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Thoughts on Opening Doors - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Thoughts on Opening Doors
When I am alone, I open my own doors. It's not that hard, so it always feels a little silly waiting for somebody to open the door for me.

When I am walking with somebody, male or female, and I happen to be a step or two ahead, I open the door and hold it for them. Sometimes I go in first and hold the door behind me, but sometimes I stand aside and let them go in first. I don't know what determines which I do -- it might be the gender of the person, but sometimes it's just random.

When I happen to be a step or two behind, I'll generally pause a bit and let them open the door. It just makes sense.

When we are walking shoulder to shoulder, there is always a bit of awkwardness. Who opens the door for whom? The person closest to the handle? The person on the right, since most doors open right? The male, if there are two genders?

When there are two doors, I'll always open the door in front of me at the same time the person I am with is opening the door in front of them. To me it makes sense. Two doors, two people, and we can keep walking in step if we each use our own door. This doesn't seem to be common behavior. I've noticed the majority of people like to use one door, half-lining up, each walking through and then holding it behind them for the next person. While I think the polite "working together" aspect of that is cool, it still seems a bit inefficient.

Me, I'll walk past the group and head for the other door. (It's always so annoying when it is locked. For some reason that is sometimes done. It's a door people, and it was born to be opened and closed. If you're going to let us use one, let us use both.)

However my other-door-using approach leads to some awkwardness too. Like when a guy pauses to hold the door open for me, and I'm already heading through the other door. I do feel bad when that happens, and I generally apologize. I'm not trying to be rude or overly feminist or anything; it just frequently doesn't occur to me. Like I said: two doors, two people. So long as the two people are equally able (healthy), it just seems most efficient to use both.

I think this bothers men, and I can think of at least one ex-bf who has expressed this. But not to me, he joked about it to other people with me around. Nobody that I remember has asked me to let them open the door, but I probably would let a bf do that if he asked. At least I would try harder to notice such occurrences. I wonder if it was really an issue, or just a joke?

I've started paying attention and trying to sense when it bothers men -- intentionally slowing my pace so that he will be in front and can smoothly hold the door. It still seems ridiculous to stop and wait in front of the door for him to open it, but if I can anticipate the situation and slow down ahead of time, it feels more natural. If it makes somebody happy, I'm willing to do that.

I remember one ex who really wanted to open the car door for me. Now that had never even occurred to me! Unless I have a whole pile of stuff on my lap, or am quite sick/injured, I just open the door when we arrive and get out. However apparently he had always tried to do it, and I'd just obliviously gotten out before he could get there.

So we arrived one day at a restaurant on a date, and he was determined to open that door. So we parked and he hastily walked around the car. Unfortunately I saw his speed and thought it meant we were in a hurry. So I hurried too and leaped out of the car, ready to rush off to wherever we were going. When he told me what he'd been trying to do, we both had a good laugh at the situation.

The fact is that I really don't mind a man holding a door for me. It's gentlemanly and traditional, and I certainly don't get offended. I'm just so used to opening my own doors and getting through them in the most efficient way possible, that I often don't think about it when it's happening.

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Comments
dagibbs From: dagibbs Date: September 9th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't hold or open doors for women any more than for men. I'll do it when it is convenient -- much the way you describe. And, I sure expect my passenger, whether male or female, to be quite capable of opening zir own door. And, heck, with clicky-button door unlocks, I don't even have to unlock my passengers door first to let them into the car. (Which would actually be inefficient -- generally as the driver I have more to do before we "set out" with starting the car & buckling in vs just buckling in, so it would be more efficient for me to unlock my side, climb in, unlock passenger side, if I had manual door locks.)
ellalthea From: ellalthea Date: September 9th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
My boyfriend always unlocks my door first, and then I unlock his from the inside while he walks around. But I open my own door to get out:)
mogwar From: mogwar Date: September 9th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find that automatic door locks are not yet quite universal enough, to the point that occasionally I'll go to drive somewhere with someone else, and without noticing, I'll unlock the car with the clicky remote, get in, buckle myself and be ready to drive off, and then see that my passenger is still standing next to the car, waiting for me to "unlock" the door. Enough people still have manual locks, that they don't recognize the usage of a remote to unlock the car, and it can be confusing. :)
ellalthea From: ellalthea Date: September 9th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hate that moment of awkwardness where you don't know who to open the door for whom.

