Favorite Anti-Feminist Theory Debunked By Purdue Researchers

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 11:28 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

Why you no let me open door myself?

As anyone who has ever spent any time talking about feminism online before can tell you, a whole fuckton of men claim that feminism, in all its evil machinations, has made opening a door for a lady a fraught ordeal of doom. With straight faces, they assure everyone reading that merely holding a door open for a lady while giving her a slight nod or a tip o’ the fedora, will turn her into a raving beast of feminist-inspired madness, screaming about how the door-opener is the oppressor and how she can open her own doors, while damning you to hell or perhaps to live on a lesbian commune as their manservant. But is this true? Are women really so uptight about doors being opened, due to their punishing feminist indoctrination? Purdue researchers set to find out.

McCarty and Kelly describe an experiment featuring 196 people who walked into a building on a university campus. The entrance had two doors directly next to one another, each of which opened outward.

Each subject was approached by a male member of the research team as they walked toward the building. For half, the research associate “took a step in front of the participant, opened the door, and let the participant walk through the door first.” For the other half, he reached for the adjacent door, so that the two opened their doors more or less simultaneously.

Once inside, a female research associate approached each subject and asked him or her to complete a short survey. On a one-to-10 scale, they indicated their agreement with three statements measuring self-esteem (including “I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others”), and three measuring self-efficacy (including “I can usually achieve what I want if I work hard for it”).

The results: Male, but not female, participants reported lower levels of self-esteem and self-confidence if the door had just been held open for them.

Indeed, not only did researchers not find that women, contrary to anti-feminist claims, are easily offended flowers that freak out at the slightest demonstration of a man’s graciousness towards them, but that men, in fact, kind of are. To be fair, there is no indication that anyone of any gender freaked out at the door-opening man. But the only people in the study who had the emotional reaction to the door-opening that could lead to a freakout were men.

So I offer this as a counter-theory to all the men online who claim women are cruising for a confrontation if you dare open a door for them: Perhaps you are projecting your own insecurities and easy-to-offend nature onto women. Maybe you should take your own advice and take door-opening for what it is, an act of politeness that doesn’t actually indicate that the door-opener believes you to be weak or inferior.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.