Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Can't I Hold the Door

Dear Men of New York City (and Minneapolis),
Why do you get angry when I hold open a door for you?
Does it somehow insult your masculinity?

I have noticed for a while now that men do not like it when I hold open doors for them. I don't even think about it, it is just something that I do. If someone behind me has a very large package in their hand, I will hold the door open for them since I know it will be difficult for them to reach the knob. If someone is going out the same door I am entering I will sometimes hold the door open for them. If I am going in the same door as another person behind me I will sometimes hold the door open or give it an extra push so it won't close before they get inside. I do this automatically because I have been trained to be a polite person, and plenty of people (men usually) do this for me. Women always seem grateful and thank me.

Men however, seem to not like this, in fact sometimes it seems to anger them and they will refuse to go through the open door. Which is silly, because not only does it waste their time, it wastes my time. Today I tried to open a door for a man at work because he had been about to exit just as I was entering, so I pulled the door open and stepped aside to let him go first. He just stood there staring at me like I was nuts. So I motioned with my hand for him to go. He finally said, angrily, "After you." If he would have just taken my gesture of politeness it would have saved us both sixty seconds of our lives. Or another time a man behind me walking into the post office was carrying a stack of packages so high it was covering his face, he could barely move, so I went ahead and pulled open the door to hold it for him. He said "No, I will get that for you." And then really strained himself to grab the knob from me and rearrange himself so he would be holding the door open for me, and all his boxes nearly tumbled to the ground. Or sometimes I will hold a door open for a man at a restaurant and he will say "No, I should be holding that open for you!" And they will trade places with me. It seems like men over 35 in particular find this to be weird or possibly offensive to them.

I do things like that without thinking of gender, like they just qualify as being a nice person. I don't think that solely women should have doors held open for them, because men sometimes need a hand as well. I don't understand, it's like some men think I am changing gender roles and treating them like a helpless woman. Really, just accept my door holding and exit please, it will save us both time.

I mean I think the whole "hold open a door for a woman, pull out a chair for a woman, carry bags for a woman, give up my seat on the bus to a woman" chivalrous mindset some men have is a nice gesture, but so unnecessary. I can be appreciative of it occasionally, but it can get to be a bit much. Just because I have a uterus and you don't don't mean I need to sit down while you stand, really only the elderly, pregnant, and injured need such gestures. Why can't polite gestures be for everyone, not just women?

(On a side note, when it comes to things like giving directions to strangers, swiping strangers on to the metro line, giving change, etc. I only do those things to women, probably because it involves social interaction, if a man is asking where a street is, I will ignore him. As a rule, if I ever hear a man trying to get my attention, I walk faster, even if I hear my name being said. Holding open a door is sort of something I just do before I have time to think.)

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