21 November, 2009

A Feminist-y Question

So here's a scenario that might or might not be familiar, followed by my general reaction and then by the reaction to MY reaction by a male of my acquaintance.


You are walking to the door of a restaurant/bar/etc., when a guy dashes in front of you, opens the door for you, and while you walk up to the door, gives you the semi-lecherous once-over and a sunny, cheerful smile.

Think about your reaction for a minute. I want to know what it would be.

Do you know yet? You should tell me in the comments.

Here's mine:
I walk up, open the other side of the door for myself, give the guy a sunny smile while I walk through and say, still smiling, "thanks anyway!"

A Male of My Acquaintance thinks this is a bitchy response. He thinks this is bitchy because, as he says, "good luck finding someone who won't objectify you in the first 5 minutes of your relationship. Nice high standards you have; I'm glad you make it so hard for guys to appreciate you." When I told him that I don't see anything wrong with having high standards for treatment, he replied that high standards are good, but a little objectification doesn't hurt anyone.

I would like to know how on earth I'm supposed to meet a man who is planning to treat me like a person with real ideas and real thoughts - as opposed to a set of breasts and holes with an occasional flash of intelligence - if I allow him to be a lecherous ass in the first 30 seconds of our acquaintance, and (here's the kicker) act like I think that kind of behavior is cute.

So, dear reader, tell me in the comments: How do you deal with the constant double standard? Do you ignore it? I mean, let's be honest, we all do at times, both men and women. Do you think about it occasionally and just give it up as too hard to be a capital-B Bitch all the time? What do you do? I'd love to know, especially because I'm getting tired of regularly stand up to the ridiculous objectification, despite the fact that I have no intentions to stop doing so.


  1. I would say "Thank you," and leave it at that. Any further attempts on communicating with me would be met with silence and an attitude of "I'm not interested in you. Oh look, there's the friend I was meeting over there."

  2. If the guy is a Southerner (or has a Southern mama) then it's natural reaction for him to open the door for the person behind him, whether man or woman. I'm Southern and if a guy drops a door on me he's lucky not to get a boot up the butt. But I guess I'm just a bit old fashioned that way.

  3. Like the above, I would say "thank you" and leave it at that. -Clarissa

  4. While I usually agree with you all and will do the same, it's the lecherous once-over that tips me over into opening my own door. Why is it okay to reward skeezy behavior couched as chivalry?

  5. First, I'm over 50 -- so, lecherous looks, not so much. And I should add that I have been a feminist since 1968 or so. Yikes.

    If I didn't like the way the guy looked at me, I would say a curt "thank you". If the guy looked "normal" I would say a warm "thank you".

    My husband of 30 years used to open doors and such when we were dating, and we yet have a pretty egalitarian marriage. He firmly believes in equal rights, equal pay, egual treatment of all kinds for women. Does his fair share of housework, used to share childcare more than fairly.
    Yet that doesn't exclude common courtesy - for each other.
    Since you asked my opinion, I'll say that opening doors does not equate to objectifying.

    Also, I want to say, I just love your podcast and your blog (which I just recently found).

  6. I'd say thank you and walk through the door, and leave it at that. Looking at you isn't so skeezy. Anybody's allowed to look, and like what they see. If he'd given you a cheesy line or made some kind of move, that's another thing - he just opened the door.

  7. I agree with you. It doesn't sound like the door opening was the objectification--it was the way he looked at you and whatever he communicated with that once over. It sounds like false chivalry at best, and it's ok to find that unremarkable.

    It often happens that bad behavior is coupled with good behavior, and it sets us all up to say, well, but he meant well. I've encountered it enough (esp. on the sidewalk, where a nice comment will end with a crude phrase--"Nice ass!"). People are what they do and I try to believe what I see. When something makes me uncomfortable, I just try to remember that it's not my responsibility to train these men to act better, nor do I have to gloss over what they've said/done by thanking them or anything like that.

    Oh, and your friend's comment that every guy would objectify you in the first few minutes of a relationship? That may be true on some level, but I'd argue that it's perfectly ok to disregard the ones that don't meet your standards. Do we really have to accept any and all attention just because?

    All that said, I think the old saying about every pot having a lid is true. The world is filled with people who wouldn't be a good match for you, but that doesn't mean there aren't people out there who see the world similarly to you. Thank goodness for those people.

    Love, love, love your podcast and blog!

  8. Hmmm, that is actually a good one. I have been told by many people that I am very expressive especially in my facial reactions. Most likely given the situation you described my reaction would go something like this:
    Give the leacherous mr. a look of WTF, say a cautious 'Uh, thank you?' and walk through the door as far away from the guy as possible.
    After all I don't want to discourage the appropriate behavior of holding the door for someone, but come on I'm not stupid. = ) A note on your reaction is sure it might be a little bitchy, but that is the reaction you are comfortable with you shouldn't feel bad about that.

  9. It's the semi-lecherous look that's the problem, and the dashing ahead. I think I'd be very uncomfortable. I'd probably go through the door and say thank you, I suppose because my mother taught me it's the right thing to do when someone puts a bit of effort in for you, but then no way would there be conversation or eye contact after that. If I had to hide in the loos til whoever I was meeting came, then so be it. I've been stared at before, occasionally, and I hate it.

  10. I'm a really shy, non-confrontational and polite sort of person. I would most likely smile and say "thanks" and walk through the door and keep walking, essentially putting him on ignore afterward. I usually write off that kinda behavior and don't give it much thought. Some guys just don't have a lot of class ;)

  11. I'd also say "thanks" and ignore him. What you did highlighs more about you than about him, and it will just brand you a bitch (ask me how I know about that one, heh).

    Not fair, but there it is.

  12. I think opening a door is nice, but running ahead to do it is a bit creepy. Also, one can't control lecherous thoughts but lecherous looks are a bit...can I say creepy again? At 54 my days of 'semi-lecherous one-overs' are almost non-existent and I can only remember how uncomfortable they made me feel. The odd appreciative, subtle glance, however is always pleasant (though almost always from the wrong guy).

    Love your blog, and your podcast. And I especially like the way you made me appraise my opinions today.

  13. i'm flattered when someone holds the door open for me, my own husband doesn't even do that, and my boys get THE LOOK if they don't. i work with mostly men,and i don't think they realize that the looks they sometimes give are lecherous, or even mean anything behind it. i've come to view them as little boys who are just goofy.-i just say thanks and go about my business.