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I am a sexist. I believe men and women are inherently different and that it’s therefore appropriate to treat them differently. I continue to open doors for women, curb my occasionally profane tongue around them and stand when they leave the table. Feminists have occasionally berated me for this, believing such manners display a patriarchal and protective attitude toward them. They’re right: a protective patriarch is exactly the kind of patriarch I am. Compare our Muslim friends. In his book What Went Wrong, Bernard Lewis reports that a Turkish visitor to Vienna in 1665 was flabbergasted by the “extraordinary spectacle” of the emperor tipping his hat to a lady. He speculated this bizarre behavior might derive from Christian respect for the Virgin Mary. Maybe so. It’s certainly true that the local rules of politeness bear within them the deepest attitudes of the culture. Which is something to consider in light of the imminent stoning of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani in Iran, an Islamic horror story which inspires in me the very impolite desire to slug somebody, preferably with a clawhammer. I can’t help thinking that when feminists attack gentlemanly manners (and the Christianity behind them) they are threatening the very wellspring of their most basic rights.Published in