The Writing on the Door

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 1, 2009 · 88 comments

in A Man's Life, On Etiquette

man-opening-door-for-lady-tm

Editor’s note: Women today also have an interest in helping men rediscover the lost art of manliness.  Thus, today we bring in a guest writer to shed some light on how manliness looks from the female side of the fence. Please give a warm Art of Manliness welcome to Angela Bailey. Angela is a writer, teacher, and a mom. You can read more at her blog www.welovemen.wordpress.com.

It has become a very stressful yet all too predictable scenario for me. A man and I are walking together. We might know each other or he might be a stranger who just got distracted for a moment and didn’t notice the closed door looming menacingly before us. We continue approaching, perhaps a little more slowly now that we both see the writing on the wall, or the door in this case.

I’m never sure what he’s thinking at this point, but I know I have two choices: I can hang back and see what he decides to do or I can speed up and reach for the door before he gets the chance. I’ve gone both ways here. Usually I make the decision at the very last moment using my keen peripheral vision to quickly assess his cultural values, upbringing and emotional state of mind.

With a younger guy, I just go for the door myself (out of pity for both of us). If I think a man is in his sixties or older, I’ll often wait since I’m fairly sure he’ll get the door and gesture for me to go ahead. But when he’s between 30 and 60, it’s a crap shoot. If I pause expecting the door to be opened for me I risk the confusion and awkwardness that awaits if the guy wasn’t planning to offer me that service. Of course by the time I realize this, we’re both already stuck, hands and arms intertwined in a struggle for door supremacy. Eventually one of us lets go and we both stumble through the doorway and scurry off in shame. I’m embarrassed I ever wanted him to hold the door in the first place and I get the feeling he’s sorry he didn’t.

You might wonder why I even bother with any of this. I could certainly avoid these clumsy encounters altogether by simply taking charge and opening my own darn door. After all, I am perfectly capable of handling a simple door-opening by myself. But to be honest, I really kind of like having a man do it. Obviously, it’s not about what I can or can’t do on my own. There’s just something inside me that seems to enjoy and value the service of men. And lately, I’ve been starting to think that “something” might be a woman. If it is, then I’m pretty sure there’s a man lurking inside some of the guys I know too. Just the other day for instance, a male friend of mine—for no reason at all—took my keys right out of my hand and went outside to check on a problem I was having with my car. I didn’t even ask him or anything. So all this makes me wonder, could it be that it’s finally okay for men and women to be….well men and women again?

I was born in the 60s and I can’t remember a time when I felt like my identity as a girl or woman was actually about me. It has always been more about modeling myself after the ideal construct of the strong, liberated modern woman—independent, powerful, assertive (did I mention independent?). Need a man? Are you nuts? Not me. I am woman hear me roar! Etcetera, etcetera.

I certainly would not want to appear anti-feminist in any way. The truth is, I am profoundly grateful for the rights and freedoms I have today. But there’s no doubt that the very necessary social movements required to secure fairness for women created some uncertainty around what it means to be male and female. Feminist activists had to take the spotlight off the things that make us different and focus on our common humanity in order to drive home the point that we all deserve equal treatment. However decades of emphasizing male and female “sameness” have left most of us frustrated and confused about how to reconcile our deeply rooted, biologically-based feelings and desires with our intellectually constructed social values. Lately, the battle of the sexes has become more of an inner conflict matching our sense of who we are against our idea of who we should be.

Certainly, the noble concept of who we should be has served us well over the years. Our culture has always placed a high value on the pursuit of justice and fairness for everyone. The process can be slow, but our collective desire to hold ourselves to a higher and higher standard has been one of the driving forces behind the building of the most fair-minded societies in the world. There is no question we possess considerable will, reason and intelligence. We might even be smart enough to figure out that our intellects have only so much power over our biology.

There is no denying the simple fact that we are all here primarily because our fathers and mothers had sex. Obviously other things had to happen too, but the most critical element in baby-making is surely the act of sex itself. They say evolution is about “survival of the fittest,” but it’s really more accurate to describe it as “survival of the fittest and most prolific.” No matter how strong or smart or beautiful you are, the only way your genes survive and get passed down to future generations is if you reproduce. And that puts our behaviours around reproduction front and centre in the process of natural selection. Bottom line is, we’ve all inherited the well-honed skills, desires, and impulses that facilitated the impressive reproductive success of our countless ancestors over the millennia. Men are designed to behave in ways that will get the sexual attention of women and women are naturally inclined to seek out and admire male characteristics that serve to enhance the survival potential of their offspring.

Like it or not, the instincts governing our interactions with the opposite sex are programmed into the most primal recesses of our DNA. Sure, we can pretend our intellects are completely in charge, but we’ve all seen how well that works out. I doubt relations between men and women have ever been more strained than they are today. Resentment, anger and conflict are prominently featured in so much of male-female interaction these days and the media compounds the problem by reinforcing this dynamic at every turn. Criticizing men has been in vogue now for quite a while, with positive representations of male qualities absent from most of popular culture. Women, who’ve convinced themselves the best route to having it all is doing it all, have unwittingly shut men out of the roles that define them most fundamentally as men. Add to that the unprecedented availability of meaningless sex and pornography and you have a recipe for disaster: men with little sense of self or purpose and scarcely anything to motivate them to excel.

I’m afraid women are no better off. We are relentlessly conditioned to think one way when instinctively we often crave something entirely different. We roll our eyes at macho posturing even though a man’s bold strength and courage make us feel safe. We complain endlessly about the audacity of the male ego, but it’s a man’s confidence that gives us faith in his wherewithal. And while it’s fashionable to sing the praises of a sensitive guy, I believe most of us prefer men who are thick-skinned and resilient (all that stuff about not being afraid to cry…please be a little afraid). With so much of what we’ve been taught to believe conflicting with what we instinctively desire, is it any wonder women are such a jumble of contradictions? Unfortunately, admitting the truth leaves us open to being labelled needy, weak and unenlightened.

When I talk to women about this sad state of affairs, they’re usually quite guarded at first. But as soon as I open up and share my frustration over feeling unable to express my honest feelings and desires, they almost always jump right in and agree whole-heartedly. They want to be women, empowered by their many strengths but still vulnerable enough to need men, to enjoy and appreciate their unique talents and offerings. As for men, they seem even more gung-ho for change. Most guys I meet light-up at the slightest gesture of affection for their battered masculinity. They want to be men for us, if only we’d let them.

I guess the good thing is we’re getting pretty close to some relief. Enough of us seem to want the same thing: the freedom to be ourselves. So where do we go from here? Personally, I think we just need to take it one door at a time. Once we relax and allow ourselves to celebrate and enjoy the pleasures of our differences, the rest should happen naturally. It’s just not that complicated. Even my grade 6 students get it. After only mild encouragement, the young gentlemen in my class are proud to graciously allow their female classmates to enter and exit through a door first. The girls are flattered by the gesture and pleased to offer a sincere smile and “thank you” in return. I’ve even had a number of parents thank me for introducing a little chivalry into the lives of their children.

As for my own predicament, I have decided to go forth bravely into this world full of confusion and closed doors. Maybe next time, I’ll even wait a little bit longer before I reach for that door handle. Hey, why not give the guy a chance to be the man we both want him to be.

{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle March 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm

I hold doors for strangers whether they be men or women. It’s just courteous. It’s how I was raised.

