Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Politics of Holding Doors

A lot of people don't really understand why I don't usually like it when guys hold the door for me. They think I'm being overly sensitive, that they're just being nice. I know that, most of the time, they're only following gender roles.

Let's get this whole thing straightened out once and for all. Holding the door for someone who is right behind you is fine. That said, if I hold the door for the person behind me, I expect that person to go through the goddamn door. I can't stand it when the person behind me happens to me a man, and he just gets all nervous and insists I go through first while he holds the door for me. I have to wonder, is it really that emasculating to let a woman hold a door for you?

I also hate when a guy rushes ahead of me to get the door, just so he can be a gentleman. Sorry, but it's not polite to treat me like some frail being who can't push a door open by herself (it's one thing if I'm carrying a fuckton of luggage or something, but this usually happens when I'm completely unburdened).

Finally, I get annoyed when a guy stops to hold the door for me even though I'm still 50 fucking feet away from the door. Great, now I feel like I have to hurry up, or I'll feel guilty for taking up so much of his time. Really, I don't need that much kindness, go ahead with your day, seriously, I can handle the damn door myself.

Let's examine the gender dynamic, shall we? Guys rarely hold the door for other guys, women rarely do it for other women, and most men shudder at the very idea of letting a woman hold a door for them. Door holding is almost always a gesture done by men for women, and it sets up a power dynamic. Holding a door for a woman does not give her power, but rather puts her in a subordinate position where she's being taken care of; the guy is doing the muscle work.

If a guy is just trying to be nice, that's great, and that's usually only the case when he happens to get there first, I'm right behind him, and he lets me get the second door if there is one. If he's just trying to "be the man" in the situation, or prove his manhood, I get a little pissed off.

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