Saturday, May 26, 2007


For some reason, I have been thinking about having doors opened for me. Every so often, I find myself in an awkward situation.

In some cases, I am opening a door for a man and he is completely thrown off by my actions. I don't think about the "rules of chivalry" calling for the opposite unless the man is clearly feeling awkward. Otherwise, I just don't think about who opens a door for whom. I guess in my subconscious it's just the person with the easiest access to the door who opens it, and doors are only opened for others when it makes logistical sense. Otherwise, I think I operate under the assumption that everyone opens their own doors. Nor do I give much conscious thought to which gender proceeds through a doorway first. Again, it's a matter of happenstance and logistics.

I hold doors for folks behind me, and expect likewise, regardless of gender, if the distance between me and the other person would mean that someone would have a door closing in their face if it were not being held.

In other cases, I find myself feeling awkward when a stranger, or someone I have perhaps just been introduced to, opens a door for me. I do project onto these folks a sense of distance and condescension. This is not because I consciously believe that is what is intended. I am just so accustomed to doing my own thing, and I guess somewhere along the way, I have internalized a message that men holding doors for women is rooted in the belief that women need such assistance.

The exception to all of this is that my husband holds doors for me, especially if we are out by ourselves on anything resembling a date. I have to think hard about it, but I am pretty sure my father holds doors for me too.

So here is my conclusion: I am uncomfortable with people holding doors for me unless the person is my husband or father. I think this is mostly because this is what I am used to, and so now, holding a door open feels to me like an intimate action.

Otherwise, I don't want doors opened or held for me unless it would be rude not to hold the door. I don't like anyone else going out of their way to open a door for me- it just doesn't feel right.

I have never had conscious thought about this until recently, and I can't even remember what sparked this. It's not that I have consciously made decisions based on "women's lib" conversations that pre-date me. I think it's just the sense I developed without giving it much thought (until now).

I wonder what the rest of the world thinks about such things (or if it is worth any brain power at all!)


  1. I appreciate having doors held for me,but not if it requires me to stand there waiting. That feels weird.

    There have been a few times where I was walking with South African guys at camp and I got to the door first so I opened it and they look TOTALLY MORTIFIED. They have that stuff drilled into them, and it was almost like it hurt their feelings (or male pride). I got used to letting them get the doors most of the time, but doing it myself every so often just to even things out.

  2. I always hold the door for people who are close behind me.

    A lot of men hold doors for women here. It's the South. What can you say, except "Thank you!"

  3. This can be such an emotional thing for people. I generally hold doors open if I get there first. I'm happy to have doors held for me, as well.

    It may come from having many family members who are either Southern or military: it's part of the code. Along similar lines, I love to be ma'am-ed, but I know there are women who feel pretty hostile about that.

  4. Never bothered me particularly - but then I have been teaching my girls to open doors for people with kids in strollers, someone right behind them, and to say "thanks" when someone does it for them.

    However, if they open the door and stand there half blocking the door so I have to squeeze by them, yeah. that's too intimate.


  5. this is so funny because, having lived in the south (and then in Egypt) for a while, I find that now, anytime I am with a man in any capacity (friends, coworkers, etc--traveling, going out to eat, just leaving church...) I often stand at the door, waiting for him to open it for me. It's bizarre, but true. It doesn't matter who the man is or where we're going, but if we're together, I wait. It's weird. I never used to do that...

  6. I was the only female in my CPE group with several 3 South Africans and 1 Latin American - it became comical to watch all conversation and movement come to a halt at every doorway so that I could go through first - and I was clueless for the first week or so - couldn't figure out why everyone kept stopping. I share your thoughts about whoever is closer without their hands full - I'm very practical on the door stuff, but I did have to have a talk with all of the guys about either proceeding through the door as they reached it, or sometimes allowing me to get the door for them. They were very sweet about it. My dad still holds the door for me as do my husband and two boys - to which I smile and say thank you. However, sometimes it's awkward with strangers - for instance - at the Festival of Homies - on the elevator - men waiting for the women to get off of the elevator first - instead of just filing out front to back.