I had a science teacher in high school who came up and massaged my shoulders. I was generally a jumpy teenager. So I reflexively elbowed him - and then realized what I had done. He did apologize to both me and my classmates. He wasn't a creepy guy generally, and showed no interest in me other than vague avuncular attempts to get me to relax. This being the worst idea in that campaign, and netting him only a sore side...

Heh, I'm only 5 feet tall and so people have the urge to pick me up and spin me around!! I make it very clear that is not acceptable.


Oh, for crying out loud. Bush did not give her a "shoulder massage." How insincere and manipulative can you be? You're trying to spin this into something sexual, when it clearly had nothing to do with sex. You're suffering the Bush-as-cartoon-character syndrome that makes you see normal things as hideous. I've seen men do exactly the same thing to other men, and men have done it to me. It's a quick squeeze of the shoulders that's a non-sexually affectionate way of saying "Hey there, good to see you?" Instead of seeing it through sexist eyes, you should be praising Bush for not treating his female counterpart any differently than he would his male counterparts. Bush would do the exact some thing to Blair or Mexican Pres Fox if the situation presented itself. If Merkel is not used to it, that's her problem, as the shoulder squeeze is an entirely acceptable, non-sexual behavior in many cultures. Get real.

The Happy Feminist

Whatever. Whether he came up behind and squeezed her shoulders or massaged her shoulders is a distinction without much of a difference in my book. I wouldn't like either regardless of the gender or political orientation of the person doing the squeezing. And I have to say I have traveled a lot in the U.S. and Europe and Africa and Latin America, and I am not really aware of any culture where people enjoy being the squeezee in this kind of circumstance.

(I didn't say anything about "sexist" but since you've raised it, it's an interesting point. I wonder if he would have done that to President Fox or Prime Minister Blair . . . But that's really beside the point because either way, it's an unappealing behavior. The safest course is to keep your paws off people except for culturally approved contacts that occur during hellos and good-byes.)


Ah, yes you did say something about sexism. Your post with ladled thick with language that Bush's behavior was sexual and aimed at, well, I guess arousal. You compared it to your own experiences with unwanted "massage" ("What does this guy expect me to do? Go limp? Close my eyes and emit a deep 'Aaaaaah'? ...I probably grimaced just like Merkel too. Bleaaaah.")

You say you've traveled a lot, but are you denying you've ever seen a men squeeze another men's shoulders when they come up behind them, without anyone getting offended? Really? Honestly? How about touching the shoulders without the squueze? Seen that on your atlas roaming? What if Bush had hugged her? Would that be him trying to "feel her up" too? Ever seen that in all your worldwide travels? Really, I think you're being an opportunist on this one.


I tend to favor the notion that Bush suffered brain damage earlier in his life.

I do agree with Richard's assessment about how this is being spun, but I disagree that The President's actions were in any way acceptable. First, he is operating at the highest levels of diplomacy. Secondly, he's operating in a cross-cultural arena, and the customs of his Yale Frat and good ole boy Texas are not universally acceptable. Thirdly, in pretty much all cultures there are people who don't like to be touched. Fourthly, the event is televised and you are the representative of your nation and your every move is being watched.

There is something askew in the wiring of the President's brain.


We were exposed to lead paint (or maybe it was asbestos, I've put it all out of my mind) and the building where I worked has since been condemned and razed to the ground.

Unless you were pulling paint off the walls and eating it, it was probably asbestos. Just about any building newer than 1975 is going to have some, unless it's been abated.

Richard's right that Bush's actions weren't sexual--stupid and patronizing, to be sure, but not sexual.


duh, that'd be OLDER than 1975, above.

The Happy Feminist

I never said Bush's squeeze or massage was sexual, nor did such a thought cross my mind. It never occurred to me that the unwanted massage I received was sexual. My reference to going limp and emitting an "aaaahhhh" was a reference to how people are expected to respond to massages. Not all massages are sexual -- annoying if they are unsolicited and unwanted but not sexual! Boy, you have a dirty mind Richard!

And Tango Man, I agree with you! How 'bout that for a change! This was a case of piss poor judgment.


I don't think Bush's actions were sexist--didn't he kiss some bald dude on the head?--but they were definitely inappropriate. On one of the other blogs, someone brought up that unexpected touching in German culture is very taboo. Besides, while going up to a friend of yours and randomly grabbing his/her shoulders might be okay, Bush and Merkel are not friends. This was trying to put more familiarity in their relationship than is actually there.

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