Sexism is Hard to Explain
Kel Campbell

Love this and loved reading the responses, but oh my. How can we fight sexism if even the most well-intentioned of readers missed your obvious point? It’s not about the door, people! (That said, I recommend a little humor or excessive politeness in response to that dude — you obviously have the verbal chops — but don’t give in! “Thanks so much but I’ve got it” — hard to call someone a bitch for that.)

It’s also very clear from the responses that many men have the desire to do right but can’t figure out what right is, and it’s no wonder when so many women are sending different or even mixed signals. If a man opens a door for me (without expecting me to change doors!), I’ll go through and say thanks. If I then open the inner door for him, he should go through and say thanks. If he’s clearly a dude from the Deep South and thinks he will burn in hell if he doesn’t open the second door for me, then sure. However, some women (and they’re well within their rights) will get pissed at him for opening either door. The door thing (having to switch aside) is ever so complicated by the politeness thing. Then, if he’s holding a bunch of stuff but still wants to open my door, I will insist on opening it for him because that’s just stupid. And then right after that, I’ll let my extremely non-sexist husband open the door for me, because I know where he’s coming from. SO complicated!

It gets even worse with the heavy package question, or changing the tire by the side of the road. I am quite strong and capable, even despite my advancing age, and happy to do it all myself. But if a guy stops to help me (even though the tire is 3/4 done) I will always let him because the side of the road can be dangerous, many women can’t do it, and I don’t want to keep him from stopping next time. When is it chivalry and when is it sexism? Probably varies, but it’s clearly messy.

Sooo…no easy answers. We’re all coming from different places, but guys if you just assume that most people appreciate manners but the average woman is as capable as the average man, you’ll probably make the right decision.

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