Ladies, did you grow up thinking properly-mannered men would open doors for you and allow you to proceed first from buildings and elevators? Or did you conclude that this is traditional garbage that needs to go the way of thinking women are property of their husbands and fathers?
Just this week I finished a memoir, Amarcord, by an Italian lady Marcella Hazan
who apparently is famous for writing cookbooks and teaching classical
Italian cooking. She tells of a visit to Japan in 1969 where she'd been
"told of Japanese women's deference toward men, but my romantic Italian
mentality, formed by tales of the age of chivalry and gallant knights,
had refused to take it in." Yet she saw it firsthand as her husband was
served first in restaurants and where "waitresses fawned over Victor."
Even when she approached a door at the same time as a Japanese man, he
"would rush past me to spare me the embarrassment of preceding him
Marcella remembers a time when she and her husband
were in a hotel elevator in Tokyo, and "a big American man entered."
At the next floor two Japanese women in kimonos came in. Can you guess
what happened when they reached the lobby?
"The Japanese women
stood aside, with a smile and a hint of a bow, waiting for the man to
exit first. The tall American smiled back and waited for the ladies to
go. We were stuck in the back. Nobody moved, the doors closed, and the
elevator, with all its passengers still in place, rose to the uppermost
Marcella said she still giggles about this, and it is quite funny to visualize!
culturally speaking, what is proper where you are from? Do you tend to
grab doors for ladies? Offer seats to older men and women? Defer to
men? What is proper where you live? It's good to know what is expected
in other places so we won't all be riding the hotel elevator up and down
all day, right?
Additional question: what is something you've
had to do differently in another culture when you were visiting another
country or even another group within your own country? I remember when
we went to Syria the only thing Samer told us not to do (because I asked
about this prior to our traveling there) was not to offer to shake
hands with guys (for me) or ladies (for Andrew) unless that person
offered his/her hand first.
One of his friends "complained" that I didn't shake his hand, and "blamed" Samer for this! He taught us well! :)
(So, I read a book about a lady famous for cooking and post about a cultural tidbit... you see what interests me.)