Social Question

jca's avatar

To what extent do you appreciate or expect men to do things like give up their seat to a woman, lift heavy items for a woman, let a woman off an elevator first (when practical), or hold doors for women?

Asked by jca (35994points) December 18th, 2015

I’d like both men and women to answer, just wasn’t sure what would be the best way to ask.

Ladies, to what extent do you expect and/or appreciate men to do things like give up their seat on a train for you, or hold the door for you, or let you off the elevator first (when practical, in other words, when the elevator is not packed with people where the man has to step out first to let people off). In the workplace, if there was a heavy box to be lifted, would you expect or appreciate the man to lift it, or would it not bother you if he stood there and let you lift it? On a plane, if you had to put heavy luggage in the overhead, would you appreciate it if a man did it for you? Or would you be insulted?

Men, please reverse this and answer. To what extent would you feel an obligation to get up and offer your seat to a woman on a train or other public transportation? If there was something heavy to be lifted, would you offer to lift it, or do you feel the genders are equal enough that you feel no obligation at all?

This question came to me from another thread, where a Jelly was asking about someone who yelled at her to give up her seat to an elderly man. We, on that thread, started discussing what might be the expectation or obligation to give up a seat to an elderly person or a man. Another Jelly, who I agreed with, said if there were men on the train, she would think that the men should and would feel obliged to get up in place of the young girl Jelly, and offer their seat instead.

I know at work, I work with a bunch of men and in a public building where there are both genders in the lobbies and on the elevators. Men will let me off the elevator first, except when it’s crowded and they have to step off because it’s not practical. Men will hold the door for me, usually, although I will open it for them, too. In the office, when there are boxes of heavy stuff that comes in the mail, and it has to be put in the supply room, the men will lift it. When a heavy water bottle has to be put on the water cooler, the men do it. I wouldn’t expect to be asked to do it while the men stand there. A Jelly on the other thread mentioned how on a plane, when she has to put her luggage in the overhead, a man is more capable because he’s probably going to be stronger, taller and have longer arms. I’m pretty tall, for a woman (five foot nine), and I’m no weakling, but a short man will most likely be stronger than I am.

Ladies and Gents, to what extent does chivalry and etiquette guide you when it comes to traditional male roles of lifting, giving up seats or the expectation of such, opening doors, etc.?

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44 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

I am a short, middle-aged woman, and I believe in basic courtesy. If a box is heavy, and a strain for me to lift, I would like it if someone a little stronger (man, woman, giraffe, doesn’t matter) offers to help. I feel the same about other things, as well. I don’t think men necessarily have an easier time standing, I think any able person in flat shoes is kind if they offer a seat.
Simplest of courtesy, folks, help out when you can and it seems called for.
Don’t base it on sex or age.

Pachy's avatar

To the extent that a little kindness and courtesy go a long way in this troubled world.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Men can be shamed regardless so we have to develop a basic radar that alerts us to those who will be offended by help and those who will be offended by the lack of it. 95% of the time basic chivalry is appreciated so that is the default operating mode. For the gals who like to do things themselves just because we don’t take offense at all to the refusal of help. It annoys me when people “help without asking” so we do get that. It’s refreshing at times not to have to treat the opposite sex as fragile princesses although we enjoy doing so. If I feel that it is being taken advantage of then it gets cut off quickly (I.E. something work related or going beyond a few moments of help) For the ones who take offense purely for ideological reasons…. I fart in your general direction.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’m male, not that it matters.

I open doors and hold elevators for both men and women. It’s just courteous. Perhaps it is how I was raised. It’s just a humane thing to do; to be nice to someone.

TO me, this isn’t related to gender at all. It’s the right thing to do no matter what.

jca's avatar

@elbanditoroso: Me, too, with a smile! However, what about the rest? The lifting of boxes, giving up of the seat, etc.?

Silence04's avatar

I am a male.

I’ll do things to help others in public when deemed appropriate, regardless of gender. I am a pretty tall person, so I’ll tend to help people reach or lift things.

However, knowing males are privileged in our society, I try to only help someone when they actually apear to need “my size” assistance, not “my sex” assistance.

Cruiser's avatar

Chivalry is on life support these days, and I blame the feminist movement for this change in male behavior. Their demand quest for equality I feel has encouraged men to abandon the chivalrous protocols men once followed for ladies in their presence. I lost count of how many times a lady has said to me…“I can open my own door or I can carry my own package” which can throw a wet blanket on my desire to ever do that again but it is the ladies who say, often with surprise…“thank you” that lets me know most women do appreciate and desire to be treated like a lady.

