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Friday, January 11, 2013

Feminism, Dating, Dinners, Diamonds: Is He a Cheap Prick or a Feminist?

Imagine the scenario, if you can: You’re a heterosexual/bisexual woman on a first date with a man. So far, so good. You haven’t had to use the fake “I have an emergency, I have to go!” (aka dial-a-friend-tosavemefromthisnightmare) excuse. The dinner is coming to its end and the server places the check on the table, closest to your date. Your adorable date flips it open, glances it over quickly, and says “Okay so let’s split this, should we use card or cash?”

I have to confess, I practically gagged as I wrote that. C’mon ladies, even diehard feminists- what are your INITIAL reactions/thoughts to this man?

Okay, next scenario, if you can: You’re a heterosexual/bisexual woman on a first date with a man. So far, so good. You haven’t had to use the fake “I have an emergency, I have to go!” (aka dial-a-friend-tosavemefromthisnightmare) excuse. You’re finishing up your appetizer, and the date asks you to elaborate on your research/life/job/interests/whatever the hell people ask on a first date. You mention that you’re a sex worker/sex work researcher/feminist/don’t want kids/have tattoos/whatever it may be, and your adorable date says something prickish that insults your feminist ideologies (“all women want kids, your clock will start ticking”).

Again, I practically gagged when I wrote that. C’mon ladies- what are your INITIAL reactions/thoughts to this man?

Well, I’ve been in both scenarios. My reaction each time? He’s gone from adorable date to idiot monster, and I will never see him again.

Why? Well, in scenario 1, he’s diverting away from traditional gender role norms. Norms say that men pay (especially early on), and women do not. Men are the breadwinners, and women must be taken care of. Benevolent sexism 101.

In scenario 2, he’s conforming to traditional gender role norms. Women are supposed to be chaste, stay at home raising the family. We are supposed to have biological clocks that tick, as we sit around watching Lifetime TV and brushing our hair. Well, if that asshole thinks that I’d want that, then he can go to hell. I’m a feminist, mother fucker, and maybe my clock is broken!

So, do I want a man who conforms to traditional gender norms, or who strays away? Welcome to “Why Christina Is Single Part 1.”

I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought lately. I’m a single self-proclaimed feminist who has interest in studying the sex industry. Okay, since I’m using the “F” word, I should explore what it means to be a feminist. I know that I’ve always abhorred traditional gender roles, but WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? And, do I really hate them, or do I only hate the ones that won’t benefit me? I expect a guy to pay on the first date. I expect some chivalry, or do I actually expect benevolent sexism? I also expect a guy to “think outside of the box.” My ex-boyfriend of many years (and still a good friend to me, somehow. God bless his patient soul!) HATED when I would joke about having a penis (I don’t actually have one). He would squirm when I would make proclamations about our future child’s yellow bedroom walls; fuck blue and pink!! Even better, I don’t ever want kids! Talk about squirming.

He was SO damn traditional and it drove me nuts! This was a big part of the reason that our relationship ultimately ended. However, he was also a gentleman and I loved this. Gentleman (in this context): noun; a man who gave me diamonds and took me to lots of nice restaurants. *For the record, he is/was also an all-around nice guy.

Are you starting to see my point? When is it benevolent sexism, and when is it just being a “nice guy?” As modern day feminists (?) what do we expect?

I’m lost. Thoughts?

For the record, I find this cartoon to be offensive. Or, at least, I think I do. I did at one point...but now I'm not so sure! God dammit, being a young woman in today's world is confusing. Being a feminist in today's world is even worse!


  1. Update: I'm having some great discussions with other women on my twitter (@christinapage2) about this. A couple of women say that it depends who invited who out. Another woman states that she always offers to split, unless the date took her somewhere outside of her price range.

    She writes "that said, most men still make more than most women. So I'm down with the 'pay your fair share' thing. Kinda like taxes!"

    Another interesting comparison!

    Also, this only applies to heterosexual dating. My gay male friends and I had this same discussion while we were out to lunch a few days ago, and it basically boiled down to "whoever invites the other person out should pay." We didn't talk traditional gender roles, but instead starting talking about roles within gay male relationships (sexual roles such as top/bottom, expectations, etc..)

    Okay, it's no wonder that I hate dating.

  2. I generally agree with the invite policy; I never expect a man to pay on the first date (or every time), and believe in splitting.

    It has become apparent in my dating history that a straight dude who pays on the first date is, essentially, telling me that he likes me and is willing to "invest" and hope that it means he will see me again. These dudes also are usually ok with me buying drinks afterward or buying the movie tickets or whatever other activity or getting the next dinner.

    I tend to screen in advance (thanks online dating!) so that these gentlemen are rarely the ones who think $40 for dinner is going to buy them a blowjob.

    Whenever a dude has accepted my offer to fully split, it usually is a sign that he could take it or leave it or isn't that interested.

    I'm not offended by splitting, but I take it as a lack of interest. I know that's probably not fair, but in the past, it has been a telltale social flag, if that makes sense.

  3. I hope you don't mind a heterosexual male's opinion thrown in here.
    I view both your scenarios quite differently. The first, I believe is easy, the second requires a more nuanced consideration.

    I believe the first guy should be kicked to the curb and it has nothing to do with gender roles, or feminism but has to do with interest and being appropriately nice. He invited you on a date. If he invited you, and did not make it clear that he wanted to split costs from the beginning, then he should be expected to be responsible for all costs. If I invited you to dinner at my place, would I have asked you to pay for 1/2 the groceries,no, if I had asked you to the park or an outside concert would I ask you to pay for 1/2 the gas, etc, no. Now, let's say we worked together, and you are really interested in me, then dammit, you should ask me out, now that's a gender issue, but if you do, then you should pay 100% unless we communicate something differently.
    As usual it all has to do with communication, I think the guy in the first scenario is just plain wrong and not worth seeing again, but it would be the same if the roles were reversed. Thus, the guy is a cheap prick.

