Should women expect men to hold the door?

Dear Gwyn,

I think it is rude when I am walking with a guy and he goes through a doorway first. Boys still need to know that ladies go first!! How do I know when to expect this, and when men are just being rude?

I am an advocate for equality between men and women, so call me a hypocrite when I say this, but having a man, er, gentleman, hold the door for woman is my expectation.  Now before the more feminist readers send hate mail and pages of contrary opinions, let me explain: just because this in a preference and something I expect, it is not a one-way street for a man to offer to a woman and frankly, it makes many situations much more simple.

Holding the door for woman gesture of appreciation.  Early on in dating or in more formal circumstances, holding the door for a woman is a polite gesture.  If you are the type of woman, like myself, who appreciates these gestures, they go a long way in helping to appreciate the gentleman which does affect the next date.

In a more public setting, holding a door simplifies life.  Every day at work I am in the habit in stepping forward at a door being held open into the office, or exiting an elevator to a door held open.  Frankly, these situations are less about a gesture of appreciation and more about keeping the wheels moving. When you have strangers crammed on an elevator, it is much easier to follow the habit or allowing the woman to exit first than the uncomfortable second guessing, shoulder bumping to exit all at once.

Although woman can pick up on the habit and cues of men holding the door for us, there are a few times ever so slightly out of the norm:

  • Ask for help, when you need it. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for the door to be held open for you in several situations:
    • When you are sneaking into an elevator before the door closes
    • When your hand are full and you can’t manage a door without Cirque du Soleil acrobatics
  • Don’t be pestilent. There is no need to stand in front of a door waiting for a man to open it.  Woman can and should holder the door for others when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Let’s not make a scene. Ladies, please don’t expect a door to be held open from the inside pushed out.  Pushing a door out from the inside is awkward and uncomfortable, regardless of the thoughtfulness.
  • Brushing off the awkward. Even with this old tradition and our own habits, there are times when we run into awkward door dances such as the inside out dance or two people trying to squeeze through the door. A polite “pardon me” and a smile does wonders to smooth over the uncomfortable moment.

When gentlemen revert to cavemen and completely forget their manners, there isn’t much we ladies can do.  Although I would love to throw a drink in a barbarians face when he doesn’t hold a door open, or perhaps use a few stern words to remind a man that woman appreciate the gesture, sadly I fear the efforts would fall on deaf ears.

Instead, appreciate the men who do hold doors with a heartfelt “thank you.”  After all, how can us little tiny little woman-folk hold open a door?!

2 Responses

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Love! And completely agree. Also, according to “Ask Amy” a man should lead the way through a revolving door so that he bears the brunt of the effort to get that thing spinning. But one should never mooch a free ride through a revolving door off of anyone – especially a stranger. Mad manners to not help push. Is it only Chicago (and other arctic climes) that is riddled with revolving doors?

    • Gwyn says:

      Here in Denver they require the use of revolving doors on windy or cold days and lock the standard doors. I do like the help of a brawny man to get the doors spinning!

Leave a Reply