Belenen (belenen) wrote,
Belenen
belenen

if you don't want to get it back, it's not a desirable gift

Once I realized that I had developed the habit of stopping and waiting at doors when walking with a male person, I decided that such a habit was not something I wanted to keep; I don't think it's kind for me to expect courtesy instead of sometimes accepting and sometimes offering it. So, probably about a year ago, I started opening and holding the door if I arrived there first, and occasionally skipping ahead to arrive first. (by 'holding the door' I don't mean walking through and holding it just long enough for the other person to catch it -- I mean pulling the door open, stepping aside, and letting the other person through first, then entering also, so that they never have to touch the door) It's been quite interesting to see the reactions to this. Female people who are roughly my age will say thank you and walk through with a slightly confused look on their faces. Female people who are older will say thank you and then hold the door for themselves anyway, as if they fear that I'm going to let it go to hit them.

Male people of any age react in very similar ways -- they either say nothing and take the door from me, or they stand well back and say, "no, you first." If I offer a second time some will walk through, but I've actually had some male people refuse again, either verbally or by shaking their heads and pulling the door further open (sometimes forcing me to duck under their arm to get through the door). That has to be the emptiest gesture I can think of -- not only is it illogical and a waste of time/energy (and often creates more work for me, as I have to walk around/under them), but to reject a courtesy is a disrespect that invalidates the respect one could show by holding the door. I think that perhaps the conscious desire is to be perceived as a polite person, but I wonder if perhaps a subconscious reason could be that to accept such a courtesy is not "masculine," and they do not want to lose their masculine image by acting in the assigned role of a female person. (I think that for some it is mere habit, but for those who verbally refuse I think it is more than habit)

But I don't want to have a lengthy conversation with each person who refuses to walk through a door I hold, so I've thought up to use next time this happens; "It's okay, I'm not a lady -- you can let me hold the door for you." (It's not perfect of course because it implies that there is a such thing as a 'lady' and that one cannot let a lady hold the door, but it attacks the assumption that a male person cannot accept help from any female person.) I'd love to hear the thought process that results from that comment!

LJ idol topic 1: "Empty Gestures"
Tags: gender, social justice / feminism, writing prompts
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