Nikole Collins-Puri, The Hill, February 16,2015—As I walked into the hotel lobby, a smiling man opened the door with a flourish and said “ladies first, beautiful.”
On another morning, absorbed in my thoughts, I might have barely noticed this somewhat dated attempt at courtesy, but on this particular day, I was on my way to hear my boss address more than 300 domestic violence advocates. Ladies first? Really? The irony was overwhelming.
The phrase “ladies first” has its origins in the view that women are fragile and delicate, needing special protections. This is one reason that women are among the first to be evacuated in dangerous situations. We all remember the Titanic directive of “women and children first.” Society practices these arbitrary rituals that ultimately do nothing to elevate or equalize a woman’s positioning and value in our society. If anything, it perpetuates the perception of women as powerless and weak.