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Monday, March 27, 2006 

A quaint act of an obsolete age?

It is sometimes difficult to adapt to how the modern world functions in the face of what we were taught as children. For me, as a guy, one of the biggest obstacles is whether I should still attempt to incorporate chivalry (in its modern form) into my daily behaviour. Has women’s equality negated the need for me to be chivalrous? It honestly seems that our attempts can be interpreted as an effort to assert superiority and to return women to an inferior position in our society. I visited a client in Sandston this morning. As I stepped though the front doors of the building, I noticed from the reflection in the glass doors, a young women, of around my age, a few steps behind me. I stepped through the doors, and without giving it much thought, held it open in order for her to walk through as well. With her being so close, I thought I would be rude to let it close behind me, but most of all it just seemed like the polite thing to do. As we arrived at the security check point, she looked over to me and said, “There was really no need for you to do that, you know. I may be a woman, but I am perfectly capable of opening the door myself” My first thought was, “Could she be high at this hour of the morning?”, quickly followed by, “Isn’t 2006 a bit late to be burning your bra?” I smiled at her, shook my head and looked away. I was in fact genuinely offended by what she had just said to me. And before I knew it, the SOB who lurks inside me said, “I am sorry, miss, if my behaviour implied anything of the sort. Holding the door open was merely an act of kindness, and good manners. It had little to do with you being a woman, and more to do with you being a human being. I reserve the right to open the door for whoever’s behind me. Many people have done the same for me, and do you know what I say when they do? I say, Thank you. You are welcome to use it in anyway you choose, and thank you for enlightening me on the matter”. However, this post is not about how I managed to respond to her or why I, or anybody else for that matter, should continue to defend what obviously seems to be a retro custom. I would however like to know, how such a simple deed of unpretentious courtesy could be construed as an act of humiliation. Why is it ok for her to choose to be offended by me, but not ok for me to choose what I believe to be the right thing to do? Now I know this young woman’s reaction is probably an extreme case of post-modern feminism gone awry. Surely she would have the presence of mind to know that her autonomy as a woman or her humanity cannot be threatened by a man keeping a door open in the anticipation of her arrival? The other thing that really bothers me is, “How do I, of all people, end up in these situations?”

I spot another Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan -- mentioned it in my weblog with a post on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy cultural references

Daedalus: I am an avid DA-fan.
Thanks for the link.

Well, you end up in these situations because you are a sensitive guy.

And your fierce young woman ends up in these situations because she is a struggling and sensitive woman.

And no, it's not fair; you can open doors for me anytime, and I will do the same for you.

We are all just learning here on the playground. Don't take the misunderstandings to heart.

i really don't understand feminism sometimes. men and woman are different. there are some things that we are equal in, and there are some where we aren't.
being forced to be equal in absolutely everything is stupid. i know many women who would hate to have to use the same public toilets as men (as an arb, easy example), and i'd hate to have to wear a bra just to be equal (and most women really do need to wear a bra and not because they need to look pretty but for support and maintanence issues).
acting kindly to the fairer sex (note: not weaker) is simply that: kindness. hell... most of us keep the door open if its a guy or a girl. its got nothing to do with feminism. its just common sense / not being a complete bastard.
i'm sure any feminist reading this right now is thinking "stupid male twit," but guess what: i don't care :)
besides, if you really want true equality then you're saying that women cannot be raped by men. in this country forced sodomy is not rape but sexual assault so men cannot be raped by another man (which is a stupid way of looking at it, but that's the truth). true equality would say women are not weaker than men and therefor if a man cannot rape another man then a man cannot rape a woman.
thats an absurd example that no feminist would rally for, but it is the logical extrapolation of the argument.
(what should really be done is changing the law so that sodomy can constitute rape, but that's another arguement).
erm... thats about all i have to say.
sorry about the rant but people should treat each other as people. its not all about the gender wars and if thats all you can see then maybe there's something wrong with you.

I can't imagine being threaghtened by a man who opens doors for me. My husband will still open the passenger door for me and my dad does it for my mom. I am an independent woman, with a great career and a group of my own friends and activities. I take care of him and he takes care of me - isn't that how the world is meant to work??

maybe opening doors for women in the sense of being gentlemen can be seen as retro. but only in that context. because i open doors for men all the time. equal in the sense that i would do to you as you would do to me; not that we should all be wearing the same uniform and behaving exactly the same, of course we are different, men and women. but i agree that opening doors is done in respect of another human being. i get well pissed off when i am approaching a door, and the person in front of me practically slams it in my face because they can't be bother to hold it. this is not retro, it is known as good manners, and i am happy to know that some people like you still possess that skill! ;) as for the ungrateful cow - she is not going far with an attitude like that.

have you considered this? she might have had PMS. If you don't know what it means, ask your girlfriend! ;)

If I'm going through a door, I nearly always look behind to see if there's anyone who is also going to go through the door. If there is and they're a reasonable distance away, I hold it open for them to come through behind me. I do that for men and women.

