Etiquette: Shaking Hands with a Woman

Ever since I entered the "adult" world when I was 18, I've always had a great disdain for shaking hands. I don't like coming into contact with what I perceive as someone's dirty hand. The feeling that I'm left with after a sweaty handshake makes me sick and I immediately need to either sanitize or wash my hands. If I don't have the opportunity to do either, I'll spend the next 15 minutes feeling like germs are crawling all over my hand and I refuse to eat or touch anything with that hand. I admit, sometimes my OCD gets out of hand (pun not intended). Obviously, out of uni and into the working world, I've overcome (or really just ignored) my fear of handshakes, especially now that I run my own business with my wonderful business partner, Marinda.

In a professional setting, I don't believe women should be treated differently from men. So a handshake is a given. But lately, as my social circle has expanded, I've found that outside of the professional/business realm, men are proffering their hands for me to shake. It's something that really irks me and I've found it slightly insulting. Only recently, last Saturday, in fact, I went out with some friends and I met a couple of their friends. Upon greeting, they stuck their hands out, expecting reciprocation. I had to politely refuse and say I don't shake hands in a social setting, whether with women or men. They were offended. But probably not as offended as I was!

I understand that feminists have paved the way for us women and I genuinely thank them for what they have given us today. But when I'm out socialising, I want to be treated like a woman by a real gentleman. Is it just me, or is social etiquette lost in today's society? It's a subject I passionately rant on about.

I suppose I have strong views on the roles of a woman and the roles of a man; they may not be in line with today's modern world, they may be regarded as old fashioned, and in fact, I'm probably going to get a lot of hate for voicing them. But this strange amalgamation of gender roles throws me off and I find the modern world to be confusing and hard to navigate. On the one hand (pun not intended), I want to be recognised as a strong businesswoman, and on the other hand  I want to be treated like a lady. Maybe we all need to read a book on handshaking etiquette (and social etiquette in general) so that everyone's on the same page!

I've spent some serious time thinking about it, probably way more than I should have, but I just can't get it out of my head that a man should not shake a woman's hand outside of business. Am I just too old fashioned and need to suck it up? I can't help but bemoan the times when chivalry wasn't dead and men would stand up to greet a woman as she entered the room, or when they held their tongues from using profanity around a woman. Long gone are those days and it makes me sad.

What are your thoughts?


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