OnPoint by Keith Ng

Ringaringa ceremonies: Archaic, irrational and sexist

As a product of the Enlightningment, I am proud to embrace modernity and reject archaic, irrational hokey-pokey in all its forms. So, defenders of progress, join me in calling for an end to the time-wasting, nonsensical ceremony that is rotting the core of our nation: Te ringaringa, which can be roughly translated as "the handshake".

The original reason for shaking hands was to demonstrate to strangers that you are not holding a weapon in your hand. Come on people - get with the 21st century! I mean, are you really expecting some guy you meet at a party to have a sword behind his back?

(Hmmm, actually, I was at a party a few weeks ago where a guy was toting around a real sword. He chopped up a PVC pipe that was, up until that point, attached to the house. It was wicked. But, um, ignore this fact. Nobody carries a sword around.)

Why would we want to waste time performing a ceremony that is the equivalent a pat-down when it serves no real purpose? Further, isn't it *offensive* that we are expected to submit ourselves to these humiliating weapon checks? When someone offers up their hand with the expectation that you shake it, aren't they saying: "Oi! Stranger! Are you armed? You'd better not be armed. Show me your hand to prove you're not armed."

By playing along with this social fiction, you're perpetuating a cultural of paranoia and militancy. Every time you shake someone's hand, you're entrenching the idea that everyone is a potential threat. In civilised society, where violence is contained by law, wouldn't it make more sense to hold up your cellphone to prove that you don't have a lawyer on speed-dial?

And of course, handshakes are sexist. The handshake is the default greeting with men, but women are sometimes not offered a handshake.

Apparently, "the correct etiquette" is that men shouldn't initiate a handshake with women, but that the reverse is okay. What's the rationale? Is it because a) women are assumed to not carry swords, b) it was too forward of a man to touch a lady's ungloved hand, or c) it risks the inadvertent transfer of man-coodies?

I don't really know what the rationale is, but if it's considered okay for men to not offer to shake a woman's hand, then *obviously* it's a sexist ceremony that's denigrating to women.

No true citizen of the modern world can humour such raving lunacy. But of course, the point of this is to enlighten, not offend, the poor savages who still practice this primitive ritual. So, it would be inappropriate to initiate a handshake only to retract it and advise the other party that they are "too slow".

The polite course of action would be to wait until the other party offers up their hand, then turn around and announce to everyone that you're not going to shake their hand because the ceremony they're asking you to perform has no place in modern society, and that it's insulting for them to expect you to waste your time shaking their stupid goddamn hand.

Offer up a more appropriate gesture yourself, such as a casual-yet-elegant chin-nod, accompanied by a raised eyebrow. If you wish to formalise the greeting, use the gender-non-specific form: "fo' shizzle my nizzle". For less formal occasions, you may wish to use the variation: "fo' sheezy mah neezy".

Your underlying sentiments of life-affirming liberal humanism will be revealed through this gesture, which will be warmly received by the savages, who will then realise that you were right all along and come to adopt your perfectly rational and culturally unbiased ways.