Simon is walking next to Linda. They have just met at their first English Literature class this semester. It's a heavenly day. Birds are singing, the grass is green and the trees are in full bloom. Their conversation is cheerful, deep and flowing. Linda chuckles at one of Simon's many smart remarks. When they reach the door of their University, Simon rushes to hold the door open for Linda. And suddenly clouds appear on Linda's face. What happened?
Is holding doors open something that privileged white males do in order to belittle women?
Simon has been brought up to be polite, treat people with respect and help out, when he can. Holding a door open for a woman is second nature to him. Linda on the other hand is struggling with her role in society. Especially now during her first semester. She has taken a gender class and she has learned that holding doors open is something the priviledged white males do in order to belittle women. Still. After all these decades of fighting for equal rights.
Open or not?
Situations like this occur all throughout western culture these days. In business, in school, at work. Maybe this is the reason we find more and more sliding doors, so people will not be confronted with the tough decision: Open or not open? If sliding doors are not available it could be a good idea to adress the subject prior to reaching a door. Put it out in the open. Ask directly.
After all, for those people who have given the matter some thought and reached the conclusion that they consider it an act of kindness and respect if someone holds the door open for them, it would be a shame to see this custom vanish from advanced cultures around the globe.
Open doors around the globe
Another way to treat the matter could be that women also hold doors open for men. And the custom would be adjusted to more modern gender roles. In a time and a place where guys can wear skirts and knit and cook, why can't we all hold doors open for everyone?