The ZPG Zealot handshake thread party extravaganza

I’ve noticed threads that get into handshakes at all sometimes seem to derail into discussions with ZPG Zealot about their appropriateness, so I thought I’d create a one-stop-ZPG Zealot-handshake-thread to move any such discussion to, so that threads on other topics can stop being derailed (I did this before with some transgender bathroom issues that seemed to have some success). Before I made this thread I googled to see if there was any such thread already made, and I found so many threads that seemed to be derailed into this issue away from their OP, and no one-stop-shop thread, that I decided it would be appropriate to create this one.

I’m also curious to further explore ZPG Zealot’s views – learning about points of view that seem incredibly different and strange to me is one of the main reasons I come to the Dope. So if she’s interested, I hope she’ll respond to my last few points in a thread that was getting derailed:

While I generally agree with you that in this society a handshake is the norm, I seriously doubt you have any statistics to back that up.

Poll here;

Don’t leave me hangin’, ZPG-eeZy. :wink:

It’s purely from conversations I’ve had in real life and online, but I’ve gone out of my way to ask women this question since I first read ZPG Zealot’s opinion on it a few years ago, and pretty overwhelmingly they have told me that they would be offended by not offering a handshake, and they would also be offended if a man asked them if they are okay with a handshake, but they would not be offended by offering a handshake.

So from all that input I’ve concluded that the best approach for me to minimize the chance of offending a woman is to, upon being introduced or meeting for the first time, offer a handshake without asking them first.

I just finished writing a response in the other thread, but then I saw the moderator note. I didn’t feel like wasting my post, so I’ll just throw it in here.

Not at all. The handshake is a normal/cultural gesture of respect, here in the US, and the vast majority of people are adjusted enough to do so in the proper context (a professional setting is one of them). By doing so, we’re in line with social norms, not aggressive sexual behavior. Beyond the US and across other racial groups/cultures (speaking personally, now), both can definitely be more tactile, and it goes so far as socially kissing on the cheek and hugging.

I have a coworker who is Muslim who will not shake hands or touch for religious reasons, and even she will politely explain it to others, in place of taking immediate offense-- probably because she understands that most people intend no offense (or advances), or most are just ignorant of her practices, so she exercises some patience and explains every so often. However, every other woman I know is comfortable with it (and will raise an eyebrow if a man were to shake every other man’s hand in a room, but not women).

Now that doesn’t mean you have to be comfortable with it, but it also doesn’t suggest anyone else is a predator.

Lawks. I hope she never meets a Maori.

Frankly, this is why there are terrorists.

People who believe that their opinion is the one true way, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are mistaken - they are the ones who blow things up, in an effort to show the world the right path.

What I really wish is that people DIDN’T HUG as a greeting. Really people, I just met you and we are supposed to hug? No. Just. Stop. Head nods for everyone should be more than enough of a pleasant greeting. Let’s not touch!

I don’t like social kisses. Some of my family-by-marriage has started doing this. Ick.

Is that “people who always assume its ok to demand touch from a person of opposite gender because “this is America dammit” and your own cultural/religious prohibitions against touching a woman who might be menstruating be damned?”

Or is this a reaction to people who don’t want to be touched because this is America dammit and get over your own cultural/religious hangups?

I can’t tell.

Frankly, I don’t care about handshakes. I don’t offer them except in the very few cases where they are appropriate (job interview, closing a deal) because I have run into men in my life who have cultural/religious prohibitions against touching strange women. Its embarrassing for them to turn down a handshake, so I don’t put people in that spot.

For me, social fucking is a no-no, especially within the family.

Once again, there a lot of cultures within the United States were it is not the norm. Certainly working at academia I have never encountered it as a overshadowing blanket norm like “Try to cover your mouth when you cough” and “Don’t repeat racial slurs.” Just because a lot of people choose to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Furthermore many “so-called” common behavior needs to be changed for the greater good. The idea that politeness requires a woman to let a man touch her body is one of them.

