I also kick men in the shins when they try to hold the door for me

Click image to embiggen.

Yesterday, I did a HuffPost Live segment on paying and dating — specifically, if you’re on a mixed-gender date, who should pick up the check? Back in the day paying was a dude’s responsibility, but now it’s less clear. So I got to be the crabby feminist talking about who I think should pay, and how to negotiate date payment. And as a response, my mug ended up on the homepage of AOL (awesome) with a caption that could have just as easily read, “Jill Filipovic, leader of the online castrati” (less awesome). You can watch the whole video here, but a basic summary of my points (and a bit of expansion on some of them):

-I always offer to pay. If I eat or drink something, I expect to pay for it and am more than happy to do so. I’m not reaching for my pocketbook just for show.

-But I don’t fight over who pays. If I’m on a date and I offer to pay, and he says, “No really let me get this,” I say, “Are you sure?” and if he says, “Yes, definitely” then I let him get it and I say thank you. I certainly don’t think, “I am an INDEPENDENT WOMAN and what a SEXIST ASSHOLE for buying me a drink!” I think, “Hey that was really sweet.” If we go out again, I make an effort to pick up the next tab.

-If I were to establish a rule, though, I’d say the fair one is whoever does the asking does the paying, at least on the first date or three. That takes the heteronormativity out of it. Of course, it does have its flaws — men are still the ones doing the asking most of the time — but especially in venues like internet dating, that’s shifting. I think “the asker does the paying” is also helpful insofar as the asker is probably the date-planner, and can therefore best budget for the date given their finances. If they’re broke, they can make the date a $10 bottle of wine in the park, and they aren’t stuck paying for half of a dinner they can’t afford.

-Once you’re dating someone consistently or in a relationship, things are less dicey. I have a Communist view of relationship give-and-take — each person gives what they can, which isn’t always going to be 50/50. If she’s an investment banker with no debt and he’s a struggling actor, she pays more often. But he can make her an amazing breakfast in bed or plan a creative, cheap night out (or in).

-That said, there are lots of women who do expect men to pay for dates. And while I’m not one of them, I don’t begrudge them. Men still have most of the power in heterosexual dating — they’re the ones doing the picking, and women are more often accepting or refusing. Men are usually the ones picking the date location. And women are socially pressured to put a ton of money into preparing for the date and into being perceived as datable in the first place — we drop enormous sums on things like our hair, make-up, clothing, shoes, dry-cleaning, gym memberships, handbags, hair removal and all of the other beauty-related costs that aren’t technically required but basically are. We also make less money.

-There are a lot of reasons why I always offer to pay — and for the record, men almost always take me up on that offer — but one of the big ones is the power dynamic. If I don’t offer to pay and the dude covers my drinks / meal / whatever, I feel some sense of obligation. Not to have sex with him — it’s not that basic — but to be more… accommodating. To go out with him again even if I didn’t like him that much, for example. If I go out with someone multiple times and he always pays, it gets worse. For one thing, the decision of where to go ends up always being his call. And in our culture, money is power. Women are already often at a power disadvantage in heterosexual relationships. The “he always pays because he’s the man” model only exacerbates that.

-I kinda feel bad for men who go on dates with me. The “I’m a feminist writer” thing was either known beforehand or comes out on the date, and then when I offer to pay there’s a visible moment of panic. If they accept and let me pay, is that rude? But if they refuse, am I going to think they’re a chauvinist jerk? Almost all of the men I date end up letting me pay, but I don’t actually think more or less of them for however they go with that one.

I don’t think any of this is particularly unreasonable or militant. Other folks may do things differently, and that’s ok. But I don’t really feel comfortable just staring at the ceiling when the check comes.

Apparently, though, my viewpoint is horribly emasculating, at least judging from that AOL headline (“Jill is strong and independent — but when men try to do something innocent on their dates, she stops them immediately”). And while reading internet comments is not exactly putting your finger on the pulse of America, I found a few of these interesting:

Looks like she is perfect for the role in Gigolo!!!

The man should pay, PERIOD! Spare me the psychobabble, women’s lib, this is about how you were raised. If you’re a gentleman, you pay and you expect NOTHING but a dining companion, if it ends up more, that’s on her terms. I’ve literally shot women down cold when I got the feeling they felt any obligation for anything I’ve done for them, because I had a great mom and sis, I’d nevert dishonor them by behaving otherwise. Ladies, if you date a man who doesn’t pay or even allows you to pay early in a relationship, you’ve got a loser on your hands. If you feel any sense that he expects something….loser. If you feel a sense of obligation…you have self-esteem issues. The only thing you “owe” a man on a date he’s paying for is polite conversation, and that’s only if he’s giving you the same. PS On a first date, drive your own car in case you feel the need to leave, this way, he also doesn’t know where you live. It’s not impolite or cynical girls, a decent guy will understand.

It’s not just in dating. If my spouse and I ask our friends out to dinner and we pick the restaurant then we are expected to pay. No questions asked and inform the waiter (or waitress) to put it on one bill and give it to you personally. The best way is when you ask a person out mention the fact it’s your treat-then there will be no misconceptions when the bill arrives. If the person feels uneasy about your generosity and insists on paying their share then you tell them to kiss off. Apparently they have serious “trust issues” much like the bloggers on Feministe

I pay all the time on a date. It’s the right thing to do. The one thing I wouldn’t do is date a chick who blogs at Feministe!

Funny, when it comes to this the feminists scream blue bloody murder. YET other sexist tradition endure with no complaint, for instance: weddings and Daddy has to walk her down the aisle and ‘give’ her away like his prized possession. Explain to me why this militant feminist let’s destroy everything doesn’t apply to everything??

My experience has been that when I offer to pay, b/c I had asked him out, he says “No, let me”. Thats happened almost every time, and then of course I offer to pay the tip at least. This bothers me b/c I hear Women complain about the death of Chivalry and yet none are smart enough to realize that discussions like this, and follow through of the such, is what IS killing it! You want a Man to be a Man, well you have to LET him BE the Man and stop confusing what is and stop trying to define How To Properly Fall In Love (lets be realistic, you date to find Love).

I was raised different and old school. The lady is treated with resepct and doors are opened and chairs pulled out. At the end of the date, the man pays. Take her home, call it a night. If she is interested in another level, she will “let you know” with their feminine wiles..I have a friend born and has never left texas. He had a job to do for his company in NYC and he opened a door for a “lady” and said ma’m. She used words he never heard before and was shocked. Needless to say, he isnt going back to NYC

I fell for this BS twice when I was in my 20’s. I was/am a social worker so I dated several social workers who of course are open minded, free spirited and a little crunchy. They said the same thing as this lady and I bought into it. The first girl I dated for quite some time (she didn’t like doors opened for her either). When things started not working out she said one of the things she did not like about me was that on our first date I wasn’t man enough to pay the bill or open doors for her. She told a lot of people this and what I learned was this was not a spit thing but really is the way she feels. The second girls was similar wit the dutch thing. I told her I was uncomfortable going dutch because of my previous situtation. She said that girl was full of BS and she was not like that. We did not date as long for I thing she liked my friend better but she told a bunch of his friends that I was cheap and was not “man enough” to pay on the first date and beyond. I never made that mistake again. I am married now and have been for years so my money is her money, luckily she makes more money now than me (she is a DR.) so life works out.

PS – Both of those girls are 40 and single.

This is why women can’t find husbands, they are so worried about power that they simply turn off men.

No wonder this beautiful lawyer and not so bright woman is still dating….Let the man pay sometime and you pay others times. Invite him out and you pay, this is not that difficult…so why make it. I’m old school and the man pays, moving forward to not look like a gold digger, I will offer to pay the tip or treat at another time.

She’d rather do the smack down in public. I despise women resenting chivalry and men being men. There is a difference in genders, different expectations, and I want that considerate, strong man of the past that is becoming extinct. A simple thank you will do. IF there is a next time (with her I doubt it), it can be well established who treats.

she can come collect me anytime and take me out to dinner to show that she is liberated

If she pays, it is communicating 2 things:

1. THIS IS NOT A DATE

2. I am an overly strong feminist, and like to turn off most all guys.

I actually have some degree of sympathy for hetero men out there dating: It is really hard to know what to do on a first (or second or third) date when it comes to the check. You want to be a gentleman, but not sexist. You want to be polite, but being polite means making your date comfortable and you don’t know her very well yet. You want to date, but you don’t want to go broke doing it. You want a gender-egalitarian relationship, but we live in a very unegalitarian world. It sucks! And there is no silver bullet correct answer.

But it sucks for women, too. And it sucks to be publicly berated no matter what we say. I think I took a pretty moderate path here — I don’t expect men to pay for me, but when they do I think it’s very nice and I appreciate it — and there’s a comment section full of men and women saying that I’m militant and will be single forever because I turn men off. And frankly, that’s part of the reason I bring up the “I’m a feminist writer” thing very early, either before or on a first date — I don’t want to spend time with men who are freaked out by that. It’s a waste of both of our time.

But can you imagine if I had gone of HuffPost Live and said what half the male commenters are already saying, and what a lot of women do but never say out loud (at least not in mixed company): That men should always pay for dates, and men who don’t are unchivalrous cheapskate jerks? Or even, women make 73 cents on the dollar and funnel a significantly higher proportion of our disposable income into jumping through all the hoops of beauty culture so that we’re perceived as attractive by the men who are taking us on dates, and so therefore the men should pay? I’d be on the front page of GoldDiggingWhore.com.

