My modern take on men opening doors for women; a common-sense guide.

I thought it time to bring back this at Christmas; when respect should be the by-word for our interactions with each other.

At a dinner party recently, in conversation with a friend (thanks, Mette Mikkelsen, for making me reflect on this a bit more), came the subject of men opening doors for women. I am a man, and the interlocutor a woman. Both of us, I think it is fair to say, qualify as feminists. But our takes were different on the question of a man opening a door for a woman.

Style: "Mad Men" January Jones (Betty Draper) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm)

I shall start this by admitting that I do it. I will open a door for a lady IF the situation is such that it makes sense for both of us. But in the same way as I would open the door for anyone. To be clear, in my younger years I opened doors for women because I was taught that a gentleman does. And a gentleman does BECAUSE he is a man, and she a woman.

Like so many things that are symptoms of patriarchal structures, the ‘why’ of it is the proof in this particular pudding.

The issue, as there certainly is one attached to a man opening a door for a lady, is about the intention.

It is nice, not rude, or sexist, to do something nice for someone because you respect them, because they are another person, and it’s the right thing to do, and it’s courteous. I would, and do, happily open doors for a wide range of people, and allow them to go first out of respect, courtesy, or just plain niceness.

That decision should (and I hope it mostly is although we are all fallable!), not about the sex of the recipient of the benevolent act. I would like to think my act is a gender non-specific one. At times, however, I find myself through my Aussie male (sexist) conditioning, forgetting myself and opening a door for a woman BECAUSE they are a woman. Nobody is perfect. šŸ˜¦ The trick, like combating racism, is to catch yourself out and question yourself.

Where it becomes a problem is if the intention of the male opening a door for a woman is to be ‘correct’, according to his own idea about what is correct, to her as a woman.

Why is this a problem, I hear you ask? That’s a great question, and the subject of my dinner party conversation.

Because doing nice things for someone CHIEFLY because of their sex is, you guessed it, sexism, and is quite simply the flip side of doing something bad to someone for the same reason. It betrays an uneven power relationship.

The safest way as a guy to act on this question of ‘man opening door’ is to, before the situation occurs, reflect on your own intent. Do you act out of niceness and courtesy in a general, gender unaware sense, or do you do it out of ‘correctness’ and hold the door mostly for ladies because they are women?

if the latter, for the sake of promoting gender equality, then consider changing your perspective.

That starts with understanding that women are not the weaker or more decorative sex, and you can and should rather open the door equally for anyone whether man or woman, young or old, out of niceness; because you are a good guy.

Try this: I open the door for women other people, because I am a gentleman polite.

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The Princess Revolution

A new generation of parents is shopping with the idea that pink and blueā€”along with robots, bunnies, dinosaurs, and unicornsā€”are for every child.

A great read from Adrienne Lafrance at The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/05/pink-is-for-boys-too/481659/

Male Trailing Spouse Interview: Expat Survival Guide

For those interested, here is a very brief interview for the Expat Survival Guide; the views from male trailing spouses

The Male Trailing Spouse series – Brian in Iran

For the Burqa Ban

And for everyone who enjoyed the thinking of Kenan Malik, the also compelling arguments in FAVOUR of the burqa ban, put together very nicely, and thought-provokingly, by Phyllis Chesler*

Ban the Burqa? The Argument in Favor.

The rights and the wrongs of a burqa ban, as with any complex issue, are easily expressed, but coming down on one side or another really not. Whether you are for or against, it mostly comes down to one thing; your point of departure; your answer to the foundational questions of what you want to achieve by a burqa ban, and is a burqa ban the best way to achieve that end?

 

* Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the Richmond College of the City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network.

Against the Burqa Ban

The burqa has become a battleground for western values. And a burqa ban is a truly complex issue.

For those wondering about the right and wrong of it, this piece from Kenan Malik is worth spending time mulling.

Pandaemonium

As the French ban on the burqa comes into force today, here is part of an essay I wrote last year, when the French debate first kicked off, for the Swedish newspaper Gƶteborgs-Posten.


THERE IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING MEDIEVAL ABOUT THE BURQA AND THE NIQAB. The idea that in the 21st century women should be hidden from view for reasons of modesty or religious belief is both troubling and astonishing. Yet, there is also something surreal about the way that this piece of cloth has been turned into a battleground for Western values and about the idea that the burqa poses some kind of existential threat to the West.

The campaign against the burqa is particularly puzzling when in reality so few women choose to wear it. The sight of a burqa in Paris or Brussels is almost as rare as a glimpse of a bikini in Riyadh or Karachiā€¦

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5 Practical Things Men Can Do For Gender Equality At Work

Many men ask me what they can do after they have been made more aware of gender inequalities.

Yes, many men, nay, most men, are blissfully ignorant of gender inequality.

Once they have become aware, however, things begin to change. The world looks different. Their minds never regain their original shape. And they are left wondering what they can do.

They are also left wondering about all the things they have done in their lives that were sexist, and how they might do them differently. As you might have gathered from my earlier blog article about men opening doors, it is as simple, and as complicated, as that question.

This post leads you to a very thoughtful article by Kathleen Davis – Leadership Editor at http://www.fastcompany,com – providing some suggestions for things men can do in the workplace to help along gender equality in the workplace. These are quite useful ideas, many of which one might say are starting small but designed for those who wisely ask the question about what they can do to make things better.

Remember, small change is where big change begins.

Her five main action areas are:

1. If You Have It, Take Parental Leave (And Encourage Other Men To Do So Too).

2. Share the Second Shift

3. Mentor (both men and women)

4. Pay Attention To Double Standards In Language

5. Donā€™t Participate In Panels Of A Bunch Of White Men

Read more here: http://www.fastcompany.com/3037193/strong-female-lead/5-practical-things-men-can-do-for-gender-equality-at-work

(With due credit to Kathleen and Davis FastCompany for this graphic)

Self-Regulation of Sexual Objectification by Australia’s Advertising Industry? Miserable Fail.

Despite their own claims, the Advertising Standards Board in Australia, in a more than feeble attempt at self-regulation, has failed miserably to police community concerns about objectifying and objectionable advertising.

By dismissing the vast majority of claims, the circular logic of the Mad Men of Australia enables the ASB to report that there is little in the way of objectifying material out there.

The advertising industry of Australia demonstrates a their ‘men are monkeys’ and ‘women are for sex’ approach to advertising.

This excellent blog piece by Melinda Tankard Reist hits home; clearly demonstrating the failure of the ASB to enforce sexual objectification rules.

If the examples Melinda raises are NOT sexual objectification of women, the sexual objectification tests are clearly rubbish.

http://melindatankardreist.com/2014/10/ad-watchdog-in-australia-a-dismal-failure/

Not surprisingly, just as happens when police police the police, the ASB are acting themselves like advertising industry monkeys on this issue. It is more than high time to test objectively their tests/rules for identifying objectifying materials.

And so, what do we think of self-regulation for the advertising industry when it comes to objectification of women?

On a scale of one to ten, ten being ‘the best we could do’ and one being ‘lousy’, we really must be talking about fractions here.

If you happen to know any of these Mad Men at the ASB, please pass on this link of REAL tests for sexually objectifying material, just to make it really clear to them: https://brianiselin.com/2014/02/24/the-sexual-objectification-test/