A few months ago, a friend sent me a link explaining about the basic etiquettes of opening doors for women, and about carrying heavy luggage or groceries for her.
Polish traditions that surprised me – Opening doors for women
She didn’t say this to me in person, probably because she might have thought that i would be offended by her message. Honestly i wasn’t aware that women in Poland give attention to these kind of gestures from men. What i thought was that women and men treat each other with respect through words and/ or through their behaviour. I was really taken aback by my colleague’s message.
My friend sent me this beautiful message with a detailed description on how to open doors for women in different situations(while You are exiting a building with her, while You are entering a building etc etc). i took a moment to read the message and i learned a lot. I thought that just being nice to the female sex, and being polite in Your actions is enough. But then life surprised me again. Thank You Agata 🙂
Now let me tell You something about what i was taught in the past. I think i mentioned in one of my posts that boys and girls are divided into two groups in schools in India, right? If one of the boys would go to the girl’s side and talk with them, everyone would say ‘ah he is probably a sissy. Always looking to chat with the girls whenever he gets a chance’. So most of us men would act as if we were not interested in girls. We had to keep our “man’’ face and act as if we don’t care about the girls. There was no question of opening doors for women or helping her with her luggage. The price of looking like a sissy in front of Your male friends was a big one. They would constantly make fun of us. But of course there were a few boys who didn’t mind it and chatted up the girls whenever they had a chance. They just didn’t care about what others thought about their actions
When i went to college it was the same thing. I had to still keep my 'man’ face and show as if no female in the world can make me change my behaviour. ‘’Change my behaviour? have You gone crazy?’’
There was no lesson from our father or elders in the family about always helping out the female or being polite to them. That doesn’t mean that men in India are always rude to women. The only women we helped out were our mothers and other female relatives in our family. That was obvious. Who wouldn’t help out their mother with groceries right?
The rationale behind this decision of being cold to women i think is- ‘When You bend over too much for a women, she would probably think that You are weak and You want to Get something back from her. So at any cost, don’t show that You are weak. Real men don’t need to help women. You might never have a girl friend, but don’t ever be overtly nice to a women. Your friends will call You a mother’s boy. Now that is a big challenge for a male in India. To be made fun of by Your friends at school would mean that You would end up with no friends. We had to save our face at any cost.
Besides we have a huge society in India called ‘the moral police’. They will question every motive of a man. Whenever a boy/ man hangs out too much withthe opposite sex, they will question it. “why is that boy always hanging out with women”’? Probably the girl will also get into trouble for hanging out with the boys.
In Poland, opening the doors for women is something that is taught to boys from a young age. In fact helping the female sex is not considered as weakness, instead as a sign of respect and companionship towards women. While doing that men are in fact celebrating equal rights towards the opposite sex. In india such instances are nipped in the bud from a very young age(due to societal pressure from Your peers), but in Poland it is something that is encourage and celebrated. Women feel happy that they are treated with respect. Isn’t it beautiful?. Its amazing what 8000 km of distance between us can do change our behaviour and perception to one single thing.
I remember a couple of weeks ago, i met a mother walking with her child in a trolley. As soon as i saw her trying to enter a building, the first thing i did was run as fast as i could, to open the doors for her. She was positively surprised. I asked her if i could bring the trolley up to her house. She said no thank You, that her husband would come down for the trolley. She was really happy, and i also felt nice doing it. Now every time i see a girl or a lady getting near a door, it is a marathon to open the door for her. Most often the reaction is thank You and a big smile.
I don’t care what i was taught in the past. I don’t feel like a sissy. I feel like a man now. I am glad i could learn one more thing which would bring me closer to the European/ Polish customs and traditions.