Sexism is Hard to Explain
Kel Campbell

I get it… I think… I’m trying... :)

I do think men and women both have issues springing primarily from their ability to have deep undercurrents about even innocuous seeming situations while forgetting that the other possibly has them as well. It’s a very odd 2-way street, with signs on one side making perfect sense, and signs on the other in some alien language.

I do totally get the annoyance with having to step out of your personal mental/physical/emotional environment to satisfy someone’s gesture, whether kindly-intended or not. It’s the difference between being annoyed at the person or being annoyed at the “custom.” I’m sure you had no real negative feelings about the guy but rather towards the choice between 1) following a “custom” and being on your way or 2) derailing it.

The problem with the derailing is that, coinciding with what you said, it’s a very small thing that builds up over time. All anyone sees/feels is you having a fit over some extremely unimportant little thing, and not the reservoir of little things underneath pushing at a flood. Lashing out would involve punishing this one person who made a kind, if annoying, gesture, who honestly doesn’t deserve it… and then you end up looking like an ass.

But at what point, and at who, is it acceptable to vent it? I think you expressing that here, and in such an honest and genuine manner, is a perfect example of airing your frustration and also making others aware that this is a “thing” without putting anyone in particular in the spotlight. I believe most people will respond positively to that, but expect a handful not to. It’s the unfortunate nature of the beast.

Now in all fairness I must mention a thing that grates on men’s nerves… A majority of women expect the door to be opened for them if it’s not inconvenient for a guy to do so. What I mean is, if a guy is going through a door he is expected, in most situations, to hold the door for a woman. If a man is about to walk through a door, he is expected, in most situations, to open the door and stand aside for the woman. Rarely does a woman ever expect a guy to run 20 feet to open a door for them or to try doing so while carrying things occupying his hands… but if the guy is there, without obstacle, he is, in most cases, expected to open and hold that door for a woman.

It’s what most of us guys do, because it is expected (and in many cases, such as mine, it’s also a pleasure), so when it’s an annoyance to a woman, it’s impossible to know it until after the fact. We could simply stop doing these things, but now we’ve got nearly the exact same situation in reverse. We’ve got a split:

  1. those women who expect the door to be opened and held for them by a gentleman, and take offense at a guy who refuses to do so (these I will write about next)
  2. and those who don’t really care enough about it to be bothered either way, though they do still expect it (no real need to discuss ) because it’s a custom.

For convenience sake, I’ll call them thirds. 1/3 offended/bothered by having the door held for them, 1/3 offended/bothered by not having the door held for them, and 1/3 who genuinely don’t care one way or the other.

So for a guy, we’re guaranteed to come off as an annoyance to at least 1/3 of the women we come across, at least where a door is concerned. In all seriousness, though, this would extend to an array of customs such as the door holding, carrying things for, giving coat to, standing when a lady stands, seating her first, etc. So right off the bat, 1 in 3 (or more) women we come across, in a variety of situations that happen numerous times a day, will likely think we’re jerks without a word being said, no matter how we choose to approach these situations.

For guys like me, who have no desire to see women treated as lessers, who would stand up in a heart beat for equal treatment, pay, consideration, protection, etc. it’s a very confusing world and we’ve got next to nothing to go on. We’ve all been taught (whether we learned or not is a different matter) how to behave ourselves in a manner that is rapidly losing all relevance in today’s world. It’s disheartening to say the least.

I’ll be completely honest with you, I’m a door opener. I try to let common sense dictate the situation, of course. I’m not looking for praise for being a good boy. If I’m going in one door and a women is going in another, I’m not going to lunge over to her door to get it for her (I’d look like a maniac), and I’m certainly not going to divert her from her intended path so that I can feel good about my “gentlemanly ways.” However, if I am at a door and there is a woman behind me, I am going to open the door and step to the side for her to go. I do so out of respect and admiration for women.

So, why don’t I do this for other guys? I actually do in a lot of cases because the world is a harsh, mean, shitty place, and sometimes a gesture of kindness reminds people that we’re not past the point of being good to each other. So, occasionally I’ll just open and hold the door for whoever, give them a smile, hope to receive one back, and enjoy a small moment of people being nice to each other.

But for women, it’s hard to explain something that has been such a seemingly inborn action all of my life… I don’t think like you do. I can’t do some of the things you do. I don’t have to go through lot of the things you do. I know what it’s like to be a guy, but I don’t and can’t know what women go through, and because of that I automatically treat them with a certain respect, not as betters, but basically like “I am a man and I want to show you that I am kind, considerate, and respectful and you are in no danger around me.” I guess maybe that goes back to subconscious mating instinct. I don’t mean that overtly, as this is honestly the first time I’ve considered it in that light, but it does make a sort of sense. That, coupled with virility, would have been very potent in ancient times. Maybe men are just a lot slower to adapt than women are.

I guess this comes down to the only thing I really know to say about the subject… it most often comes from a good place, even if annoying, so I’d advise thinking about that the next time it annoys you (and I don’t mean that “you” specifically at Kel, but at the reader in general) and try to smile for someone who doesn’t mean to be annoying.. quite the opposite. You’re nto obligated to do anything. But, better yet, turn it around on them… reach out and hold the door yourself and tell them “After you. I insist.” Positivity breeds positivity, kindness begets kindness, and haters gonna hate (ie, jerks who get overly bent out of shape when someone doesn’t say “thank you” for opening the door for them).

I hope this is somewhat coherent. I took a couple of muscle relaxers right before starting it and halfway through got VERY woozy. The point was not to correct your view in any way or advise you to modify your behavior. I think you had a valid reaction to a situation. I’ve only attempted to speak from the other side of the situation to promote a deeper understanding between men and women.

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