Join Prism Book Alliance® as Catherine Dair goes Outside the Margins today.
In early August I made a Facebook post about taking my son to see his beloved Mariners play a game for his birthday. This was the post:
I’m currently at the Mariners game for my son’s birthday. He wanted to explore for a bit so we walked around. He’s a few inches taller than me now and still having growth spurts at 14 with more to come.
Every time the crowds would get thicker he would reach over and interlace his fingers in mine. No longer my little boy who would grab Mom’s hand so we wouldn’t get separated in a crowd…this was clearly my young man in protective mode making sure Mom stayed with him and safe. It was clear that was his intent by his body language.
Time flies so damn fast. (And so proud to be his Mom).
I received a private message a short time later. The contactor said they read my post to their partner which had resulted in a conversation on why they didn’t show this type of affection. Their reason was that they had been scolded too often for holding doors open for women.
This shocked me. I had never heard of this. Were men really scolded for opening doors for women? I asked a dad that I knew if he had encountered this and he replied “yes”.
Naturally I did what any person does who is curious…I enlisted Google and searched for articles on the topic. Wow, did I ever find them. Many of them.
It comes down to something called “benevolent sexism”.
This has been bothering me for days.
I see myself as a feminist. Yet I’ve taught my son to open doors for women. Not just women – all people. My son has never viewed women as the weaker sex. He would laugh at you if you accused him of it. Mom or big sister are the ones that capture the spiders in his room (or other parts of the house) because he’s terrified of them. Mom is the one who builds all the new furniture we purchase from IKEA and who teaches him how to turn that wrench. Mom is the one who has all the tough talks with him and who scared off the dog that came racing at him.
My son opens doors for people – men and women, young and old alike, because it is the nice thing to do. I would like to say I have taught him compassion but he was born with a bucket load of his own. All I had to do was guide him in ways to use it.
Guess what? My daughter opens doors for everyone as well.
They have also been taught to “take care of family”. Look out for the ones in your pack. Not because they are weaker, but because we are bonded in love and we look out for each other. My son was not holding my hand in public because I had leveled down to the weaker sex. He held my hand because he wanted us to stick together. He was being aware of his surroundings and how it pertained to the two of us.
I saw it as maturity.
It bothers me greatly that my son and possibly even my daughter will potentially get scolded for opening a door for someone in the future because it is seen as sexist. Instead of telling them to stop, I will have to forewarn them now it could happen. I will need to prep them for what to say if they do get reprimanded for it. What should that be? Should they just tell the person they are extending a kindness? Should they just take it on the chin, knowing that the real reason they did it was because Mom taught them to be polite to people?
Reprimanded for being polite. This makes me quite sad.
If you are someone that is rankled by this gesture, I am going to ask a favor. Consider that the person just might be doing it because they are of the mindset that being nice to others spreads niceness around the world. Not intending for it to be a sexist gesture. I know how much it would hurt my son’s heart to be accused of that.
The alternative is to teach my kids to not consider anybody but themselves in public and that is just not who we are. We believe that you should go out of your way to spread kindness and hopefully make someone else’s day a bit more pleasant.
We are a family that opens doors.
About Catherine Dair
Catherine Dair is a full time Mom by day and spends her evenings as her alter egos – a ninja illustrator and a superhero. Her children know all about it and they are usually putting in their two cents over her shoulder. She gets the giddy pleasure of making fun art for authors, bloggers and lots of cool people. In her spare time, Catherine makes crazy designs for her Redbubble store and fiddles with her website. She gave up sleep because sleep is for sissies.
Find out more about the fun she likes to have in life (and the art she creates) at:
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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