PERSPECTIVE: Why I hate men holding the door for me

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday and that strange hush has descended on campus when all 4,000 of Union’s students have been swallowed up by massive academic buildings whose peaceful outer facade belies the notion that their insides are echoing with the sounds of lectures, discussions and the frantic scrawling of notes.

I walk the deserted paths outside, and, as I near the PAC, I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach as I perceive, far off in the distance, the barely-distinguishable figure of a southern gentleman–patiently holding the door.  The time that elapses between spying the chivalrous man and actually passing through the door feels more like 30 hours than 30 seconds.  I awkwardly look at him, he looks away, I look away, I look back, he looks down, etc., until finally the whole ordeal is over and I shuffle through the door with a muffled “thank you” to which he responds with a curt nod.

This daily experience, far from making me feel accommodated,  served, or like I am the recipient of a thoughtful gesture, has become one of the most uncomfortable parts of my routine here at Union.  I sheepishly admit that I have, on more than one occasion, altered my path and taken a side door into a building just to avoid the excruciating moment of awkward tension during which I trip over my own feet trying to rush through a doorway so as not to make the gentlemanly holder-of-the-door hold the door too long.

In an age where the stark line that has traditionally separated male and female roles is increasingly eroding, our generation struggles with where to draw the line when it comes to harmless (even thoughtful and kind) vestiges of the patriarchy that are still viewed as being an integral part of Southern protocol and behavior, such as holding the door for women or pulling out their seats.

Besides the fact that such behaviors find their origins in outdated traditions of thought that truly do view women as the weaker and inferior gender, on a practical level, there  is nothing accommodating or thoughtful or chivalrous about putting another human in a situation where they feel forced to trip over their own feet in an effort to get to the door as quickly as possible.  Opening the door myself is a task which pales in comparison to the task of navigating where to look during the eternal fragment of time that elapses while I approach a held door, or how to say thank you in a way that doesn’t betray the discomfort I am feeling in the moment.

On a deeper level though, it seems inappropriate to continue to selectively practice behavior which stems from a culture where things like holding the door for women served, for men and women both, as a solidifier and daily reminder of the rigid divide between gender roles- a divide which was primarily created and enforced by males and which catered to a male agenda.  If our generation is going to move past the pervasive male-dominated traditions that have historically found their ways into almost every culture, and which are only recently being undone, it seems counterproductive to cling to traditions which seem “nice” or “harmless” but which are still under-girded by a plethora of beliefs and values which the majority of millennials no longer claim to uphold.

With that being said, I really do appreciate it when anyone walking in front of me holds the door an extra two seconds so that I can walk through without feeling like I just got a door slammed in my face.  But gentlemen, next time you are walking a significant distance in front of a lady and you are considering holding the door for her out of politeness or because you feel that it is expected of you, ask yourself this quick question: would it be weird if I held a door this long for a dude? If the answer is yes, do the most polite and thoughtful thing you can for the individual behind you: just keep walking.


  1. “10:30 am on a Wednesday” seems to be a difficult time for you. It seems to me you are one of two people.
    Either you are the type of person who skips out on chapel because you don’t appreciate the willingness of your University to cultivate your spiritual life. You swipe and dash, desperately glancing over your shoulder hoping nobody sees you and makes a judgement of your character. However, you openly demonize the man who willingly holds the door open for you to walk out and completely break the system.
    Or you are the feminist barefooter who only takes thirty seconds to get to the door due to the lack of padding on your feet. You didn’t start this barefoot trend until college, however you enjoy the awkward glances people give you when they see your Hobbit feet. Professors and peers both do not appreciate your decision to subject them to your earthly, hippie facade but willingly submit on the principle that they believe one should express herself.
    Maybe next Wednesday at 10:30 you should be in chapel, worshipping with your fellow students and at least wearing chacos out of respect for your peers instead of subjecting a poor gentleman to holding the door for you.

    • I don’t think this comment is helpful. All that you’ve done so far is paint a caricature that you dislike. Not only is the caricature irrelevant but it is totally unfounded.

      The first section of this comment assumes that the author swiped and dashed. There’s no reason to believe this. It is just an angry assumption. There are plenty of reasons someone would be walking around at 10:30 on a Wednesday. You don’t have to go to every chapel. It’s in the handbook.

      But any assumptive accusation also should be leveled against the “poor gentleman” the author describes, who, by your logic, must have also swiped and dashed and therefore also fails to appreciate the University’s emphasis on spiritual growth. I don’t think that’s fair or appropriate at all.

      The second section of the comment strangely claims that the author goes barefoot. This accusation not only means nothing in context, but presents an unwarranted hatred. I get that you think people should wear shoes. I totally sympathize, but that’s just irrelevant.

      The third section tries to criticize the author’s devotional life. This is an odd and frightening choice. The author’s faith and character are both brought into question simply because you didn’t like her opinion. Then it transitions into the most fascinating part of this piece. You say that she should have been in chapel, instead of “subjecting some poor gentleman to holding the door,” as if holding the door is some enormous suffering endured by this man. The author didn’t ask for this. If anything, this sentiment agrees with the author, that this practice should end.

      Ending with the word “blessings” is not only passive aggressive, but also ironic given your entirely inappropriate attack on the author’s faith. I know you were looking for a mic drop moment with that last comment, but it literally said nothing of substance. It is just a self-serving insult designed to make your group of friends (and maybe a few others) applaud. I am concerned to see all of this from someone who presents himself as a person who appreciates the University’s focus on spiritual cultivation.

  2. Josh,
    You do not bring up any points I disagree with. I completely agree with your right to refute my words. The comment was a satirical take on an article which I believed to be poorly written. By no means was this meant to be a strike at her faith or devotional life. The comment was meant to be witty, fun, and not taken seriously. I’m not going to apologize because I don’t feel it is nessecary, however I want you to know the basis for the comment.

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