Except that, in this case, it was I who was being shown through the entrance by a young woman. For a split second I hesitated. This had never happened to me before. Normally, I was the one opening doors for other people. And I had never seen a woman being so courteous to a young(ish) man.
Was it a trick? If I took one step through the doorway, would she tut at me in disgust? Was I supposed to insist that she should go first? The trouble with being a modern man is that we never quite know what we should do, for fear of offending someone. Quite often we simply choose the easiest option… Which is to do nothing at all and feign a lack of attention.
However, in this case, I figured that she was a fit and healthy woman who was entering a gym, so it was quite likely that she would be offended if I declined her offer. Why shouldn’t she be polite to a man?
There would then be an impasse; a shuffling of feet towards the doorway, as we weren’t quite sure what each other’s next move would be. I’m the polite one! No, I started the politeness, damn you! She may or may not then proceed to slap me across the face for being a chauvinistic pig…
I’ve heard tales of men being criticised for offering their seats on trains to pregnant women. Despite this, I would still always make the offer. Perhaps until I was on the receiving end of abuse. But surely this would be a rare occurrence?
A recent example of such ambiguity regarding modern gender roles and politically correct social conduct was observed in no less than the House of Commons. A heavily pregnant member of parliament was left standing during a Prime Minister’s questions session.
Although she claimed that she preferred to stand, it didn’t stop the media reporting on the apparent snub. It seems as though the media like nothing better than to stir up controversy and the ‘PC Brigade’ need little provocation to feel offended on someone’s behalf.
In this current climate, is it really a surprise than men are no longer sure exactly how they should act around women? I’m all for equality, but is it really a crime to simply be polite and courteous? And I would just like to say bravo to the kind lady who held the door open for me. Good manners should not be a ‘one-way street’. A little bit of consideration for others from both sexes goes a long way to making sure everyone has a good day.