This thought occurred to me while discussing body language with a friend. Much of body language is about power plays, asserting yourself as the dominant party.
Watch two politicians shaking hands, they will hold each other’s elbows, try and flip their hand onto the top, and attempt to make the last bit of physical contact. It can be very amusing to watch the quite obvious battle while they are attempting to be polite and all smiles for the cameras.
Another place where you see these battles is when people reach and go through a door together. Clinton, Barak, and Arafat demonstrated this beautifully at Camp David in 2000. You see Arafat and Barak dancing around each other attempting to go through the door second. They care so much because the person to go through a door last supposedly has the most power, if I remember correctly it is something about the person in front not being able to see the person behind and having to look over their shoulder, putting them in a vulnerable position. Here is a link to the video of Camp David: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXnWGaxtqwA
This all brings me round to my final point mentioned in the title. Is the idea of ladies first and holding doors for women really all about being polite and gentlemanly?