I’m pretty lucky that dating hasn’t been all that hard for me — I live in a big city, I’m pretty outgoing, I have a wide social circle, I go out and meet new people fairly regularly, I date online, etc etc. Meeting someone I like enough to date exclusively and for a long time? That’s the tough part. But finding someone to get a drink with isn’t too tricky. So I do have more than a little experience with the ins and outs of Dating While Feminist. And the sad truth is that a lot of times it sucks. It sucks more as I get older — when you’re 22, there are lots of dudes who think your little feminist hobby is a cute trifle. When you’re almost 30 and men are already slightly panicked because they assume you want marriage and babies (or, just as often, because they want marriage and babies and the clock is tickin’), the idea of dating a feminist is less appealing. Some men want to be equal partners in a relationship and a marriage; some men want to be equal partners in child-rearing and in mutually supportive careers. But the sad truth is that most actually don’t. Even the liberal ones — they’ll support policy changes like equal pay, they’ll read Gail Collins, they’ll think Michelle Obama is awesome, they’ll argue in favor of federal parental leave. But at the end of the day, in their own homes, they want a stay-at-home wife to do the vast majority of the work raising the kids, tending to the house and allowing the dude to focus all of his efforts on his personal success (insert usual caveat here about how SAHMs can be feminists, too, but I’ll go ahead and say that men who want to marry women who stay home, or who expect that their wives will stay home, are not pro-feminist men or men who are seeking out egalitarian, feminist marriages).

But there’s also something very powerful and very convenient about having dating weeding-out mechanisms. They aren’t going to help you get married tomorrow. They aren’t going to get you a boyfriend or a girlfriend ASAP. But they will make you a lot happier, and they will help point you towards the right kind of people for you (and away from the wrong ones). The feminist thing is a good one. And so is the issue of who pays. I want to date someone who is kind and generous and thoughtful and interesting and smart and attractive and nice to me; I want someone to date me because he thinks I’m kind and generous and thoughtful and interesting and smart and attractive and nice to him. Men who meet all of those criteria will often offer to pay for dates. What they won’t do is get pissed if you also offer.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Dating, Gender, Life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

314 Responses to I also kick men in the shins when they try to hold the door for me

  1. amblingalong says:

    If I were to establish a rule, though, I’d say the fair one is whoever does the asking does the paying, at least on the first date or three. That takes the heteronormativity out of it.

    That’s the rule I’ve always followed, and I think it makes perfect sense for the reasons you outlined.

    Anyways, sorry about all the nasty comments, though I’m sure you’ve gotten used to it. It’s impressive how often you venture out of the (relatively) protected lands of the social-justice blogosphere to write feminist articles, despite the inevitably misogynist backlash; a lot of people wouldn’t.

  2. TomSims says:

    I agree with your article Jill. It’s very reasonable. This is the first time I saw a video of you and you are quite lovely. I can say that in a good way, because I’m an old man and my oldest granddaughter is 22 and is quite lovely too.

    Back in the day there we had a thing called “Dutch Treat”, where each paid their own way. I wonder what happened to that concept?

    • benvolio says:

      It’s fun to know that the term ‘Dutch treat’ was a slur against the Dutch by the English (and English-descended ‘mericans). Like ‘Dutch courage': not courage at all, but liquor-inspired bravado, ‘Dutch treat’ is no ‘treat’ at all, you gotta pay your way. Because the Dutch are stupid, cowardly, and cheap, you see.

      See also Dutch oven, which isn’t an oven at all, it’s a pot! A measly pot! and the gold standard of Dutch-slurs, the song Yankee Doodle Dandy, who’s such a freaking rube, he thinks a feather in his cap puts him in the company of the Macaroni set, who were beyond dandified in England’s colonial era.

      All of which is a digression on the topic of sharing the check, which I think is a fine small-d-democratic thing to do. Unless you’re splitting the check with a lousy tipper, in which case, it’s best to take the whole thing.

      Also: It would have been awesome if instead of the screen cap, HuffPo had used Jill’s disapproving-hairless-cat avatar.

    • Fat Steve says:

      I agree with your article Jill. It’s very reasonable. This is the first time I saw a video of you and you are quite lovely. I can say that in a good way…

      There are any number of things you could say in a good way, but you haven’t seemed to manage so far. I haven’t watched the video, and now would consider it far too creepy, but even if I was the type to use the term lovely, I wouldn’t choose to apply it to someone who’s writing I’ve been reading for a month or so, only after I’ve got a good look at her. I’m an old man as well, and I’m a bit nauseous.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        Blecccch. I’m with you, Fat Steve. That comment turned my stomach.

      • S2C says:

        Another reason so many people don’t like feminists, because a guy can’t make a nice comment without getting shit for it. Stay classy.

      • speedbudget says:

        As everyone know, Dispatches From Bonerland simply must be shared with everyone. Can’t just let those thoughts in your head go unsaid!

      • Fat Steve says:

        Another reason so many people don’t like feminists, because a guy can’t make a nice comment without getting shit for it. Stay classy.

        It was I who gave him shit for his ‘nice’ comment and it wasn’t on feminist grounds, it was on I-couldn’t-give-the-slightest-fuck-what-TomSims-finds-lovely grounds.

    • Raudya says:

      Uhhh.. D:

  3. Drahill says:

    I always tried to pay at least something (if he payed for the meal, I’ll insist on the tip – that’s why I always carried cash).

    Honestly, I always wanted to pay for at least something because I went on more than one date in which it was clear that my male date believed that paying for dinner (or anything else) was some kind of going down payment on getting some later. Of course, there are men who will pay with NO expectation of things to come. However, the idea that paying for dinner has to be repaid later is still prevalent enough that a lot of women I know have encountered it. So maybe people should stop going in circles about whether men or women should pay and start worrying about having the correct attitudes towards one’s date, regardless of who pays for what? But that’s probably too radical.

  4. Kit Kendrick says:

    I have seen the issue where if you offer to split the check, a guy may take that as a gentle brush-off. It’s sort of saying, “I am making this two friends eating together instead of a date by paying my own way, signaling that I don’t want a second date while allowing everyone to walk away with dignity intact.” Fortunately, I have the Miss Manners solution of letting the gentleman pay and then suggesting a specific next activity, specifying “this time, my treat.” It gives positive feedback, and if it turns out to be someone who can’t abide a woman picking up the check, then I probably didn’t want a second date after all.

  5. Meaghan says:

    I feel like those comments should have come after a totally different article, one where you proclaim that all men are useless cads and only pay for dinner to pressure you into anal sex, or something.

    I’d chalk this one up to illiteracy, personally.

  6. konkonsn says:

    I’m not sure most people watched the full video. They probably just saw little clip on the page you linked to, which also, of all the people talking, picked those specific words out for the preview below the video. And I’m not so sure that they picked you out for benign reasons. Most news sites like to add controversy to their stories to get readers riled up and commenting.

    I mean, what you say comes across to me as completely reasonable. But I’m currently writing news stories for a local, online paper for my town of 15,000 here in Midwest, USA, and I’ve learned that just even using larger words that people are used makes them think you believe your better than they are. So in addition to the whole feminist thing, just using phrases like “power dynamic” can unsettle people (for more reasons rather than it just being an academic term, but…).

    The very first speaker, Peter Post, says exactly what you say, but being as he’s a white man and that he speaks using more colloquial terms makes him automatically less controversial.

    • konkonsn says:

      I should also say Post was less forward about what types of reciprocation was expected. He used the word “appreciation,” whereas Jill outright talked about sexual favors and even brought up a little bit about rape with the “saying no” part.

      Stop laying our ugly societal issues out where we can see them, Jill! :P

  7. Sue says:

    On all early dates with a guy I’ve made it clear I’m going to pay for my half of the activity/meal/whatever. If he can’t handle that, he’s not someone I could imagine spending a long period of time with. It’s worked out well for me.

    • Bagelsan says:

      Ditto. It can be a little painful financially (I’m a poor semi-student with only part-time work) but it’s the non-hypocritical thing to do.

  8. Lauren says:

    That headline is an epic lesson in hyperbole. I LOLed.

  9. Ros says:

    Your general guidelines are quite sensible, really, and they’re more-or-less what I followed when I was out dating – I found it worked quite well.

    Especially in circumstances where the people dating have very different incomes, though, it can be a tricky question at the very beginning of a relationship. For example, when I had just started my career (making less than 35K/year), I spent several months dating a well-established engineer. I would never have been able to afford the sort of dinner places he liked to go to, so I would pay for breakfasts and brunches, invite him over for dinner (because I do like cooking!)… it worked.

    I started dating my now-husband as I was getting more established, career-wise, and he was just finishing university and starting out, work-wise, so I would suggest restaurants and pay for dinners (and breakfasts!), and he’d pull together these really sweet popcorn-and-movie-and-hot-chocolate nights at his house, and that was great too.

    See? People talking to each other! Without trying to play head games and seeing what the other person “really means”! Odd how discussing rather than trying to interpret vague signals is helpful…

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      See? People talking to each other! Without trying to play head games and seeing what the other person “really means”!

      This is probably the key to a happy relationship. The second I start to think about what certain actions really mean, I balk. There’s something deeply unhealthy about it. Thanks for verbalizing this idea so well.

      • Alyson says:

        Oh god, yes. I hated those days, the “oh wow, he’s asking me about my mother, what significance does THAT have, should I tell him I want pizza, what does he think about that?” Ultimately when I end up in those thought patterns it means that I don’t trust the other person; with my current partner it was pretty easy to just SAY, “hey, do you want to go somewhere private? … Where do you see this going? …Do you want me to be your girlfriend?” and then use that straightforwardness for smaller things like who drives or pays, too.

      • EG says:

        Yes. Life’s too short for me to run around in circles wondering what somebody is thinking. I am not Sherlock Holmes; I do not sift for clues. Now that I’m not a teenager, I just ask.

