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(c) by Mary Griggss

On one of the forums I belong to there is a discussion going on about courtesy. Now, to start with, I’m all in favor of it.

However, there have been a couple of people who blame the decline of courtesy on the rise of feminism. They rehash the same old tired arguments about how women fighting for their rights have destroyed all that was good and pure in male/female interactions.

I take issue with blaming feminists for our present state of affairs. Feminism is about so much more than holding doors and ordering meals. Courtesy is also more than just conduct between men and women.

Yes, there has been stridency from some women who do not want to be thought helpless strictly because they are female. To my mind, what is demeaning and condescending about modern chivalry is in the unequal application, i.e. men would hold doors for women while letting it slam in their buddies face.

When women speak of equal treatment, no one wanted or expected what became the result: insecure men, instead of raising the bar to include all, dropped the standard of courtesy altogether. Instead of railing against that, women (as per usual) get the blame.

I see courtesy as a social contract between myself and every other person on the planet. Take holding doors–whoever arrives first, should at least hold the door open for the who ever follows and, if the follower is burdened by packages, the door holder should step aside and let the burdened one through first.

I open the car door for whoever is riding with me, don’t begin eating from my plate until everyone at the table is served, and say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ regularly. I neither answer my cell phone or my landline during a meal and I make sure to excuse myself whenever I am in conversation and must take a call. None of those things are affected by the gender of the people around me.

What is good enough for the goose is good for the gander. Let’s face it, courtesy is about doing the right thing. And that’s as gender neutral as you can get.

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