Equality remains an evolving concept in this day and age.
For me, the realization started while chatting with a friend about annoying coworkers. She mentioned a woman at her work who had complained about a date she had been on. Apparently her date had asked if she could pay for her half of the meal. This was an obvious turn-off for her and she decided to never see him again.
I marveled at this presumption, that it was the place of the man to buy the meal. It harkened back to the notion that it was the place of the woman to cook the meal. I found myself disgusted with her disgust.
I wondered if this was just a one-time situation. I had always split the cost of dinner with my previous boyfriend and I have other friends who practice the same rule with their boyfriends. Perhaps this woman had just been raised by some old-fashioned ideals or was not savvy to the dating world.
My curiosity got the better of me and I came across a report about a paper presented at an American Sociology Association meeting in 2013. The study, titled “Who Pays for Dates? Following versus Challenging Conventional Gender Norms,” by Chapman University’s David Frederick, showed that “39 percent of women hoped that men would not ask them to contribute” to the date and that “44 percent of women were annoyed when the men ‘expected’ the women to pay.”
The numbers baffled me. Even though they were below 50 percent, there were still women who considered it a nuisance to pay for the food they’d just enjoyed.
The next statistic stated that “64 percent of men believed women should pick up from time to time, though 76 percent said they felt ‘guilty’ saying so.” This guilt is not completely foreign to me. My previous boyfriend sometimes asked if I could pay for my half of the meal, which I was happy to do, but he told me he felt bad because he didn’t make enough money to pay for me. I told him it never bothered me, but I could tell it bothered him.
According to society’s standards, this decent man was inadequate. It was a form of emasculation and I hated it.
The paper further stated that “many men’s willingness to absorb the price of early dates and more than half the costs later on keeps chivalry alive, gender roles distinct and some privileges for both sexes intact.”
In regards to the concept of privilege, history shows us this use to be true. Men worked and got a paycheck while women stayed at home and remained virtually penniless. Therefore, it made more sense for the man to foot the bill.
But this only used to be true. Nowadays, women are making a good amount of money in the workforce. While women still makes less than men, many women make enough money to support themselves and have some extra left over.
In my past relationship, I made more money than my boyfriend and definitely had more to spend because financial aid paid for my tuition. Because of this, I was more than willing to pay for my half of the date. I even picked up the whole bill from time to time, just as he did when he could afford it.
When considering the distinction of gender roles, I found this notion to be almost moot. While society still has a lot to say about what a men and women can’t do, the boundaries are changing every day. Men are more likely to spend time with their children than ever before and women are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the workplace. With the constant fluctuation of gender roles, it’s only a matter of time until this tradition of the man paying for all of the dates goes out of style as well.
In regards to chivalry, the word brings up the outdated images of knights and ladies in distress. I understand that chivalry is still important for some and that chivalry is dead because feminism killed it. I don’t think that is true at all. If anything, chivalry is more alive than ever, because another demographic has started to practice it as well: women.
Who says that it is only the man who can be chivalrous? As if a woman is supposed to sit around in her tower while the knight fights the dragon? Why can’t she grab a sword and go down to help?
Luckily, the study found that it was the younger couples in their 20s who were more likely to split the check. This finding gives me hope that our generation can begin a new trend.
So, ladies, keep this in mind next time you are on a date. When the waiter brings the check, consider that knight in shining armor image, put yourself in the armor for once, and say, “I’ll get it this time, darling.”