  10. Athenia says:

    If hetero dudes feel like they are going to offend their lady date, I recommend suggesting that the lady pay the tip for the meal or drinks if she insists on paying. It might not be 50/50, but I think it’s a pretty good alternative.

  11. miga says:

    Oh, AOL. I love the baiting they do on all their headlines and bylines.

    When it comes to dating I’m rarely ever the one that pays- but that’s because I’m almost always the broke one. If someone offers to pay then I’ll let them, but insist on paying tip. Or I’ll buy desert or drinks, or something else to even the score a bit.

    The double-whammy of being female and broke makes me feel self-conscious though, because my lack of funds reinforces the heteronormativity of it all. Even in non-dating situations I feel obligated and embarrassed when people treat me to meals (especially if they’re men). Does anyone else feel this way?

    • Anonymous Wrecks says:

      Yes, I have similar knee-jerk feelings in those situations where reality and rather unconnected twists of fate cause the cards to fall in the way that heteronormativeness/traditional gender roles would. It makes me wince and squirm internally. I’ll be relieved when humankind gets through this round of fuckwittage and people just get to be individual people, but then we’ll probably come up with some other silly construct with which to make life more difficult :/

  12. shfree says:

    What boggles my mind is the commenters who complain that you should say things like you what, in fact, did say in your segment. Like they they were just waiting for you to be a rabid, foaming at the mouth, angry feminist woman who literally slaps men across the face for trying to pick up the check for dinner, instead of someone who made the perfectly valid suggestion that the asker pays for the meal out. Which was one thing a commenter said you should have said in your piece.

  13. mxe354 says:
    Funny, when it comes to this the feminists scream blue bloody murder. YET other sexist tradition endure with no complaint, for instance: weddings and Daddy has to walk her down the aisle and ‘give’ her away like his prized possession. Explain to me why this militant feminist let’s destroy everything doesn’t apply to everything??

    lol what

    • Noadi says:

      The last few weddings I’ve attended have had in order: Both parents walking the bride down the aisle, the bride walking with her best friends, and the bride walking with her brothers. Also in all three when asked who was giving the bride away the whole family stood and said “we do”. That tradition isn’t holding up quite as strongly as he may think. Individual couples decide for themselves what they want to do. If I ever get married it’s unlikely anyone will walk me down the aisle because I probably will have a courthouse wedding then a big party. It’s almost like people are individuals or something.

      • Alyson says:

        Yeah, at the last wedding I went to, the bride walked down the aisle by herself and the entire congregation was called on to do part of the vows. Weddings aren’t set in stone, and I’d rather not even have an aisle, since walking down it would cause quite a bit of anxiety.

      • Sonia says:

        I walked down the aisle with my fiancé. That’s how it has always been done in my community in South India. We are just bringing two families together while starting a new one at the same time.
        People here in the US would always ask me why my father was not walking me down the aisle and I would respond, ” why should he?” It did not seem particularly relevant till I started watching American romcoms and sitcoms.

    • littlem says:

      “lol what”

      Okay, not just me, then.

    • tinyorc says:

      Lol. That guy.

      Those sexist traditions DON’T exist without I complaint. I complain about them all the damn time!

      • im says:

        Same here. While I no longer call myself a feminist I agree with them quite a bit and I disdain both that wretched walk and the traditional wedding dresses that clash with modern Euro/American culture.

  14. (BFing) Sarah says:

    I think you took a very reasonable approach. I have never dated a person who expected that I ‘pay later’ if he paid for dinner…but I also know those individuals are out there. I think it also makes sense, as you said, to consider what each person can afford. This was kind of why I didn’t do much formal dating, the whole thing makes me uncomfortable. I usually ended up in relationships with people who were already my good friends so we could be much more casual about going on ‘dates.’

  15. Athenia says:

    …Daddy has to walk her down the aisle and ‘give’ her away like his prized possession.

    Actually, I’ve been thinking about not having my Dad walk me down the aisle and I imagine my Dad and everyone else would have fit if I chose that.

    • FashionablyEvil says:

      People get over it. My husband and I (gasp!) walked into our wedding together. Oddly, the world seems to be intact.

      • hee, so did my wife and I! It felt a lot more natural.

      • abra says:

        We did too! Our Roman Catholic priest (gasp!) suggested it because he was not comfortable with the women=chattel imagery of the veil, white dress, being given away and he told us up-front that he would not introduce us as Mr. & Mrs. His Name whether or not that is what we were planning on. So, the impressionable 21 yo that I was ended up walking down the aisle with him, in an off-white dress (okay, so I didn’t stray too far with that one) but no veil.

      • Athenia says:

        LOL I was thinking of walking in by myself, but walking with my SO sounds pretty good!

      • caro says:

        I hail from a fairly conservative Christian Southern family, so my husband and I were expecting a huge shitstorm when we informed our parents that they would both be walking each of us down the aisle. His mom and dad walked him down first, gave him a hug, and took their seats, then my parents escorted me in and did the same.

        I’d be lying if I said they weren’t a little scandalized when we told them, but you know what? They got over it! And in the case of my parents, they both told me later that it meant a lot to them, and that they appreciated the symbolism of accompanying me on my journey to marriage.

        There are a lot of wedding traditions that are really just downright gross from a feminist perspective, so if you don’t want to do them, DON’T. And hey, my husband and I managed to have an egalitarian/non-hetero-normative wedding ceremony that not only affirmed our personal spiritual and political values, but was also a big hit with our ridiculously conservative families. It can be done! Consider joining the Offbeat Bride community- it’s a great resource for ceremony ideas, conflict resolution advice, and all the other stuff you’ll encounter in creating a personally authentic wedding ceremony.

      • Heather says:

        So did we! My mom was super fucking pissed at me for it, too, but having my dad give me away did not feel right at all.

    • Lolagirl says:

      I tried to work this angle when I got married, and my Dad was so looking forward to it that I ended up letting him anyway. Because I was really uncomfortable with the notion that I was either his to give or that the spouse was there to take receipt of me.

      The thing is that life is rarely divided into the stark extremes that people would like it to be. It’s laughable that there are still people out there who think Feminism is all about the hating on men, and probably the worst ripple effect this has is that lots of women don’t want to claim they are feminists as a result.

    • (BFing)Sarah says:

      I had both my parents walk me down the aisle, but I thought about not doing it at all. I kind of needed help walking at that point, for a few reasons, and I needed a little bit of tradition b/c so much of our marriage is non-traditional. A lot of family and friends were shocked that my husband did not “ask” my dad for my hand and I told them that I told my husband back when we were just dating that if I ever heard that he had done that (ask my dad first), I would say no when he finally asked me. I would hope my dad would say, “Um…ask her.” if asked, also.

      • Noadi says:

        I think the both parents idea is pretty cool. A way to say “now you are forming your own family together” instead of the old “you father is giving you to the man now in charge”. I like taking old traditions and changing them to have a better, new meaning.

      • FashionablyEvil says:

        Both parents is the Jewish tradition (for the bride and the groom.)

    • zuzu says:

      I want at least one Elvis to walk me down the aisle.

  16. Meaghan says:

    Thank you for voicing this! You are so right women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. If a woman says she wants to pay or split is is an emasculating feminazi, if she is happy with letting the man pay according to the men’s right’s crowd she is a gold digging bitch.

    Basically if anyone is going to give you any kind of shit over this…they aren’t worth dating. Easy for me to say I’ve got a great boyfriend who is very socially progressive and all that (probably more liberal than me).

    You put into words exactly how I feel on the whole matter, but haven’t really had to even discuss in a long time since I’m in a LTR with a very good guy.

    • abra says:

      I have never regretted getting married as young as we did though I am occasionally a little self conscious about it but this stuff makes me glad we did — we didn’t have any money at all so there was no question about who was paying for what…

  17. Nahida says:

    Jesus Christ, Jill, from those comments I presume you suggested in your article that all men should be thrown in a fiery pit if they offer to pay?

  18. Yes and yes except for the part about feeling ‘obligated’ to spend time (another date) with a guy after he’s paid for stuff. That’s a bad move on either gender’s part. If you don’t like someone, you should probably just tell them.

    Maybe I’m just too pragmatic.

    • Jill says:

      Oh I agree I shouldn’t feel obligated. But the reality is that I end up feeling that way regardless of what my logical brain says.

      • Angie unduplicated says:

        My take on this is that if you feel obligated, then you picked up that idea from body language, or that both you and s/he are hardwired to the social law of reciprocity.

        Asker should pay, in theory. In practice, the Reddit class of dude will see you as “too aggressive, ball-busting”, ad nauseum. This is a great way of weeding those guys out, though.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        If I don’t offer to pay and the dude covers my drinks / meal / whatever, I feel some sense of obligation. Not to have sex with him — it’s not that basic — but to be more… accommodating. To go out with him again even if I didn’t like him that much, for example.

        I don’t think this is something picked up from a dude’s “body language” so much as it is a byproduct of living in patriarchy.

  19. TomSims says:

    While on the subject of dating, I just wanted to add an interesting link that shows the other side of the issue.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2145249/Sex-Lies-Rinsing-Guys-Meet-women-trawling-internet-rich-men.html

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      Yeah, that’s relevant.

      Once again, Tom, You are being a jerk.

    • PM says:

      Dude, this isn’t the “other side” of the issue. This is irrelevant.

    • Briznecko says:

      The other side: A very small group of women are using their feminine wiles to land rich guys.

      ABSOLUTE PROOF WE’RE ALL GOLD-DIGGING WHORES

    • zuzu says:

      Hey, if The Daily Fail says we’re all gold-digging whores, it must be true!

