Chimamanda and Opening Doors

My dear Chimamanda Adichie is trending on the Naija cyberspace because she said:

She was happy for people to hold the door for her but hoped “they’re not doing it for this idea of chivalry,” as it could imply weakness on the woman’s part.

However she has come under attack because of the way some Nigerians have interpreted her comments to mean; Men shouldn’t hold doors open for women.

Chivalry as we know does not equate kindness. That a man holds open a door for a woman doesn’t mean he is kind or treats her with respect.

I don’t why there would be so much backlash just because Chimamanda said, we should be kind to one another. All I got from her comments was for people to show etiquette to everyone irrespective of gender. Don’t hold the doors open for me just because I am a woman; do it because you are a good person and you can do it for anyone else, male or female. Not because you have been socially constructed to do so.

Someone said to me, “but Men don’t open the door to us because we’re women though! It’s just a nice gesture so why are we reading so much meaning into this that we now imply door opening equals weakness?”

I think they forget that holding the doors open for women is a gesture that has historical origins. This tradition of men holding open doors for women can be traced back to the medieval concept of chivalry, when men were told they were stronger and women were weak and so, they had to protect and help the women. Modern day etiquette however, calls for whoever reaches the door first, should hold the door open.

If you would stop to help a lady change her car tyres, do the same for a man. Don’t assume that because he is a man he should be able to change his tyres. This is what this conversation is about. She’s only asking that everyone be kind to one another, regardless of gender, and that kindness not be gendered.

I sha love Chimamanda Adichie, she stirs up conversations.


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