So first of all, there is NO SUCH THING as a girly handshake. Hopefully, this statement does not surprise you. This is what happened:I was in the midst of an adult male, an adult female, and an elementary school aged boy. I didn’t know them very well but as we got talking I found out a few things about each of them. One of the things I found out was that the adult male was a (high school?) teacher. This is relevant.
So anyway, the little boy was greeting people as they entered the building (that’s what all 4 of us were doing- but different doors) but he was sort of high fiving them, sometimes missing and generally just all awkward. So the adult male and female were trying to ‘coach’ him on the proper way to greet and welcome people to the building and suggested he shake hands instead of high fiving them.
And then the adult male said “…but you have to shake properly. Don’t be a bone crusher and don’t be a limp fish either, like a girl”. And he made a motion with his hands that was supposed to be a limp fish. I couldn’t believe my ears! And I’m pretty sure he meant females in general not just the young ones.
I mean, I’m not your stereotypical feminist/girl power spokesperson and I thought about ‘letting it go’ (which women tend to do a little too much, sadly). But oh boy, that thought did not last long. Maybe I was in a ‘mood’ that morning or something.
I said “That’s not true. Some boys shake hands like a limp fish too!”. Which is sooooooooo true. I’ve met some of them- both boys and men. The adult male reluctantly conceded.
But the whole time, I couldn’t help but think about how/why he would say that. I mean, I know a lot of people think it (even some women) and I know girls exist who do not have a firm handshake but I thought it was poor form to say that out loud, especially:
- in the presence of women
- to a young, impressionable boy.
It was poor form, period! It doesn’t matter who it was said to or in the presence of.
And to think he is a teacher in the K-12 system. I can’t help but wonder if that translates through in the way he relates to his female students or even the female members of his family.
Anyway, needless to say, it upset me. I am still kind of upset about it (at time of writing), actually, hence this post. Maybe this ‘vent’ session will help.
I had a good mind to walk up to him at the end of the greeting period, stretch out my hand and give him a very firm handshake- to show him how ‘girls’ shake hands. And maybe say something like “How do you like this handshake?” or “Firm enough for you?” or “This, is how I shake hands” or even add a wink for good measure.. But then I thought he just may misinterpret the wink. In the end, I scratched the handshake idea altogether. Maybe one day I will bring it up with him, maybe not.
Most of all, I am glad I said something. And hopefully, he really heard me.
So a few lessons here:
- Don’t be afraid to speak up in a situation like that or similar
- Teach your girls (and boys) how to shake hands properly
- Foster confidence from a young age
- Don’t propagate/fuel such stereotypes
- Be careful what you say about girls/females (insert any other group here) especially to young impressionable minds
I’d love to hear what you think about this mystical ‘girly handshake’ or any other lessons to add to the above – please leave a comment below 🙂
Happy International Women’s Day!! (March 8, 2016)
Header Photo: Myself and Friends at Diwali 2014