    • im says:

      What the hell? Everybody already knows gold-diggers and various forms of freeloaders exist of both genders. It’s not exactly New And Interesting Information. Everybody who has dated enough probably has Terrible Date Stories of being exploited somehow. Actually pointing that out (in a super-gendered way) is bad and you should feel bad.

      • TomSims says:

        @im

        “What the hell? Everybody already knows gold-diggers and various forms of freeloaders exist of both genders. It’s not exactly New And Interesting Information. Everybody who has dated enough probably has Terrible Date Stories of being exploited somehow. Actually pointing that out (in a super-gendered way) is bad and you should feel bad.”

        Sorry I was not able to find videos about guys rinsing girls on You Tube.

  20. tomek says:

    i like artical because it recognize difficulty for man too.
    problem of today is that is there half gender equality and half not. it confuses.

  21. Amelia the lurker says:

    “I’ve literally shot women down cold when I got the feeling they felt any obligation for anything I’ve done for them”

    I’m getting the image of a woman awkwardly letting this guy kiss her, the guy sensing that she feels some kind of obligation, then quickly drawing his .44 Magnum and putting her out of her misery.

  22. Glenn Reed says:

    I will hold the door and bring by shin pads

  23. “Men still have most of the power in heterosexual dating — they’re the ones doing the picking, and women are more often accepting or refusing. ”

    That’s absolutely absurd. The person who decides whether the date takes place or not–by accepting or refusing–is the one with the power, not the one whose friday night is at the mercy of another person.

    • Donna L says:

      Seriously? A guy who decides which of persons A, B, and C to ask out exercises no power at all? That all happens according to natural law? Do I really need to point out that in the traditional heteronormative dating paradigm, a woman doesn’t get to exercise her power of acceptance or refusal until the man decides to ask her out in the first place?

      • Donna L says:

        Not to mention that she has no control over who’s doing the asking.

        Look, I get it; once upon a time, when I was privy to the private complaints of men, I used to hear them, over and over again, expressing bitter anguish over how “easy” women have it. As in, all they have to do is sit back and wait for the offers to roll in. And so on.

      • steph says:

        I think the difference is, in part, the degree to which an individual can deviate from traditional hetero-normative models of dating and still remain a participant. If most people still utilize this model, then a heterosexual woman can reasonably expect to be asked out at some point. She does not necessarily have to ask someone out in order to get a date. And, if she is not getting the results she wants, she can. If a man cannot reasonably expect to be asked out. There is not much he can do besides continue to ask people out if he wants to participate.

        Obviously, there are some women who ask men out, and there are some relationships that form in ways that are much more organic than one individual asking out another. But, to some degree, it is a numbers game. And the fact that others do follow traditional models is going to limit our choices.

      • Lamech says:

        Of course the person who is getting asked out has more power. The date either does or doesn’t happen on their say so. AND the askee had just as much power to decide weather to ask other people out or not before too.

      • librarygoose says:

        So women have all the power because they can say yes or no, but totally can also ask a dude out. Whereas men are stuck with asking only because reasons?

      • Lamech says:

        I’m not the one who brought gender into it mate. If you have a person asking you out that gives you the greater level of power. Regardless of gender. I’m not the one saying men aren’t asked out.

        Now under the current stereotypical system its men who are supposed to do the asking, and women who don’t. NOTHING is stopping those women from asking the men out. That is completely in their court, and completely their choice.

      • librarygoose says:

        The original poster brought gender into it, silly me for assuming we all can read.

        NOTHING is stopping those women from asking the men out. That is completely in their court, and completely their choice.

        Which gives men as much power in the dynamics, so all of this is pointless. Why can’t men just wait around and look pretty?

      • Pathetic says:

        Which gives men as much power in the dynamics, so all of this is pointless. Why can’t men just wait around and look pretty?

        Some of us do ;) It doesn’t work so well tho <_<

        But it doesn't work so well for a good chunk of women either so, there is that :/

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      Yeah, dude, on a one-to-one level, this might be true. But in heteronormative dating in a patriarchal setting, men can ask out anyone at any time. Women cannot be asked out by anyone at any time. Or even frequently. I know exactly one woman who dates a ton of dudes, and she does it through OKC, not through the use of magic lipstick or whatever.

    • Ens says:

      Let’s bring math into this!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stable_marriage_problem

      Summary: under a bunch of simplifying assumptions, the asker sex gets the best possible outcome, and the askee sex gets the worst possible outcome.

      If you argue that it isn’t that simple, then you’ve just given up any claim to know that the askee has the power.

      But I think the problem you have is you’re assuming the question was already asked. Once the question is asked, the askee has the power to say yes or no and the asker’s only power is to renege. But asking the question is a power of its own. Not asking somebody is at least as powerful as saying “no”.

      • Ted says:

        I’m sorry, but how exactly does it follow that saying it’s not that simple automatically invalidates their claim? I don’t follow.

        Regardless, I certainly agree that both the asker and askee have significant power in this interaction. However, I just as certainly disagree with using the stable marriage problem as a justification. We’re not talking simplifying assumptions here, we’re talking about a problem with only a vague analogy to what it’s named after. It’s a useful problem in computing and graph theory, but I doubt it’s capable of any accurate modelling of real life.

    • im says:

      Oh god this discussion not going to end well. Remember that thing about both parts of married couple thinking that they do more than half of mundane chores?

      My analysis:
      -Assuming heterosexuality for most people here.
      – Assuming people are all of roughly average appearance unless otherwise stated.
      -Distinguishing between actual propositions, and sexual harrassment that is not really meant or expected to result in anything happeneing.

      -Women who are not androphilic or just not interested get annoyed by unwanted propositions. They have few messages that can be broadcasted to dissuade propositions without being rude. This is definitely a major lack of power.

      {When I make up fictional cultures, I often include some kind of symbol for this, for example in a culture where the usual clothing is fastened with a sash, one color might be a deliberate come on for hetero, another for homo, combination for bisexuality, and a fourth color as a very strong ‘no sexual/romantic propositions’ signal that would be rude to ignore, but doesn’t effect just talking. }

      -Women who are interested often will get asked (but not always!) and are more likely to be able to flirt to attract or prompt a proposition without actually having to completely ask. OTOH, I’ve never been able to tell if my (I am male) attempts at this sort of thing have had any impact at all.

      -Men who care about women’s rights may feel like their actions are very constrained; they do not gain many of the benefits of patriarchy. That’s one of the things I am a bit frustrated by: Many feminists who are dealing w/ heterosexual dating seem not to realize that men who care about women’s rights will voluntarily apply to themselves many of the feminist’s limits and rules even though that is the exact outcome they are looking for.

      – There is a strong tendancy for men to assume that attractive people are the ones talked about in both cases. I would guess that ugly women have much, much less power than ugly men, plus they suffer a peculiar form of sexual harrassment.

      My guess is that the hierarchy of power probably goes, in decreasing order, more or less like:

      Suave attractive men — Suave attractive men who voluntarily apply feminist rules — Average men — Attractive outgoing women — Most men including those using feminist rules, or those less attractive, but not both — Most women — Less attractive women — Shy men who have absorbed feminist rules.

      • EG says:

        Men who care about women’s rights may feel like their actions are very constrained; they do not gain many of the benefits of patriarchy.

        No. You don’t get to voluntarily give up institutionalized benefits. It doesn’t work like that. Men who care about women’s rights still don’t have to worry about being sexually harassed or assaulted to anything like the degree women do; they still make more money than women; their bodily autonomy is still not up for grabs. Even when it just comes down to dating, they still don’t have to worry about being perceived as a slut; they still don’t have to worry about acquaintance rape at anything near the same rates; they still don’t have to worry about whether or not their female dates are going to think that they’re “owed” anything in exchange for the date.

  24. Kristen J. says:

    I’m afraid you’ll have to surrender your Feminist License. You suggest that its appropriate to be Pleasant and Understanding to men…men who RUDELY insist on paying the entire tab.

    The Feminist Handbook(TM) clearly states that such men should be “thrown in a firey pit” or “torn limb from limb by ravenous lions.”

    But there’s also something very powerful and very convenient about having dating weeding-out mechanisms. They aren’t going to help you get married tomorrow. They aren’t going to get you a boyfriend or a girlfriend ASAP. But they will make you a lot happier, and they will help point you towards the right kind of people for you (and away from the wrong ones).

    This is definitely true. I had a few firm rules back in the day including that we always split the check (and I was firm and unpleasant when pressed), I drive, and he has to be polite to everyoneone not just me. Those rules reflected my values of course and not what I think anyone else should do, but they were very effective in sorting out men who didn’t respect my autonomy or my boundries and men who would annoy the fuck out of me on a regular basis.

    • Kasabian says:

      Aw man, you already got your handbook?! Mine’s been stuck in shipping in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Because of PATRIARCHY.

  25. Kasabian says:

    Maybe dating younger men is the solution? I’ve noticed that men in their early twenties jibe more closely with an egalitarian, mutually supportive relationship than their 30+ compadres; at least here in San Fran.

  26. roro80 says:

    Wow. If I had any notion any of them read more than the word “feminist”, I’d be curious as to what any of the frothing commenters (and, actually, whoever did the captioning) wanted you to say. Some suggestions:

    “The question is moot, as women shouldn’t date men, who are rapist pigs.”

    or maybe

    “Of course per tradition the man should pay, and then the woman should give him road head as repayment.”

    • im says:

      Yeah… and include some self-defeating desires for lots of sex with multiple parteners, but the women not being sluts.

  27. Radiant Sophia says:

    I’d like to think that the responses to the video were not, in fact, an exemplary cross-section of humanity. I would prefer to entertain the idea that most human beings are better than those that responded, but It’s hard to maintain a view of people as inherently good in light of most internet responses.