Seek's avatar

I’m only 5’ tall, and while my muscles are fairly strong, my joints are tricksy. Sometimes I can lift, sometimes I just can’t.

I was very happy to be able to help a woman in the grocery store yesterday. She has recently had back surgery and need help loading a few cases of water into her cart.

Most of the time, when I’m looking for help in the store, I’m scanning for tall employees, not necessarily male ones. Why they store nutella on the top shelf is beyond me.

I’m never offended by offered help, unless it’s being done in a deliberately condescending way.

“May I help you with that” is one thing.

“Oh, baby girl, you should let a man do your heavy lifting” offends me as much as the guy who asked my husband where could find “one of them” when he learned I know my way around a tool box.

jca's avatar

Oh yes, all the time I’m asked to get items on a high shelf in the store, or I offer when I see someone struggling on their tippy toes.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I expect everyone who can do it to do it. Just some random kindness people give to each other. I’m offended when a strong young person let an old person do all the work and doesn’t even look.

Seek's avatar

@Cruiser – my hobby takes chivalry very seriously, and what you mentioned about people turning down help is a subject that comes up a lot.

The offer is chivalric in and of itself, but so is accepting the “no” with grace.

On the other hand, some of us capable ladies who can carry our own baskets are learning that accepting unneeded help can also be chivalric, because it’s allowing someone else to feel the self-pride that comes from providing assistance.

No matter what, though, safety is paramount. I will politely decline to allow a strong man I do not know to accompany me to an otherwise unoccupied area. (Made that mistake once, fortunately he was more interested in shouting about Jesus than anything physically nefarious. Never again.)

Seek's avatar

holy typos, Batman! Sorry, I’m on my tablet and this thing doesn’t like me much

JLeslie's avatar

On a plane I expect a man to offer to help me put my luggage overhead. I don’t mean a small bag, but if it passes for a suitcase, then I expect it, and if no one offers and I know it will be difficult for me I ask a man to help me.

On busy elevators I expect the person nearest to the door to get on or off first regardless of gender. Anyone at the front blocking open doors for those who need to leave the elevator should step aside.

On a subway I would never expect a man to let me on or off first. Again, this is a closest to the door situation, even more so than an elevator.

Holding the door is more based as a courtesy for me rather than gender specific, although some doors are quite heavy and a mans help might be appreciated. I feel people should hold doors open if someone is immediately behind them so that person does not need to pull it open again, or so it doesn’t begin to close on their face. Women do it for men, and men for women.

I give up my seat in public places, or on public transportation, for pregnant women, young children, and the elderly. On a very long trip I might trade places with someone who does not fall into any of those categories if they have been standing a very long time. I’d ask them if they want to sit for a while. I would do this regardless of gender. Most people won’t take you up on it.

It’s more about being practical and helping each other. Women often are shorter, weaker, possibly dressed in a way that hampers them, and help from someone stronger or taller in some situations is a good thing, and that often is a man.

One thing I wonder is if people help overweight people who might have more trouble standing a long time, or some other difficulty.

No one should be grabbing boxes or luggage out of anyone’s hands or reaching for a product on a shelf for someone without asking them first if they want the help.

janbb's avatar

I often help other people and I don’t expect men to do those things for me. However, I’ve hung out with guys in the past few years who very naturally did things like take heavy packages from me and open doors. I don’t find it demeaning; in truth, I find it very endearing. Both men are feminists who respect women’s strength and I find the courtesy makes me feel treasured.

JLeslie's avatar

Just to differ with @janbb a little, I would call it being socially aware rather than endearing. Although, I understand why someone would use the word endearing. Her example shows how being chivalrous, and also supporting women as equals, are not mutually exclusive.

Cruiser's avatar

@seek I do agree with what you detail in your answers and the way the offer of assistance and or the decline are delivered is paramount. If done politely, no harm no foul. If either the offer or decline of the offer are rude or condescending in tone then I chalk it up to they are either having a bad day or are simply wanting their space. I never let a women not wanting my offer of assistance bother me or deter me in the least.

JLeslie's avatar

Men: If you readily offer to help lift something heavy for a woman, or reach for something for a woman, do you also offer for men? Would you say to a man, “can I help you with your luggage?” If the luggage is large, and you obviously have a much bigger stature than the man trying to lift a large piece of luggage? That probably would never be the case for carry-on luggage, but what about a huge piece in a different circumstance, or a very heavy box? Are you nervous about humiliating a man for assuming they could use, or need help?

ucme's avatar

I’m going to be honest & say that i’m more likely to hold a door open or allow someone my place in a queue or some other random act of courtesy if she’s a pretty woman.
That’s just the way i’m wired, if you have a problem with that then yeah…it’s your problem.

