Three days ago, I was sitting in Sellinger contemplating the Arabic homework in front of me. After looking over my vocabulary list several times without success, I realized that I was not retaining a single word because of a case of split focus.
While my eyes were on the page — seemingly absorbing the content — my ears were trained on the conversation of the two guys at the table beside me. This might be deemed eavesdropping, but I found that I was inadvertently pulled into their discussion because of my proximity. The topic of conversation was a recent date that one of them had been on. The date-taker (or bachelor No. 1) was frustrated by his date’s offer and insistence on paying for her meal.
His thoughts on the matter: “All I wanted to do was take this girl out and have a good time, and there she was trying to pay for the stupid dinner. Now I really don’t care about all that feminist crap, but seriously it just made the situation awkward.”
After getting that off his chest, the two guys continued to banter about the injustices of women who offer to pay on dates. Now, as I eavesdropped, I was increasingly amused by the ridiculousness of the whole situation. When a woman offers to pay for her dinner, it is not because she is trying to rob her date of his manliness. If anything, she is probably having one of three considerate thoughts.
First, offering to pay, in any situation, is a polite thing to do.
Second, offering to pay helps to alleviate some of the pressure from the date by making it lighter and less formal.
Third, dates are expensive — any chance to relieve some financial burden doesn’t seem unreasonable.
Women today are constantly scrutinized by their male peers for having and spending their money. Yet, a recent Pew study determined that women earn more than men in nearly a quarter of U.S. households. Women are the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of households compared with just 11 percent half a century ago.
Money, like many things, is a symbol of status and power in society. Those who earn, save and subsequently spend should be proud of their ability to do so.
This raises the question: What is so wrong with women paying for dinner? Is it because it is beyond the norm? Is it because it breaks down the structure of a traditional date?
The traditional date plays nicely into the status quo. A man asks a woman on a date, she shyly accepts, the date is planned and it proceeds. The man pays for dinner. The woman flirts. It all seems somewhat archaic to me. In a world where women have increasingly diverse interests, burgeoning opportunities for success and amazingly complex personalities, why has the date become so stagnant?
Challenging the norms could make life a little bit more interesting. I wish that it were more widely socially acceptable for any girl to walk up to any guy and ask him out — even if only for the heck of it. Because we live in a world with more and more autonomous, strong and independent people, the dating process should not be so one-sided.
Women should be not be ashamed of having money, and they should not be ashamed to spend money — in most cases, they have worked hard to earn it. Simultaneously, women should not be derided for their courtesy: If she’s offering to pay, it’s because she’s a class act. In either case, labeling a women’s indignation over being treated like a pretty prop as “feminist crap” is in no way acceptable. Any man who feels that way should curb his machismo and think about things a little more carefully.
My challenge stands to those men who are brave enough: Take a woman out to dinner, and if she offers to pay, let her.
Allie Heymann is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. THROUGH THE GLASS CEILING appears every