Feminism has come a long way, and the fact that it’s been less than a century since women in America got the right to vote seems utterly ludicrous now – as it well should. But to my great surprise, the idea that the man should be the one to pay the bill on the first date seems to stand up well in the face of time. I mean, it’s comfortable having someone shell out their hard-earned money to feed me, but it feels so wrong and outdated! Nevertheless, men and women alike seem to passionately disagree with me whenever I bring this topic up, which is why I decided to put together a list of the seven main reasons why men shouldn’t pay for women on the first date. These are based around a first date scenario set in a restaurant, both because it is a good old cliché and because I am starving. Any excuse to write about food will do at this point, seriously.
1. We have equal job opportunities. We both know that the job market is nowhere near unbiased when it comes to hiring women, but at the very least they pretend now. Hypothetically, you and I have an equal chance of getting a job, buddy, so I can probably afford that plate of spaghetti bolognese. (Did I really just say spaghetti bolognese? Who orders spaghetti bolognese on a first date? I’m unlovable.)
2. We’re both broke. You know that hypothetical job I was talking about? We’re both in our twenties, so our equal job opportunities pretty much amount to a job offer from McDonald’s or an unpaid internship at our creepy uncle’s firm. (Our respective uncles, that is, my hypothetical date and I are not related.) I really don’t want to feel guilty thinking about you being surviving off dried Ramen noodles for the rest of the week, because you spent all your water bill savings on my sautéed mushroom risotto.
3. I don’t want to owe you. When you pay for me, it feels like the ball is in my court now. And if there’s something I really hate, it’s balls in my court. No, not like that. But seriously, I don’t want to feel pressured to… have your balls in my court… in exchange for a measly dinner. Let’s find out if we like each other before investing into one another. If you do end up fancying me, feel free to affectionately shower me with Birkins and Louboutins all day long. But until then, let’s just split the bill.
4. I’m not doing you a favour. I am on a date with you because I want to get to know you, not because I want to score a free glass of acidic Chardonnay. If that’s what I was after, I’d just sit at the bar by myself in a bodycon dress. Or yoga pants, because apparently that’s what gets men going these days. Seriously, dude, let’s just relax and get to know each other without you silently worrying how you’re going to make rent this month.
5. We can avoid that awkward bill shuffle. I reach for my purse and you really wish you didn’t feel obliged to do this — you reaaally need some new socks – but unfortunately society has forced you to believe that you have to pay for my meal so you shake your head and insist that you’ll get the bill. I awkwardly insist and you awkwardly refuse and then awkwardly hand a few crumpled up notes to the waiter. I used the word awkward three times in that sentence to emphasise the sheer terror I experience in situations like those. If there is one thing I dislike as much as hairy spiders, it’s awkwardness. Seriously, can we just cut it out and concentrate on awkwardly chatting about our fabulous selves instead?
6. I don’t have to think about my order so much. So, I already ruled out spaghetti — I am some kind of sex goddess that could look attractive with tomato sauce smeared all over her face. Choosing what to eat on a first day is a serious challenge – due to my general ineptitude which is only worsened by the presence of attractive males, pretty much any meal I choose is bound to end up on my body at some point – and not in the good way. Adding the stress of checking the price tag makes it an excruciatingly painful process. Will he think I have low self-esteem if I go for something plain and cheap like mac and cheese? Will I come off as posh and stuck-up if I opt for salmon sashimi? Can I order a kobe beef filet mignon steak or does that make me an insensitive gold digger? Ugh, decisions.
7. It’s a stupid, outdated tradition. We’re successfully abolishing other outdated traditions like marriage only being allowed between a man and a woman, and I think the time has come to throw this one out along with the rest of them. If we want equality, we can’t just pick and choose the bits we enjoy — it’s all or nothing. Sure, like more broke university students I enjoy people paying for my food. But I value my independence and the equality generations of women before me have fought so hard for far more than I do the prospect of a free dinner.