I wrote a lot in another thread, I will try to consolidate it here:

Until I ran into the discussion in the other thread, it never occurred to me that a handshake might be a sexual gesture. I have shaken hands literally hundreds of times, perhaps thousands of times, usually in business settings. Everyone present shook hands with every everyone else (or with people they were meeting for the first time) without regard for sex or gender.

Twice in my life, I’ve had someone offer a handshake that did have a sexual component. One time, a guy wanted to flirt, in a situation where flirting was not unexpected. The other time, a woman wanted to show my how a different guy was harassing young women in the group. (He was subsequently thrown out, for creating an uncomfortable environment.) But in those cases, the sexual component was “added on” to the handshake. Like you could sit next to someone and also bump your thigh against their thigh – it’s the thigh-bumping that is sexual, not the sitting nearby. Similarly, it was, um, thumb action, that was sexual, not the basic handshake. And I’ve never run into anything like that in a business setting.

I understand that there are some cultural groups in the US who prefer not to shake hands, or at least, not to shake hands across the sexes. But shaking hands in a business setting is so ubiquitous that I think if you want to decline it for a reason like that, you would be wise to tell the other party why you are declining, so as to make it clear you are not rejecting THEM, but simply prefer not to shake hands with any man. (or perhaps, any person.)

(apologies if I didn’t quote that quite right, it’s awkward moving from forum to forum)

I completely disagree. That would just be weird. You see, we have a social convention to ask people if they would like to shake your hand. It consists of reaching out your hand partway between you and the other person with your palm open, ready to accept their palm. It is a well known and well understood gesture. You are allowed to decline, without being touched. Yes, it is unusual to decline. And as I said above, I think you will be better accepted if you offer the guy a reason why you are declining, but there is no requirement that you accept a proffered hand.

If, in a business setting, a guy asked me is I shake hands prior to offering his hand, I would wonder about it, and tell my husband about the strange interaction I had at work. If the person who asked me were an important or powerful person, I would fear that he viewed me as a foreign being, not as an ordinary colleague. It would definitely make me uncomfortable.

Since to you a handshake is tantamount to sexual assault, do you see men shaking other men’s hands as sexual? Do you recoil if a man hands you something and accidentally touches your hand? Does the prohibition still hold if you are gloved?

I’m certainly open to such change, and if I ever have reason to believe that the action least likely to offend women is to refrain from offering handshakes, or to ask first, then I certainly would change my behavior. My behavior is 100% driven by the desire to not offend women or make them uncomfortable.

But since the data I have right now clearly indicates (to me – since the data is anecdotal, I wouldn’t insist anyone else accept it) that the action least likely to offend women is to offer a handshake without asking, then I must continue to do so. Again, 100% driven by the desire to not offend women or make them uncomfortable.

I have no problem with you frowning at someone who throws a tantrum (I think that’s how you described it) over your refusal to shake someone’s hand. What I don’t understand is your insistence that anyone who offers you a handshake is intentionally disrespecting you and trying to subjugate you. And I suppose I should further clarify that you say this is true of men—I don’t believe you’ve offered any opinion of a woman who tries to shake your hand.

So it is at the point that you are ascribing an evil motive to every individual who does this that you lose me.

First, demonstrate existing harm.

TIL that handshaking is for terrorists.

For the first question, depends on the individuals and the circumstances. In a lot of cases there is definitely a component of sexual assault when someone is forcing someone even of the same gender to shake their hand. I view men who immediately upon meeting another man extend their hands as insecure, shallow, or dishonest. It seems like the forced team-building strategies con artist use all the time to lure in their victims. For the second question, I almost never have a man other than my husband hand me something directly. I ask other men to place items on the desk or table and then I pick it up and among many of my male colleagues the university, I don’t even have to ask. Gloves change things. I sometimes use gloves to shake hands with a male I am not related before witnesses to in order to symbolize a deal is done when there is no written contact, but it’s a not a frivolous greeting, but a very serious gesture that comes at the end of long, formal dealings.