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February 20, 2008

Of holding doors and carrying heavy things


Please discuss:

What do we think about the idea of going on a date with someone* who makes a good point of bringing up within his first few e-mails that he "believes in" opening doors for women? Now, I'm not against the actual action. I think holding doors is polite. (I generally think whoever is at the door first should hold it, regardless of gender, actually.) But what seems weird to me is making a big point of it. What is that supposed to convey, exactly? That he's very proud of his manners? That he thinks women need (or want) to be taken care of? That he thinks women should stay in their place? Is it a test to see if I'm one of those crazy feminists who will object to such actions? Hmm. (Honestly, I'm not as fixated on this one statement as it might seem; it just got me thinking and I thought it could be an interesting discussion.)

Sort of related: The other day I was walking with a male friend and he was carrying something slightly heavy that we had purchased for joint use. (Okay, I guess technically he had purchased it. It was a $4 thing of cat litter for use in getting our cars unstuck on my icy driveway.) Part of the way home I offered to carry it for a while, and he said it was fine, and then we both laughed as we realized that we both knew that I felt like I should offer but actually would rather he carry the heavy thing, and I think we were both okay with that.

I'm not sure exactly what my point is with the second story - I guess that it seemed like a more okay version of the "chivalry" thing without making a big point of it.

* This is a theoretical question at this point, because I've pretty much decided not to go out with the person, for other reasons. But I'm still curious as to thoughts on this issue.

Posted by Kat at February 20, 2008 09:16 AM

I don't know what it is supposed to convey. I admit it makes me look at it funny. It could be any of the possibilities you raise, or it could just be that the guy is weird, or awkward, or had it on his mind for some reason. Maybe he had someone yell at him today for opening the door for her. Or maybe he failed to open a door and felt really bad about it. I'd be wary of making a judgment based on that, alone & if you were inclined to get to know this guy, I'd love to know what that was about, eventually.

I think you can't discount the possibility that sometimes people say stupid things - maybe he's off with his friends all "what on earth made me say THAT?" right now... :)

Posted by: kate at February 20, 2008 11:55 AM

I think he was bragging about being an old-fashioned, well-mannered guy. "A guy who believes in opening doors for women" is pretty much a catchphrase, IMO, for "an old-fashioned guy with good manners". He was trying to impress you with his chivalrous niceness.

BTW he sounds like my BIL. He is JUST the kind of guy who would bring that up in conversation. The guy doesn't happen to be divorced and living in Georgia, does he?

Posted by: Rachel at February 20, 2008 11:57 AM

I'm with Rachel. I think he's just letting you know he's an old-fashioned guy, rather than a misogynistic cad. Of course, I'd rather he show me than tell me about it. I wouldn't throw him back in the pool just for that, though. If everything else lined up, I'd say "great, he's a gentleman" and give it a shot. Time would prove whether he's just a nice guy or whether it's code for "and I will expect to control your every thought and action for all eternity".

Posted by: Jeanne B. at February 20, 2008 05:23 PM

He could be saying what he thinks women want to hear. He could be basing this on previous experience. Who knows what he is really like till you actually get to know him and stuff. We've always told our boys to open the door for others (not just women either, if someone is coming - hold the door for them type thing). Unless it's a heavy door :P

Posted by: aisling at February 21, 2008 10:04 AM

Either way, sounds like he is trying to make a good impression, if awkwardly. I think maybe he likes you :)

Posted by: Jennifer at February 21, 2008 12:43 PM

OK. I'm a lot older than you - so that may color my response. I agree that if it's just a couple of folks going in the same direction, whoever gets to the door first should open it for the other, or at least hold it open and "pass" it to the next person (largely depending on how close you are to each other). I will wait a little extra time and hold it open for the elderly or handicapped, or adult with kid in a stroller, or adult with hands full. But on a date, I think it's a sign of manners and respect that the man hold the door open for the lady. I do draw the line occasionally depending on the situation - I once had a boyfriend who insisted on opening my car door, both getting in and getting out. So I sat in the car while he ran around to open the door. :(
As far as carrying heavy things, I'll offer to split it (if it can be split, like 2 shopping bags), but it's nice if the guy carries it. **Usually** men are stronger than women, and it is more of a burden for us to carry than for them to carry. Also depends on weather, general physical condition, etc.
Clear as mud, huh?
Anyway, I don't think the guy's comment is enough to rule him out - and glad that that was not your deciding factor. I'm sure he's had some women who give him a hard time for opening doors - he probably wanted to get that out there, not as a 'trick' but so you know what you're up against. Perhaps to give *you* the opportunity to decide you don't want to date a guy with such antiquated manners....

Posted by: Amy at February 21, 2008 05:51 PM

Is he southern? Cause my husband was like that to the extreme when we first met. He wouldn't let me do ANYTHING. I quickly broke him of that. But it was hard for him to let go..

Posted by: Bookish Wendy at February 21, 2008 09:27 PM
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