I consider this courteous, not chivalrous. No-one likes having a door slammed in their face.

i really don't know how chivalry can be misconstrued as an act of superiority. i think chivalry is an asset for any guy, it's just about good manners, thats all.
it's simple courtesy to open the door for anyone and its got nothing to do with gender wars. it's surprising that women feel threatened by such acts; most women appreciate thoughtfulness.

A few things:

First, chivalry is a gender specific term. Sure, I know, people will cry semantics, but no, within a society where social constructs dictate we must deconstruct the layers. So if it is your intent to simply be courtesy then that is your intent, whether to a male or female. You have set it up as a gender issue when you assign chivalry to the act. Chivalry was the conduct of knights, gentlemen, and all that knighthood business. I am certain someone can dig up a reference to a few female knights but the bottom line is, it is a male dominated word and it implies that the female is a delicate damsel needing a knight to rescue her. Therefore, what I am saying is, if you become more in tuned with humanism terms versus male/female terms, you may slowly remove any doubts about the motives that drive your actions.

Second, when I am completely innocent, meaning, I know for a fact that I did not demonstrate a malicious intent I remind myself that intercourse between two people is an 80/20 deal. Seeing that you did not say anything to her, means her response had to do with her thought and emotional process 80% of it. The other 20% came from you, but mostly because you were the springboard. It works the other way around if it had been you responding. Which is what you are doing now, your self-reflection. Where you are coming from is 80% you and only has 20% to do with her reactions. In other words, her responses are about her, not you. But your reflection afterwards and your response during is about you not her.

I guess what I am saying is, if someone does or says something that does not quite make sense to you, just let it go, because it is about them.

I think the PMS comment above is sexist and dismisses any regard or valid point a woman may have.

i think you're overanalysing moksha.
chilvalry may have been a gender thing in the past but, as with most things since the feminist movement, it has become neutral in its meaning.
looking at the world through sex-coloured glasses will always result in finding a gender issue, just like patterns appearing in static if you stare at it long enough.
sometimes a person's reason for doing something is: "just because."
as for the pms comment: lighten up... it was a joke, made by a woman (not that that should make a difference).

And misogynists with bullying characteristics usually resort to telling women with a thought process to lighten up or the ever so “you are being too sensitive.”

Yes, women can be sexists. Biology does assure a anti-sexist default mechanism. It is called falling under the patriarchal umbrella.

As far as the language, we need to deconstruct gender connotations if we wish to construct more harmonious relationships between the genders.

That should be:

Biology does not assure an anti-sexist default mechanism.

nice underhanded insult there moksha.
its nice to see that you can carry out a discussion without resorting to namecalling or using the good old argumentative fallacy of "guilty by association."

but we're all allowed our own opinions and interpretations.

:insert smile here so I can get away with being nasty:

Look in the mirror Zenny old pal. You opened up the name calling when you attempted to diminished my comment. So take it for what its worth. Perhaps you can learn to criticize someone’s opinion without the need to render it valueless. It is always a power struggle with the ones that need ego stroking.

:inserting smile again:

*zenstar checks previous comment*
there's definitely no name calling in that comment.
all i did was suggest that prehaps you are overanalysing things and maybe you should take things less seriously.
if discussing things like an adult results in namecalling then i really think you are taking it too seriously.
never once did i suggest your opinion was valueless... i just offered a differing opinion without calling you names.
you claim to be a philosopher of life (or something like that) on you blog, yet you really cannot hold a philisophical discussion.
you do not adress any of my points but in stead respond with namecalling.
when i point this out to you, you respond with untruths and then claim that i'm trying to diminish your opinion.
the only person diminishing your side of the discussion is you. if you argue with falacies and namecalling then your argument seems less plausible.
i don't need my ego stroked thank you very much.
keep whatever opinion you hold but also realise that other opinions may be valid.
just because i don't hold your opinion doesn't mean i hold a directly contrasting opinion.
but if you're going to resort to insults and namecalling then your side of the discussion really does become worthless.

perhaps moksha does not understand that namecalling actually involves the calling of, you know, names. Like bully. Like misogynist.

Moksha says "Perhaps you can learn to criticize someone’s opinion without the need to render it valueless". Well, moksha, maybe you need to reread a few of your own 'criticisms' like the very next sentence: "It is always a power struggle with the ones that need ego stroking" and think about what you were trying to accomplish with that one. Is dismissing someone's argument as a power struggle from someone needing ego stroking not devaluing it? Just a thought.

Anyway, you may want to think a little harder about the way you attack people you don't know. Allow me to clarify: I known Zenstar in RL, and he has never oppressed me or any other woman i know in any way, shape or form. yes, he opens the door for me. I open the door for him too. It's a little thing we humans like to call manners, and doesn't really need to be remarked upon in any sexist way. politeness doesn't come with a sex pre-requisite.

But really, let's be honest here. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that moksha's arguments look much more like a man pretending to be a woman and trolling for a response, chuckling at his keyboard at how he's got the guys all riled up with his 'feminism'. Because, really, real women aren't this cliched about it, are they? I mean, no one actually uses the word 'waitron', right? That's just stuff they make up to make feminists look crazy.

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