President Trump’s apparent refusal to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand during a photo op in the Oval Office on Friday was a departure from the usual explicit form of sexism the president favors, columnist Jessica Valenti writes in her latest piece for The Guardian. The disrespectful display, Valenti observed, was something that’s far more common than the grab them “by the pussy” style of misogyny that’s come to be expected from Trump — and something that many men, who consider themselves progressive and open-minded, also take part in. Even if it’s not something they’re necessarily aware of doing.
“We hear quite a lot about explicit sexism like cat calls or discrimination, but less overt indignities can be just as infuriating,” Valenti point out, “in part, because they’re so hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced them.”
Valenti goes on to discuss the reaction she got from followers on Twitter after she posted about the awkward exchange on Friday. “One [follower] said both she and her husband were journalists but men will generally only ask him about his work. Another noted that the bosses on her team are all women, but it’s the teenage male intern who gets the questions,” she writes.
“The assumption, of course, is that the women in the room simply aren’t important enough to warrant attention or conversation. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed increases as women get older, and ever more invisible,” Valenti writes.
That certainly appears to be what drove the snub that happened in the Oval Office last week. Trump’s handshakes with others have been a matter of intense scrutiny. The Washington Post devoted an entire story to examining “the art of the super-awkward handshake.” In that piece, Trump is seen engaging in enthusiastic handshakes with the prime minister of Japan, his Supreme Court nominee and even Kanye West in front of the cameras. All men. But with Merkel, as the cameras looked on, Trump just ignored, looking aimlessly in any direction but hers. Or as his press secretary explained away, Trump didn’t hear Merkel’s request. Now seems like a good time to take another look at the video.
— TIME (@TIME) March 18, 2017
Read the full column at The Guardian.