I used to think that my ex-boyfriend was so polite because he always unlocked my door first. Then I found out that the driver side door would only unlock from the inside.

dagibbs From: dagibbs Date: September 9th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Practical trumps politeness. :)
ellalthea From: ellalthea Date: September 10th, 2007 12:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, but he totally capitalized on it. Whenever someone brought up women's lib, or gentleman behaviors, he would mention that I always waited for him to open up his car door or he always opened his car door for me. When it is only the one car, I don't think you have a case, buddy.

Otherwise, however, practical always wins.
aiela From: aiela Date: September 9th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hold the door if someone is a few steps behind me, and people tend to do the same. I have found it's much less gendered than it used to be.

However, since I spend all day going up and down on elevators at work (I work four floors below our main office) I have an entire post in my head about elevators and gender, and I do find that that is -very- gendered.

I should make that post.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: September 9th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always try to open doors for people, ever since the TV "Due South" I really try. However it is awkward when they don't realize you are doing it and use another door. I sometimes get weird stares when I do it too.

If you open the car for your date and she reaches across and opens the driver's door its a sign the date is going well, or least that is what I am told.
yellowmouser From: yellowmouser Date: September 9th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
My reseach on this topic is pretty limited- as a cauc male people expect me to respond with a very limited and strictly conditioned set of responses concerning door-opening- which is, by my understanding as an Aspie, reguarded as a long-settled matter well removed from the front-lines of the eternal culture war... however...

As best as I can phrase it, door opening is reguared as a negotiation of respect. The member of the event who holds open the door is generally reguarded as the higher ranking social member who simationasly (please excuse my spelling) respects his or her own standing to the degree that they feel required to open doors for others who... according to social convention... are following them up the social ladder. By opening the door, the door-opener propresitions that the door-openee respects their higher status. While the door-openee agrees to abide by social conventions that favor him or her. This is a much more dynamic process that tradtional convention allows.

Anyway... nothing to say about your thoughts really.... I just wanted to share. :)
jer_ From: jer_ Date: September 10th, 2007 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I typically hold the door regardless, just because it seems to brighten other people's days to have the door held for them. I always feel bad, though, when I open the door for someone a bit further away than normal and they speed up so as not to make me wait. I always want to say "Take your time, I'm in no hurry!" but, it seems strange to do so.

On the car door note, I like to unlock and open the door for my gf when I get in the car. Typically I also close the door for her as well. It's probably not very feminist, but I was brought up to do such things... My nod to feminism, instead, is that she has to open her own door to get out.

I think it's a fair trade off. :)
ellalthea From: ellalthea Date: September 10th, 2007 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always see it as a sign of respect. You aren't telling me that you think I am incapable of opening my own door, you are saying that you respect me enough to physically show it. It balances out the physical bruises.
jer_ From: jer_ Date: September 10th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bruises are a sign of respect in some cultures... umm... mostly the "Midwest Trailer" culture.. hehe
amanda_lodden From: amanda_lodden Date: September 10th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also follow the "whoever gets there first holds the door" method, unless someone ahead of me has their arms full, and then I'll speed up to try and get the door for them. Or if I have my arms full and there's someone coming up behind me, and then I'll wait.

However, one of my employees has the whole "the man holds the door for the woman" mentality, and how I deal with that depends greatly on how much he's gotten on my nerves lately. Mostly I tend to slow and let him get to the door first, but if he's been really annoying I'll speed up deliberately so that I can hold the door for him and watch him gnash his teeth. :-)

Saturday night I was out to dinner with a group of friends, and on the way out I had a small stand-off with one of the men in the group, as we tried to hold the (single) door for each other-- him because I'm female, and me because he was carrying two boxes of leftovers. It was a bit awkward.
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