Gender, Power and…Door-Holding

DoorStopperElana Maryles Sztokman, an American-born Israeli author, activist and educator, recently raised questions in a Facebook post about gender, power and…door-holding. 

“Heard something today…that really made me think,” wrote Sztokman on her Facebook page. That “it is a mistake for women not to let men open doors for them…our ability to get people to do stuff for us is part of our power.It made me wonder about what we think of as power. Is power the ability to do everything for ourselves, or is power the ability to move the world in our direction and to get others to help us achieve our goals?”

From the ensuing debate in the Facebook comments section, some highlights:

Rena Bannett: “…There is an inherent fallacy in perceiving power in the feminine need for and receipt of help.…Women are acculturated to be disempowered, then taught that it is a feminine ‘power’ to get help using femininity.”

Andrea Hila Bar: “Power is the ability to achieve your goals by means of your own creativity, which includes utilizing tools, both internal and external, which include PEOPLE.”

Brie Gabrielle: “Feminism has nothing (and everything) to do with the issue of men holding doors. Feminine power is beautiful. But it comes from within, not from men doing things for women. I’d prefer to see people holding the door for other people because
it is polite, and something we can give, without seeing such chivalrous acts as either disempowering or as recognition of a feminine power.”

Sheryl Grossman: “Reminder from the Disability World: our power is our ability to accurately understand what we can do independently and do that while understanding what we need assistance with and asking for help with that.”