2 Josh March 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I like holding open doors for women, because they are too weak to do it on their own.

am i being sarcastic with that comment? yes. But my point is that the idea that a guy should hold open doors for women is passive sexism. I personally hold doors open for both guys and girls, and it has nothing to do with me ‘being a man’ it has to do with me being a nice person.
BUT
If a girl EXPECTS me to open a door for her simple because she is a girl and i am a boy, well that is simply ridiculous, wrong and sexist.

As far as im concerned who ever gets to the door first should hold it open for the person who is behind them. gender should not matter when it comes to opening a darn door.

Angela, do not wait or hesitate to grab the door yourself. You can do it, you have no need for a man to do it, so do it yourself.

3 SCdF March 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

“I hold doors for strangers whether they be men or women. It’s just courteous. It’s how I was raised.”

Ditto. It’s not that I expect other people to do it for me or that I except them to be grateful, it’s just a nice thing to do, and I enjoy doing it. It’s a way of reminding yourself that life isn’t all about you. It makes their life a tiny bit easier and costs me nothing.

Why wouldn’t you?

4 Joe March 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Can you vote? Then you can open your own Flippin door.

5 Johnny March 1, 2009 at 10:14 pm

YES! Thank you so much for speaking the only words that have made sense to me in years. I’m just finishing up college so you can imagine my predicament. This is why people love movies that perpetuate the roles of ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’

I need to find more women like you in my town.

6 Julian March 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm

I’m ok with opening a door that opens towards me, but what’s a man to do when the door opens the other way? Should he move ahead of the woman and go through the door first, and then hold it open? Should he hold back and allow the woman to open the door and go through first? Should he open the door and push it away from him, allowing the woman to go through?

All these have their problems. Some doors are sprung and very difficult to hold open while another person walks through. Some unsprung doors shoot away from you and crash open.

For me, this purely practical consideration makes it easier just to let the woman open the door herself. Is there an answer?

7 Devan March 1, 2009 at 10:27 pm

I hold doors open for ladies, because that is the way I was brought up. It is a nice gesture.

To me, it is not about the fact that the lady is to ‘weak’ or incapable of opening the door, rather it is a mark of respect. It is a way of saying “I appreciate you” and I enjoy being in your company and I value you as a person, so I will honour you by doing this nice thing for you…(holds door open).

Simple!

8 connie March 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm

angela, as a woman, i completely agree with you. (and yes, i am a woman reading this man’s blog)

there’s no doubt in my mind that i am perfectly capable of opening my own doors, paying for my own way, etc etc…. however, living as a semi-feminist for so long, i’ve come to realize that it’s okay to let the guys hold the door and to let me go through first. but i let it happen as natural as can be. if i just happen to be at the door first, i’ll still open it and wave the guy through, but sometimes, the guys will insist i go first. if that’s the case, then i just simply oblige and go first. no need to argue right? and admittedly, it does feel nice to be “taken care of” like that.

9 Kevin French March 1, 2009 at 11:01 pm

What a coincidence… I prefer being allowed to hold doors open.

Though that’s never the problem for me. The problem is that I never know how close behind me a woman has to be in order for me to justify standing there holding a door open. If it turns out she’s walking slower or is further behind than I estimated, I’m left hanging there, and she feels like she needs to hurry. The rule of thumb I’ve been going by is that I let go if I think in the time it would take for me to hold it, the door could close on its own, followed by two or three seconds. But obviously I can only get so precise in my calculations.

10 Jeff March 1, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I think most of you are missing the point of the article. It’s not really about opening doors, that was just a story to build the real point around. The author is simply conveying the idea that it would be good to start embracing our maleness and femaleness and it’s nice to have some distinctions between the genders. It’s about getting away from a gender-neutral society.

11 Amanda March 1, 2009 at 11:09 pm

I’m with Jeff……this isn’t about dissecting door opening etiquette, it’s about how we experience gender in today’s society.

Angela, I really really appreciate this essay. It truly put very clearly something I’ve been mulling over lately and couldn’t put into words. I was a tomboy as a child and I’m not a girly girl now. And I consider myself smart and independent. I was raised in that “men and women are exactly alike” idea and always bristled whenever I felt someone was generalizing about how women and men are. I thought I was a feminist. But….lately I have come to accept my woman-ness. I can admit that I want to feel like a man is taking care of me and protecting me. And in turn I can admit that I enjoy being feminine and nurturing for a man. And it’s okay! I can say that men and women are different and I can embrace those differences. And it feels really good. And you know, it’s just like you said, my female friends, who are super liberated women, will admit when they’re honest that they feel the same way.

12 Chad March 1, 2009 at 11:22 pm

For Julian,

For a door that opens inward, move forward, push the door open, enter first, check to see all is well and hold the door for the person behind you.

For everyone else.

If there is a chance of you coming to the door before the other person, accelerate, open the door and allow them to enter. Courtesy dictates all, even if the woman “expects” you to get the door for her. Being a man isn’t about asking permission or wonder what the ulterior motives are, its about doing what’s right (or manly) in every situation. Hell, if its a little old lady, run around her to make sure you get the door. Simple stuff, it’s disappointing we need it explained

13 Will March 2, 2009 at 12:03 am

When I was in school, going with a female friend (not a girlfriend) somewhere, I headed straight for the driver’s-side door in my car. The friend said, “I’m going to do you a favor. You might have a lady love someday, and she’ll think it’s nice if you open the door for her. So you may as well get some practice!”

Thank you, Alicia!

14 Mark March 2, 2009 at 12:08 am

I’m in my 30′s, and my father always told me that, “you open a door for a woman not because they’re a woman, but because you’re a gentleman”. To this day I always open doors for ladies, even my 5yo and 8yo daughters. My 6yo son also opens doors for his grandmother, mother and sisters. Call me old-fashioned. :-)

BTW and FWIW, I showed this article to my wife and she thought it was excellent. :-)

15 Nick March 2, 2009 at 1:22 am

I very much agree with the author as well as with many of the other commenters. As much as woman enjoy being “taken care of” by a guy, we guys enjoy the same from women. Men and women are equal, not alike. If women=men, then we=gay. Our strengths fill your weaknesses and yours fill ours, though sometimes symbolically. Isn’t this the whole point of a relationship?

16 Kristiyan March 2, 2009 at 3:58 am

A good and intelligent article. I liked the part where the author brings up the notion that no matter how much we want to anounce that our itnelects are in charge, for women as well as for men, the hard-coded root based instinct in the DNA have their bass saying: Women need to feel vulnerable and men need to feel protective.

17 John vG March 2, 2009 at 4:42 am

My wife and I are discovering the joys of traditional gender roles through things like dance lessons where I’m the lead in all cases and she relies on me and trusts me to do a good job and make her look and feel good on the dancefloor. She’s enjoying the kitchen more too these days and I try to keep the fixit list short. I grew up in a household with 6 kids and a somewhat dysfunctional parenting environment and with 4 sisters all of the baby boom generation there was this general idea that masculinity was equated with domineering behaviour and negativity. Maybe it was in our house at the time, but that sure is BS in the bigger picture. So it’s joyful to see men and women reclaiming their traditional roles, and to see that it can be done while maintaining dignity, fun and mutual respect for the sexes. I hold doors.

18 avraham March 2, 2009 at 5:08 am

About the door, I have run into a problem lately. The double door. What does one do when there is a door that leads to a second door, this seems to be common in large buildings (at my university) to keep heat or ac in. So if I accelerate to open the door for the girl, she walks through and there is no way I can make it to the second one gracefully. My best solution thus far has been to go through the first door first holding it for her (i.e. not letting it close behind me) and hold ing the second one for her properly. Any other suggestions?