    The second scenario is more difficult. How egregious were his comments? On a first date, you know, we are struggling too. Is he lecturing cause he knows best (gag.) Is he being a little defensive because your ideas are in conflict with his, e.g. he really wants kids some day and you are already making clear that you never want them. Thus, he is being defensive, but you may be viewing this as an attack. I have much more problems with this scenario since you almost have to be there to understand. But, if you are interested and you saw some bright spots and had fun, I would play it out. None of us are written in stone, many of us do grow, develop and become better people, and many times with your help.
    Anyway, thanks for the interesting blog.

  4. I've always felt uncomfortable with guys paying my way from the time I was 17 and got into an argument with a first-date guy outside the movie theatre because I wanted to buy my own ticket. (He won because he was more stubborn than me and I didn't want to escalate things.) But really, it's a sexist anachronism. It's important to me to be economically independent, I have an aversion to being dependent on men.

    That said, it depends on who invites who, and the financial situation of each. I've dated broke guys and it's understood and totally acceptable that we go dutch or take turns paying, or maybe I pay and that's ok. I've dated guys with more money than me when I'm broke, and I'm grateful to let them pay. Basically, it becomes a negotiable issue between 2 people/friends who are otherwise equals, it's not a male/female thing. And it should be stated openly or discussed, one person should never take for granted that the other is paying, as if they're entitled.

    I do enjoy men holding doors open for me and being a gentleman and generally making me feel special as a woman. But if they INSIST on paying on some kind of chivalric principle, I really don't like it, it feels uncomfortable and weird to me, and I stop dating them. I just don't want to feel beholden to them.

  5. I think more often than not, men want a women who will work and contribute money toward the household, and who are also willing to have children, and who will come home from work to their 2st shift of taking care of the children, cleaning, cooking while stroking the mans ego.
    Yet when it comes down to it, men still don't want to share their toys. It sounds more like having a roommate, than being in a relationship. LOL.

    Now a days when a man says that "they want to date you", what does that even mean? Is it taking me out for 3 dates just to get in my pants? Why are both parties being so evasive about what it is they want and need? I call it "dancing around the dating table, the names people play".

    It seems in relationships more often than not, people do not seem to have the ability to openly discuss their feelings, or their sex lives, etc.

  6. As far as the second goes--ideally we want someone who is mature and can see well-rounded views of life and issues right? Following you so far it would appear you would want someone who doesn't follow typical gender roles.

    For me--if we are first dating and they make quite a bit more money then me and ask me out, pursue me then I have no problem with them paying. Then later as we date I try to pay some of the time so it's more fair. I guess if I dated someone else who was underemployed like me then I would split it but if they make 8 times what I do then fine let them pay.

  7. It really has everything to do with your upbringing if you ask me. Coming from an Old School Italian Father I was brought up to Respect Women at all costs. In his words you may not like them but you better damn respect them. With that being said, I always pay, no matter what… but what gets earns my respect and interest is when the female offers to split it and will put up a little bit of a fight to do so. Going off of “Choice Joyce’s” comment who likes to pay her own way, I would put her at ease by saying “Well you buy the first round” and this always make the stronger independent woman feel better and not have a negative view of you being this old school dominating male figure. So in the situation you stated about the movie ticket, I would of settled that with, “You get the candy than”.

    With scenario two, if the male on the date worded it a different way I’m sure you wouldn’t have perceived it as insulting. He could have said, “I understand you have a strong set of core values and opinions when it comes to sex workers and feminist ideologies but science dictates one thing, that we are all on this planet to reproduce and although you personally may not want kids biology says different.” Now I’m Monday Morning Quarterbacking here a little but I think it’s safe to say that if it’s a “Date” we all want to make our best impressions and although looks are a great way to open doors, it’s our vernacular that keep us in the room.

    I am going to assume that you Christina are what most consider a Third Wave Feminist and if given the chance would have an interesting debate with feminists such as Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin as they focused many of their attentions in the 70’s and 80’s to that of Pornography and Sex Workers objectify “women”. Although many Third Wave feminists I have had conversations with still have issues with pornography and prostitution they do not view it as harmful and damaging as second wave feminists such as Mackinnon and Dworkin wanted us to believe.

    Not to go off on an entirely different tangent or take away from your article but I always wanted to comment on this and just haven’t had the time to write it as I would be interested on your take. If a woman has the right to abort a child than we as a state by law have made it clear that she has the right to do what she wants to her body. By that standard prostitution should not be against the law. In 2010 close to 63,000 men and women were arrested due to prostitution. The average arrest costs the state over $7,500 dollars and we are just talking a basic misdemeanor, not felony charges as that number would more than double the cost to the state and ultimately the “tax payer”. I’m not going to get in all the particulars and numbers but can you imagine if we actually made prostitution legal and then taxed it, the number is close to 20 billion dollars a year in revenue it would raise. Not to mention that a prostitute could walk into a police station and report when men are abusive or just crazy without the fear of being arrested themselves.

  8. I am confused: why is the first scenario grounds for criticism? It appears to me that having someone stray away from typified gender norms would be bucking the concept of benevolent sexism. How does that make him a monster? It seems instead this is trending for an egalitarian relationship...

    Is it the fact that he was going to pay for the check, saw how much it is, and then became a cheap?