DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m not a firm believer in men holding doors open for women, as I’m perfectly capable of opening a door myself. I often open and hold doors for others because it seems the polite, not chivalrous, thing to do. That said, if a man insists on opening a door for me, rather than fighting for the handle, I allow social customs, archaic as they are, to dictate.
If he has opened the door on the way into a coffee shop where there is a line to the counter, it seems polite to then let him go ahead of me, since he forfeited his place in line by kindly holding the door for me. Then again, maybe he is expecting to lose his place in line to hold the door for me, and intending that I go first. What’s a feminist to do in this scenario?
GENTLE READER: Having heard from the gentlemen directly, Miss Manners can assure you that they were not expecting to give up their place in line; many report feeling taken advantage of.
Gesturing for them to go first will, she trusts, solve everyone’s problem. The gentleman will not feel punished for doing what he intended as a good deed. You will have taken an opportunity both to acknowledge, and to return, the gesture, while making the point that good manners can be practiced no matter what your gender. And the shop employees will be allowed to get on with pouring coffee, instead of breaking up fistfights in the line -- albeit among sluggish, low-caffeine combatants.