July 2018
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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"

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Comments
rattsu ══╣╠══
Honestly, me too! People still do that in the US (I'm assuming)? I'm trying to think back if people do that here in sweden, but I don't think I've ever really experienced it. I don't think it's a part of our culture anymore, at least not with the people I interact with. Well, except with my boyfriend, which I took as chivalry and cute, but then again, he is american. And he goes through it with a smile every time I hold it up for him.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
That's interesting -- I have a (female) friend in London who says ze's never had the courtesy refused, so it may be an American thing, or possibly a southeast American thing (I haven't tried it in other parts of the states).

yeah! I can appreciate people being kind to me too, as long as they'll let me return their kindness! ;-)
Raven
ladywind ══╣Raven╠══
For what it's worth: In Wyoming, at least the parts I and my mom have experienced of it (Kemmerer, Evanston, Caspar, Rawlins), it was expected that whoever got to a door first--male or female--opened and held it. Respect and courtesy are beautiful necessary things out there; wasting time and resources with artificial "That's not for women" thoughts is not.
vilturj - queen karijiana
moonvoice ══╣vilturj - queen karijiana╠══
Maybe it's a Western Australian thing, but I've NEVER had a guy try and take the door from me. Of any age. Ever. Even ones that I've known are actually quite gender biased in other areas.

And I hold the door for people all the time. I get the door for Glen 95% of the time in our relationship; I'm just a quicker walker, and we're used to it.

I don't know why this is. I've been doing it since I was a kid. And a kid opening doors for adults is always viewed with sweet acceptance where I come from. Like 'aw, thank you dear, that's so kind!'

I don't mind when guys open doors for me, or say 'after you.' And I'm glad I've never really had guys make a big deal out of it when I do it for them.

If I lived in a place where the gender bias was so multi-generational and pervasive as what you've just described (it probably is in WA, we're mostly a rural state; but it must express itself in different ways), I'd probably just do what I've always done - insist, say I don't mind. I wouldn't even bring gender into it. Once you say 'you don't mind,' the burden of bringing gender into it in a blatant verbal way falls to the other person; and if they choose to bring gender into it, I'd just say 'it's not about my boobs, I got to the door first.'

Where are you from that this happens to you so much?
oceanid ══╣╠══
Hmm, I haven't really noticed a difference between men and women holding doors open for each other, usually I always thought it was whoever was there first or had their arms free. I'll hold the door open for people if I'm the first there, both female and male, I don't remember ever being refused unless the person was waiting for their friend who was lagging behind. Perhaps this is an Australian thing?

Interesting tho, now that I think about it, I would feel a bit strange if someone turned down my act of politeness, irregardless of their gender.
finding_helena ══╣╠══
I'm American and my experience has been similar to this.
Mona Lisa is on break.
xochitl ══╣Mona Lisa is on break.╠══
Me too; I just thought it was a southern thing- regardless of gender, you don't let a door close in someone's face!
cacophonesque ══╣╠══
If I get to the door first, and I have available hands, I'll hold the door for other people. Usually this is ok. However, some guys really do respond with a great deal of confusion. I can see that they can't quite figure out what to do. One time, I noticed that my manager was on his way with both of his hands full, so I waited and held the door. He tried to tell me that it was ok and he had it. I pointed out that both of his hands were full, and I already had it.
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
I could have written the middle paragraph of this post myself. My experiences holding the door open for men have been identical. Well, other than the fact that there are certainly some men - a majority, even, among the younger ones - who will accept the courtesy and walk through the first time I offer. But there are also a lot who react in exactly the ways you described.
poppetawoppet ══╣╠══
OOOOOO I hate when this happens. I was taught to hold doors open and.....

what a great commentary
saturnsdaughter ══╣╠══
I've never had this happen before. But after thinking about it, I've realized that on my campus we have an established pattern that basically negates the problem. Whoever gets to the door first will usually walk through, but stay and wait for the next person to grab onto the door before they keep going.
jesuisgringoire ══╣╠══
ditto at my school. it's such an ingrained pattern I once saw someone post an angry thread on a school forum because he had seen someone just let the door shut instead of holding it for somebody. I'm not sure gender was a factor at all on campus.
Flowers
aerialmelodies ══╣Flowers╠══
I understand people wanting to be nice and cherish the thought, but I've never understood why males have to be the nice ones while females get a free ride through the door. After all, if I arrive first, is it not polite for me to then hold open the door for others behind me? Though I've not had odd stares from women personally - usually a bit of surprise, though it seems more of a surprise that someone is doing something nice rather than shocked that a girl is there holding the door instead of a guy. Sorry, I can't make myself a prince charming here. I'm southern, and we're nice, so why can't I humble myself and catch the door once in awhile, right? :)

I have no issue telling people (typically males) who request to take the door from me "It's okay, I can hold it for you." I've only encountered a few males who insist and since it's not worth arguing over, I give in after a moment. To be fair to those males, though, I've watched them take the door from other male friends as well, though it does happen far more often if it's a female holding open the door. I don't think saying something is out of line at all, honestly!

Story Time: This entire entry made me first think of one person: Ryan. He holds the door for everyone, but it was interesting to watch and break the habit of trying to get the car door for me. Once in a while it feels generous and special, but daily made me frustrated until I finally had to ask if women were allowed to get the door themselves. Every so often I'm okay with the kind gesture, but I'm glad he doesn't do it all the time. It felt so weird!
scapegoat ══╣╠══
I feel you on this one! I do the same thing and it irks me when people just don't go. Haha.
jesuisgringoire ══╣╠══
oh, door holding. I've encountered much awkwardness with this since I moved in with two folks who are usually either on crutches or in a chair when said door is being held. well, forget the chair, there's nothing to talk about there, but door awkwardness with the female friend on crutches started almost immediately.

she picked me up at the train station and knew where she was going. I did not, and was carrying three pieces of luggage, so at one point in front of a large crowd of people she got the door for herself. the immediate response from a man right next to me was "pft, typical!" he couldn't possibly have had less respect for me. I became extremely self conscious about being sure to hold the door for her if at all possible in all circumstances. issue being...she didn't particularly care if the door was held, could manage just fine on her own, and I think she was actively annoyed if I went way out of my way to get it for her, though she was kind enough not to make a big deal out of it once she realized how uncomfortable I was.