19 Joe March 2, 2009 at 5:12 am

to people like josh, the other joe way up there, and the many others with a lot of “thumbs down” votes… you are the reason this website was created. i’m not usually one for passive-aggressive comments that just incite more argument, but come on. seriously? i think you said it best, josh, when you said:

“If a girl EXPECTS me to open a door for her simple because she is a girl and i am a boy, well that is simply ridiculous, wrong and sexist.”

you were spot on. only a boy thinks this way. real men don’t open doors for women simply because “she is a girl and [we are] boys”. a man would also open a door for another man, if he got there first. to me, it is very sad how many “men” need critical lessons in manners these days; lessons in manliness. who would have ever thought it would come down to this: men not knowing how to be men on their own? Brett, you do a very fine job, and i have a lot of respect for what you’re doing here. and now for my own, personal opinion on the matter…

i believe as caring people, we should hold the door for the next person, if they’re in close enough proximity so that you’re not standing there holding the door for an awkwardly long time, although sometimes i’m fine with holding the door that long too. if a woman is behind me, you bet i’ll open the door for her, and if she’s too far behind, i’ll let the door close and stand there, and when she gets there, i’ll open it again. criticism for this may include people saying “well that’s a waste of time” or “what are you trying to prove?” or “why should i do that when women are perfectly capable of opening the door themselves?” Miss Angela, i believe you said it perfectly when you said that it’s the GESTURE that is what counts. women want to be treated like women, and traditionally, women are precious to men, so we treat them accordingly. i hate how that notion has been skewed over the past few decades (although i am only 24 myself, i do know my history very well), but i am encouraged to see that men are back on the upswing, and i can only hope and pray that that continues. until then, i will continue to do my part, and hopefully that will influence more of these “boys” as well.

Miss Angela, thank you for a very insightful post, it has been well received. and thank you for taking the time to “introduce a little chivalry” to the children you teach as well. that is incredible and much needed these days.

20 Khürt Williams March 2, 2009 at 5:14 am

Love the article. Can’t wait for the following up by article on what men can teach women about how to rediscover their femininity.

21 Joe March 2, 2009 at 5:22 am

p.s., MEN, this goes for car doors as well, as shown in the picture. for many reasons, first and foremost, the manly gesture. also, it’s just practical especially when weather conditions are less-than-favorable. quit being selfish, have a little respect, and open the car door for that lovely lady. every time. it’s not difficult, i promise; and once you do it a few times, it becomes habit… a good habit, at that.

think of it this way (if you’re married, you definitely [should] understand this, if not, you should still be able to get it, b/c i’m not married and i do):

your wife, the object of your affection, the pinnacle of love on this earth, the love of your life. you want to do everything for her, right? you should. you should go out of your way every chance you get, just so that she doesn’t have to. but think about this… every woman is that object of affection to SOMEONE. so, out of respect for your fellow man, why not treat his lady the same as you would treat your own?

22 Jeff March 2, 2009 at 5:27 am

Once at a mall I held a door for a young gothy woman who informed me in no certain terms that she was no weak little lady who was incapable of something so physically strenuous as opening a door and that she’d take care of it herself, thank you very much.

I replied that I wasn’t holding her door because she is a lady, I was holding it because I am a gentleman. She had no clue whatsoever about what to do with that statement, grabbed a different door and wandered on in. An older, very elegant lady who witnessed the whole scene approached me afterward and thanked me for having proper manners and for acting as a gentleman should.

That incident was probably over 25 years ago now, but it was very, very formative for me and has caused me to think quite a lot about gender roles over the years. Many thanks to Angela for saying something that needs to be said about the way our culture is evolving.

23 Joe March 2, 2009 at 5:29 am

spot on, jeff. well said.

24 Angela Bailey March 2, 2009 at 5:30 am

Hi, I’m the author. Thanks to everyone who got that the article is not about OPENING DOORS! It was a device to make the point that its ok for women, even feminists, to enjoy men and the many qualities they have to offer. We shouldn’t be ashamed of wanting our men to be men and of wanting to be women ourselves. Visit my blog for more on the pleasures of loving men again. http://www.welovemen.wordpress.com

25 Joe March 2, 2009 at 5:39 am

right. thank you, Miss Angela. i’m afraid i got kind of stuck on the door topic, but i hope that readers can see through that and find the sentences in there about how women should be held precious to men, etc.

as a man, i really do enjoy a woman that not only allows, but desires for me to BE a man. to be a man about everything; whether it’s fixing something, providing a listening ear when she needs to vent, comforting her, making her feel beautiful by little love gestures, even the small (buy VERY noticeable) gesture of opening a door.

and as a man, i, for one, eat that stuff up when a woman not only wants me to be a man, but is attracted to it as well. it’s a win-win.

26 Allanm March 2, 2009 at 5:56 am

Are you really this reactionary?

People enjoy being shown respect and courtesy. We also enjoy safety and predictable circumstances. This is true for both men and women and can explain the appeal of Mrs. Baileys suggestions, however wrong they are.

I obviously can’t speak for every man, but I’m pleased when other men (or women) hold the door open for me or display similar signs of respect. I also enjoy doing the same to others, although I feel they should respond with a thanks or a smile. My point being: everyone loves attention, and this article exploits that fact suggesting a weird role-division in society. To treat women as a (egotistical) weak species and men as courteous doormats is silly. Be kind and courteous to everyone regardless of sex. Although as a romantic gesture old-fashioned behaviour is of course great for flattering.

Pardon my English btw. And have a pleasant day!

27 Peter March 2, 2009 at 6:45 am

Angela,

Very nice! I enjoyed reading this and you make some very insightful and meaningful points. Thank you!

Oh, and I was raised to hold the door, even for the woman who walks through the closed one. I still always hold it.

28 DaisyDilly Fenwick March 2, 2009 at 6:57 am

A Biological Argument for why Men Should Hold Doors for Women: You have a penis, therefore, you want to have sex with me. If you want to have sex with me, you better hold the door open for me.

29 Beat Attitude March 2, 2009 at 7:06 am

Just don’t spoil it by giving the lady a pat on the derriere on the way past. It sends -very- mixed messages.

30 Lee March 2, 2009 at 8:21 am

Great article on traditional roles and how they are still relevant, if not needed, today. Being courteous and enjoying the feminine side of a woman can be a very rewarding experience. Thank you.

31 Jeff March 2, 2009 at 8:30 am

I suppose it sounded like I was stuck on the door issue too, but that really was just the revelation that led me to think about a whole host of other issues relevant to the roles of men and women in society, and about who I am in particular.

The open and closed doors really are a good metaphor.

32 Britt March 2, 2009 at 8:39 am

This post isn’t about holding the door, at least the first part isn’t. This post is about opening the door.

Quite clearly it starts, a man and a woman walking toward an closed door.

Me, I once opened a door for a woman (note, I did not say lady, there is a reason for that) and she walked through the door, as she was walking through the door she struck me in my testicles. We were out on a date and I had opened the door for her as that is how I was trained. I entered and asked her why she struck me. She explained that my chauvinistic opening of the door was a threat to her womanhood and that as a completely capable woman she could open doors for herself.

Feminism can be debilitating.

True story.

