By Michelle Chirby
My father always insists on opening the door for me. It’s part of his philosophy on life, and it couldn’t be more quintessential of his generation. For him, opening doors is more than just an action. It is a stance on chivalry, diligence and adherence to tradition -- traits that are valued by the baby boomers.
More than once, my sister and I were practically shamed for beating our dad to an entrance, dismounting a car on our own, or dating a boy who didn’t even seem to notice when -- God forbid -- a door was inconsiderately closed on his little ladies.
We resisted waiting patiently for a male’s assistance not for a stubborn social statement nor an intentional act of feminism. Rather, we are what they made us. My hard-working parents, like many others of their generation, had nine-to-fives and debts to pay, requiring us kids to develop a sense of independence and self-sufficiency. And while our baby boomer influencers placed major emphasis on their careers, it was only natural that we followed suit, attaining the highest levels of education possible and becoming goal-oriented forward thinkers from a young age. In reality, we’re more likely to think about what’s on the other side of the door, as opposed to giving credence to outdated social protocols.
Bloomberg Business has even gone so far as to state that “millennial women are taking over the world,” referencing the fact that millennial women are earning higher degrees of education faster than women of previous generations and millennial men. Among professional millennials, 27 percent of women hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 21 percent of millennial men. But while women are accelerating in the workforce faster than their mothers and grandmothers, they still hold less than 20 percent of congressional seats in the U.S., and wage gaps remain.
Women have proven they don’t need men to be breadwinners, and females can master the Alpha role, too. But with many more figurative doors to walk through, young women cannot wait for a door to be opened for them; they must exhibit independence and excel in leadership.
We are now in an era where letting men take care of us is a matter of permission, not privation. Chivalry must either be considered dead or androgynous, its intentions replacing benevolent sexism with general politeness. In every sense of the phrase, millennial women are more likely to open doors for themselves and then hold them open for others, and that’s all the more reason they should be valued and encouraged to reach high-powered positions in our society.
I like opening my own doors. I have a hunch that other millennial women do, too.
Image credit: Flickr/Dmitry Ryzhkov
Michelle Chirby is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer working with Kuli Kuli, a social enterprise that sustainably sources moringa, a green superfood, from women’s cooperatives in West Africa. She is a Michigan native who enjoys cooking, writing, and traveling.