Being chivalrous does not make me sexist

First published at Huffington Post on March 24, 2013.

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I’d be setting the women’s rights movement back 100 years. But alas, that’s what happened. Best of all, it took me less than 10 seconds to do.

As I was departing a Starbucks, I noted a woman a few paces behind me. The cafe layout didn’t allow a traditional open-the-door-and-wait-for-her-to-pass manoeuvre, so I opted to walk through the door then twirl around as I waited for her to go through. After all, chivalry requires improvisation sometimes.

Had it been a man behind me, I probably would have done the polite-but-effortless Herculean reverse stretch of the arm while still walking forward until my fingers release the final inch of the door. Women get full service.

“I don’t need a man to hold doors open for me,” she said, before stopping in her tracks and refusing to pass through the door.

She didn’t have her hands full, nor was she pushing a stroller or doing anything else that would render her physically incapable of opening the door. I just thought it was how one treats a lady.

Yes, I targeted my victim because she was a woman. My act of chivalry was but a hate crime in disguise.

“You’re welcome,” I replied, not wavering from my post.

After a few moments of stalemated stagnation, my counterpart relented and passed through the gateway to gender oppression. Albeit not without a pronounced huff and roll of the eyes.

My offer to hold the door open wasn’t an act of malice, and it certainly wasn’t because she I felt she was an inferior human being. It was because I was raised not to be one.

Manners and courtesy were grilled into me from a young age. I hold doors open; I walk women to do the door; I help ladies with their coats.

Men under 30 — myself included — have been raised in an emasculating society. From males wearing “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts to the 20-something Tucker Max fanboys whose mid-20s are dominated by a decade long cycle of drinking and hookups, oftentimes men are nowhere to be found.

Today’s “men” are stuck in a post-adolescent, pre-adulthood limbo while enlightened women fight for independence by the supposedly brave and principled act of not walking through an open door.

Chivalry is an exercise in basic human decency, not an effort to subjugate women. To believe that ladies should be treated as such should not be a controversial — let alone offensive –notion.

For that reason, should I ever run into a cranky, 30-something, misguided feminist again, I will do as I was raised and hold open the door.