I know, a lot of you who weren’t there will call BS on it, I don’t care. I was there. I know what happened. I reported it.

33 John March 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

I agree with this post 100% but I think it’s important to emphasize that that if men are going to go back to being men, then women need to go back to being women. It’s great to want a man to be protective, and chivalrous, and take care of you, but what is the woman going to do in turn? The reason that men used to step it up in the responsibility department is that they got something in return. By which I mean, they acted more manly and the women acted more feminine by being nurturing, sweet, alluring, ect. I know that doesn’t sound very PC, but it’s true. I think what you have a lot of times today are women that still want to be treated like a princess, but they also want to wear the pants at the same. You can’t have it both ways.

34 Stuart March 2, 2009 at 9:42 am

I believe you, Britt. I have seen similar displays of women denigrating men for being men. Either a physical or verbal attack.

I think of it as a favor in disguise. These women are showing who they really are. Better that men see it before the relationship gets too serious. These women have lost the chance to be with a great man; they are the one who have really lost out.

One 20-something lady explained to me that many women today are “crazy”. If not actually insane, their ideas and beliefs make them behave as if they are insane. If Western women don’t back off and start behaving like real ladies again, they are going to lose out in the relationship world.

There is a reason why so many Western men are finding mates in other countries uninfected by radical feminism. Who wants to put up with the Western woman anymore when what they get for their trouble, even behaving gentlemanly, is a kick to the testicals, litterally and figuratively?

35 Brucifer March 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

I could and perhaps should write volumes on this subject. Pending that, here are at least some of my thoughts.

Many modern women have been unfortunately conditioned to mistake courtesy for chauvinism.

This shows up not only in their sometimes unwarranted disrespect for men who hold these values, but also in the fact that these same women do not then raise their sons in those values. (and then probably complain when someone else’s son mistreats their own daughter.)

I frequently date younger women and they are often like deer in the headlights when I open my car passenger door for them. I was almost injured one evening when the young woman I was with went to slam the passenger door shut, not realizing I was still standing there waiting for her to settle-in and then offer her the seatbelt.

Often too, younger women feel then compelled to ungracefully reach over across the seats to the driver-side door to unlock it for me …. ruining the gentility and grace of one’s original effort.

Alas, I also see too many men, in trying to “do the gentleman thing” be entirely too ostentatious, with clumsy, clownish and fawning movements. Thus, it is no wonder that women get turned off with such examples.

Dignity and grace, gentlemen! Dignity and grace….

Finally, the two very lovely women I am currently dating are one, a former army paratrooper and two, a former competitive bodybuilder and construction worker. One is currently a professional Dominatrix, in point-of-fact. Both of these stunning fem-fatales have modeled professionally. No vulgar, testicle-punching, pseudo-feminists they. Yet, they simply adore having doors opened and in taking my arm while on a walk.

36 Tom March 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

If there is one thing that is clear in this article, it’s that women still have no idea what they want. They want to live in society where both sexes are equal yet they reminisce about a time when the sexes weren’t equal.

My thoughts on this topic are this:

If women liked the way things were back in the early 20th century, there would have been no reason for the Feminist Movements. Clearly, women’s attitude’s changed early last century and we moved towards a more equal society, the kind that we see today. Keep in mind that men’s roles and attitudes also changed during this time.

Now women want to keep the equality they have today but would like men to treat them like we did earlier last century?? How is that treating every human being as equals? Doesn’t that go against the Feminist argument about treating both sexes as equals? Where is the equality if women expect me to open the door, give them my jacket when it’s cold or pay for a date? Isn’t she in an equal position to open the door, give me her jacket or pay for the date?

As far as I’m concerned, Angela can open the door just as well as any man can. The women before her fought hard for her right to do so.

37 Liz March 2, 2009 at 10:52 am

Tom-

I think it’s possible for men and women to be different, but equal. Men and women simply aren’t exactly the same. We have different tendencies and desires. Women today don’t want to return to the old days where women were thought incapable of ahtletics, academics, and leadership. But they also don’t want to be treated just like a man. They’re tired to being told that men and women are identical when everything in their own personal experience with men and women says otherwise. I think what women want today is a new model of womanhood, one that melds some of the past with the hard-fought rights of today. A womanhood where a woman can be seen as smart and capable, just as smart and capable in almost all things as man, but while also acknolwdging that there are a few areas where each sex does things better. That we each have our strengths and weaknesses. I think it’ should be okay for a woman to say that while she’s smart and capable she’s also physically weaker and more emotional than a man. Because that’s true in 96% of cases. And if that’s true, can’t we want a man to protect us and be a rock for us when we breakdown?

An above commenter said women today are “insane.” I think a better word would be schizophrenic. We are stuck between how we were raised to think we were supposed to act (liberated woman), and how our biology makes us want to act. We’re stuck between what we are told and what our own eyes tell us. And it is really confusing.

38 Angela Bailey March 2, 2009 at 11:14 am

Hi Tom,

It’s not about having things like they were 100 years ago or like they are today. It’s about creating something better for everyone. We can be treated equally under the law, but still enjoy the pleasures of our differences. The perfect world.

39 Ryan March 2, 2009 at 11:20 am

@DaisyDilly Fenwick – I do have a penis. However, given your attitude, I would not want to have sex with you.

40 Joe March 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

Liz,

I can’t even comprehend how hard and confusing it must be to be a woman with two opposite mindsets pulling at you from different angles, and I won’t try. I think any man that has gone down that road knows that trying to understand a woman is futile. And that is ok. I also think what you said in your first paragraph made SO much sense, a very good assessment. I totally agree that women should be seen as equals. You are people just like we men are. You have skills and capabilities just like we do. You are also very correct in saying that men and women also have many differences, and therein lies the beauty of the whole scheme. Plainly stated, a lot of times, women are smarter than men. It certainly has been shown that girls learn faster than boys in school. I think women are more driven a lot of times too. Men are firm. Men are strong. Men will fight for what they believe in. Women need that. WOMEN need MEN. And MEN need WOMEN.

41 Tom March 2, 2009 at 11:25 am

Liz- Where do we draw the line on different but equal? You mention that women are generally weaker and more emotional than men… does that imply that women shouldn’t hold jobs in the military? How about fire fighting or police work? Some men wouldn’t be enthusiastic about heading into a fire if they had to depend on an individual who was weaker than the average man to drag them out if something went wrong. Or if someone was in a position of leadership and they were lead by more by their emotions than rational thought. Different but equal doesn’t really work because then we have to justify putting people in positions we know they’re not really suited for. And if we don’t put them in those positions, then we can’t really say things are equal.

That’s the problem with the different be equal argument, too many grey areas. I like my way better. Black and White. We’re all equal, we all have the same rights and abilities so both sexes can do what ever they want and treat each other however they want (without infringing on any rights of course).

Forget the formalities of the past because they don’t exist anymore. Just like people in the 1900′s didn’t treat each other like they did in the 1850′s, we shouldn’t try to treat people today like we did in the 1950′s.

42 Tom March 2, 2009 at 11:46 am

I should also mention that I’m 25-30 years old so I’m that younger generation who is moving away from this chivalry nonsense. I used to be more chivalrous (sp?) in my younger days when my parents pushed it on me but it went unappreciated so I stopped… there was no positive reinforcement from the girls so what’s the point in doing it? I even used to pay for drinks and dinners but learned to stop that when it wasn’t reciprocated. Now it doesn’t matter because I find that if you’re in good shape, look your best and can make conversation, one doesn’t have to stoop to chivalry to impress a woman anymore… it’s far easier now for men then it used to be. Imagine our grandfather’s courting our grandmothers? You had to marry them before the real fun began. Now you can have fun after hanging out for a couple of days and if the relationship goes sour, you don’t lose your house, your car or have to make alimony payments. The two grown adults are free to go their separate ways. Given the choice, I prefer the way things are today.

