|“The woman should enter first undoubtedly,” insists one. “Not at all,” snaps someone else — “the man always goes first to find the seat.” They are both right and they are both wrong.|
IT is surprising how many people— well born and presumably well bred— are guilty of the most flagrant breaches of good manners time after time, and it is still more surprising how many mistaken ideas of etiquette have gained currency among people, who, while not “in society”— as the phrase goes — certainly ought to know better. For example, there is, the question of who should precede when entering a restaurant, church or theatre, a girl or her escort. “The woman should enter first undoubtedly,” insists one. “Not at all,” snaps someone else — “the man always goes first to find the seat.” They are both right and they are both wrong.
Circumstance is the sole guide to the etiquette of the individual case. I have seen a girl advancing up a restaurant casting glances from one side to the other as she looked for a seat, her escort meanwhile sauntering at leisure behind her. On the other hand, I have seem ushers, both in the theatre and at church, gravely bowing the man into the seat while the girl whom he presumably escorted, followed humbly in the rear. The general rule, however, is as follows: If waiters or ushers are at hand, ready to show the way to a seat the woman must enter first. If, on the contrary, no one is to be seen to lead the way, then the man must enter first, walking slowly, not too far in advance of the woman he is escorting. But it must be obvious that the “hunting seats” is being done by him and not by her. – Los Angeles Herald, 1906
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia