From MISS MANNERS, Judith Martin
Found in Florida Times Union, 4-26-05
"Dear Miss Manners: I wonder if you could address this issue with the hope of helping some men enter the 21st century; During a recent course of air travel, I was repeatedly offered unwanted, unsolicited 'help' with my carry-on bag.
I am 38. While I understand that some of the men -- those before my generation -- were taught that they must help a 'lady' with her bags or be thought impolite, I think that others -- some younger and some older -- use it as an excuse to intrude themselves on an apparently single female traveler. Regardless of their motivations, I would like for them to understand my perspective:
I do not want your help. I would never dream of asking for it. I am not so stupid as to pack a bag that I cannot handle myself.
Though I am small, I am much stronger than you apparently think. I am not interested in meeting you or any other strange man in an airport, and if you touch my bag you'll only annoy me. Who asked you to put your filthy, disease-ridden paws on my bag?
No, I don't feel the need to be polite because you intruded with unwanted and unasked-for 'help.' And don't ever think of me as a 'lady.'"
The first sentence of Miss Manners reply goes: "Miss Manners can reassure you that no one who read your letter would think of you as a lady."
JB here: Hopefully, the letter writer does NOT represent the majority of females her age and status. But we men are not sure and this doubt provides an easy out for extending ourselves to be help to women we don't know.
But here's the kicker. For women, the law is actually a poor provider of security and help when faced with an aggressive predator or obnoxious jerk. Yes there are laws against sexual harassment, but for a variety of reasons, they're not very good in stopping harassment when it is immediately happening. On the other hand, a gentleman who has instilled in him the responsiblity to protect and defend those who may need it, such as a single woman being harassed by a loathful lout, can easily step in and deflect the harassment and establish that the lady being harassed is not without support and defense. That is usually enough to thwart a would-be idiot/moron.
But what the modern woman has to understand is this, because you are smaller and weaker, because you're not testosterone driven, YOU MAY ACTUALLY BENEFIT FROM A GENTLEMAN'S HELP! Please give up the notion that a combination of you and "good laws" will stop the jerks and the predators. What actually stops the jerks and the predators are "a few good. men." Let's actually deal with reality instead of insisting upon a view that has no support in the real world; i.e. women don't need men to protect them. JB