Gendered Doorways

I am bad at doors. I’ve always had some weird issues with doors previous to my transition, but it’s a lot worse now. Let’s be clear, I am a capable human, and can walk through a door, but when you add other humans to the equation, I have literally no idea what the hell I’m supposed to do.

Rainbow Door

At least here in the US, doors are very gendered in how people behave. This is enough of a conundrum that it’s become a tired trope for straight cis gendered guys to lament about what these infernal feminists want? I mean, they were just trying to hold the door open for a woman, right?

That’s the rub, there is a lot of loaded gendered behavior in regards to how we approach opening doors. Racing to open a door for a woman might seem great, but what if she had it? What if you just look like an ass, racing in front of her to open the door, in a less than chivalrous creeper fest?

One of a thousand image memes for the google image search "feminist door".

One of a thousand image memes for the google image search “feminist door”.

Add to that, what do you do when it’s just men? Go through, hold it for the next guy? Can you hold it open for everyone? (Surprise! Some guys get really weird about that, presumably because you only do that for women.)

At what point do you usher a feminine presenting person through, or hold the door for your masculine friends?

So, I am bad at doors. I grew up in the 80s, and there was a leftover of the feminist movement from the 60s and 70s that left enough of a mark on the popular consciousness that I was vaguely aware of the weirdness of some of my male friends racing to hold the door for me, even when it put them at a distinct disadvantage. Despite my being young, healthy, and more than capable.

This led to some weird interactions where some guys would try to enforce the man-holding-door-for-woman dynamic by literally racing ahead of me, or physically preventing me from opening a door. Often quoting anti-feminist rhetoric. I always felt this was a weird hill to plant your flag on. I mean, there is literally everything more important than door opening, and order of entrance, so for me it was a weird dispute.

At least until I realized much later that I was challenging male to female power dynamics. These teenage boys were just enforcing a gender norm they had been indoctrinated in. I was, by my own burgeoning masculinity, threatening the status quo by soundly rejecting that.

Seriously, there are literally an unending pile of these from men freaking out that women are uncomfortable with the gendered issue surrounding doors. Also, Anita Sarkesiaan is cool and whoever made this is a walking anal douche.

Seriously, there are literally an unending pile of these from men freaking out that women are uncomfortable with the gendered issue surrounding doors. Also, Anita Sarkeesian is cool and this meme is just another of a billion weird attacks on her for being a feminist.

As an adult who has transitioned female to male, this puts me in a weird position that I have no real idea what to do with doors because it also gets an additional layer of weirdness. Sometimes folks that know I am transgender will open the door for me 100% of the time as if I am a woman, putting me in a feminine role. A lot of the times it’s subconscious, because some of these folks are super cool with me.

Door Fail

Me, trying to figure out doors.

That means every time a group of us, be it coworkers or friends, goes through a series of doors, I generally have no idea what to do. Doors are my kryptonite, where I stall, and hang back if possible.

I’d like to think a reasonably competent person could navigate the door situation, with it’s weird set of gendered rules and expectations, but here we are. Under the obvious simplicity of it all, is an ocean of gendered expectations and complications.

I'll just wait here. I'm fine.

I’ll just wait here. I’m fine.

About Wolsey

I am a middle aged man. I am an author and a maker.
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10 Responses to Gendered Doorways

  1. Ducened says:

    We tend to alternate door-opening, at least on airlock-type entries. J holds the first door for me, I hold the second door open. It’s partly a matter of who gets to the door first. If there are people behind/coming through the other direction, I’ll either hold it or push it open far enough that it doesn’t close in their face, no matter their gender. (Situational awareness: not just for other people.)

    I did know one guy in college who would race ahead, but he only tried that once with me. I told him I was perfectly capable of opening my own door, & when he tried to insist, I headed for a different door. The end. If I reach the door first, I hold it for Other Person. If OP gets there first, I get to waltz through without expending calories.

    • Kasey Weird says:

      This, entirely. If I am in a position to be within reach of a door first, I open it, and either walk through and hold it for the next person, or hold it aside while the person behind me goes first, literally depending on which is less awkward to due the direciton the door opens etc. I aim for common courtesy, not, like, going out of my way to do someone a big “favour” (unless I have reason to believe they may actually struggle with the door, in which case going out of my way is still just common courtesy I guess?).

    • jellotheocracy says:

      Lucky and I do things quite like that. It wasn’t until recently, when I started working in a very male centric environment, that my door issues escalated.

  2. I am a cis woman and I like to hold the door open for my male partner as a feminist gesture. But I also hold the door open for people with babies, because that’s how my mother raised me. (Before this post I had not realized how much I DO think about doors.) At the college where I work, there is a culture of all people holding the door open for all other people after the first person has stepped through. It’s fascinating.

    • Also I once had a female friend tell me in a confiding way that her former husband never carried her bags for her and she was used to doing everything by herself. I said something noncommittal, but I’m sure my reaction of “other people carry your bags for you?? In what universe?” was clear on my face.

      • jellotheocracy says:

        Carrying stuff for folks is a whole different can of worms I am always trying to parse out. I have some feminine folks that I know that expect everything to be carried for them, and I miss those cues all the time too. Every feminine person I knew previously was kind of a carry it herself kind of person.

    • jellotheocracy says:

      Doors became extra complicated in the last few years for me, but I hadn’t realized how much expectation and thought they required either.

      I like your college. I think everywhere should be that cool.

  3. nychild says:

    I hold the door open for everyone. If anyone has a problem with me holding the door open for you, catch it before it hits you, because I just let it go.

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