I found myself taken aback recently over a conversation I had with two female friends. At first it was the usual conversation, we each started b******* about the different problems in our lives and then the conversation shifted into attacking me for being a male who will never understand their share of problems. I agreed with this point, surely as a male I will never understand the unique set of problems a female faces and further agreed that it’s not fair for females to be treated like second class citizens and they deserve to be treated equally.
Eventually they started gossiping about their dating lives, each sharing their own problems with finding a ‘right’ guy. I wasn’t particular invested in their conversation until one of them brought up an interesting ‘flaw’ she found with one particular guy she dated. The ‘flaw’ this man had was the audacity (her words) to ask to split the dinner bill. Personally, I’m not one to judge another person on what he/she thinks is appropriate social behavior in the context of dating but I was certainly in the mood to argue as we had just had a lengthy discussion on equal treatment of both genders.
Her first point was a pretty straightforward one, she said if a man asks a woman out on a date, it is expected that he would pay for dinner because he was the one who asked her out in the first place.
Perhaps it is a valid argument, after all if someone invites another person out for an activity it can be assumed that they are prepared to take on the financial responsibility in carrying out said activity (in this case a dinner date). I however found this to be a materialistic argument as it creates an environment that only the financially capable individuals are able to invite another person for a social activity whether it is a date or even simply a casual hangout between friends, after all the person who invites another must take financial responsibility over the intended activity. Surely we all disagree with this premise, after all it’s normal to invite another person out to do something with each person taking responsibility over his/her own expenditure. Calling out friends for example, has there ever been a rule that says the friend who initiates the invitation must pay for the rest?
Her second point became the core to our lengthy debate. She argued that paying for dinner is part of the male chivalry sought after by women and is a basic requirement to be a ‘worthy’ candidate for dating. I find this entire argument contrary to the principle of equality and wholeheartedly disagreed with her premise.
My counter-argument to her premise is that expecting a man to pay is not chivalry but misogyny itself as it further exacerbates the notion that males belong to a higher class of society which requires them to take on the duty of a provider or protector for the ‘weaker’ female species. This translates to men being taught that they are required to behave in a certain way further propagating the idea of male supremacy.
Although chivalry is not confined to merely paying for dinner, other forms of chivalry still perpetuate the notion of an imbalance of power between males and females. Take opening and holding a door for example, I would argue that it is polite to open and hold the door for another person (irrespective of gender) but it is considered chivalrous to do the same act for a female due to the stigma placed on the behavior of men.
Furthermore, I also argued that in order for society to truly progress towards the equality between genders it is necessary to first break the idea of chivalry as it is merely a guise for misogyny engineered by society to place males on a higher standing. Therefore, the act of splitting the bill shows that the man she dated respected her as an equal and saw an opportunity to break the stigma placed on him by creating a situation for two individuals to bond as equals over dinner.
The moral of this story for the ladies out there, asking to split the bill is a small step in breaking the cycle of misogyny and can create a ripple effect for gender equality in the future. For the men reading this, it’s time to stop treating women like they are inferior beings that need to be taken care of and start acknowledging them as equals by splitting the bill whenever you’re out on a date.
Kage is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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