Silence04's avatar

@Cruiser im sorry, but as a male, you don’t have the right to blame women for not wanting to further promote male privilage in our society.

@ucme thats becuase society has wired you to be sexist. It’s not your fault because it’s a totally natural occurrence. However refusing to acknowledge the perspective of who you are oppressing is very much your fault.

ucme's avatar

@Silence04 Wrong, wrong & wrong again, but that’s okay, go with that feeling & let it ride.

Silence04's avatar

@ucme i’m seriously laughing. What you just described is the definition of sexism.

ucme's avatar

@Silence04 Tell me, how does one laugh seriously?
I’m giggling like a schoolgirl & may well develop hiccups as a result, but hey…

marinelife's avatar

I appreciate acts of courtesy when they come from anyone of any age or gender.

Silence04's avatar

@ucme damage control already? Maybe you should first explain the difference between a “schoolgirl’s” and “schoolboy’s” giggle

Zaku's avatar

I help to the extent that it seems helpful and wanted and convenient and that I’m willing. I don’t do it because I feel obliged by any rule, but I’m happy to help people who would like and appreciate my help.

Sometimes it can be tricky to know if someone wants help, or would not like to be helped. Some people resent being helped to do things they can do themselves. Some are even very sensitive or hostile about it. It helps a lot if I know them and/or if they say something. I know women who like me to go out of my way to open a door for them even if it’s a bit silly, and I know women who have said they might hit a man who even starts to do that. I also have seen short men who seem to resent me being tall.

The main effect of gender on me tends to be my experience and reading that women are more likely to appreciate a little physical help (or at least making way for), while men seem more likely to not expect or not want help with physical things.

So:
“To what extent would you feel an obligation to get up and offer your seat to a woman on a train or other public transportation?”
I only feel an obligation if they have some particular need for it, or if I’m in a cultural situation that expects it. Of course, I’m generally tall enough to easily reach any ceiling hand holds and so on, and many women aren’t that tall, or might feel a lot less comfortable than I would standing, especially if there’s a crowd or physically intimidating or annoying people or something, in which case I might assess that it would be a lot more comfortable for me to stand, that it might be for certain women (it would depend on my assessment of the specific women, and would apply to men too if they aren’t as tall or large or seem less comfortable about standing with other passengers or whatever).

“If there was something heavy to be lifted, would you offer to lift it, or do you feel the genders are equal enough that you feel no obligation at all?”
I think it’s about physical bodies, not about gender. I’m pretty tall and strong, moreso than most women. It’s often very easy for me to lift many things and reach many places that may be more effort for many others, including many women. And I like helping people when something is easy for me and when they appreciate the help. But if it seems like someone is going to have just an easy time as I would doing something, or if they’re about to do it themselves and don’t seem to be wanting help, then no.

It’s not about gender or sexism, it’s about helpfulness, consideration and sensitivity.

dxs's avatar

I’m a guy.
Do I feel these obligations because they are a woman? Never, never, never, and never. I don’t appreciate it at all. In fact, I’m bothered by it. I’m also bothered by people’s understanding of the word chivalry, which has so very little do to with gender “etiquette.”
But I do hold doors for people, lift things for people, and let people off of elevators first.
I’ll only get up on the train if someone asks me nicely or they’re old or disabled. It has nothing to do with what they’re 23rd chromosome is like. Penis, vagina, neither, ¼ of one and ¾ of the other, all are deserving of politeness and help.

JLeslie's avatar

@dxs How do you define chivalry?

ucme's avatar

Ground control to major tom
Do stop farting & put your knickers on…

Coloma's avatar

I too am a middle aged female now and while I have always been very pro-equality between the sexes, men do possess more physical upper body strength and therefore it is nice when they offer to lift, carry or do other major, physical things for you. Opening jars is great, haha.
I think opening doors is an equal opportunity courtesy and giving up a seat for an elderly, or pregnant women is also a unisex courtesy, but yep, I totally appreciate a man that helps with the heavy lifting. I take care of horses daily and do a lot of physical stuff but the one thing I need is the stable hand guy to hook and drag down the bales of hay from the top of the stack and lift and fill the containers with the heavy sacks of supplements.