I was sort of constantly wondering if I was being ableist and/or sexist by prioritizing other people's opinion of me (i.e. not having random strangers bitch at me like they know either of us), and it seemed generally somewhat selfish to put my desire to be seen as a door-getter over her preference for just-treat-me-like-anyone-else...but the embarrassment from that initial comment from an onlooker won out and I opened doors for her at every chance from then on.
jesuisgringoire ══╣╠══
though I have to say that if I went out en femme (I'd have to be drugged, I'd kill to pass but I'm embarrassed to try in front of so much as a mirror) and a man went out of his way to hold the door for me, I would just about die with joy. I guess I'd have the same reaction if it somehow had the connotation of gay chivalry and I was just being a guy.

I don't think I'd even notice if a woman got the door for me beyond saying thanks. it's kinda surreal people freak out about that with you.
shadowwolf13 ══╣╠══
Occasionally an older gentleman will insist that he hold the door open for me but for the most part the first person there holds the door open. That's in Tx though, don't know about other states. And typically I let my husband hold the door for me because he enjoys it. :)
in48frames ══╣╠══
I have never had that experience! I witness a lot of rushing through doors at my train station, and I find that the people with manners will push the door all the way open and either go on their way or wait for the next person to push against the door to walk away. Either way, the door usually stays open for the next person close behind. The unmannered people simply squeeze through an already available space, leaving the door to shut in the face of the person behind. I'll stop and hold the door if I see someone in a wheelchair or with their hands full.
hands_cupped ══╣╠══
I'm personally at a point where I am afraid to open the door for male people because I am so anxious about how they will react. I don't let that stop me, of course, but my heart always speeds up a little (then again, I have anxiety issues in general). It's just sad in the first place that I live in a world where I'm so anxious and cognizant about this sort of thing, because certain behaviors are SO gender-stereotyped that it's almost automatically going to cause an immediate confusion or confrontation.

thanks for posting this. My response has typically been: "Oh, no, I'm fine! You go ahead." or "Oh, there's nothing wrong with me, I'm just being courteous :)" (or even simply "there's nothing wrong with me" in a sterner way).
hands_cupped ══╣╠══
Though I should add, actually, that I don't always get this response. It depends where I go, I guess.
baxaphobia ══╣╠══
Being blind, I've become paranoid of people holding doors for me. Sometimes they are held just long enough for me to get smacked in the face. Sometimes long enough for my dog to get smacked in the face. hahaha.
jenandbronze ══╣╠══
I am one of the few that dislike people holding the door for me when I have my guide dog, since he responsds hesitantly to my "Forward" command, since sometimes the door may be not quite still, and he worries the door is going to slam on us or something! I do hold the door for others, though.

Interesting thoughts... You have my vote for the uniqueness of the entry and excellent writing thoughts.
austentatious ══╣╠══
I like this post. :)

I hold the door when I can, and most of the time it isn't an issue. I've only had a few experiences where a guy will INSIST that I go in the door before him and make a deal out of it. Usually, though, guys will kind of come up behind me and take the door from me from that way, so that I am kind of forced to go in before them.
goddess_help_me ══╣╠══
It interests me, how an act that is essentially an act of service becomes in some cases an issue of power.

In some areas (I've lived there), women are considered weaker, powerless, and thus must have doors opened and held for them by stronger more powerful men in a gesture of psuedo-courtesy. And so, of course men cannot allow women to hold the door for them because it implies that they are weaker than a soft, weak woman. And then of course, the man must force the woman to let him serve her by holding the door. Ridiculous games. Gotta love 'em.

Where I am now, it's a matter of true courtesy to hold the door if you get there first, or if someone you are with has their hands full or is actualy incapable of holding the door for some reason. If a healthy capapbel woman were to stand and wait for someone to hold the door for her, she'd get dirty looks.

A much less empty gesture.
onda_bianca ══╣╠══
Hmmm...I suppose I'm just old fashioned in that I most always expect the courtesy from a male.

I do try to hold the door for older people, and the older men generally don't allow it (even as they are hobbling).
java_fiend ══╣╠══
Personally, I will always make sure I get to a door first to open it for a lady... It's just the right thing to do as far as I'm concerned. I think it's being a gentleman and treating a lady as she should be treated... with courtesy and respect. But that's just me. :-) Interesting take on the prompt though. Really interesting.
LJ Idol - Cookies and Votes
roina_arwen ══╣LJ Idol - Cookies and Votes╠══
Gah - so true! Since I'm only 5' tall, I get a lot of guys who hold the door for me in such a way that it forces me to walk under their arm... I *hate* that, LOL!

Nicely written, and good points all. :)
intrepia ══╣╠══
I totally want to try this experiment for myself now!
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
It's strange but this has rarely come up as an issue for me. I hold the door open for men, women, children, whoever and they almost always just smile and/or say thank you.

Where I live, people just hold doors open for each other. It's generally whoever gets there first. Sometimes it evolves into the door holding line, where the first person holds the door for the next as they walk through, the next catches it and holds it for the next, then they catch it etc.

It might be that I live in a fairly politically minded, progressive town. It's a little surprising to me that men make such a big deal of women opening doors for them, actually, simply because it's almost never happened to me.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.