Monday, August 12, 2013

Chivalry or Equality?

Some things change and some things just stay the same, stubbornly, stupidly, with no logical explanation kind of same. A recent poll indicated that women are still expecting men to pick up the tab when they date, almost 50% of respondents, with a whopping 44% who claim that they would not go on a second date if they had to pay their own way. Men, for their part, said that they expected to pay for dates in just about the same numbers, but added a caveat to that- they want women to contribute. A comparable 40% or so stated that they would stop dating a woman if she expected them to pay all of the time.

There's nothing logical about the dating world and this is further proof. While women are making strides in being equal, (believe me honey, we are NOT there yet), some of us are still holding onto old notions passed on by grandma and these are not the helpful 'wearing oven mitts when taking pies out' kind of advice. While most of us would say that having a man pay on the date is 'nice', what it actually reveals is that we're holding on to old notions of chivalry, chilvary being the practice of being a gentleman to a lady.

But let's not forget that chivalry also means that men are being nice to us because we're women, the fairer, weaker sex that needs to be taken care of. Let's face it, most of us don't need or want to be taken care of, and others among us wouldn't want to be a financial burden on the one we love. So maybe chivalry is dead and maybe that's a good thing.

Chivalry's ugly downside is that it often leads to a power dynamic that creates expectations which are more indicative of the world's oldest profession rather than a healthy human couple. In one particularly biting and entertaining episode of the Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Penny hang out 'as friends' one night, doing things that most couples would do on a date: go to a movie, have a drink and a snack at the pub and then head home. In this 'not a date' scenario, Leonard finally gets the upper hand in the relationship, stating that all the things that he used to do, was to get Penny to sleep with him. This list includes: paying for everything, letting her choose the awful movie, and sharing his fries.

While the episode spirals down from there with cheap shots about sexual performance and attempting to pick up other people at the bar later on, the point it makes is pretty spot on. Dating, for the most part, sees couples holding Aces in badly balanced relationships: women, with the sex card and men, with the credit card.

This doesn't mean it's time to bring calculators out, since money is a romance killer (math on a first date? No second date). But maybe sharing is fair. Equality for women means our half of the privileges, so it should mean our half of the responsibilities. An easy way to avoid this? Take turns choosing where to go and the chooser pays.

And remember- cheapskates of both gender- equally unsexy.

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