43 Liz March 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

Tom-

“I like my way better. Black and White. We’re all equal, we all have the same rights and abilities so both sexes can do what ever they want and treat each other however they want (without infringing on any rights of course).”

Should women be allowed to play professional football? Even if they were allowed, could they make the team if they tried out? And if the answer to this question is no, then you have a gray area. Women do not have the same ability to play football. That’s a fact. And if there’s one gray area, that certainly opens up the possibility of more, doesn’t it?

I don’t have any problem saying women are less suited for jobs like firefighting, because I guarantee there are female firefighters out there who couldn’t drag a man out of a burning building. They don’t have to pass the same fitness standards test and it’s ridiculous. But I also don’t have a problem saying that women are better suited for jobs requiring diplomacy-HR, PR, ect. And so at the end of the day the strengths and weaknesses balance out and you have equality.

44 Lee March 2, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Got to disagree with Brucifer real quick…When I had my Wrangler, it had manual locks and was back when I was dating. One of the tools I used was to see if a woman would lean over to unlock my door after I let her in. If she took the time to lean over, it showed to me that she was a giving woman that wanted to look after me. I would instantly know where to shape questions and look for habits from her.

45 Jill March 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I agree with the author completely! As a woman, I embrace my femininity for the source of power it is, rather than trying to repress it to be more like a man. Nor would it be healthy for my husband to struggle to be more feminine. We each add to our relationship to supply what is needed in our life and I can tell you – its a beautiful thing!

Also – as a woman raising a little man – I just have to say I love this site! Keep it up!

46 Tom March 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Liz- Right now, a woman can play men’s golf but a man can’t play women’s golf. Is that fair? Why can a woman take employment away from a man but a man can’t play in the LPGA and take employment away from a woman? Is that different but equal? I argue that it’s not equal. We should just have one great big golf association and let everyone compete. If you make it great, if not, try again next time. Same for any position in any job. Both sexes should just compete for any job they want, regardless of their sex.

I think we should all just be given numbers because that is the only way we will be equal. If you’re applying for a job, you just give them your credentials and a number. If you’re picked, you’re picked and if not, it’s based on your credentials, not because of your sex. You can make the same argument based on ethnicity as well.

47 oracle989 March 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Wonderful article, Angela! This expresses a needed thought in society PERFECTLY.

48 Chris March 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Personally, if I can act as a man, then I’m happy. However, those instances don’t come up very often, and almost always when among other men. Not around women.

I always like to hold doors open, precisely for the same reason many people voiced here: it’s how we were raised, to be courteous.

When you have women threatening you with violence just because you’re holding a door for them though, you begin to stop doing that. And you begin to stop being gentlemanly to people who treat you rudely.

I encourage all women to read this article; there is all sorts of wonder in happy relationships between men and women (not Male Person and Female Person). Thing is, the opportunities for women to be women are numerous. The opportunities for men to be men are shrinking.

49 Bo March 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Wow, This is probably the best written article I’ve seen so far on the AoM. I constantly feel that awkward inner dialoge of both wanting to encourage the independance of women while wanting to reconnect with my chiviral manliness. Generally I try to open the door for a lady. It sucks though when doors have to be pushed outward though. If you try to prop those open, you end up having to run around the lady to get it and then try and push yourself to one side to allow her to get past you. It’s way too awkward. It ends up looking like I’m trying to jump around and beat her through the door. So if the door swings in, allow me, if it swings out, your on your own.

50 Andy March 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Great article! Thanks!

51 Ryan March 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Tom –

Perhaps the lack of positive reinforcement is because women can detect you were only being chivalrous because you want something (i.e., I held the door so you have to do something I want in return). If there’s one thing I can say about women with certainty it’s that women are much more perceptive than men. They can read us like books when we’re up to something. And when they do get that sense (through our non-verbal communication), it often times makes seemingly harmless gestures go unappreciated. That’s why it’s important to be a gentleman all the time. If you’re not, she’ll get that he’s up to something vibe and then you’ll get the unappreciative response.

52 Rich March 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Tom youre jerk dude. People like you and the women you date are the reason its so hard to find a classy woman these days.

Thanks bud!

53 Tom March 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Ryan- Women are not any more perceptive than men… that’s why women talk so much. Women use more words in a day than men do. That’s because men are better at reading body language and reading non-verbal cues. If women were as perceptive as you claim, they wouldnt have to ask what you’re thinking all the time. They could just read your body language. I think we need to stop the male/female sterotypes here. Men are just as perceptive as women. I would argue that men are more so.

Rich- Im not the reason you can’t find any classy women. Perhaps your idea of a classy woman doesn’t exist anymore. If you define a classy woman, maybe someone here can point you in the right direction. Maybe the classy women you are looking for aren’t the kind of girls I find and if that’s the case, what are you upset about? I don’t think women are unclassy, they just are less classy to you based on what ever assessment you use. I like the women I meet. We date and if it doesn’t work out, we go our separate ways. No harm, no foul.

I’m also far from a jerk, I’m just telling you what I do to meet women and it works just fine for me (and countless others my age). If you can’t compete with someone like me in attracting women, you have to take stock in what you’re offerring them and whether they want what you’re offerring. If you can’t find classy women by acting like a gentleman, then perhaps you should take that as a clue that women don’t care if you act like one. My advice to you is to throw everything your dad taught you out the window because less and less women care if you’re a gentlemen. Women can take care of themselves just fine now.

54 etherspirit March 2, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Angela,

It’s too bad you’re married already. Thank you for such an endearing post.

*

55 Chris P. March 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Thanks for the blog… I love reading the site, and I really like the idea of having a woman appreciate held doors and gentlemanly behavior. This reminds me of something that happened about 20 years ago.

I, growing up in Texas, but going to school in North Carolina at a university with a lot of northern transfers, had a bit of culture shock back in the late 1980s. I recall an incident, where I let my tongue get the best of me, but felt better for it. I held the door for an anonymous female student who fussed at me for holding it – she aggressively said she was perfectly capable of getting her own doors. I responded that I hold the door for her not because she is a lady, but because I am a gentleman. That was a rare moment when the response didn’t show up 2 minutes after I needed it.

That being said, I want my 10 year old daughter to feel its great for her to be strong and independent… but to also know that its ok for her to have doors opened for her, for a man to offer his arm, and for her to feel special.

56 Aaron March 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Wow, some people here…

I’m a lot different than other guys. I open doors for not only women, but men. It’s not a matter of chivalry to me, but respect. However, for women, I gesture with my hand, and men, I bow my head and nod.

I’m 20, and while people don’t show appreciation for it, they don’t have to. I know what I’m doing is right and I mean well by it. There’s no sarcasm to my motions, and people have never misunderstood my politeness before.

From what I’ve seen, women my age don’t look for chivalry because it’s so seldom seen, but when they get treated well, they adore it. That’s also the reason that most guys are spiteful of me. However, acting genuinely polite and inquisitive to a woman I’m interested in has never turned out poorly for me. When looking for love, a friend is not a loss.

