Saturday, October 27, 2007


you shake it... why?
Women shaking hands. A woman's handshake. Shaking a woman's hand? I couldn't come up with a catchy title for this post, so girlshake will have to do.

Do you remember the scene in the Narnia movie when Mr. Tumnus asked Lucy why people shake hands when they meet? The little girl that played Lucy had a priceless expression on her face when she replied with "I don't know". I loved that scene, from the faun asking what he was supposed to do with Lucy's extended hand, to Lucy's reply - the whole few minutes was a regular cultural/tradition kick in the pants.

Isn't that the way society works though? We just do things because that's what everyone else does, what is expected, and we never really question the purpose or the point of doing them.

A few days ago I had an appointment with a female legal professional (no, I'm not suing Kevin for beating me in online Scrabble), and when we greeted she shook my hand. When the meeting was over, she again shook my hand. She had a very firm handshake too.

I don't know how long this has been bugging me, but its been a really long time. I don't even know why it bugs me but it does! Somewhere in the recesses of my North American, western culture, Baptist, mother, radically anti-feminist brain, there is a message scrolling along a marquee banner that says:

"Handshakes are for men. Women should not greet other men or women with a handshake."

I have no idea where that thought came from, or why its there but it is. I guess something about it seems so masculine to me that it's something women just shouldn't do. Like ball players who whack each other on the rump after a good play in the game. Sure it's stupid, but it's a "guy thing" and if a woman did it it would seem downright creepy.

Now I certainly wouldn't refuse to shake a woman's hand when greeting her, because that would then make her feel uncomfortable and awkward. It's also not something that really offends me per se, it just seems so strange. I don't remember women greeting one another with a handshake when I was growing up. I don't remember ever seeing my own mom, or grandmother or aunts shaking anyone's hand. Maybe they did, but it's not something I remember. Maybe... I'm just really weird and I'm the only one that finds this strange? This is entirely possible but I would like to know what other people think.

And now... I have some chores to do before I head out to Kim's house today. I wont be shaking her hand, but I will be bringing coffee and enjoying whatever yummy thing she baked for us to snack on today.