Q. Is “ladies first” still the rule?


American boys in earlier generations were taught to always hold open a door for a woman and always offer a woman a seat on the bus. But then came the women’s liberation movement and we are now faced with a new problem. If we hold open a door, will the woman feel we are treating her condescendingly and will she interpret our act as an insult? Are the days of chivalry and “ladies first” gone completely?

In the 1990s, it is no longer proper to act as if women were in need of held or that they are dependent on male kindness, but that does not mean that one should cease to be courteous. In–stead, contemporary etiquette says that if we wish to treat men and women equally, then whoever gets to the door first should open it and hold it open for whoever follows. It should not matter whether you are man or woman or whether the other person is the company president or cleaning person. Holding a door open for someone is common courtesy. When a door is particularly heavy and you have to push it open, it may be more helpful if you go through first and hold the door for those who follow.

In the event that a door is open, a gentleman should allow a female companion to go through first, especially on a date. “After you,” says the polite person, and the other person replies, “Thank you,” as he or she goes through the door.