    • samanthab says:

      I don’t know. I think the non-frothing at the mouth people don’t take the time to respond. I do think that our society has seriously fucked up norms when it comes to gender- hence the need for this blog and those like it- but those norms are taught and not innate.

      I may be an optimist, but I still think the majority of people are innately good. But that meanie minority? Wow, do they do a lot of damage. Screw you, meanie minority.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      Exactly.

  28. Mztress says:

    If the meal or activity for a date with someone I don’t know very well costs more than $10, I will aggessively insist on paying for my own share, just to avoid that nasty feeling of obligation. I hate to think that anyone believes I owe them anything–be it pleasant conversation, money, or sex.

    With my current boyfriend, there’s been an effort to have each of us pay for a different activity. Funny thing: every time we go out for dinner, the server–regardless of gender, ethnicity, or age–hands the check directly to him. Even if I’m holding my credit card in my hand, they’ll hand him the check. Drives me nuts.

    • Ros says:

      Ugh to the handing-him-the-bill thing. And the “oh, someone needs to taste the wine – he does it” thing.

      My father used to deal with the wine thing by thanking the server and promptly handing it to my mother, who would give her opinion.

      I make it a point to tip servers who DON’T do that really well.

      • Pathetic says:

        most place’s I’ve been to hand a glass to both parties.

      • EG says:

        My father used to deal with the wine thing by thanking the server and promptly handing it to my mother, who would give her opinion.

        That’s what my stepdad does!

      • Fat Steve says:

        My father used to deal with the wine thing by thanking the server and promptly handing it to my mother, who would give her opinion.

        Isn’t that sort of like insisting that the wife hold the door for her husband? You’re tasting the wine to see if it’s oxidized, not to give your opinion of it. Surely this burden shouldn’t solely be placed on the woman.

      • tomek says:

        Isn’t that sort of like insisting that the wife hold the door for her husband? You’re tasting the wine to see if it’s oxidized, not to give your opinion of it.

        hmm didnt know this indeed. when i seen this happen on programme television, i thought it is to see if is good quality wine or bad. how tastes wine if oxidisated?

      • Fat Steve says:

        hmm didnt know this indeed. when i seen this happen on programme television, i thought it is to see if is good quality wine or bad. how tastes wine if oxidisated?

        An oxidized wine is flat and tastes like sherry / vinegar.

      • tomek says:

        hmm. i only drink wine in carton. wine in carton can become oxidized?

      • Jill says:

        Every time I read Tomek’s comments I hear them in the “How is babby formed?” voice.

      • EG says:

        Except that when the woman in question, my mother, knows a lot more about wine than the man, my stepfather, and is also far more comfortable being forceful about such things, it makes sense.

      • Kayay says:

        Every time I read Tomek’s comments I hear them in the “How is babby formed?” voice.

        Oh wow if I’d been drinking something right now, it’d have come straight out my nose.

      • gingerjen says:

        I served in fine dining restaraunts for a long time. Rule of thumb-the person who orders the wine does the tasting.

    • Donna L says:

      What I think is really peculiar is when I’m having dinner with my son and the server hands him the check. The whole “always give the check to the man” thing is absurd.

      • Fat Steve says:

        What I think is really peculiar is when I’m having dinner with my son and the server hands him the check. The whole “always give the check to the man” thing is absurd.

        I don’t think that’s ever happened when I’ve gone to dinner with my mom. Perhaps I just look like the sort of spoiled wastrel who would expect his parents to foot the bill for everything.

      • DouglasG says:

        Does that happen even where the clientele is generally LGBT (if you go to such)? Or have we become too assimilated to have “our own” places anymore (not what I’d call real progress, though some do)? I can vaguely recall a couple of times worthy of the Julia Sweeney-Dana Carvey “Pat and Chris” couple in heteronormative restaurants.

      • miga says:

        As a person who works in food service, if I’m not paying attention I naturally gravitate toward the person who “feels” more dominant. So the tallest, the oldest, the one who talks to me the most, etc. It’s a subconscious thing I’m trying to change.

      • Donna L says:

        Does that happen even where the clientele is generally LGBT (if you go to such)? Or have we become too assimilated to have “our own” places anymore

        I’m not sure what you mean, exactly. My son being given the check when we eat together has only happened two or three times, period, out of all the times we’ve ever gone to a restaurant since he started looking reasonably adult. Even now that he’s 22, I think it’s clear to everyone — including the few people who have handed him the check — that he’s having dinner with his parent; everyone always assumes I’m his mother, and we’ve never seen any reason to correct that assumption.

        I suppose we’ve been to restaurants with predominantly GL customers (I don’t think there is such a thing as a restaurant with primarily “B” or “T” customers!), and I don’t see why anything would happen differently at such a place. Do you mean because he’s “visibly” gay? I imagine he is, although I’m much too close to him to “see” him in those terms, but why would that make a difference in who gets the check?

        In other words, I’m confused.

      • EG says:

        I think Douglas is asking if you would see heteronormative behavior like that at say, a restaurant in Chelsea or Greenwich Village where the clientele is more likely to be gay, not because your son is or is not visibly gay, but because the social norms are not based on the assumption of a heterosexual couple in the first place. Is that right, Douglas?

      • Donna L says:

        That may well be what DouglasG meant, and I guess it makes sense, although I certainly hope that anyone who gave my son the check at any kind of restaurant was doing so reflexively (or perhaps trying be funny), and wasn’t actually thinking that we were a heterosexual couple. That possibility, thankfully, never even crossed my mind.

      • gratuitous_violet says:

        LGBT establishments aren’t magically free from gendered assumptions in service. I can’t count the number of times my scotch on the rocks was plunked down in front of my (gay, cis, male) roommate while I received his lemon drops from bartenders of various genders in gay bars around Oakland and SF.

        I’m not sure I would call it heteronormative as opposed to a general gendered assumption, though.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Oh yes…the appropriate beverages for women problem. I’ve had servers actually ask if I was sure about that. One actually explained what a scotch neat was…because women might accidentally order scotch when what the really want is something with butterscotch candy.

      • DouglasG says:

        Sorry I was confusing. Most of my social life was spent in specifically LG venues, though it was rather fun on occasion to venture out of the zone, especially when I was with someone equally androgynous. There was one poor server once who, mistaking us for a heterosexual couple, wanted to take the woman’s order first, but, not wanting to guess which was which, tried to throw out a question addressed to “Madam” into the middle of the table but was a good sport about it, so that I tipped 50% instead my usual 33%ish.

        Now that the leak through my bathroom ceiling has temporary halted (though there’s a very unnerving hole that will have to wait until Monday), I can collect myself enough to say that there is still gendered treatment in LG spaces, but it seemed a good deal less than the heteronormative treatment one found elsewhere. Then again, I’m well behind the times.

    • Miss S says:

      I’ve worked in way too many restaurants…. servers are usually instructed to hand the bill to the man at the table, unless someone has already told the server that they will be paying.

    • Fat Steve says:

      Funny thing: every time we go out for dinner, the server–regardless of gender, ethnicity, or age–hands the check directly to him. Even if I’m holding my credit card in my hand, they’ll hand him the check. Drives me nuts.

      That is ridiculous, whoever asks for the bill should get it.

    • miga says:

      It’s so weird how ingrained that is. I consider myself a pretty feminist person, yet when i’m serving customers and not paying attention i’ve noticed i’ll hand the card/change back to the man if I can’t specifically remember who gave it to me. Once I noticed that it bugged me enough that now I make a blank face and wave it generally in the direction of the party if i’m busy.

    • Neelima says:

      This irks me quite a bit too — I pick up the tab for both, more often than not . Almost always, the check is offered to my boyfriend. On occasion, I’ve had wait staff return my credit card to the boyfriend with a “Thank you, Sir”. Meh.

    • Kristen J. says:

      Hmmm. Maybe I just end up at weird restaurants, but as I recall most of the time they place the check at the center of the table if no one has prearranged with the wait staff to pay. Is it a regional thing?

      • samanthab says:

        I don’t think that’s regional. I’ve lived in a lot of different places, and I’ve seen that in each region. I don’t have the answer to why standards vary so much from restaurant to restaurant. But go weird restaurants!

      • gratuitous_violet says:

        Different places have different policies, and from my experience larger corporate -owned chains have been moving toward putting the check in the middle. When I worked for a Darden restaurant (which owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other “casual dining”) we were told to place the bill folder in the center of the table. The gentrified French restaurant family in the SF bay area asked us to give it to whoever asked, center of the table failing that. The family-owned continental place was the best, with the chef-owner-husband instructing me to give the bill to the most dominant man while his accountant-wife yelled from the office “Oh yeah? Then why am I paying all these goddamn bills?” Even the horrid American dining chain in South Carolina told us to put it in the middle of the table.

    • KAJ says:

      I hate hate hate this. If the server does this, I make a point of taking the check and paying it (and my boyfriend has gotten really good at playing his part in this). I also complain to management about it, primarily when even after I pay the check is returned to my male companion. Just set it on the effing table.

    • mustelid says:

      I’ve had servers hand my credit card that I handed to them back to my boyfriend after charging it, as well. It really chaps my ass.

      I don’t understand why the bill isn’t just always, every time, put in the center of the table? (Unless someone has already told the server they are paying, I suppose.)