I can climb up from the bottom row and wiggle and drag the bales of hay to the edge of the stack with the hay hooks but once they start to go over I simply cannot stop the momentum and they will fall on me and crush me. It is hard to wrangle something that weighs more than you do. lol

Mariah's avatar

I don’t expect men to help me with things but I’m also not one of those women who will get offended if a man does help. Help is kind, period.

LornaLove's avatar

Courtesy is a lovely trait in any human being, regardless of sex. I know, though when I was highly successful and could do anything and did do everything for myself, a man opening a car door was simply amazing.

dxs's avatar

@JLeslie A better question is how does Wikipedia define chivalry? Wikipedia knows all.

JLeslie's avatar

@dxs And, how are some people using it that bothers you? What are they saying?

Haleth's avatar

The New York MTA is running an ad campaign against manspreading, the practice of men taking up two or more seats on the train.

More offenders in action

This shit makes me glad I rarely ride public transit anymore. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had some dude sit next to me and do this and had to squeeze into the tiniest space possible. I don’t want to rub legs with a creepy stranger! Or how many times I’ve had to stand because a guy was doing this.

Forget chivalry, can we just have some bare minimum level of common courtesy?

Men have spoken up on this pressing issue (NSFW). Men defend their balls: a superpoem is sourced from reader comments defending manspreading. Kristen Schall hilariously defends it on the Daily Show- also NSFW.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I’m Canadian. We do this shit for each other all the time and then we apologize while accepting the favour. Gender is not the point; it’s about being nice to another human being.

dxs's avatar

@JLeslie Now that you’re asking me to elaborate, I regret putting that sentence in next to the one before it. It doesn’t really bother me that much, just that people have really changed the definition to mean gender etiquette.

JLeslie's avatar

@dxs No sweat. I didn’t mean to annoy you if I did.

dxs's avatar

@JLeslie It was more of a poke directed at the post’s details.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I appreciate it when anyone does something for me that I’m having a hard time doing myself. I don’t expect men to do absolutely anything for me.

I hold doors for people (and honestly, more than one man has looked at me funny when I’ve done it, which… was bizarre and uncomfortable, because I was just being nice), I allow people to cut me in line if I have a lot more to purchase than they do, etc.

If men want to help me, it’d better be because they’re being kind and not simply because I’m a woman. Likewise, they’d better be perfectly comfortable with me helping them, too, when and if they need it – because helping people makes me feel good, too.

JLeslie's avatar

I think sometimes men are offering help because we are women, and it’s ok in my opinion. Men have ego crap going on, and might hesitate to help another man in fear of implying the first guy can’t handle it well on his own. I might be wrong. Women are usually more accepting of help reaching and lifting. I’m curious to know if men worry about that with other men?

In school I though the tradition of a boy carrying schoolbooks for a girl was weird. I carry my books every day just fine. Even now I think it’s strange, especially if he is already carrying his books. When I need to carry something large and heavy and keep my purse on my shoulder at the same time, now it’s getting more difficult. We are handling, juggling, more than men in many circumstances. We don’t only have our purse as an accessory, it might have tampons in there, and some other necessities men usually don’t deal with. It doesn’t surprise me younger women don’t see why it’s necessary for men to offer help to women, but I think as you age you will begin to see more value in the tradition.

Seek's avatar

A boy carrying a girl’s books makes more sense when you think of how such things got started.

A gentleman taking a lady’s basket of eggs so she might hold his arm gave her the immense benefit of not stepping on a loose cobblestone and taking a dramatic tumble – something that would be embarrassing and disastrous if one were wearing a large and expensive petticoat (not to mention the broken eggs).

He gets, in turn, the benefit of that lady’s company for the walk back to her home, and thus time to woo her.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek Yes, in that circumstance it makes sense, but most of don’t walk across cobblestones holding the arm of a young man to maintain our steadiness. It’s a holdover that doesn’t make much sense walking down the school hallway, or even down the sidewalk. It’s sweet for the young man to offer though. My husband still walks on the street side of the sidewalk when we walk together. It’s not necessary, but sweet. Some of the other things we mentioned though really are big helps even today.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I appreciate it when men (or wo
En for that matter) hold the door open for me (that’s just good manners and I do the same for other people), lift heavy things or get things off a high shelf in the supermarket etc if I am struggling as I am very short!! I don’t expect them to give up there seat for me. I would feel awkward sitting in a seat that someone else had given up for me,I’m not elderly or pregnant and I’m fairly fit so I am no more deserving than anyone else, male or female.

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