On the subject of good manners - and bad

DaisyduckworthMarch 4, 2003

A comment from someone on another thread about a woman resenting a common courtesy shown to her by a male companion, rather got my dander up! I may be showing my wrinkles, but I'm one who really appreciates the small courtesies! I not only accept them graciously, but I expect them! and yes, demand them in my men! I'm not a simpering, useless, helpless piece of female fluff, but I do like being feminine. Furthermore, it's my experience that men would much prefer women to be feminine over hulking, forceful, abrasive Amazons! Guys, tell me if I'm wrong.

Years ago, when the Feminist Movement was just becoming fashionable, I was the unwilling participant in a rather unpleasant incident which made me ashamed for the first time in my life to be a woman. Three people, myself included, were approaching the door of our university library. The others were a young woman, heavily laden with books, who was trying to push open the heavy entrance doors, and a young man who sprang ahead to push them and hold them open for her. To my outrage, the young woman turned on the young man and roundly abused him for his action, really blasting him. Poor fellow was stunned, and so was I! but not for long. In a very quiet voice I turned to her and gave her my opinion of her breeding, her upbringing and her appalling lack of manners and gratitude for a small, kind service, and she walked away in silence ? hopefully having learned a lesson.

I have no problem with being given right of way through doorways, being guided gently through crowds or leading the way to the restaurant table. It's a very old-fashioned courtesy that many men still insist on walking at the kerb edge of a footpath when accompanying a lady. Far be it from me to argue the point - if he chooses to risk being jostled by the crowd over the edge of the gutter, or walking slap bang into a garbage bin or telegraph pole, that's just fine by me since he's protecting me from such disasters!

A lot of these little courtesies are simply consideration for the other person. I would be deeply offended if my hostess grabbed a slice of cake from the plate before offering it around to her guests. Like allowing a lady to go through the door first, it's just a matter of looking after the other person before looking after oneself.

To me, criticising another person's good manners, or rejecting the courtesies, is about as rude as you get! I look for good manners in a man - I certainly don't have a problem with being treated with respect and courtesy. I've been subjected to the insult of having a man open a door, barge through and let the door slam in my face, just before he bounded up the stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time, then shouting from the top to me to 'hurry up'. I don't take kindly to that sort of cavalier treatment, and would choose a man with manners every time over someone like that!

It goes without saying, that I also show courtesy to my companions, even those who haven't earned it! I remember one man I met for lunch. He spent the entire meal talking on his mobile phone, and at the end of the meal he had the gall to invite me to the nearest motel for 'dessert'. I smiled sweetly at him and thanked him for going to the trouble to meet me, and for the delicious meal, declined the 'dessert' saying that since he was having such a lurid love-affair with his phone I couldn't possibly participate in a threesome since I didn't believe in cheating of any kind. He got the message, and although I never saw him again, he pursued me assiduously for quite some time afterwards. via telephone of course! He also learned a lesson in manners that day.

I'll go one step further. If women reject the courtesies, it's small wonder so many men treat them with discourtesy, both while dating, and later in marriage. If women want to be treated with disrepect, you can bet the men will be only too happy to oblige them!

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(laughing) are you talking about my remarks ?
I was embarrassed to smack the poor man with the door. I honestly didnt see him. But I am able to let myself out of the car without help. It didnt ruin the occasion. We both had a good laugh over the incident and he still teases me about it from time to time. As to the etiquette in restaurant seating, (or any uncharted territory), the gentleman goes first unless there is someone to seat you. I said that I didnt mind going ahead-- I just dont like being pushed from behind to a table by someone who thinks "ladies first" is a universal rule.

I like being treated with respect by both genders and hope I do the same. We feminists were perhaps a little rash when young and new at the game of independent living. I like to think that most of my generation has mellowed.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 6:07PM
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Very well spoken indeed! Daisy, I want to be the FIRST guy to say you are absolutely right. Don't get me wrong, Jessie, I'm not "anti femenist" I just happen to believe very strongly in treating a woman the way Daisy has described. I believe a woman can be strong, independant and my equal and still maintain her femininity.

Chivalry isn't dead...although it could use a good shot in the arm. :)


    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 1:13PM
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ahhh rotny...curiosity (vanity?) makes me ask.... there is something in my post that makes you question my "femininity"?


    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 2:13PM
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No,no Jessie, not at all. Sorry if I caused you to think that. Guess I could have worded my response a little differently. My statement about femininity was directed toward the feminist movement. Sometimes I see women trying so hard to prove themselves that they give up a lot of femenine qualities. I love a competetive, confident, assertive woman (my wife is all of those) but not at the expense of her softer side.

Hope I didn't cause too much trouble.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 3:11PM
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couldnt resist teasing you a little ~~smile~~

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 4:52PM
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Let my grab my crotch, spit, and knock down the guy opening my door while I ponder this. ;-)

Since I have reached the state of invisibility reserved for women who are chubby, middle-aged, and reserved in manner, I have to say I haven't had any men leaping to open doors for me in a long time. Mostly I am ignored.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 4:57PM
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jessie, there are times when the best of intentions go horribly wrong! I recall the first date with the man who became my second husband. He was so anxious to please and he tried so hard to put on his best party manners, but he was thwarted at every turn! The only parking space he could find had been partially invaded by another vehicle, so instead of helping me out the door, I had to get out first while he squeezed into the available space. The restaurant, highly recommended, provided service that was less than wonderful. He tripped over while being ushered to our seats in the theatre and we both fell to the floor. He broke his glasses and had to be guided by me after that, and so it went. No matter how gentlemanly he tried to be, the gods were against him. We laughed about it for years afterwards - but it was an omen for the ultimate failure of our marriage!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 5:06PM
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(ok, I'm not single, sorry, just peeking in, but I have a thought on this)

In the subject of opening doors, I have had the experience of a man I don't know waiting for many seconds (I was a quarter of a block away) to wait and open the door for me.