      When I served at a popular “medieval” dinner theater chain, the “bill” was actually just a folder with a card explaining that servers worked for gratuity — they had already paid the bill when they bought tickets. Since everyone was seated at long tables, I just handed the bill to whichever adult I passed first in each party. So one time I handed the bill to the wife, who had her two kids seated between her and her husband on the other end. When I came to collect it, I discreetly checked as I walked away and noticed I’d been stiffed. I stopped, now in front of the husband and asked him if there had been anything wrong with the service. He replied excitedly that everything had been great. I pushed (and probably looked and sounded really sour, because I was) and asked him to please let me know if there was anything wrong with the service. Suddenly a light bulb went off and he saw me holding the bill folder and said, “OH! Why would you give that to my wife??” He ended up tipping generously.

      After that I was tempted for a while to always give it to a man in the party. Then I realized, uh, wait. She was just a horrible person who figured she’d rather stiff me than hand the folder down to the person tipping, which is what any normal person would do.

      (Side note, if you ever go to said dinner theater chain, please tip the servers well. They may be in costume, but they’re still only getting paid serving wages, i.e. well below minimum wage. Seriously. I got stiffed there all the freaking time, even/especially by people who raved about my service.)

      • Angie unduplicated says:

        I pay the tip no matter who pays for the meal. I’ve been on those sore feet and it’s always over 20% except in the rare case of actual rudeness.

    • im says:

      yeah. Of course there are some possible side effects to that…

      THe whole money thing is something that really worries me: I don’t have a particularly large amount of discretionary budget compared to my peers, but I do tend to be extraordinary stingy, and then spend considerable amounts on things (and I also have a tendency, trained by my family, to go for comparatively fancy food when eating out.) So when I finally end up in a relationship, I’m worried that this could be a big source of friction even though I am not, like, rich or something.

      I don’t want my date to feel obligated to spend more of her own money, AND I don’t want her to feel otherwise uncomfortable from that sort of thing.

  29. Tim says:

    You want to date, but you don’t want to go broke doing it. You want a gender-egalitarian relationship, but we live in a very unegalitarian world. It sucks! And there is no silver bullet correct answer.

    It sounds to me like “dating” just sucks, period. And I say “sounds” because I’ve never actually done it but have heard plenty of second-hand accounts, read advice columns and blogs, etc. Same-sex dating, too. I used to wonder if I was missing/had missed out on something, but now I don’t think so anymore. An advantage to being a gay man, I guess, is being able to get around the whole dating thing more easily.

    But I have to say, Jill, that everything you said seems totally reasonable and there is no reason for the nasty reactions in the comments.

    • Noadi says:

      Honestly I think a lot of younger people are skipping the whole dating thing too. I’m 30 and I’ve never really “dated” in the traditional sense of a guy asking me out (or vice versa) but I’ve been in plenty of relationships with people. I’m in a long term relationship now but in the past it’s always been hanging out with a group of friends and hitting it off with someone that turned into a relationship.

  30. Mztress says:

    “But I have to say, Jill, that everything you said seems totally reasonable and there is no reason for the nasty reactions in the comments.”

    No need at all…unless the reader(s) happen to be part of the jerk category.

  31. Tony says:

    Part of this is the old stereotype of the angry feminist who doesn’t like having the door held for her or having any meal be paid for. Some people just have an almost Pavlovian reaction to this, particularly older men. File also under “straw man”. It’s hard to make a nuanced comment about this topic when you’re competing against this. You can tell that some of the commenters who got your position wrong and were speaking to the stereotype rather than what you actually said.

    Also, most people never get past the surface presentation of “benevolent” sexism or chivalry, as something innocent and charitable, particularly because in this case the effect is relatively subtle.

  32. Jamie says:

    I don’t date anymore, but have never found this to be that tricky. I don’t have any rule, other than to be polite, try to be empathetic, and honest. And always prepared to pay.

    I’ve paid for much more than half of the dates I’ve gone on, which is probably normal for a guy. I guess one hint I do have for confused dudes out there: if you can’t tell what the Right Thing to do when the check comes, make a joke and just ask. If you still can’t tell, it ain’t a good idea to have a second date, there is something wrong. Figuring out what is a much more advanced topic.

    A much more fun(!) topic for me, at least, was when I was getting serious with a woman I’m no longer with. I did do things like hold doors, some of the time – a logistical thing, and I do it for strangers, too. Her family came to visit, and apparently strongly disapproved that I didn’t do it all the time. It apparently had an effect. Certainly not the breaking point, but thereafter, it became a Thing.

    If people weren’t so hard to figure out, they’d be boring.

    • im says:

      My heuristic is:
      -If you invited, you pay by default
      -If you are male, offer to pay if it’s at all unclear.
      -Do not press the matter.

  33. DouglasG says:

    If you’re one of the castrati, is there something you haven’t told us? Or can that mean the castrators as well as the castratees?

    As difficult as it is for my ancient brain to recall dating, I am fairly certain that, just as I almost always dated out of my age range, almost everyone I dated had either at most one tenth or at least ten times as much money as I did, which settled that point most of the time. It generally felt, though, more as if the one who liked the other one more did the paying, but that may be largely due to the vagaries of dating without set gender roles relative to each other.

    Posts like this sometimes incline me to make a joke about the End of Heterosexuality, but then I always end up having some irritating debate with myself about all the unintended consequences of that. But it did remind me of Henry Tilney’s facetious comparison of marriage to a dance in a ballroom, concluding that the two could not be regarded as similar because in marriage it was the man’s purpose to provide the home and the woman’s to make it pleasant, whereas in a ballroom his duty was to be as agreeable as possible while she provided the fan and the lavendar water. Therefore, like Fleur Talbot, I go on my way rejoicing.

  34. Fat Steve says:

    And as a response, my mug ended up on the homepage of AOL (awesome) with a caption that could have just as easily read, “Jill Filipovic, leader of the online castrati” (less awesome).

    Are you joking? That would have been SOOOOOOOO AWESOME!

  35. Greg says:

    I actually have some degree of sympathy for hetero men out there dating: It is really hard to know what to do on a first (or second or third) date when it comes to the check.

    It’s not that hard. This is my method:

    Me:
    Her: “I’ll pay for myself”
    Me: “Oh, it’s no trouble”

    Then, if she says “You sure?”, I go ahead and pay. If she insists, I let her pay her own share. I do judge her, however, if she doesn’t offer at all.

  36. Colin says:

    I go on few enough ‘dates’, and have enough disposable income, that the cost is not a big deal. Some kind of balance in who pays is nice for equality’s sake, but I’m not going to insist. I just worry that it’s a big deal to the other person, either because they’re broke or because they have strong views on who pays and think my desire to pay for them or not is loaded with significance.

    As a general point, I don’t really know what to do in a situation where a woman has some gendered expectation on me that seems to be based on patriarchal thinking. I could say why I disagree, but I don’t want to start mansplaining.

    • Pathetic says:

      It’s not really mansplaining if it’s your date is it? I mean if were talking about the “rules of engagement” for all hetero dating and “what a woman should want” then yea sure but id say anybody unwilling to discuss with you their own dating policies in contrast with your own probably isn’t worth going on a 2nd date with IMHO.

  37. Lili says:

    You just sound so funny with your “dates” stories. To my knowledge that very specific concept does not exist in Europe. I am french and I’ve lived first in France, then in Holland and then in the UK and I never had such problems. If I like someone then I hang out with the person, just like I would with friends and if we happen to see that the attraction is mutual, then things just happen at some point. But I don’t go on a “date”, the concept is just very weird. A friend of mine from Belgium spent one year in California and she told me that people were just crazy there with their concept of a “date”. I can see that.. And what’s this thing with guys paying for women? What’s the point? You all sound like a funny alien species. (And ah, yes, I’m a woman.)

    • igglanova says:

      Superiority duly noted. Enjoy your medal.

    • Donna L says:

      Clearly, no man in Europe has ever paid for a woman’s food or anything else. Especially in France.

    • gratuitous_violet says:

      That’s funny, the only proper “date” I’ve ever been asked on was by a French man, in London even! He’s also the only date I’ve ever stuck with the bill, because when he started bemoaning the terrible effects of Simone de Beauvoir on French “womanhood” during our second drink I walked out on his ass. I guess Europe sure was an alien land!

    • tomek says:

      wow she just point out culture diference between usa and europe. dont so get deffensive. we can conversation about europe and usa without becoming competition of which better.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        … with a post specifically insulting everyone here.
        (You all sound like a funny alien species)

        That is bound to upset a few people.
        Once again tomek, you are jumping to the defense of someone who was insulting, and doing so by attacking people replying to being insulted. If you can’t understand that, please be on your way.

    • EG says:

      That’s funny, because I lived in the UK for a year and went out on dates with British men, none of whom seemed floored by the concept.

    • Sam says:

      It appears to be true, though, that there is a more rigid “dating structure” in the US, where first, second, and third date signal something to both partners. There’s more of a joint understanding about specific norms for a specific kind of social interaction, hence the confusion about paying, I’d say.

  38. Lili says:

    But I love a sexy guy to open the door for me, it’s completely different :) it’s a seduction game. I can be very seduced by a beautifuly powerful masculine body (yes, the same one that is used to open the door), but the sex appeal of a wallet does not trigger anything in me. What am I supposed to do with this thing during intercourse?

  39. Pathetic says:

    As far as I know, nothing I’ve ever been on technically classifies as a “date”, but I will say that the process always seemed so horrible that I never bothered to try it. sadly I don’t have any single, woman, dude interested, friends to hang with and “see if something catches” but the prospect of “dating” seems so horrible, so far I’ve opted to take the “ill just stay home and watch porn” route.

    Frankly, what’s really sad to me is how many het, dudes feel like the only way to go about the process is to sway which ever way she wants, rather than have the moxie to say “yo, I’m not down to pay for everything, I don’t find that fair” and let her go if shes not game to at least discuss the issue.

