Sexist or Not?

Sarah Zimmerman, Cooper DePriest,

With this column, we (Sarah Zimmerman and Cooper DePriest) will explore everyday occurances and decide whether or not they are sexist. We’ll each present our own views on the matter. 

This edition’s topic: 

Is it sexist for guys to open the door for girls?

Sarah’s View 

With my feminist hat on, yes, it is sexist. That’s not to say I don’t respect the gentlemen view on this issue of holding open doors. Cooper says he has always been taught to hold open doors because that is what men do.

Yes, men have been taught to hold open doors for girls, but that is only because it has been socially constructed that way. The act of opening a door seems simple and uncontroversial. But, in fact it is the exact opposite. It is the fact that it is seen as okay that allows us to continually construct our society with men being superior to women.

Why might opening a door seem sexist? The act of holding open a door for a women implies that she is incapable of doing it herself. Maybe with my feminist hat I am looking into this issue too deeply, but hear me out. For example, if I was walking towards a door completely capable of opening it, and Cooper was behind me with bundles of books in his arms, and made a point of opening the door for me, I would find that sexist. Although0 he had been taught it was gentleman-like to hold open the door, in that situation I was more able to open the door than he was. Therefore, I felt inferior to him because he thought I was incapable of opening the door.

Our society has been socially constructed to view opening the door as common courtesy but this has been constructed from the view that men are superior to women. So, our simple situation of opening a door becomes complicated.

Cooper’s View 

Absolutely not! Opening the door for a woman is by no means sexist; it is common courtesy. Growing up, my parents ingrained into me the importance of being polite. When I approach the entrance to a building, my first instinct is to grab the door handle and hold it open while others enter. Occasionally this proves to be difficult, and in some instances awkward. All of that aside, it is not sexist.

I’m not asserting my dominance over the female race, or implying that women are incapable of holding open the door on their own. The mere idea that this could be considered sexist is absurd! Sexism is discrimination based on gender; holding open the door is not discriminatory. I think opening the door is a sign of respect. When I’m with parents, teachers, or really any adult, I like to open the door. Sex plays no role in my decision making process.

If we are at the point where holding open doors is an issue, I think we are living in a society that places too much importance on preventing “isms.”The situation of opening the door is not complicated at all; it is simple. Guys holding open the door for girls is not sexist.