I wasn't carrying anything, so it's not like I looked like I needed assistance. It was probably clear I was headed to the same door, but he waited a really long time--longer than I'd have waiting even if it were an acquaintance approaching.

Then he smiled very directly, and pointedly opened the door for me.

I was uncomfortable--it felt like he was trying to create a connection between us simply by his opening the door. I have better manners than to have reprimanded him (besides, my flash decision was to minimize my interaction w/ him, and saying ANYTHING to him would have created that connection I wanted to avoid). Who knows, maybe he *was* just an ultrahelpful sort of person.

But it made me think about how those "courtesies" can also be forms of communication.

Jessie, I wonder if the person who steers you from behind is just confused. People don't get taught all the nuances, just the basic rules. He'd probably do better if he focused more on the "what will make this a pleasant experience" instinct than on the "what are the rules?" uncertainty.

I, for example, always hold the door if I reach it first, no matter who is behind me, simply because the act of pulling the door open backs me up and puts me in the way of everybody else, plus I have to walk around the edge of the door and change my grip as I do so, so it's longer for me to get through the door than them (and if I wait, then they're out of my way when i want to get around the edge of the door). We ALL get through the door more quickly and more pleasantly if they just politely say "thank you" and go through, even if they ARE guys.

If the guy I'm WITH wants to open the door for me, that's a nice courtesy. But if you're not with me, why are you holding the door for me, unless we're closely spaced, and it's just more convenient?

If the guy I'm dating opens the door for me, that's nice. But it would weird me out if my business acquaintance with whom I am sharing a ride leaped out and ran around to open my door as I was getting out, or took my car keys to open the door of my car for me.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 5:08PM
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Let me grab my crotch...lol Eileen :)

Wow, this door opening thingy seems to be on the hot seat. I guess because it's one of the most common acts of courtesy a man can show a woman. I always open the door for my wife and usually for any other woman. I wouldn't do what the guy in Talley Sue's post did, but if I notice a woman directly behind me as we approach a door, I will open and hold the door for her.

If I'm traveling with a woman in a car that she's driving,(sorry about the prepositions, grammar buffs) I wouldn't normally pay this courtesy; because in that situation she would be the one in control. Not saying a man is "in control" when he opens a door, but it would just seem kinda'...wierd, y'know? Like opening the door at a restaraunt for a hostess.

At any rate, growing up I was taught to be a gentleman. Any courtesy I show a woman is done involuntarily and without prejudice.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2003 at 9:02AM
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This is too funny - maybe things are different up here in the middle of nowhere, but even at work, where I am a very well respected part of our team and work in computers (a very "gender-neutral" profession compared to others), all the men I work with *still* open doors, stand back to let me go first out doorways and through hallways, etc. If I act unsure of whether to preceed them or not, they will actually hold a hand out to direct me to go first (which is kind of embarrassing, so I don't hesitate much LOL). When I'm coming into the courthouse, even the lowest class of male will wait holding the door for women, even if they're 10ft off yet and have no clue who you are. Naturally, this is reinforced by any military or law enforcement personnel going into or coming out of the building - if a man doesn't hold the door for a woman, anyone in those professions will immediately catch the door and give her a look like they're apologizing for the last guy as they hold it for the woman. The only time women generally get the door for men here is for delivery men, and guys with thier hands too full to open the door themselves (in which case as a woman you are thanked profusely for the assistance).

It's not just here at work though either - department stores and malls are the same way. Some insolent teenaged boy will cut you off, run through the door and let it slam in your face - you can bet if there's an adult male anywhere around, he'll grab the door and sort of non-verbally "apologise" for the rudeness of the kid. So I guess I grew up with the whole "let the guy get the door" thing - it really doesn't bother me too much, really. I have to admit, sometimes I *like* being spoiled by men just because of my gender. :-)

I will admit though - I had never encountered a guy opening my car door for me until I started dating my fiance. The poor boy tried to "do the right thing" and open the door for me, and I did about the same thing it sounds like Jessie did - I about hit him with the door because I just wasn't expecting him to be there! The only people who get car doors opened for them out here are the rich. LOL Needless to say, we dispensed with that little courtesy right off the bat. And I told him right away that I don't like to "lead" in restaurants or crowds - he's much taller, and I feel "safer" behind him, and would rather leave those decisions to him anyways. :-)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2003 at 11:43AM
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Another non-single here! (Sorry, life is interesting and this is an interesting thread!)

I live in the L.A. area. And, while we don't have the "rude" reputation some other cities may have because we're friendly laid-back dudes and dudettes, I find common courtesy going the way of the dinosaur and it bothers me very much.

Younger people - teenagers and young 20s, seem to be getting ruder and ruder. Hello? This isn't China where there are so many human bodies travelling the sidewalk that you just jostle each other without an "excuse me", and if there's a queue it's every man and woman for him and herself.

I wouldn't be offended by a strange man opening a door for me - even if he waited to do so. I welcome it and hope he teaches his sons to do the same - as WELL as his daughters.

I don't know how many times I've held a door open for the next person coming - man or woman - and was not thanked. It was too many times, that I can tell you.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2003 at 7:30PM
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We've been married nearly 11 years and my husband opens all doors for me, all the time. He "helps" me in and out of the truck, helps me with my coat, etc.

I love it.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2003 at 12:37AM
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