57 Sam March 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I’ve had a bad experience with chivalry in the past. I’d been accused of being a sexist simply because I once said that I’d never hit a lady. When has being polite and having basic morality a bad thing?

I really like this article. Women should not be our enemies in reclaiming manliness, but rather, our greatest partners.

58 johnnyonline March 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm

an act of kindness towards another is a good thing –
to question why such a kindness suffers confusion is better.
but the best is knowing that, in regard to the dynamic, it’s all about choice.

notwithstanding those pesky x and y thingies – vive la difference!

59 josh March 2, 2009 at 11:16 pm

well it looks as if i have the second most thumbs down for this article, and i cant say i mind. i even partially agree with joe’s sentiments, although i must say he was a bit untactful with it.

what people seem to fail to read in my first response was that i, personally, open the door for anyone who is behind me. And that is something that im proud and happy to do.
But it has nothing to do with gender. being polite, which is what opening a door is, should have nothing to do with gender.

60 Ryan March 3, 2009 at 2:02 am

“An above commenter said women today are “insane.” I think a better word would be schizophrenic. We are stuck between how we were raised to think we were supposed to act (liberated woman), and how our biology makes us want to act. We’re stuck between what we are told and what our own eyes tell us. And it is really confusing.” – Liz.

How is schizophrenic a better term? “Insane” is general and used as a synonym of “Crazy” but women being “Schizophrenic” means that they have a problem with perceiving or expressing reality. So we’re talking about hallucinations, delusions, word salad, paranoia, catatonic states, etc. Unless of course you mean Schizophrenic in the same context of people being “crazy” or “insane” but then how would it be a better word? I posit that unless you have evidence that generally women do experience recurring breaks in reality that Schizophrenic is by no means a better word and at best the same value of word such as “Insane”.

Going more on topic, this craziness in both gender roles can be blamed on society as a whole. How can you blame a contemporary man for not holding the door? We had father’s that were away much of the time, there are less family business where knowledge is handed down through the generations. We got most of our social cues from the schoolyard and T.V. There is plenty of different niches that men grew up in and some of them have gotten “soft” on the masculinity, while others thrive on being as much of a man can be. And look at this new niche that formed up since I’ve been out of highschool. “Emos” where the boys try to be as slender and effeminate as possible (stereotypically). Gender roles are messed up, I think we all know that. I think everyone just needs to be true to themselves. That goes for both men and women. If men want to completely ignore the etiquette of yesteryear, fine, if women want a man who doesn’t ignore it than that’s fine too. You are going to be yourself, and you are going to choose to be around the type of people that make you feel comfortable. However, you must realize that we are becoming more and more of a melting pot of different cultures and values, and that everyone is going to act differently. All you can do is be tolerant and move on with your life. I mean seriously, I think we all have bigger problems than what some random guy does in your proximity at the mall. Its at best a few seconds of second guessing and at worst an awkward minute of your life. This is nothing to get worked up into a state of anomie over.

61 Keith March 3, 2009 at 9:10 am

You mean men haven’t been doing this (opening doors) or more (walking curbside, picking up dropped items, nodding hello, or generally being polite and respectful of others, both men and women or young and old)? Wow, where have I been? Guess I was just well reared. Thanks to the gods for my parents and grand parents and their sense of generosity, kindness and consideration.

62 wayne March 3, 2009 at 9:52 am

“Being a man isn’t about asking permission or wonder what the ulterior motives are, its about doing what’s right (or manly) in every situation. Hell, if its a little old lady, run around her to make sure you get the door. ”

“you open a door for a woman not because they’re a woman, but because you’re a gentleman”.

You got it. I’ve had women seem a little put off when I held the door (or whatever gentlemanly thing it was) and say “i can get it”, or “you don’t need to do that.” When they respond like that, rather than risk offending them and saying “that’s what gentlemen do” or whatever, I just tell them I have to do it because my mom would beat me down if she knew I didn’t. That seems to appease their feminist ego.

If a woman struck me in the nads for holding the door, id’ have eaten dinner and then when finished, “gone to the bathroom” ie stuck her with the bill and let her walk home. Yeah, mom would beat me down for that one too. But some things are worth the price.

63 Ryan March 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

Tom –

On perceptiveness between men and women, why do you think the phrase “women’s intuition” came about? It is a generality, but generalities are typically based on observational fact. And there is a scientific reason for this. Humans are animals. Prior to modern civilization, women much more than men fell into the category of prey. Their senses adapted to levels far beyond those of men as they (and their young) had to use “flight” much more than “fight”. “Flight” had to be engaged much sooner than “fight” for it to work.

As far as women asking men what we’re thinking, perhaps they approach the world with a different paradigm. Presumably, when you and I ask a question we ask it with the direct intent to get a direct response to something which we do not currently know. What if a woman were approaching it with the thought process that she already knows something is up and she wants to see how you’ll react to the question? Obviously, this is not always the case and I use your example to point something important for men to understand about women – men cannot use their paradigms to understand the world from a woman’s point of view.

64 Santa March 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

When I was as young as I can remember my mother would take me to the stores with her and I was always told by her to walk ahead and open the door for her. If I ever forgot she would get upset with me and then give me a small talk about what being a boy meant and how all boys were suppose to do this. She instilled this on me at a young age and as a 30 yr old adult it’s just always been 2nd hand nature to me. I always open doors even sometimes for guys. It’s not only being gentlemen like, it’s polite and a kind gesture to those who may not even know you. If there are guys out there that don’t do this it’s probably because no one ever taught or explained to them why they should. It’s the parents fault. It’s the same as when you invite a lady out for dinner. If you made the invitation and you asked her, you should very well pay for her meal even if she insists you don’t. Women aren’t like men. They don’t always say what they really want because they think men will think they aren’t independent and strong. I’ve learned that if a woman says “oh it’s ok. I’ll pay for myself.” Just be a man and get around to paying for her while she’s not even noticed.. Then when she says it, you just say, “Hey no worries. I’ve already taken care of it.” She will respect you more for putting her needs before yours.

65 Tim March 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Tom said :”Ryan- Women are not any more perceptive than men… that’s why women talk so much. Women use more words in a day than men do. That’s because men are better at reading body language and reading non-verbal cues. If women were as perceptive as you claim, they wouldnt have to ask what you’re thinking all the time. They could just read your body language. I think we need to stop the male/female sterotypes here. Men are just as perceptive as women. I would argue that men are more so.”

I have to strongly disagree with this. All the experts I have read in books and articles on body language say that women are far more perceptive at reading body language than men. I’ve also read that contrary to popular belief men may actually use more words a day than women, but I’m less sure about this. This theory claims that men do more talking to communicate facts and information, as in a workplace, while women do more communication to express or gauge feelings, which often occurs at home (the basis for “women nagging men once they come home from work”). Anyways, the issues of gender differences are far too complex and mysterious for me to even begin to assess, but I do think you’re wrong about perceptiveness.

As for the article itself, it’s fantastic and well written. Articles like this is why I love AoM. I may not always be the best purveyor of it, but I do pride myself in acting gentlemanly and chivalrous, and I’m always interested in improving. This article paints the picture of the type of woman I would love to have as a girlfriend: independent and intelligent, but also feminine, caring, and wanting and encouraging manliness in her boyfriend.

66 Brad March 3, 2009 at 4:19 pm

What if there are two doors one right after another? I experience this every day. If you hold open the first door, you can’t hold the second one.

