We recently celebrated International Women’s Day, recognizing the fearless female trailblazers of the past and present to prepare the strong, progressive women of the future. There have been remarkable shifts in our modern social structures as many women have marched valiantly toward equality in treatment, opportunity and expectations in what has always been considered a “man’s world.” While “slut shaming” and stay-at-home moms may not be the norm as women continue to reinforce their empowerment both in relationships and the workforce, it seems like one social standard may die harder than others, and it warrants some reexamination.
Dating used to be simple. When a couple liked each other, they would flirt and the man would then be expected to ask the woman out on a date. You know, like a real man. He would proceed by picking her up from her home sometime that weekend, helping her into his car and, when the time came, paying for her portion of the evening.
Now, as women have put forth efforts to level the gender playing field, there has been backlash regarding some of those more traditional expectations. Today’s women may like the idea of taking charge and asking a man out for themselves, and many have spoken out against having doors opened for them, reading the gesture to mean they’re incapable of doing so themselves. When it comes to who pays for whom, arguably the most important and telling deed of the evening, today’s women seem submissive.
In an article titled “Single Ladies, It’s Time to Pony Up When the Check Comes,” Peggy Drexler of The Wall Street Journal cites a survey conducted by researchers at California State University, Wellesley College and Chapman University, reporting that 85 percent of men and 58 percent of women said men paid for expenses even after the couple knew each other long-term. Maybe these beliefs are justified by trends suggesting men typically earn more, on average, than women. Coming from a progressive, modern standpoint, these defenses are counterproductive.
Money is power. It’s a simple truth. When it comes to relationships, whether they be romantic, familial, friendly or professional, it is most often the case that whoever is paying the bills has a certain hold or control over anyone reaping the benefits. When it comes to dating, allowing someone else to pay for your meal, your movie ticket, etc., is an indication you’re willing to return the favor, not necessarily with money, but through some other means.
I’m sure women have different motives behind allowing men to pay. Maybe the #MeToo movement has inspired females everywhere to feel comfortable saying no, regardless of what they, by tradition, may owe. Then, there are others who may enjoy stringing men along to give a good tease and earn a free meal — more power to you.
Regardless of the motive, allowing a man to pay for a woman can come with some fairly presumptuous expectations. So to women everywhere, if equality in power and control in a relationship matters to you, not only should you pick him up sometimes and open your own doors, but you should consider pulling out your wallet once in a while. After all, money talks. No matter how strong you may perceive yourself to be, allowing someone else to cover your bill may belittle and diminish your voice. Paying your own way, or even his, will empower you.