The majority of my manners I have received directly from my mother-she trained me in the ways of social protocol, as well as how to be polite and courteous to others. One of the things that has been embedded into my psychology is that I should open doors for my female counterparts. What has begun to emerge recently in society is a particular aversion to this practice due to the push for equality of the genders. I believe the mindset for this combative stance is that the practice demeans women, because it implies that women are not capable of doing things on their own. I fully confess that I am likely not doing the reasoning full justice, and I would appreciate if one of my readers could provide clarification on the subject, but it does not directly impose itself on my desire to express why I believe that the practice should continue, so I will only lightly touch on it, as I have. I will not use this forum to attack the reasoning, as I have already confessed my ignorance on the subject. I would like to clear the air a bit in regard to why I continue to open doors for my female colleagues, friends, and (most importantly)-my wife.
Men and women are different. This is a relatively safe statement, although I know that there are some who would try to contest it, but most will agree that this is true. Both in psychology and physiology, there are departures between the sexes which allow for divergent ways of looking at the world and accomplishing tasks. I thank God for this frequently as I spend time with my wife and marvel at all of the ways that we are able to make up for each-other’s deficiencies (mostly mine!). Men and women both provide specific functions in society, and both bring different things to the table. This is the reason why it is important to have representatives of both genders in most (if not all) sectors of society. I do not agree with those who argue that only those who are in a group can represent that group, because it makes for infinite division, categorization, and fragmentation of society. (I believe it is Will Kymlicka who discusses this, although I cannot fully remember. But whoever it was that I am thinking of, he points out that if only a women can represent a women, then can only Asian women represent Asian women? What about Asian homosexual women? The divisions are endless. It also foments a defeatist attitude-implying that we can never empathize with each-other, so the experiment of unity in a multicultural society is futile). But, regardless of the need for representation, I think the question can simply come down to a discussion of utilitarianism. It is of benefit to our society as a whole to have different perspectives. What more dynamic differences can we have then men and women?
I have drifted away from my main point in some ways, but I believe that it was not entirely unnecessary in order to present my case for opening doors. What I have found in my experiences with people is that women are particularly adept at expressing their thankfulness to others. I will not demean women by saying that they need to be appreciated more than men-I believe that we all seek for appreciation and affirmation from others; for better or for worse. However, I expect that men receive affirmation from women much more often than the reversal. This is something that men need to get better at. We as a sex need to fully realize how much we are in need of women, in all of their diversities, complexities, passions, and enthusiasms. So, how do we express our thankfulness to women as a whole? By honouring women in a variety of ways, one of which is opening doors for them. This should start-for all of you married men out there, with your wives. Show them you appreciate and honour them. Demonstrate to them your appreciation for what they do by verbalizing, but also acting out your thanks. Treat them like the sophisticated ladies that they are.
One final note. I think that it is a tragedy that many women feel they need to take on masculinity in order to attain respect and equality with the other sex. There has recently been the emergence of a call for affirmation of masculinity in men. Essentially, this is a call for men to be men, and not to be ashamed of it. A similar call needs to be given to women-affirm your femininity. I am not using that term to describe a list of characteristics. Labels are only valid when they are defined by those who hold them. Affirm your femininity, but do this while also claiming your right to define what this is. Labels are never static, they are dynamic and always changing. But never try to claim that femininity is masculinity. You are stripping yourself of identity, and you are only exacerbating the control of descriptivism that men have held historically. If women try to define themselves in masculine terms-well, men will continue to create and define those terms themselves. Beautiful diversity is what we seek-it is what Canada as a nation is about at the core.