll say thank you if you hold the door for me, but if letting go of the custom of men holding doors open for women is the price to be paid to not be condescended to by assholes? It’s a cheap price to pay.

Oh, and by the way…when I went looking for a little graphic to go with this post, because I love the graphics, I found a post from a poor bewildered man who asks about women who give him the exasperated sigh and the eye roll if he doesn’t hold the door for them. I guess the polite rule should be, hold the door for anyone coming behind you, if they’re within a reasonable distance, and if someone does so for you, say “Thank you”. The end.

1. Today is work, of course, plus the contractor is coming to fix a few things…
2. Get back in the swing of things with Gilad and a 4 mile walk in the morning

13 thoughts on “Hold the Door…

  1. I’ve always considered holding a door open is a matter of courtesy–if someone wants to hold it for me, that’s certainly nice of them and it’s much-appreciated if my arms are full. But do I expect that because I’m a woman? Um, no. I’m an equal-opportunity door-holder and will hold it open for a man or let him hold it for me, all depending on who’s closest or who’s hands are emptiest. It’s just a matter of being considerate of my fellow humans, right?

    Which, incidentally, is the only problem I have with the word “feminism”–the fact that it immediately creates them-and-us camps. I very much believe in equal rights, and am definitely more feminist than not-feminist, but I don’t really like the label, because the actual WORD implies favoritism for women, not equality. I’d rather think that we’re all in this together, and am just waiting for the men to realize it (grin).

  2. The “door hold” can sometimes be a power thing when guys do it for other guys. It’s a weird chivalry throwback thing because there’s this vibe of “Yeah, I’m the real man here” that’s really annoying.

    But you have the right idea: if anyone is behind you, just hold the door open.

  3. Some men go in totally the opposite direction and let the door slam right in your face. I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times.

  4. I’m a door holder, always have been. Especially in my office there are doors all over the place to get to different areas of the office and I’m always a little surprised when I hold the door for someone and they are surprised by my action. And yes the surprised reaction comes from both the men and the women in the office.

    To me it’s just something you do for the person behind you, not any big deal.

    I have had some instances of when a guy is opening the door in front of me and I siddle on through before him, but he wasn’t planning on opening the door for me and there is this awkward moment. I guess I shouldn’t just expect someone to let me go first.

  5. I don’t see the big deal, although I would see how that man’s actions would be totally annoying.

    But, I hold the door open for people all the time as well.

  6. This is why I love your blog! It’s so very entertaining when you vent about things that irk you! I can relate to the feeling of having to run to the door when someone is holding it open for you while you’re 20 paces behind!
    I try to hold doors open for everyone, unless they are percieved to be too far from the door in the first place.
    I even go so far as to say “Yes Ma’am & Yes Sir” to strangers as we are taught down here in the dirty south!

    But all hell flies in me around punk teenagers/young adults with baggy pant’s hanging half off their ass and their ball caps turned sideways! The disrespect that these kids project just brings out the beast in me!
    I will even call them a punk to their face! Then when they confront me…….. I just say “I call it the way I see it” “You project it in your dress and demeanor” “You can call me a crusty old curmudgeon, and we’ll be even”!

  7. Same as you, I say thank you when the door is held for me, and I hold the door for others. I also think that door holding is a ridiculous topic to be considered a feminist issue, when there are real problems like not making as much for doing the same job as men and rape and so forth.

  8. Dew, that’s kind of what makes me bring this up…seems like anytime I read a post on feminism (though not on the big serious blogs, but little ones like mine), the subject of men opening doors for women comes up. Like that’s even important in this day and age. Or ever was. There are much bigger fish to fry.

  9. yeah, this is the only issue I have with feminism. Like so many other political movements, it gets hung up on a small detail. There’s so much fuss and confusion over the door opening, that men (and even some women) find justification to dismiss ‘feminists’, when the important stuff, the ideals of equality and empowerment end up getting ignored cus of these ludicrous situations.

    I kinda abandoned the term feminist, and go by the more encømpassing ‘humanist’ now. Rights of dignity and freedom for all humans. Even the most macho men seem to understand that language to a degree.

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