67 Roland March 4, 2009 at 6:52 am

The only time I’ve ever seen a women have a problem with a guy holding the door, was when the guy made a freakin’ production out of it.. This is the same guy who thinks it’s “classy” to kiss a girl’s hand when they meet. *rollseyes*

To have an issue, you need that beautiful combination of a guy who’s a jerk (see above) and likes to make a production of of things where women come in, and a woman who’s hypersensitive. Most women just roll their eyes and say “thanks” as they pass through the door, leaving that guy in their wake (so she doesn’t have to run for the hills, later).

Personally, I’m with the camp who tends to hold the door for pretty much anybody.

68 Kevin March 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

While I appreciate the consideration and sensitivity with which Angela wrote this essay, I feel obligated to point out some fuzzy spots in her argument. I believe she acknowledges the cultural underpinnings of our gender norms, especially as she percieves them to have changed (which they have to a certain degree). However, she seems to rely upon the notion of biological determinism as the mechanism through with maleness and femaleness are constructed. While there are obvious anatomical differences, I do not see that DNA has determined what types of social behaviors we appreciate in our opposite-sex interactions short of sex itself. As a student of sociology, I am well aware of the social construction of gender. Although the feminist movement has led to a relaxing of the hitherto mandated gender norms, they have nonetheless not disappeared from our society’s consciousness. As evidence, I point to some of the comments on this page praising films that espouse traditional male and female roles. So, of course these old time norms that used to have such a stronghold are still circulating out there and having an impact on our socialization (albeit an ambivalent one). This gradual cultural change, I believe, is what is leading to our confusion, not biology. I am curious if Angela is by chance a biology teacher? If so, I would appreciate if she could point to hard evidence of the part of the DNA that determines our gendered social interactions. Until then, I will stand by social science.

69 Angela Bailey March 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for taking the time to read and so thoroughly digest my article. I do welcome your comments.

I doubt a debate about who can “prove” what is particularly useful here. Biology can no more prove that our genetic make-up affects our behaviour than Sociology can disprove it. However I do admire your courage, dare I say manliness, at calling me out on my arguments as you rest yours on the tenants of such a soft science.

That being said, my position that our intellects cannot entirely govern out biology is based on the well-accepted theories of natural section and sex selection which nearly all scientists and educated people believe are the very best explanations we have for how the characteristics of all living things have evolved. I would never be foolish enough to argue that social conditioning is not an important factor affecting human behaviour. All I’m trying to say is that genetics might be another, perhaps more significant factor. If you are interested in exploring these ideas further, might I suggest you read The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature by Geoffrey Miller.

Again, I really appreciate your comments. They have given me some ideas for future posts on my blog http://www.welovemen.wordpress.com.

Angela

70 The Lack of Decentcy. March 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Dear Mrs. Bailey.
i searched all over the internet to find your article. i found it quite interesting…
i read all the comments and found myself writing down the URL
,btw, that’s what the “joke”‘ that you didn’t hear in the class!!! p.s. i found this article and i flipped! now i’m emailing it to my possey!!! c-ya!!! oh and yea, good game…:-S

71 mythago March 5, 2009 at 8:36 am

You like having men open doors and extend traditional social courtesies? Nothing wrong with that; many men are happy to open doors and extend those traditional social courtesies to you. I guess I’m just confused as to why you feel you need to justify this as something dictated by evolution, (particularly as the scientific community is very much in debate on those issues). And yes, it is a little disturbing to see embrace of those traditional norms as a marker of what it means to ‘be a woman’ or ‘be a man’. Perhaps you didn’t mean it this way, but you’re implying that there is something inferior or freakish about those who don’t enjoy those traditional roles as much as you do.

72 krg March 9, 2009 at 8:07 am

thank you angela for this insight.
i am all for chivalry as it is, as it makes my life more easier in a relationship with a woman. my to-do list is generated by my instincts, so no confusion, and not to mention the playfulness introduced by the scuffle for endless door handles out there(figuratively). and a tap on my ‘ceps at the end of the day for handling all the doors(figuratively) doesn’t come down too hard on my ego, as i have other measures to gauge its performance(my career?). egos which get bruised at door handles need some serious workout, imho.
my lady is fully aware of this approach of mine and is all too comfortable and similarly follows her own instincts when it comes to acting in and for our relationship which always comes as a nice surprise for me, needless to say i love them when they do come.
but i am all for women empowerment. even willful submission may get construed as timid character, so i am all for baring fangs standing atop the black rock once in a while and then resting back, just to be sure you know. women have acted on their instincts for too long, so much that men have come to conclude that maybe they are like that because they are inept. so all this women empowerment going on since my childhood and likely to continue will probably help young men growing up in these years to be aware of the capabilities(which are same as men’s) of the women around them and the young women growing to have a firm belief in themselves(same as men’s) to act on their own will whenever the need be. so ladies, please do continue with your day jobs, but don’t forget to be yourself with a man who understands what you are being, and men, take it easy unless mortally threatened.

at the end of it all, its all about being and acting secure and not being too bothered by anything, big or small, coming our way.

73 Larissa March 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm

My boyfriend is a very manly man, I’ve never opened a door when I’m with him.

74 C. S. March 14, 2009 at 7:12 am

The art of gentlemanly civility was instilled in me at a very young age by my mother. I’m in my late 40s and have experienced many different responses to opening doors, rising when seated when a female enters a room, approaches a dining table, seating a female, walking on the curbside of a sidewalk between a female and the street, etc. Some have been positive, most have been negative.

The rules of engagement were discarded during the feminist movement around these types of social interactions between genders were not replaced. Consequently, there exists only ambiguity in the generation that experienced life during an post early feminist movement positioning. Many females (my mother included) felt that some things were fine and at the same time, she felt that the polarization promoting an “us vs. them” mentality would severely damage, if no eliminate many of the positive attributes of established social interactions between genders. Her view of how a gentleman behaves did not shift during or after that particular era of the feminist movement.

For me, I continue to behave as a gentleman and applying the many acts of gentlemanly civility because I believe it to be correct, appropriate, and respectful of females. I also have the voice of my mother on my shoulder that would shame me endlessly should I violate those values and behaviors that she invested a great deal of time and energy teaching to me.

By the age of four, she had accomplished her goal and proved my skills and ability by testing all of them, including a formal meal at a restaurant while three waiters stood nearby at the ready should I experience an embarrassing accident, drop food, or somehow violate the expectations of the establishment and its clientele. Much to their amazement and my mother’s pleasure, my behavior was perfect, my manners impeccable, and my behavior as a gentleman was beyond reproach.

I write all of that to say that whenever or whomever might feel slighted or offended that I express any gentlemanly act of civility, unapologetically, I simply ask them to call my mother, hand them a business card with her name and telephone number, and ask that they file a complaint with her. She is fully responsible and deserves all of the credit for any offense suffered by unsuspecting females who are victimized by these acts of gentlemanly civility. Interestingly, to my knowledge, she has yet to receive a telephone call and I have handed out many cards over the years. Perhaps she has received calls and her feminine civility will not allow her to disclose or mention such experiences.

The Gen X’rs are confused around, The Gen Ys do not seem to care, and the Millienials … well, it’s difficult to say at this point.

Regardless, my respect for her outweighs any offense that a female may experience from my gentlemanly civility.

75 Regina March 14, 2009 at 10:44 am

I’ve read this article, probably five or six times, and everytime I read it, I just want to sit and cry……..

