Should the man pay on a date? I say no. The idea that women cannot pay for themselves reinforces the sexist archetypes of men as breadwinners and women as submissive housekeepers. We’re all people, so we should split the bill or maybe take turns paying.
I know that’s how I feel, so it should be that simple, case closed. This, however, still isn’t the social expectation. Out of chivalry, a man should pick the restaurant, drive there, and pay for it. It’s pretty stupid, but at the same time I don’t want a man who doesn’t make the attempt. If he doesn’t offer to pay or if he wants me to pay, it fits my point of view but violates the social norm. Because of that norm, unless we have a conversation about it, it just seems like he’s being a jerk. He’s not making any attempt at chivalry. I don’t want or need chivalry, but I also don’t want someone who doesn’t care enough to try.
They’re two completely contradictory positions, but I seem to somehow hold both. If the guy offers to pay, I’ll feel guilty if I let him. I’m a bad feminist, reinforcing the idea that women are subservient and incapable of working or handling finances. If, however, I offer to pay for myself and he insists, it would feel ungrateful to argue about it. I would be stubborn and unappreciative and completely turn the guy off.
The same problem arises for me at family gatherings. Every time, without fail, the women all go into the kitchen. They serve the food, clean it up, and do all the dishes, while the men sit around talking and watching TV. It’s antiquated and unfair and I don’t like it at all. Time after time, I think the same thing–my male relatives are all people, just like us women, so they should be expected to help. I, however, am the niece/daughter/grandchild, so I have no authority to ask them to.
I don’t want to go into the kitchen and help them, because I want this tradition to end at my generation. If I refuse to do everything, my male cousins will have to do their fair share. At the same time, sitting at the table while all the other women go into the kitchen and work makes me feel guilty. I feel lazy, and like I look lazy to my family. But why should I serve them just because of my gender? Why do I have to clean up when the men, the men who are hosting the party at that, don’t have to do anything? None of them seem to feel any guilt about it.
It’s a different situation but the same contradiction; do I follow social expectations or stick to my values? Either way I feel guilty for something, for coming across as rude or for betraying my gender. The world should have none of these antiquated gender norms, but it’s a fact of life that they still exist. They inform actions and perceptions whether I want them to or not. I don’t believe in them, but I cannot completely extricate myself from them. I’m an unladylike sloth and a traitor to women all at the same time, and, oddly, it’s a privilege to feel that way.