DEAR MISS MANNERS: Perhaps I am just too much of a feminist, but I really hate it when men hold the door for me or let me get on/off the elevator first.
Long ago, I realized it was a losing battle to try to stop this demeaning practice. But it has become even more annoying since, a year ago, I hurt my knee and have difficulty with stairs. There is a short flight of stairs and about 20 feet of space leading to the front door of my office building. I have to go slowly up these stairs. It’s not a problem, as long as I go slow and hold on to the railing.
But many times, if a man is at the door, he will stand there holding it open for me as I hobble up the stairs. There is nothing wrong with my arms, and I am totally capable of opening a door on my own, even though I am just a woman. I cannot hurry up for these well-meaning but patronizing men, and they end up standing there for quite some time since I cannot walk up stairs as fast as a normal person.
How can I politely wave them off? I have tried “Please go ahead,” only to have them stand there like their life depends on holding the door for the “weaker sex.” I am tempted to just stop and stand until they finally go through the door!
GENTLE READER: Please stop trying to pass off your unbecoming hostility as feminism. That attitude is responsible for seated passengers pretending not to notice expectant mothers swaying on their feet out of fear that common courtesy will be met with insult.
You disdain the Ladies First system of precedence, which is now something of an anachronism, properly practiced only in the general social realm. You also disdain its replacement, favoring those in apparent need. Both have been offered to you, and you need only say “No, thank you, I’m fine” to acknowledge the courtesy but reject the advantage.
Do you have another system to suggest? In the absence of one, it becomes Me First and Might Makes Right. Before Ladies First, ladies were shoved aside, and even during its heyday, so were females who were not considered to be ladies. The disabled were supposed to keep out of sight.
Miss Manners wonders whether you think that there is so much consideration of others in our society that you need to disparage those who offer it. You would serve the cause of feminism better by widening the application of courtesies, not squelching them.