    Frankly the idea that simply asking for a date in the first place is NOT “offensive” is something I wish I could impart to my fellow dudes. There are a lot of women out there who call themselves “feminist” who are really patriarchal women who get off on the idea of “shutting guys down HARD” by causing a scene and using the sadly all to prevalent cat calling, doesn’t take no for an answer, rapey “bro” as the “well all guys are like that so I just respond in kind” excuse.

    women like that give the assholes guys an excuse to bitch about the “raging feminist chicks who want all the benefits of feminism AND patriarchy” when really nothing about their ideology is feminist <_<.

    sigh, I wonder if there is enough of a market out there within egalitarian minded people to drive a "non gender typical" bar for hetero folks? kick starter anyone? :D

    • Fat Steve says:

      Frankly, what’s really sad to me is how many het, dudes feel like the only way to go about the process is to sway which ever way she wants, rather than have the moxie to say “yo, I’m not down to pay for everything, I don’t find that fair” and let her go if shes not game to at least discuss the issue.

      Frankly the idea that simply asking for a date in the first place is NOT “offensive” is something I wish I could impart to my fellow dudes. There are a lot of women out there who call themselves “feminist” who are really patriarchal women who get off on the idea of “shutting guys down HARD” by causing a scene and using the sadly all to prevalent cat calling, doesn’t take no for an answer, rapey “bro” as the “well all guys are like that so I just respond in kind” excuse.

      women like that give the assholes guys an excuse to bitch about the “raging feminist chicks who want all the benefits of feminism AND patriarchy” when really nothing about their ideology is feminist <_<.

      Frankly, that is bullshit. Particularly the idea that women fall in to two categories: those who want men to pay for everything and those who would spit in your face if you held the door for them. So what you’re saying, basically, is there are two types of women and they’re both horrible? That’s not been my experience.

      • Pathetic says:

        um… no? I only mentioned 1 type, there are many types of people out there, I just mentioned 1 prevalent type, that’s all. Also half the post was about dudes being assholes, or slaves to the script, the latter being more prevalent.

    • zuzu says:

      the prospect of “dating” seems so horrible, so far I’ve opted to take the “ill just stay home and watch porn” route.

      I can’t imagine why you aren’t swarmed with pussy.

      • Donna L says:

        My thoughts exactly.

      • Pathetic says:

        yea yea I know “if ya don’t put yourself out there…”

        I get the whole “just meet people casually through hobbies and things will happen that way” but all of my hobbies at the moment are going through a lot of social change. Women are starting to be included which is great but means there is also a lot of pressure to not be “that asshole who tries to date all the women in the scene”

        I usually take the attitude of “well if women at the meetup / conference choose to speak to me I will make an effort to only respond as a peer so as to help her feel included in the space”

        as a result I hardly ever feel like I could suggest romantic involvement without being a dick, so I don’t :/

        There is always the possibility that a woman would approach ME that way at such a place but after 12+ years of involvement in some of these spaces I think its pretty safe to assume that I shouldn’t hold my breath :)

      • zuzu says:

        Here’s a radical idea: treat the women you meet through your hobbies as individuals who have interests in common with you instead of undifferentiated fuckable objects who are your prize for accepting girl cooties in your space.

        Again, I just can’t imagine why you aren’t swarmed with pussy.

      • Pathetic says:

        treat the women you meet through your hobbies as individuals who have interests in common with you

        … is that not what?

        I usually take the attitude of “well if women at the meetup / conference choose to speak to me I will make an effort to only respond as a peer so as to help her feel included in the space”

        means?

        I guess I didn’t say it right but “other person who likes thing x and not dateable person who likes thing x” is what that sentence was supposed to mean.

        I’m rly confused about what in watching porn because dealing with “dating” sucks IMHO has offended you so. I wasn’t trying to push anybody’s buttons.

      • EG says:

        I’m rly confused about what in watching porn because dealing with “dating” sucks IMHO has offended you so. I wasn’t trying to push anybody’s buttons.

        Because the implication is that actual social and romantic interaction with real live individual women is interchangeable with watching porn.

      • Pathetic says:

        wut?! no, porn just requires less guess work, fear, and anxiety over somebody else’s expectations. It’s not the same thing as a relationship (at least I wouldn’t think so)

  40. Alexandra says:

    Oh god, this issue… it’s always such a headache at the beginning of a relationship, and I agree, men are in almost as much of a pickle as women when figuring out the etiquette.

    In my past relationships, it always ended up being whoever had a little cash at the time picked up the tab (once the relationship was relatively well established) but at the beginning it was tricky.

    I have to say, after having dated men with significantly more money than me, I’m leary of doing so again in the future. I would much rather skip the fancy dinners and go on dates that both of us can afford than have someone pay my way to a fancier treat, leaving me in his debt.

  41. Explain to me why this militant feminist let’s destroy everything doesn’t apply to everything??

    HAHAHAHAHAH! What kind of internal mental life does this d00d experience to really feel like a woman paying for a meal they share together is exactly “militant feminist let’s destroy everything”?

  42. FYouMudFlaps says:

    Well, count me as a male who appreciated your article, in fact I found it too tepid let alone militant. That’s why “never read the comments” is still rule 1 of my internet browsing (minus feminist pages!). As for the whole “centrist” concept of zie who asks, pays; that falls short because the trope of men asking ensures men pay anyway. Weak.

    • abra says:

      Totally depends. But I think you are neglecting the power dynamic that goes with the being asked.

      If you ask and plan you but expect 50/50 split (or pay own way) you’ve committed her resources without her input. She may not want or be able to (comfortably) shell out $$ for the date you planned but if she accepts in advance of knowing what you’ve planned what are her choices?

      But I would extend this rule to friends. I would liken it to being asked to contribute toward a group gift — you agree but aren’t told or given any input into what the group gift will be. The gift is purchased and you are informed that your share is $$$ and you can’t comfortably contribute more than $$ or you hate it and wish you hadn’t agreed to participate in the first place let alone come up with $$$.

      If you asked her out and then planned it together to some degree (would you like to go out sometime? what do you like to do?), it would be much more reasonable to expect to split the costs.

  43. Miss S says:

    If I’m in a relationship, I’ll offer to pay sometimes, or cook for my SO.
    I don’t think I’ve ever paid for anything when on a date with someone that I wasn’t in a relationship with.

  44. Rachel S. says:

    I’ve got lots of experience in Dating While Feminist-and-poly-with-one-central-partner-already. On dates, I always assume that I’ll be covering my own portion, so that I can be truly grateful when my date offers to pick up my portion. Sometimes I will buy him a drink too (in fact, the last date I went on, my friend bought dinner, I bought him a drink, then he bought me one, then we each bought drinks for ourselves; it worked out well).

    Sometimes, I’ll press the issue and make sure that I pay, because you know, sometimes it’s nice to do that. The guys that I date don’t really have a problem with a girl (OMG NO!) buying his dinner or a drink or a movie ticket. I don’t know about guys that I wouldn’t date, but I guess that goes without saying.

  45. karak says:

    I remember my first date in junior high and panicking because I didn’t want him to pay for everything and be a mooch, but I didn’t want to pay for everything because I didn’t have the money. And we were clearly both panicking about the polite, sane way to do this and I finally said, “I will buy the tickets, and you buy the popcorn, and that way we did this TOGETHER” and he was immensely relieved.

    I’ve taken that forward and been very bald about it on my dates. “I want to split the cost because we’re both here, together, but I also want to pick the place and event as a mutual plan.” And it’s worked out pretty well.

  46. igglanova says:

    No wonder this beautiful lawyer and not so bright woman is still dating….

    Good God, this one sentence feels like staring into a Mandelbrot of fuckery. It’s almost art.

  47. chava says:

    Count me in as having no problems with the man paying if he asked. I tend to subscribe to the “she who asked, shall pay rule,” tempered with quite a large dollop of “You know, the makeup and clothes for this date almost certainly cost more than the dinner, I get paid less, and if we get married and have children my lifetime earnings will almost certainly go down. So get the lobster while the getting’s good.”

    • Fat Steve says:

      Count me in as having no problems with the man paying if he asked. I tend to subscribe to the “she who asked, shall pay rule,” tempered with quite a large dollop of “You know, the makeup and clothes for this date almost certainly cost more than the dinner, I get paid less, and if we get married and have children my lifetime earnings will almost certainly go down. So get the lobster while the getting’s good.”

      I also subscribe to that theory when it comes to going out with friends. If I suggest a place and am doing all the dictating I always pay, if we are both mutually at a place we’ll split the bill, and if I have to be dragged across town to eat a place I don’t like, I would hope my host would be paying.

    • EG says:

      Especially as a grad student, I used to let dates pay for me all the time, on the grounds that they had real incomes and I had much less of one. I still do this, but now that I have a real income, I make a point of picking up the check if I know the guy’s income is much less. Because…from each according to her ability, you know?

  48. evil fizz says:

    My husband and I have joint accounts, so it makes no difference whose card we give them at restaurants, but man alive are waitstaff invested in giving him the check, even if I gave them my card in the first place.

    I actually take a stronger line on this. I think if you’re going out with someone you’re already acquainted with, the asker should pay. If you’re basically strangers or it’s a blind date, you split. (I have this weird thing about not taking gifts from people I don’t know.) I will admit, though, that while I was a broke grad student, I went on a blind date that was an excruciating mismatc, in part because he seemed to think that there were RULES about men and women. I let him pay for lunch because I felt anyone who wasted an hour and a half of my life could do me the courtesy of buying me a burger and a beer.

    • Andie says:

      My husband and I have joint accounts, so it makes no difference whose card we give them at restaurants, but man alive are waitstaff invested in giving him the check, even if I gave them my card in the first place.

