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A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On


What's a handshake? What kind of unsaid agreement is made when we shake hands with each other? Why do some men still find it odd to shake women's hands? And, is it just older men?

Last Saturday, The Husband and I met up with good friends Missus and Mister H at the two-buck senior brunch hosted by the local hospital volunteer group. As the brunch was winding down, a bunch of handshaking was going on.

At our table, the first person to shake hands with The Husband and Mister H was a city mayoral candidate. After he shook the guys' hands, I held mine up for a shake which startled him. He quickly hid it and shook my hand. I was surprised that he was momentarily stunned at the thought of shaking a woman's hand. After all, he has been working in the community for over 40 years, including being on boards with women.

A few minutes after that T, whom The Husband and I are getting to know more each time we see him at community functions, said his good-byes. He shook hands with the guys. So, I held mine out. Surprise registered on his face too, as he took my hand. Missus H said, "I want to give you a hug instead." T's face lit up as he scrambled around the table to get his hug.

Maybe hugging him was more appropriate. I thought about giving him a hug as well, but then S the Biker Cowboy came over to our table to greet us. He fist bumped the guys. That looked cool so I held up my fist. Even though he wore sunglasses, I could tell he was taken aback. He hesitated a bit before giving me a fist bump. I wondered if I was being unladylike. (As if I am going to start now.) Doing a fist bump with S the Biker Cowboy was fun.


Comments

  1. I'm always taken aback when a kiddo wants to fist bump with me. Or high five. But I'll do it. Shaking hands... It's weird how certain things get gendered in our society. But it's going away. Kind of.

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  2. I want to go to Two Buck Brunch with you guys.
    My old man always taught me to give a firm handshake. Once, I think in my late 20s, some guy almost crushed my hand when I shook his. Kind of the opposite of the reason one shakes hands, no?. He did it because I was gripping with confidence and how dare I. I thought he was going to break it.
    I was raised to hug and kiss and it became second nature by the time I was five. It wasn't until later I learned that not everyone did that. Even last year when my car got stuck in the mud I grabbed one of the old coots that helped tow me out and hugged him and he was not expecting it..

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    1. Maybe it's all the social things we've been doing lately that I've been doing a lot more shaking of hands and hugging. I'm getting kisses on the cheek now. That one's an odd one for me. It's all good. I would've hugged the old coot, too, Jeanna.

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  3. I am now even liking having to shake hands because of all the germs. It sounds weird but many men don’t wash their hands after taking a pee which is gross but true. I like what the Japanese Do...bow. I think, with women they must think of striking the back of their feet together In Some sort of Prussian hello. I hate it when everyone wants to kiss...bleccchhh

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    1. Ewwwww. I don't know if I want to shake hands with any guy now. I don't like bowing. Curtsying is too much to learn. How about a smile and a nod?

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    2. A smile and nod are perfect!

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  4. Eye contact with a hand shake goes well together. But I think it bother men to shake woman hand if they might be slight chance she on top of her game.
    Coffee is on

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    1. I'm with you Dora, a nice handshake and eye contact. I wonder if there really are a lot of men still out there concerned about being less wise, less competent, or second best to a woman.

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  5. Probably just older men. They probably don't like that women can be even more platonic with them than they're used to.

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    1. Maybe. There are guys like that of every age. I thought it was getting fewer, but what do I know. I've been living in the boonies for 15 years.

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  6. Most interesting observations! i'm trying to remember back to our former life when we used to do things like go to meetings and civic events etc but it is so long ago I've forgotten -- i know i used to shake hands when introduced. it's more often friendly light hugs these days like when we meet new people in our RV resort --informality is kind of the 'thing" with RVers ... or sometimes we just start talking without even knowing each other's names.
    The eye contact remark in the comment above somehow reminds me of a friend who (back in the last century) got to meet Bill Clinton at a campaign event. She described his handshake (with eye contact) in such a graphic way (although that was all that happened) that I wasn't even surprised when all the later news came out.

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    1. I want to hear more about this, Sallie!

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    2. The Husband and I start conversations with people in stores and such. It's (for lack of the precise word) a joy relating to someone for a moment. A lot of good laughing happens sometimes.

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    3. You would have liked my dad, Susie, you couldn't get him out of a grocery store or restaurant for all the conversations he'd be having. Even the underground parking downstairs, I can't count the times my mother would make me go fetch him.

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  7. Men are comfortable with shaking hands with other men. It's a 'bro'/competition thing. (If we didn't live in such a virulent patriarchal society, men and women would feel safe with either option and it would be a choice driven by personal preference)
    Women however, are expected to be a lot more physically accessible, hence the hug expectation.
    It's a lot like the expectation most adults have that it's OK to hug children without their permission.
    I like your solution a whole lot better. Use it myself all the time with men. Women I judge on a case-by-case basis.

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    Replies
    1. I think I started giving Hello and Goodbye hugs when I was in college. I really needed them. Growing up, we weren't much of a demonstrative family. Do you remember doing an elaborate shake involving shake, cuff hands, then three more things? As you can tell, I didn't get it down.

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    2. It wasn't a thing when I was growing up in OZ, and when it did become a thing, I just thought it looked silly. :)

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  8. In Germany it is just common practice to give a handshake and or kiss the person on each side of the cheek. Everyone does it, so it is not seen as weird both men and woman.

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    1. When I see the kissing done on both cheeks in movies, I think how cool. But then when I think of having to that with someone I barely know, I say, Not for me. lol

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  9. I definitely think it's the older generation that finds it odd to shake hands with a woman. I typically don't hug folks until I have spent an appreciable amount of time with them … interesting how norms change over time!

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    1. I was nodding as I read your first sentence, then wondered who's the older generation -- us or our parents. hahahahahaha

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Thanks for the good cheer. :-)

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