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