Yes, the Trump Merkel handshake fiasco seems on the surface to merely be one more example of how Trump uses handshakes – or the lack thereof – to dominate others in a rather passive aggressive way. But in fact, as bad as Donald Trump’s handshakes with the prime ministers of Japan and Canada were, his refusal to shake the hand of Angela Merkel may reflect his views on women in general, and powerful women in particular.
Meeting Between Trump Merkel
Handshake etiquette at diplomatic meetings between the United States president and some other world leader usually follow a set protocol. Traditionally, the president sits in one chair, world leader X sits in the other chair and they reach across for a quick handshake/photo op.
As noted by CBS, Donald Trump has transformed this simple symbolic ceremony into an arm wrestling contest and/or expression of his own personal dominance over whoever he happens to be shaking hands with. In the case of Angela Merkel though, Trump took this a step further.
During his sitdown photo op with Chancellor Merkel, Trump had apparently forgotten about the obligatory handshake ritual, so Merkel herself used a question from a reporter about handshakes to ask Trump whether they should shake hands now. Trump seemingly ignored her, so no handshake ensued.
In a sense, Trump seemed to be essentially saying with this that Merkel was not an equal and not worthy of a handshake. Now he did shake hands with every other leader who came into the Oval Office, so just what was the difference? Oh yes, Merkel is a woman. Worse than that – from Trump’s perspective – she is a powerful woman over whom he has little or no control.
Donald Trump’s Views about Women
As the last year has fully revealed, Donald Trump seems to have very little respect for women. Trump’s frequent sexual innuendo and flat out disparagement of women occurred long before he ran for president, but came to public notice during the campaign.
Donald Trump has participated in softcore porn videos, referred to women he didn’t like as either unattractive bimbos or adult film stars and suggested – to Billy Bush in an interview – that he would frequently just walk up to women and, “grab them by the p***y.”
This objectification of women – which implicitly suggests Trump feels women have no minds to be concerned with – extends even to his daughter Ivanka, who he has even suggested he would be dating if she wasn’t his daughter.
The vicious attacks that Trump carried out against former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly during and after her participation in one of Trump’s campaign debates is more evidence that Donald Trump finds strong women with their own opinions intimidating. Simply see the following statement reported by Slate at the time
“She gets out there and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever.”
Given the above, one of the things that seems to annoy Donald Trump most is a powerful woman – particularly one who opposes him. This became evident during Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, where his comments about her ranged from suggesting she was too weak and fragile to stay on her feet during the debates to calling her a “nasty woman” when she more than held her own.
So the Trump, Merkel handshake that didn’t happen is only the latest in a long line of overtly misogynistic statements or actions by Trump. Of course, the question that has to be asked is whether this is really representative of Donald Trump’s own sense of power and superiority over women, or whether it reflects his innate insecurities when it comes to women.
[Featured Image by Pat Benic-Pool/Getty Images]