Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The financial math of being female

Travelling "light."
When I'm out on a date - especially a first date - I'm always a bit disappointed if the fellow I'm with doesn't offer to pick up the cheque. I've gotten some flack for this opinion from both women and men. Usually it's the feminism argument: Men and women are equal, so women should split costs equally with men. I'm not so sure about that.

I think of feminism as equal pay for equal work, as well as equality in terms of rights. Men and women are equal but not the same. There's a reason why a decent guy will drive you to your door and wait until you're safely inside, or offer to wait with you at the bus stop when it's late.

Biologically we are different, and our social reality reflects this. In the same way that a man wants to look out for you, he should also want to impress you. Chivalry - offering to pay the bill, opening doors, getting you home safely - is one component of that.

We can also look at the financial math of being female. Women pay considerably more for services like haircuts and dry cleaning. And, in keeping with certain pesky social standards, we are compelled to wear some sort of make-up, purchase feminine hygiene products (pretty much non-negotiable), remove hair from large swaths of our bodies, and possess more varied wardrobes than those of men. Many women also feel it necessary to dye and highlight their hair, and spend money on manicures and pedicures (I don't personally spend money this way.) Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to the feminine sex and grooming. Much of this effort is often made to attract a man and end up on that aforementioned date...with someone who can't be bothered to pick up the cheque?

Once the relationship has evolved to a certain point, it's normal and healthy for both partners to pay for things together. But he should still want to impress you and look after you in small - but significant - ways.

What do you think? Guys, do you try to pay for your date, or do you split the cheque? Am I radically off-base here? Girls, does it turn you off if a guy doesn't offer to pay the bill?


  1. Should the ugly girlfriends of an attractive woman have to pick up her bar tab just because she spends more money on herself per month?

    And doesn't it matter how much money each of you make?

    And wouldn't it matter on HOW MUCH each women spends on herself each month? And, by extrapolation, wouldn't a guy have to pay for less towards an ugly woman as opposed to an attractive woman just because she spends less on herself?

    Reading this gets me riled up haha. Just a guy's two cents though I suppose.

  2. It's good to be riled up...better than being passive. I predicted this one would have some people thinking I'm backwards. :P

    I'm not sure I quite understand your point, though. When I talk about the math of being female, I'm not talking about being ugly or pretty. I'm talking about how much it costs to maintain a baseline socially-acceptable appearance. And I think it costs a woman more to maintain that than a man. Period. But that is only one half my argument - perhaps even an alternative argument to my main point regarding chivalry.

  3. I didn't mean "ugly" or "pretty", I suppose. I should've said "spend less more on themselves" and "spend more on themselves" - but I think my points stand.

    I think at the end of the day, if you want to be with a guy that pays for your dinner, then you're going to eventually find one. And if a guy gets turned off by that, well then he's not for you, right?

    My girlfriend and I think of it in terms of salary - we each make the same amount, so pretty much everything gets split in the middle, with of course the odd meal or flower "present" every once in awhile.

    To be honest, I've never thought about the money she spends on herself. But that being said, I own the car and pay for parking/gas, so it probably works itself out in the end in that way.

  4. I get what you're saying now. Good point.

    My overall argument was really more about chivalry, and I obfuscated by adding in the stuff about what it costs to be a woman. It really is more expensive in certain ways. Should it be about who spends more or makes what? No, not really.

    Really, who pays for a date has nothing to do with what it costs to be a man or a woman, but rather your values regarding gender roles. I believe that the playing field for women is not equal and probably never will be (here I am talking about biological realities, such as men are generally stronger than women, safety for women is more of an issue, etc.) So, I like it when a man shows that he wants to look out for me, regardless of our respective levels of wealth.

    I'm a woman who owns her own condo and looks after herself financially, and that will never change. But who pays for dinner - on those crucial first dates, definitely matters to me. It just says we're not on the same wavelength if he doesn't at least try to pay.

    In a couple, things change. Ideally become a team and share costs - which is what it sounds like you're doing with your girlfriend.

  5. OK that's fair - so its less of a financial thing, and more of a personal choice based on chivalry.

    Keep in mind that there are certain things that are more expensive then men - ever heard of a bar that let men get in for free before eleven? or a car insurance company where guys are charged more than women? - there's a price to pay for being each gender, but unfortunately it's something we all have to deal with.

    At the end of the day, we just have to be compassionate to each other, and if you don't get along with someone based on their choice to pay for dinner or not - well, fuck 'em, their loss anyway right?

    Thanks for the good chat, I'm done here ;)