The stranger got to the door first and flung it open wide, rather theatrically beckoning the other person through: “After you.” How chivalrous, you may think. What a gentleman.
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.
I totally feel your confusion on the roles and expectations. On the one hand, all those rules of chivalry outlining specific gestures that should be made toward women (pulling out chairs, opening doors), grew out of the general notions of women having to be taken care of, being the weaker sex, and by implication, inferior. I try to hold the door open for whoever is walking behind me, regardless of the gender, and give transport seating and door-entry preferences to people a generation or more older than I am. If a random man does this for me, I consider it nice and polite, not patronizing. But I (as a feminist) think it’s rather hypocritical for women who identify as such and want to be treated ‘equally’ to then _expect_ these kinds of gender-normative behaviors from men (exception – pregnant women. that stuff messes with your bones and muscles and god knows what, and I think should be accommodated almost as a taxing medical condition, unless you’re some sort of glowing magical goddess who carries it like a basketball and struts around in 6″ heels straight into a 45 min labor).
However – and this is where it sucks for guys – I know plenty of women, incl modern, independent women, in the US, in NYC, who would not go on a 2nd date with a guy if he did not perform these kinds of rituals. Who consider it rude if a guy doesnt get out of his car seat to run around and open a door for her, even if it’s a downpour. Lady, it’s a car door, not a bunker!
Well maybe those women don’t deserve a second date. I know I wouldn’t go near women like that. Reminds me of one of my dating disasters: https://thislittlethingcalledlife.com/2010/11/11/dating-royalty-is-no-fun/#more-664
Well they look just like ‘normal’ women, who like ‘polite, chivalrous’ gentlemen. My personal preference is for progressive, overachieving, beer-drinking outdoorsy types (horseman a plus!) 🙂
Or possibly Daddy’s little princess types… It has to be a give and take relationship. Nothing worse than women who feel they ‘deserve’ constant star treatment. I’m sure you’re not like that, of course!
Hahaha, well, I’m probably more of an equal-opportunity indulger. Basically an over-achiever in everything (and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not always a good thing). Actually had always been pretty fortunate on the romantic front until moving to Russia, and now I might as well join a convent.