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November 13, 2005


By Ezra

Granted, the whole "if feminists get their way, who'll open doors for women!?" argument is riding the short bus from the very start and I should probably leave it alone, but one thing I've always wondered: I hold open the door for a lot of dudes. In fact, I basically hold open the door for anyone entering it less than five feet behind me. Now, that may be because the enormous power rippling out from my pectoral muscles and bulging forth in my biceps simply demands physical labor, but how would that change if women were equal? I'm clearly holding the door out of some odd motivation internal to me, not a deep-seated belief in womanly wimpitude. And do I unknowingly believe other men inferior? Is what the world needs now a masculinism movement to heal unequal power perceptions within the male community?

November 13, 2005 | Permalink


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» Holding the Door from Political Animal
HOLDING THE DOOR....Ezra Klein says he holds doors open for both men and women:In fact, I basically hold open the door for anyone entering it less than five feet behind me....I'm clearly holding the door out of some odd motivation... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 13, 2005 1:01:25 PM

» In Which We Re-Visit the 'Door Opening' Mythology from Rox Populi
Ah, kids. I wrote about this urban legend blogospheric eons ago. As a commenter pointed out here then, it's possible it has its origins in Marilyn Frye's essay, Oppression: "The door-opening pretends to be a helpful service, but the helpfulness [Read More]

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» Of doors and the holding of them from Pandagon
Why this topic holds such fascination is hard to say, but I am going to venture that it has a lot to do with the eternal semantic question of what is arbitrary and what is loaded with meaning--is holding a... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 13, 2005 7:10:54 PM

» Of doors and the holding of them from Pandagon
Why this topic holds such fascination is hard to say, but I am going to venture that it has a lot to do with the eternal semantic question of what is arbitrary and what is loaded with meaning--is holding a... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 13, 2005 7:11:58 PM

» from August J. Pollak - xoverboard.com
Newest comic - "Good knight and good luck" As if I would lie to you, the true story in question lies here, courtesy of a handful of blogs that focus on the daily vulgarities of gender bias to a level... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 14, 2005 7:20:36 AM


you open doors for people because it's polite.

i've done it for men and women.

the guys usually open the door for me if it's one of those two-door entryways into a building.

oddly enough, many women -- i'd say about 50 percent -- won't return the favor.

that's my experience. i'd like to read about the experience of others.

Posted by: harry near indy | Nov 13, 2005 11:11:55 AM

I try to hold doors at least enough so they don't slam back into whoever is behind me, man or woman. It is simple courtesy.

Posted by: Emma Zahn | Nov 13, 2005 11:20:36 AM

You do this, because you are secretly t3h Gay. I am sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, Ezra. But you must know.

Posted by: jonrog1 | Nov 13, 2005 11:40:16 AM

Agreed. Ezra's coming out, he wants the world to know/ Got to let it show....

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Nov 13, 2005 11:47:57 AM

Are you referring to holding the door for someone who's coming through behind you? The "chivalric" practice involves allowing someone who was behind you to go through first.

It occurs to me that a lot of the doors I come across in public nowadays are those doors that open by pushing and then close themselves by spring tension with some kind of damping so they don't slam themselves, as opposed to passive doors that have to be opened and closed by just rotating the door on its hinge. This may make a difference in what door etiquette is practical. Those "new" doors need holding so they don't close themselves in the next person's face, as Emma Zahn mentioned above.

Posted by: DonBoy | Nov 13, 2005 11:55:20 AM

Hmm. I live in the Pacific Northwest where we tend to be so polite it is scary. You hold the elevator door open, you hold the restroom door open because you don't want to project the image that maybe you not may be more intrinsically more important than the guy behind you. We don't even grasp the concept of the "New York Minute"

Oddly enough we manage to stay productive. And dare I say innovative. A good deal of New York and Phillie: "fuck off pal, I'm going places and don't have time for you" really boils down to East Coasters being assholes. With awesome pretzels and great pizza. It could be worse. You could be from Westwood, CA. Where that slice of pizza would cost you $13.50. But where you would have the off chance of eating your slice sitting by Kate Hudson.

