The elevator door is supposed to be open and shut.
But sometimes it is not.
A new study from the University of Minnesota shows that, at least in the elevator, men can still be called a n****r for not wearing a belt.
Researchers say the results suggest that men who don’t have a belt are being called derogatory names, not to mention being assaulted or harassed by other men on the elevator.
“The majority of people are aware of the elevator system, they know that if you step on the carpet or if you put your foot in the door, it’s going to be automatically opened and closed.
They’re not aware of that you could be a n*****r,” said Dr. Michael Gartland, a professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo.
“They’re not even aware of it.”
Gartland and his colleagues conducted a survey of 6,300 adults, asking them if they would call someone a n***r if they were rude to them.
The researchers also asked whether they would ever call someone “f***ing stupid” or a “bitch.”
The results were surprising, Gartman said.
Only 1 in 5 respondents said they would never call someone who was rude or ignorant, and only 6 percent would call a man a nigger.
And more than half of the people surveyed said they’d never call a woman a n*gger.
“What surprised me most was how many people did not even realize that there was a system in place that automatically opened or closed doors based on gender,” Gartlands said.
“Most people didn’t even think it was there, that it was possible.”
Researchers found that while the elevator door was open, the more men who didn’t have belts, the less likely they were to be called derogatory words.
But in the case of a woman wearing a dress, the door automatically closed and the men who weren’t wearing belts were the most likely to be told they were being called names.
When asked to compare the responses from men and women, the researchers found that when men were told they didn’t belong in the room, they were more likely to say they would rather “have my own space” and to be “in control.”
“We see a very clear pattern in this study that men are being systematically called n****rs for not having a belt,” Gartsland said.
Gartlands explained that a n********r is an individual who is perceived to be different from other people.
“The way in which they’re perceived is very different than how other people are perceived, and that’s why you don’t hear them called the n******r,” Gertland said, adding that when a woman in a dress on a business trip, for example, is seen as being in control, men may be more likely than women to say that she’s a “f****** n*******” or to “go f****** nuts.”
The researchers concluded that, when it comes to the elevator situation, there is no excuse for men to be calling someone a “black, white, or Asian” for not using a belt or wearing pants.
Gertland explained that it is “very important that we be cognizant of the different ways that people have been impacted by racism, because that can lead to a very different way of living.”
Follow Allison Foy on Twitter: @AllisonFoy