This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Comments and likes should be made there – on the original post.
Dear ‘well-raised’ men,
For some reason, you were taught to (and ‘society’ re-enforced that you should) hold the door open for people with feminine gender expression. If there is no door to physically open and physically hold, like with an elevator, you still wait for me to exit or enter first.
This is so engrained in ‘society’ that it was just background fact for most of my life. Also, it benefitted me greatly in terms of speed to my destinations. So, like with most privileges, I enjoyed myself in blissful ignorance.
However, just like the moment when it was pointed out to me that flesh color band-aids being the beige band-aids was supremely forgetful about all the people in the world who don’t have my skin coloring, this particular entrance-assisting quirk of western ‘society’ was bound to become apparent to me sometime. This past year, the gateway-unblocking tradition did indeed become intensely noticeable to me. Specifically, when I had a client with some of the most quietly sexist employees I’d ever encountered was also the time when I (in retrospect, unsurprisingly) had the most encounters with disrespect-clouded-by-attempted-respect door opening behavior. Juxtaposition is, as ever, quite eye-opening.
Hi guys! 31-year old completely self-sufficient person here. I’ve got a little secret for you: when you aren’t there I actually open doors all by myself. SURPRISE!
Men, we’re past the times when you need to show-off your musculature by moving and holding the weight of a door. We’re also beyond me, as a female-identified person, being required to wear movement-inhibiting clothes like petticoats, corsets, skirts, high heels, and more. In the 1800s when promoting me to a C-level position would have been tremendously socially difficult, I can see how inventing something like door opening as a gesture of respect would have been useful.
Time check: it’s 2016.
If I’m not outwardly and obviously mobility-impaired and/or I haven’t asked you to open a door, just stop with the door holding already. It’s obviously mis-spending the tiny male-given respect budget I get each month and I really am a wiser buyer than that. More than that, I’ve recently re-found my assertiveness, and I’m just going to return this purchase you decided to make for me to you by standing there until you are the first across the threshold instead. (You may be more comfortable describing this as me being stubborn, weird, or ridiculous.)
If you want to respect me, my work, or my presence here are some alternate suggestions:
- promote me
- give me a raise (or a bonus)
- genuinely thank me for my contributions in front of my peers, colleagues, and your own superiors
- write me a LinkedIn recommendation
- speak up against sexism before I get the chance to ask myself: ‘can I live with letting this one slide?’
- ask me for ways you could help me
Like I said, those are just suggestions. I understand change happens incrementally, so really, let’s just start with me opening my own doors.