Posted by: Bruce Webb | Nov 13, 2005 1:35:57 PM

I agree with Emma -- I hold the door open if there's someone coming relatively quickly behind me. It's just common courtesy, people. Frankly, I only look out of the very outside corner of my eye -- unless the person had really long blond hair I can't even tell if they're a man or woman.

The whole feminist/anti-feminist arguments surrounding opening doors strike me as ridiculous. It's time we get over it.

Posted by: Kate | Nov 13, 2005 2:13:34 PM

I hold the door open if someone's behind me; it doesn't matter who they are.

I remember teaching my son to hold the door open for ladies as it's "the gentlemanly thing to do," including opening car doors for ladies. Alas, his first real experience of holding the door open was at the theatre - he got stuck holding the door open for the entire audience exiting after the movie. (It started out with him holding the door open for his sister and me.) Not one man (or woman, for that matter) took over so he could in turn leave. I explained the way it was "supposed to work," but that experience showed him (and me) that too many people today don't have manners or are self-centered. Sad.

Posted by: Jackie | Nov 13, 2005 2:15:26 PM

DonBoy's right. What Ezra does isn't what's described as openign the door for a woman. The chivalric practice requires the man to open the door, hold it and have the woman walk through first.

Posted by: Abby | Nov 13, 2005 2:29:27 PM

I'm a woman, and I open doors for others all the time, because it's rude not to.

Posted by: Rebecca Allen, RN, PhD | Nov 13, 2005 2:35:52 PM

Precisely what Abby said. I was trained in the "old-school" gentlemanly practices by my grandmothers.

You open the door for ladies and allow them to preceed you into a room. When walking along the street with a lady, you take the side closest to traffic. When in formal or semi-formal dining situations...

Oh hell, I'm not going to go through the list. Mostly because it'll take too damn long.

But the one thing I got out of it, and has stuck with me ever since, is that the chivalric practices aren't about superiority of self or inferiority of others, contrary to what the "I can open my own door" crowd believes. It is simply about showing respect to your fellow humans, and particularly to the female half of the species.

For if one is without respect for those around them, how can one recieve respect from others?

Posted by: Off Colfax | Nov 13, 2005 3:39:35 PM

if no one decides to hold the door when a flood of people start walking by, i just conjure up a door-stop macgyver style and take off.

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 13, 2005 3:45:02 PM

Beyond the simple politeness of holding doors open for people, sometimes I open doors for women precisely because they are women, that is, the archetypal Woman....I think its some inner gratitude for who they are.

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Nov 13, 2005 3:51:45 PM

I've held open doors for both men and women, and I've stepped through doors that have been held by both men and women.

The one thing that I've only seen men doing that I wish they would stop is spitting. I have to step around loogies all the time as I walk from work to the bus stop and back, and it's disgusting!

Posted by: maurinsky | Nov 13, 2005 4:17:03 PM

One of my least pleasant memories of my mother is the time when I held the door open for her when leaving after having had my wisdom teeth pulled, and she made a sarcastic comment about how I was a chauvinist to the core.

It's not chauvinism. I hold doors open for *everyone*, if they're with me when I go through the door, and frequently for total strangers who happen to be right behind me.

I thought this was politeness.

Posted by: aphrael | Nov 13, 2005 5:05:44 PM

I don't think it's widely understood that the development of automatic door openers was a deliberate attempt to increase the likelihood of feminism's triumph!

Posted by: David | Nov 13, 2005 6:20:41 PM

I tend to call it practical chivalry, or equal opportunity chivalry.

My personal rules are:

  • Hold the door for those coming behind you. Sometimes (in entryways with two sets of doors, that means A holds for B and then B holds for A)
  • The unencumbered should hold the door for people carrying burdens or otherwise impaired.
  • If two people on opposite sides reach a door simultaneously, right-of-way goes to those in the more inclement environment. [Come in out of the rain before those inside go out into it.]

    I have a few other rules, but gender doesn't play into them.

