This modern world, it is confusing. Women dressing up as men, striding around office buildings willy-nilly, their brazen crotchal forks shrouded only in a thin layer of cotton-poly blend? (Personally, I find it comforting to think of female pants as "dual leg-cages"—much more modest.) But what's next—dogs on their hind legs wearing pith helmets and taking all the best gentleman explorer jobs!? Must we rename the South Pole "Admiral Crackers's Milkbone Oasis?" True, Admiral Crackers is an intrepid fellow (also he has very soft ears), but these days it's like you can't even hide in a bathroom stall and whisper through the partition to urinating women that they have "tempting ankles" anymore without getting hauled off to a reeducation gulag/webinar by the brain police! Honestly. Honestly.
Fortunately, a few voices of reason prevail. Over at Slate yesterday, the "Gentleman Scholar" tackled one of the most befuddling scourges of modern inter-gender discourse: the male/female handshake. As we all know, men are complete fucking idiots who roll around moaning like flipped-over turtles the second a woman speaks to them in an egalitarian, nonsexual context; and women are inscrutable foreigners with bird-bones who speak only in ciphers and infiltrate male spaces such as "jobs" in order to send everyone to jail for saying hi to them wrong.
Hence, questions like this:
Dear Gentleman Scholar —
Recently, I nearly reduced a woman to tears when she gently proffered her hand to me at a work conference and I vigorously squeezed it and yanked her around like the Incredible Hulk shaking hands with Raggedy Ann. There was much metacarpal cracking and muted whimpering. Having (I thought) learned my lesson, later at the same event when another women extended her hand, I very gently held hers and then released. There were no injuries this time, but she glared at me as if I had just handed her a dead fish. How does a gentleman shake hands with a lady? Am I supposed to shake it, caress it, kiss it, just hold it for a moment? What gives?
Finishing School Dropout
GREAT QUESTION, SIR. The Gentleman Scholar has some pretty good advice for how to handle such mystifying lady-interactions, such as "a gentleman always treats a woman gently," and "when you’re shaking hands with another able-bodied adult male, you will likely want to be more assertive than that." But as a bonafide lady in possession of hands, I think I can enlighten you even more. Here is a foolproof, step by step guide for how to make your man/woman hand-touching ritual a success every time.
When a woman approaches you in greeting, make eye contact. Just like you would with a man.
Extend your hand. Just like you would with a man.
Place your palm against her palm. Just like you would with a man.
Grip her hand with a reasonable amount of pressure. Just like you would with a man.
Use the muscles in your forearm to move your grasped hands up and down in a "shaking" motion. Just like you would with a man.
Do not violently Hulk-shake her around like a ragdoll, you fucking maniac. Just do it normal. Like you would with a man.
If her bones crack and she begins whimpering (!?), assume you did something wrong (BECAUSE YOU DID), apologize profusely, and offer to call 911. Just like you would with a man.
Do not kiss her hand. This is a goddamn business. What the fuck is wrong with you, seriously? Would you kiss a man's hand during a business meeting? Just do it like you would with a man!
After a second or two, begin relaxing your grip. Just like you would with a man.
Release her hand. Just like you would with a man.
Get on with your business. Just like you would with a man.
Treat her like a fucking human being. JUST LIKE YOU WOULD WITH A MAN.
YOU'RE FUCKING WELCOME.
Image by Devin Rochford.