Friday, October 16, 2009

The Importance of a Door

My world lit professor, as most days, was confused today. He was trying to figure out whether opening a door for a lady was nice or rude. (I’m not sure why we talk about these things in that class…) He acknowledged that most women don’t need the door held for them, they are quite able to open and pass through it themselves, but that some women like for men to hold the door for them. He never really came to a conclusion, but thought it was some kind of fake politeness to hold a door open for someone else.

Well, gentlemen of the world, here is what I say: Hold the door open. As often as you can, especially for women. It’s true, we are quite able to open a door, but that’s not the point. The point is to show you recognize us as women and that you want to help us out in any way you can (“Oh, look, there’s a closed door, and it looks like she’s going to be going through it soon.”) and make our day that much easier and better. The simple act of holding open a door says a lot more than “I don’t think you can open this door by yourself.” It says that women deserve good treatment and that men are in a position that is able to provide that. It says that I will do something nice for you, even though I may not even know who you are, and sacrifice a little of my time for you. Overall, it says that women are special and that merits special actions.

I know that being in the South this door-holding thing can be more of a habit than anything else, but that still doesn’t take much away from what it means. If a guy holds a door open out of habit, then a genuine smile and thank you may make him realize what it is he is doing and why. If he is just doing it from “fake politeness”, well that is his problem, and nothing the woman should be concerned about.

We, as women, need to respond to their kindness. It is so important for women to appreciate what men do for us. Men are confused (as my professor is) as to what to do. Saying “thank you” and not “I can open the door myself”, gives approval and they are more likely to do it again. They also may be more likely to do other nice things for women because he’ll think, maybe women actually like it when people do nice things for them (which is true).

I have a friend who is constantly opening doors, and doing other “chivalrous” things. It used to bug me, a lot. I remember one night as he was dropping me and my friend off, he insisted on walking us to our dorm, which was a good 100 yards away. I said, “thanks for the offer, but we got it. It’s well-lit and there are police around. We will be fine.” He didn’t take no for an answer and the entire walk there, we were complaining about how he really didn’t need to do this. I realized later that this (along with everything else he does) is his way of showing us love, and that we were blocking that love by telling him we didn’t want it. Women need to be just as mindful of their actions as men.

It doesn’t take much. Men being aware of the needs (yes, needs. I think a women needs to be shown kindness from men) of the women he’s around, and acting on it. Women responding with gratitude for anything a man does for us. It’s the simple things that can change a society and I think this is a good place to start.

Thank you for holding the door open for me.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this post. Back home I would try to always hold the door for girls, among many other chivalrous things (though they're not common back there neither, gender ideology is messing the WHOLE world up...) but when I got here I wasn't really sure if it was ok or if it would seem weird. I haven't had negative reactions to this day though some girls look at me with surprise or confusion when I do it... And I still feel really awkward when doing things like that because I'm not sure what kind of reaction to expect...