Home » To help or not help with a woman’s suitcase on a plane. Sexism? Manners? You decide
To help or not help with a woman's suitcase on a plane. Sexism_ Manners_ You decide

To help or not help with a woman’s suitcase on a plane. Sexism? Manners? You decide

by Jeremy B

A recent Twitter exchange from writer and poet Caroline Rothstein has set the internet on fire and folks on both sides of this “issue” are weighing in. We are not strangers to a little controversy and we’d like to get your thoughts, opinions and insights.

Here’s the post from Rothstein:

Rothstein is, of course, referring to a new conundrum facing travelers both male and female and how (or if) this is an issue of manners or another instance of toxic masculinity:

  • Is it offensive to offer a woman assistance in stowing / retrieving her bags on a plane?
  • Is ok to let a man assist you with your bags?

Full Disclosure: I am a 43 year old white male from Southern California. 

I give you my opinion at the end.

Responses to Rothstein’s tweet (which at time of publishing had been retweeted nearly 500 times and had almost 2.5k likes) have been all over the map, but mostly in protest to Rothstein’s comments. For example, Erielle Davidson, a contributor at the Federalist noted in response (which has 26k likes and 3.5k retweets:

Even Reporter Soledad O’Brien weighed in:

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Others, like Rebecca noted:

Someone Named Milton said:

While @klmccook offer this:

Here are a few other responses:

I looked (and looked) for tweets that wholeheartedly supported her position and struggled to find many. After reading and re-reading many of the responses it seems that Twiter has come down on the side of the man who attempted to help her. But, if you find any that make a useful counter argument, tweet me and I will add a few.

Rothstein recently tweeted this response in reply to the backlash her original tweet received:

Here’s where we come down (and remember…I am a 43 year old white male from California)

I was raised a certain way. To hold doors open for people, particularly women and taught that manners matter. Yes m’am. No sir. Please. Thank you. etc. Historically, I will offer to help women with their bags, but I never presume they need help and I never jump in without their permission. Many women, in fact, ask for help. Some, politely reject my request which is fine. Others gladly accept it.

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This is just how I was raised and I know, personally, in my heart of hearts, I don’t feel any sort of sexism in my offer (maybe I am just wrong, though). I’ve also helped elderly men with their bags, or moms with a kid on her hip, or military folks with far too much gear. I hold doors open for men, for women, for my boss, or my subordinates and colleagues. My friends, my wife, my kids, etc. And if someone does the same for me, that’s cool. To me, it’s an issue of manners and nothing more.

But, I will tell you, that lately I’ve been a little gun shy. And it’s because of responses like those noted in Rothstein’s tweet. I know I am not a sexist pig. I wasn’t raised that way either. But, I also don’t want to get into some brouhaha on a plane with someone who thinks I am oppressing her by asking to lift her clearly overstuffed bag (ok, I embellished the overstuffed part).

So, personally, I wish everyone would just chill the heck out, use some more manners, and if you want to reject the help, cool. No hard feelings on my side. And I hope you don’t have any on your side towards me and my request.

PS…I also don’t know Rothstein and am going to give her the polite benefit of the doubt here and assume she did mean it tongue and cheek.

What are your thoughts? Should a man offer to help a woman with her bags? Should she accept it? It offering sexist? Is rejecting it rude? Is accepting it accepting toxic masculinity? What say you!?

Final Thoughts

What am I missing, folks? Educate me. Drop us a comment or tweet us @CBoardingGroup. We’d love to hear from you. Better yet check out some of our affiliate links…like this sweet deal on a Priority Lounge pass:

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Debit August 5, 2019 - 8:31 pm

I will say if there is no romantic interest or quid pro quo expectation men are usually nicer and kinder than women are, even to other men. The nurturing, caring nature of women is a huge myth. They are %&%&&^^. I think they are used to having guys run after them, they can go through life without being kind.

Jack Robertson August 7, 2019 - 12:03 am

This. Men are generally very helpful when going about their day. Women very often take advantage of this with friend zoning and it’s not in a man’s interest to get into this territory without any benefit.

I myself found myself in this situation with a 30ish Asian women in business class from Europe to NY. Because of feminism I didn’t offer to retrieve the heavy suitcase from the bin. I waited until asked and did so. It’s sad that society has moved where men are concerned about overtones from helping a woman with a task that usually requires effort because the media is relentless about attacking men. Oh well.

Nolan August 5, 2019 - 10:25 pm

I will always ask someone if they’d like me to put their bag up for them. I don’t see it as sexist since I’d ask anyone who looked like they were having trouble with their bag. I’m not going to stop having manners just because 1 out of 1000 people need to go on a SJW power trip. Being nice on plane, especially in first class is a HUGE rarity – so why not try to be pleasant?


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