Should Men Open Doors For Women?


Dr. Helen posted a letter from one of her readers who has grown frustrated with chivalry.

I work for a small software company in Austin, Texas. I am 58. We have a young intern, perhaps 25, from Germany. I was introduced to her once two weeks ago, but we have not worked together and so I have not really spoken with her since.

This morning we happened to be on the elevator together as we arrived at work. When arrived at our floor, I pushed the button to hold the elevator doors open as she walked out. She walked to the card reader that unlocks the entrance and swiped her card. I opened the door when I heard it unlock and held it for her as she stepped through. She actually laughed at me. And not in a good way. I had plenty to do and she is the darling of the CEO who is a woman, so I just got some coffee, went to my desk, and started my work. Elsewhere, I would have said something.

The funny thing is that because of incidents similar to this and worse, I’ve sworn off opening doors for unencumbered, able-bodied women that I don’t know. (I open doors for encumbered or infirm people regardless of gender or acquaintance or if it just makes physical sense.) In this case, I opened her door a) because she is a co-worker, and b) because she went to the card reader first and it would have been rude to just stand there.

On one hand, I want to ask all members of the XX crowd to get together and jot a note or two to tell the XY crowd how these things should work. Really, it can’t be that hard…..

Not every woman appreciates chivalry. There are man-hating feminists who get on their high horse about it. Additionally, because of a decline in the quality of our culture, some women just haven’t been exposed to chivalry and don’t understand the value of it. Pulling out chairs, opening doors, standing so a woman can sit on a crowded subway car, etc. aren’t important so much because of the action, but because of the mentality it reflects. It’s another way of saying, “I embrace a certain code of honor where women are concerned.” Some men don’t bother with it, which is understandable. Others think women see it as a sign of weakness, which isn’t true.

Personally, I consider chivalry to be a “best practice” and the right thing to do. Since that’s the case, if some foolish woman doesn’t appreciate it, that’s her loss, but she doesn’t get the privilege of impacting how I behave on a day-to-day basis. I also make a habit of talking to people when I’m waiting in line in order to practice my people skills and keep a friendly, outgoing personality. If someone happens to be standoffish or rude, then that’s his problem, not mine. I’m not going to change my day-to-day behavior because I run into someone who got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

So, if you think chivalry is the right way to go as I do, be chivalrous and don’t worry about the reaction of the occasional person who probably wouldn’t even be worth getting to know anyway.

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