Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Graces

(Emily Post ~ Emily Post Institute)

In keeping with the name of my blog, I decided to have a new feature. It’s going to be called Sunday Graces. This feature will be centered on etiquette and social graces. I collect etiquette books and this is a subject that interests me. I would also like to hear your thoughts on these or any of my posts.

My idea for this week is the handshake, particularly between men and women. I seem to have misplaced my most current etiquette book. After three hours of searching, I have found a lot of books that I’ve been missing, but not my etiquette book. I debated waiting until tomorrow to do this post, but a promise is a promise and I don’t want to disappoint what few readers I have. That being said, I have a few other books that I will be relying on.

My inspiration for this post was something my husband told me. He had been told that, when being introduced, a man should never extend their hand to a woman until she extends hers. I personally like this idea. Often times I am confronted with a “gentleman” whose hand I do not want to shake. However, I shake their hand so that I don’t appear to be rude. Always the lawyer, I decided to go on a search for some support for my position.

I began with a 1948 edition of Vogue’s Book of Etiquette. Under Introductions, the author states “the one who is being presented must not be the first to offer his hand.” They hold this to be true for all introductions, regardless of age or gender. Under the European Etiquette section, there is a line that I loved, “women offer their hands to men.”

I went next to more current etiquette books. Lizzie Post (How Do You Work this Life Thing) briefly mentions handshakes, saying only “shake hands when you introduce yourself. Use a firm grip and actually shake two or three times.” She makes no mention of who extends their hand first. Next I decided to consult her mother (Peggy Post, Excuse Me, But I Was Next). Well the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Peggy says much the same as Lizzie but adds a bit more detail under the dating section. She writes “used to be that a man was supposed to wait for a woman to offer her hand before he extended his . . . today, it doesn’t matter who puts out their hand first.”

In conclusion, it seems that this rule may be somewhat antiquated. No offense to Peggy Post, but I personally would like to know why it no longer matters who puts their hand out first. My grandmother used to say “a man will only treat you like a lady if you demand it.” I think there is something to be said for that. In my opinion it boils down to a certain degree of respect. I feel that in general, our society has become too casual. What do you think?

Goodnight lovelies and thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Claire said...

I had always been taught that the woman extends her hand first, but have really never noticed it practiced. Teaching children how to shake hands with a good firm handshake is really important for their adult life. When I was a nursery school teacher we always spent the first month of school on manners and I have always said that good manners are what makes us civilized. Thanks for listening!!!