    Posted by: Lis Riba | Nov 13, 2005 6:21:33 PM

    I will say this that I've noticed--when two people arrive at a door at the same time, often the *taller* person will grab it, because their arms are longer and they can reach over the other person's shoulder. With that in mind, because I'm somewhat tall for a woman, I find that I end up holding open a lot of doors.

    Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Nov 13, 2005 6:30:45 PM

    I will say this--I hear men say all the time that they treat women special for just being women. One day, I expect to see something substantial happen in this area, but I haven't yet. Mostly a bunch of door-holding and congratulating of one's self.

    Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Nov 13, 2005 6:32:56 PM

    Little does Amanda know tha back in the day, doors were to tools of the Devil. Only by taking the evil on themselves could a Real Man protect His Woman.

    Or something like that, I don't know.

    Posted by: Sandals | Nov 13, 2005 6:53:02 PM

    I hear men say all the time that they treat women special for just being women. One day, I expect to see something substantial happen in this area, but I haven't yet.

    Any woman that is not just repulsive enjoys many perks, monetary and otherwise.If you haven't enjoyed countless free meals, drinks, hotels rooms, game tickets, plays, etc., while dating, you must be ugly.
    If that's the case, cheer up, ugly women can still get laid so their are advantages to simply being a woman and you should enjoy them.
    Of course, if you are a transgendered person who has visited the 'chopping block' all bets are off.

    Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 13, 2005 7:06:13 PM

    If you haven't enjoyed countless free meals, drinks, hotel rooms,...


    Posted by: Sandals | Nov 13, 2005 7:37:53 PM

    If you haven't enjoyed countless free meals, drinks, hotels rooms, game tickets, plays, etc., while dating, you must be ugly.

    Or stupid. Or badly connected. I can tell you Fred, as someone whose dating life has been almost exclusively straight, that I've enjoyed more of those things than I can count. In fact, I'm leaving in a few days to stay for free for a week in one of Florence's best hotels. Why? Because my fiancee is running a conference there and her business is picking up the tab. What this has to do with my gender is anyone's business.

    But, Fred, ugly? C'mon. Beautiful is cheap, unless you're boring.

    And why is everything you say here so foolish, Fferd?


    Ah Bruce. I'm from Tacoma and now live in Brooklyn. The Pacific NW drives me batty. It's not as slow-motion as the midwest or the South, but it's still hella standoffish. People in NYC aren't impolite: they're just fucking busy, okay?


    Doors: I hold open doors if I get to the door first. That's it. What burns me is when people who are obviously physically fit push the 'open automatically' button for these heavy doors at my university. They're the same creeps who take the elevator to the third floor even though their legs work just fine. Whatever.

    So I suppose what I'm saying is that sometimes the I hold the person I'm letting in in contempt. But that goes regardless of gender.

    Posted by: Karl the Idiot | Nov 13, 2005 7:52:03 PM

    Can we just wrap this up by saying this whole thing as a topic for discussion is weird?

    Thanks to Amanda and Sandals for being droll - I'd agree men like chivalry like holding doors because it makes it easier to justify not doing the dishes.

    And, well, Fred, tell it like you mean it, man. :) I've gotten free meals, free hotel rooms, plane tickets, bus tickets and rail tickets (and theater tickets, come to think of it) all because I'm cute and I put out. I highly recommend it. ;)

    And I prefer revolving doors. None of that nasty debate about who holds what.

    Posted by: weboy | Nov 13, 2005 8:25:21 PM

    I'm sorry, Fred, but unlike you, I don't think that spending $100 on someone in a night and then falling all over yourself with how they need to be slavishly grateful for getting treated way better than their worthless female ass really deserves that they should give up on bona fide equality is "valuing" women at all. It's the opposite, in fact. And of course I've had men treat me on dates--I've done the same backwards. And like mature human beings, none have thought that thereby I owed them sex, much less the abandonment of my self-respect, just because someone thought I was cute and tried to impress me.

    Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Nov 13, 2005 10:25:08 PM

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