I’m a 39 yo female who has been married to what used to be my best friend. He knew me 17 years before we got married and I was this strong, self-sufficient woman. In the last couple of years I have wanted so desperately to “get back” to the way things used to be when women were ladies and men were protectors. I’ve tried to put a voice to this with my husband, but of course, it’s considered “nagging.” I love my husband desperately, but we’ve fallen victim to stereotypes and lifestyles that do not resonate with what I want in my life.

I literally dream of being the “woman of virtue” that the Bible talks about, but feel like I’m drowning in the path of what I thought women were supposed to be. I long day and night to feel cherished and “taken care of,” but to my husband, I’ve just changed…………..

I love this article. It spells out what has happened to our society of “ladies” and it’s very, very disheartening. What do we do? How do we change? How can we get society to “go back” to the ways of chivalry? Please help us!!!!!

76 Julie March 20, 2009 at 11:01 am

As a woman raised by a “traditional” father, I’m pretty disappointed in this article. Be careful what you wish for.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to pine for the “good old days” when you have little idea what you’re actually talking about. Remember the 1950s, when hard work and industry were rewarded? When men opened doors and women didn’t fear walking alone at night?

Certainly, you were well rewarded for hard work — as long as you weren’t black or an immigrant. And women didn’t have much opportunity to leave their homes at any time of the day, and anyway, hitting your children and wife wasn’t really such a crime, was it?

Of course, there’s a wide margin of difference between opening doors for people based on gender and the acceptability of domestic abuse. But ask yourself about the common philosophical origin of each: women need strong men to guide them through life.

I’m not advocating rudeness. If anyone opens the door for you, smile and say thank you. If you get to the door first, I open it and hold it open for the next person, regardless of gender or age.

Don’t project personal dissatisfaction with the way others treat you as a symptom of a problem with society which doesn’t exist.

77 Indiana May 5, 2009 at 7:17 pm

As a (female) child of the 70s, this article puzzles me. Never have I encountered the door-opening anxiety the author refers to – whoever gets there first opens the door. That’s just good manners, male or female. Why should it be otherwise?

I also don’t understand the example the writer gives of the supposed modern female confusion:

“We roll our eyes at macho posturing even though a man’s bold strength and courage make us feel safe. We complain endlessly about the audacity of the male ego, but it’s a man’s confidence that gives us faith in his wherewithal. And while it’s fashionable to sing the praises of a sensitive guy, I believe most of us prefer men who are thick-skinned and resilient..”

How is ‘macho posturing’ similar to ‘strength and courage’? Surely it’s the sign of someone attempting to feign qualities precisely because they lack them? And how is egotism related to confidence – don’t empty bottles make the most noise? Can I not reject an arrogant, posturing man in favour of one who is quietly strong and confident? Likewise, can I not hope for a man who is ‘sensitive’ enough to be aware of my feelings, and sufficiently in tune with his own feelings to be resilient? These are false dichotomies.

Besides, none of these qualities are gender specific. Opening doors or being confident does not make me a man anymore than cooking dinner and nurturing a child makes my brother a woman.

78 James May 6, 2009 at 1:46 am

People seem to forget that being a TRUE gentleman does not involve putting women on a pedastal. A true gentleman will get that door whether you are a man or a woman. For some reason, though, the idea of a gentleman got skewed as putting women on some kind of pedastal.

79 Michael May 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I think something to consider is the idea that the feminist movement may not have happened or been necessary if there had been a “men-imist” movement. I do not believe it was as much a matter of women being dissatisfied with the state of women as being a matter of men not being men. This forced women to fill the gap.

My experience is when a man behaves like and assumes the responsibilities of a real man, and treats his lady like a real woman. The woman feels less of a need to take charge or seek independence, and is happier in her feminine role. I believe women should be treated as equals, but at the same time viva la difference!

80 Tasha June 9, 2009 at 10:40 am

I’m a 18 yearold female, first off I’d like to say I completely agree with this blog , metaphorically and non,
I adore this site as well, I was raised to be feminine and sincere, and to love and obey, but I would never to anything less than a gentleman, at my age although I am young it seems all chivalry has be lost and forgotten ,

I would also like to say , without meaning any drama, I very much agree to that tom fellow being a rather big jerk

81 Anon July 6, 2009 at 9:41 am

To me a real man will support and encourage my career aspirations.

82 Viktor Khersonski June 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with this post! The one thing I feel you missed out on, is that a man should not only hold the door for a women, but also for other men and even random strangers.

Think for a second about how rude it would be if a guy we re holding a door for his gal, then as you walked up he let it drop and slam in your face… That’s just being courteous, not chivalrous. Which is, lest we forget, equally important.

83 Utsav August 5, 2010 at 2:51 am

Is there a woman out there that can open the car door for me?

84 Steve Boucher January 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

as per Barney Stinson (the bro code) if they can have their own basket ball league they can open their own door, it is not that heavy.
If my hands are full or I am incapacited in some manner then yes I like someone to hold the door for me but othewise I DESPISE it when someone does that. I dont want to feel I owe then something and having them do that for me means I owe them next time. I always feel I need to speed up to get to the door so they dont have to wait for me etc. I have two hands and a heartbeat. I can handle a door myself and expect others to do the same

85 conflicted February 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I feel very conflicted about the steriotipical men and woman of old

If I am supposed to open the car door in the rain, is this some implicit way of saying that my physical well being (case in point: getting wet/getting a cold) is less important than hers ?

More proeminently, if I am supposed to defend a woman in a altercation, are my physical integrity and continued life less important then hers ?

It may seem that this is a rethorical point, but it is not. I really want to understand/get opinions and answers

86 Amy March 1, 2013 at 4:23 am

Without intending to you have highlighted with manifesto-esque quality the feminism’s offspring, hideously turning out not to be a female liberated from woman, a person purged of a tumour, but a deformed newborn, that is, new woman, half woman and half female, with no concept of either complete woman-ness or female-ness, no sense of the wrongness of her own state, and as a result sexism in two distinct forms: woman-hating sexism, represented by the desire for classlessness, and female-hating sexism, represented by the desire for class (i.e., to be woman). Deluded into the belief that you are neither deluded nor require liberation, like so many examples through history, you are able to write articles such as the one above and convince yourself that you have not made a declaration of self-hatred, that your woman urges are natural, not an abomination, not a tumour to be removed with extreme prejudice. This is the failure of feminism. How obscene that after decades of revolution woman emerges triumphant and anesthetises the female into Orwellian compliance, nay, compulsion. You believe that the intellect can not surpass the physical (forgetting that the mind creates the physical, not the other way around), and in that instant resign yourself to the subservience that you now attempt to fortress. How absurdly grotesque.

87 Chris May 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Of course women “can” open doors for themselves, but it is a common courtesy as a man to do the chivalrous thing and hold it for them. There are plenty of other things women could “do for themselves”, but I’m not sure that all of you nay sayers would be as happy if they went to that extreme as you are for them to “hold their own flipping door”. Quit whining, be a gentleman and hold the door for Pete’s sake!

88 Anna June 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I don’t think it is wrong for guys to open doors for women, UNLESS they are doing it BECAUSE I am a woman. Now that is wrong, because it implies women deserve more respect (having doors opened for them, etc.) then men do. That implicated idea is offensive to me as a feminist. Men and women are equal, and I don’t want any man to do something for me that implies women are better than men, or more worthy of respect, because they are not.

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