On Opening Doors

"Amazing Mechanical Doorman"

“Amazing Mechanical Doorman” advertisement for The Close-A-Door Company! February 1931, Popular Science. Image courtesy of Todd Ehlers on Flickr.com

Rant Alert:

I am currently at a national academic conference with a coterie of faculty, administrators, and graduate students from our university.  During lunch yesterday, one of the graduate students, a man in his mid-20s, and I had a conversation that made me both sad and angry.  He shared with me that he has been yelled at by women when he opened the door for them.  He was scathingly told that they could do it themselves and didn’t need a man to open the door for them.  He said that he generally responds that he views it as common courtesy and that he opens doors for men, too.  But, as we were talking, I could tell that he was genuinely discouraged by the frequent tongue-lashing.  As a man of his generation, he feels like he is caught in a no-win situation.

I told him that being a feminist did not mean we couldn’t accept the gift of an opened door.  It also doesn’t mean that we have to do everything ourselves and do it all alone and that those women who scolded him must have been terribly constipated those days to have reacted the way they did.

I consider myself a feminist.  I have an amazing career as a homemaker that I absolutely love and find completely fulfilling.  And, oh, yes, I also happen to have a second job as a university administrator where I am well respected.  In both of my jobs I get to make a difference in people’s lives.

This isn’t a feminist thing.  I don’t even see this as a generational thing.  This is a common courtesy thing.  I have no expectation that a man will open a door for me but I gratefully thank anyone who opens a door for me or helps me out in one way or another.

Because thanking someone for a bit of kindness is the right thing to do.  And perhaps if we start being grateful for each others’ little acts of kindness then more and more of them will be performed and, oh, I don’t know, the world will be a better place.

Rant over.


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Dr. Julie-Ann

I'm Dr. Julie-Ann, living life in its Technicolor finest by channeling my Grandma, Donna Reed, and June Cleaver with a bit of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly glamour thrown in for good measure, too. I work outside of the home full-time as a university administrator but I nourish my soul and find my greatest happiness by trying to be the "perfect" 1950s homemaker.

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    I have not heard of this kind of experience since the 1970s when feminism was blossoming. I remember seeing a young woman struggling to enter a building with a stroller screeching at a man for holding the door. Ridiculous! The point is that we should all help one another — men and women alike. And there are times when we can’t do it alone — whatever it is. We are meant to help one another.
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  2. 3

    Christine says

    I agree. While I don’t expect a man to open a door for me, I appreciate every one who does. And I am quick to give them a warm “Thank You!” I consider myself a feminist–I am a professional woman who thinks women should strive for every opportunity possible–but I hope I am also courteous. And, frankly, any woman who would screech at a man who is showing a courtesy to her is just plain rude.