What is the norm? What is expected? by Matthew Landeen

Normal behavior or expected behavior is the etiquette or rules that each culture has that makes up acceptable behavior.

It is very hard to know what the norm is.  I think most people, if they are observant, can get a good idea on what kind of behavior is expected of them.  It is easy to watch what others around us are doing and get a good feel for what the norm is.  I would like to tell two stories that illustrate that sometimes this can be hard, and sex and gender play a big part of this.

I went to pick up a girl for a date.  The expected behavior is that the guy would open the girls door for her.  This is not because the girl is an invalid and can not open her own door, but rather to show that the guy is treating her like she is special.  Naturally I go to open the door for my date and in a kind way she says that she can open her own door.  I was not offended but caught off guard.

I met a different girl and went to her house to pick her up.  This instance was not a date but when she got in my car her father started yelling at her to get out of the car, but she could not open the door by herself.  Her father made me go open the door and have her get out.  I then had to shut the door and re open it to let her get back in and then shut the door.  Anytime she got in and out of the car her father expected me to open the door for her.  This became a habit and sometimes I find myself, out of habit wanting to open the door for anybody that gets in my car.

With peoples opinions becoming more diverse its nearly impossible to understand fully what someone expects especially when it comes to gender roles.  One date didn’t want me to  open her door for her and another girl expected it opened every time.  Its also not in our culture for guys to open the door for guys nor girls for girls or girls for guys.  I wonder if this will become an extinct practice as women become more independent.  Who is to blame?


  1. #1 by ryanturner1989 on May 14, 2012 - 1:14 AM

    Matt, I believe that you make a valid point in that it was strange for one girl to expect her door to be opened while another asked you not to. You naturally ask, What constitutes a norm, anyway? As I listened to your two stories, I thought of the different values that your two dates hold. People stay faithful to what they value. The two girls merely had differing values – one valued car-opening chivalry while the other could care less. In your closing paragraph concerning the different norms of behavior of your dates and their families, you ask, “Who is to blame” (for the declining importance of men opening car doors for their dates)? In response, I’d like to pose to you, “Who is to blame for the importance of men opening their dates’ car doors in the first place?” Perhaps both are the same answer (I personally believe such is the case). What would that answer be?

    Ryan Turner

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