      The boyfriend and I get this a lot too, and although occasionally one of us may treat the other for some reason for another, we are pretty big on each paying our own way most of the time, unless it’s something small like coffee (and even then, we get shit – see other thread re: Nosy as fuck Tim Hortons worker who told the boyfriend ‘gentlemen always pay’ whom I almost made cry). People always want to give him the bill.

      Restaurants can be very heteronormative in quite the same way, making assumptions in groups about who is with who. We and some friends went out to Boston Pizza a few weeks back, and afterward we were discussing that not only did they assume we were all coupled up (There were two couples and two friends whose SO’s were not there that night) but the server gave each of the guys the bills. SO and I had to ask to have him separate ours, as did the two that were there on their own. For all they knew, I could have been there with the girl sitting beside me, not the guy sitting across from me.

    • Fat Steve says:

      My husband and I have joint accounts, so it makes no difference whose card we give them at restaurants, but man alive are waitstaff invested in giving him the check, even if I gave them my card in the first place.

      Same here, but sometimes my wife can expense dinner, in which cases she uses her company card, and while they may give me the check at first, no one has ever handed it back to me after she gave them her card. That’s the point where a sexist institution gives way to downright sexist behavior. As an aside, when she handles the payment I get a large thrill imagining myself being viewed by the entire restaurant as a trophy husband.

  49. Nicole says:

    I know girls who wait for me to open and close the door for them. And I’m female. I feel slavish.

  50. Nanani says:

    Ugh, those comments.

    Who, WHO exactly is it that “complains about the death of chivalry” and insists on patriarchal norms that benefit them while SIMULTANEOUSLY being feminist?
    Who are they and where do they live, because I want to see what other aspect of the real world are suspended over there. Maybe ice cream is hot in that universe.

  51. John Frazer says:

    My stance on the issue is that if you split costs, that means your dating life is drawing from two incomes instead of one, and you can afford to go on more and better dates, and thus egalitarianism is not only right morally, but immensely practical.

    But this may just be poor-think. Going out to a nice restaurant or a movie is something my wife and I have to budget for, and I can’t imagine that single people are so well off that they can afford to throw away money out of some quixotic desire to enforce gender roles.

  52. Normal Person says:

    You sound exhausting to be around.

    • EG says:

      Thinking is hard.

      • samanthab says:

        IMHO, people that don’t think are the hardest to be around, however. George Carlin said something like,”Think of how stupid your average American is. And then think about how half of ’em are even stupider.” That truism might apply to “Normal Person,” given that she/he is self-identified as “normal.” And a person. Definitely a person.

      • spongleflipper says:

        that’s why I never bother to think

        also,

        Funny, when it comes to this the feminists scream blue bloody murder. YET other sexist tradition endure with no complaint, for instance: weddings and Daddy has to walk her down the aisle and ‘give’ her away like his prized possession. Explain to me why this militant feminist let’s destroy everything doesn’t apply to everything??

        don’t MRAs usually say that “feminists hate marriage” and that “they are for equality until the cheque arrives”? make up your minds, MRAs

  53. AndrewJenny says:

    I’ll pay my way on a date, but I’ll be d*mned if I’ll pay for a big salad and not get credit for it. How does someone who had nothing to do with the big salad end up getting credit for the big salad???

  54. Stentor says:

    Any of the suggestions above sound great. My main concern is that people should be honest and polite about working out who’s paying. I have a friend who will insist on paying her half when she goes on a date with a guy — but if he gives in and lets her pay, she judges him unworthy. For her, asking to pay is a *test* to see if he is the kind of man who will demand to be able to pay for her, including going over her head to order the waiter not to accept her card.

    • FashionablyEvil says:

      This is sure to turn out well for her. (As a server, I always loathed the people who would find me at a computer and stuff their credit card in my hand and make me run the check so that the other person couldn’t pay.)

      • Fat Steve says:

        As a server, I always loathed the people who would find me at a computer and stuff their credit card in my hand and make me run the check so that the other person couldn’t pay.

        If they ‘make’ you do it rather than asking nicely I can understand the loathing, but under certain circumstances (like trying to pay for your parents/in-laws,) it is much easier to just have the server run your credit card so you can have the tip and bill paid for with know wrangling about the check. If the server does me this favor, they will recieve the favor back in a higher tip than usual. If the server were to act like it’s an enormous pain the ass (this has never happened, so either they don’t loathe me or they hide it well,) then I would just give them what I would have normally tipped.

      • FashionablyEvil says:

        It went something like this:
        “I want to pay the check now!”
        “Sir, someone else at your table has already asked for the check. Plus they told me at the start of the meal that they would like to pay the bill.”
        “Just do it!”

        Miga–I was always tempted to say, “Could you just let me know when you’re done fighting over the check? I have other tables.”

      • shfree says:

        If I didn’t manage to hand off my card to the server before the bill would reach the table when I was out with my parents, the back and forth between my dad and I as to who was paying would be ENDLESS. Which would leave the server just standing there, awkward.

      • Miss S says:

        As a server, I appreciate that. That way I know who is paying, and I don’t have to that awkward thing where I walk up to the table with the check and 5 people demand it and I don’t know who to give it to.

      • miga says:

        When that happens I throw the check in the air, yell “Fight for it!” and run away.

  55. Amber says:

    I’m 33. When I first started “dating” in middle school (meeting boys at the mall for food court dinner then a movie) and then through high school, my parents insisted that I always have money and always pay my own way. My dad expecially pushed this and I remember him saying it kept me from feeling like I owed anything–whether it was a second date after a crappy first or something more.

  56. Iam138 says:

    I think “leader of the online castrati” sounded really funny, but (Latin nerd), shouldn’t you be “leader of the online castratae?”

    • abra says:

      My Latin is woefully inadequate to really engage is this bit of fun pedantry so correct me if I am wrong but they intend to communicate that women who are responsible for castrating men — castrators. But castrati are the men who are castrated and castratae would likewise be women who are castrated, no?

      So, what is the descriptor of the person who does the castrating? It seems unlikely that it would be one of those confusing cases were castrator and and castrated have the same name.

      • BrotherPower says:

        I feel like “castrati” in modern use is derived more from Italian than from Latin. Like when people offer a singular, it’s usually castrato, not castratus. So the plural feminine would be castrate instead of castratae.

        But as you say, they would probably mean the ones doing the castration rather than the castrated. I have no idea would that would be in Italian, but in Latin I think it would be castrantes and/or castratrices.

      • damigiana says:

        Castratrici, in Italian.

      • Combray says:

        The person performing the castration is castrator in Latin (castratores in plural). But BrotherPower is right, the modern use in English is derived from Italian.

      • BrotherPower says:

        Maybe I should have explained what I was trying to get across a bit more. Castrator is correct, and probably more correct if we’re talking literal translation, but I wanted to use the feminine ending, given the context, so castratrix (castatrices plural), and then I hedged with the present active participle castrans (castrantes), which conveys a similar idea and I think would be more likely to appear in Classical Latin.

        Whoo. Now I’m all hepped up on grammar. First time I’ve thought about Latin in a while. What would the whole phrase be? I’m thinking something like Imperatrix castratricum interretialium. But I was never great at going from English to Latin.

    • librarygoose says:

      I love this thread but it makes me sad I can’t remember any of my Latin. :(

  57. MrRabbit says:

    Is anyone else a little bit disappointed Jill doesn’t kick men in the shins when they try to hold the door for her?

    As for the topic, this makes me glad I’m a queer woman. Hetero dating… Meh.

    • Donna L says:

      As for the topic, this makes me glad I’m a queer woman. Hetero dating… Meh.

      I don’t identify as queer, but I feel pretty much the same way reading this thread. Even though I haven’t been on what could really be called a “date” since 1986, when I met my former spouse; my one relationship since the marriage ended in 2000 was with someone who had previously been a friend. In other words, it’s been a very long time. And my experiences were quite limited anyway, and, besides, were all when I was living as a guy, long before my transition. I’ve never dated men, before or since (I must say that reading this thread makes me somewhat grateful for that!), and haven’t dated women since my transition (again not counting that one relationship, which ended shortly afterwards).

      Still, with all those caveats, along with the fact that my memories of those before-times are becoming increasingly and somewhat intentionally murky as the years go by (I realized recently, for example, that I have only vague memories of the day I got married, not that I have any interest in refreshing my recollection, and it’s been true for quite a while that I hardly remember at all what it actually felt like to be the way I once was, physically or otherwise), I don’t think I ever really encountered most of the issues being discussed here. Even in the 1980’s, I don’t think I ever went out with a woman who didn’t identify as a feminist (as I had myself from my early teens, at least until I learned just how much most prominent feminists despised and vilified people like me). Maybe that helped, who knows? In any event, I think the person I was with and I almost always split the check, or took turns paying the check. If the fact that I didn’t always pay for both of us made a difference in what they thought of me, well, why would I want to be with someone like that anyway?

      In the event that I were ever to go out with a guy in the future (as unlikely as that may be), I think having him pay for both of us on a consistent basis would make me extremely uncomfortable. As would all the mental gyrations people seem to go through about it.

    • mk says:

      I’m a queer woman too, and this bullshit still comes up all the time. If I’m dining out with another woman, there’s about a 50-50 chance our server will initially read me as male. If they read us as queer, there’s still an equal chance they’ll hand the wine list to me, because clearly the butch must be the boss.

      The best servers are the ones who don’t greet or check in on my fiancee and me in gendered terms, put the wine list and the check in the middle of the table, and put it back in the middle of the table for one of us to sign.

    • im says:

      My guess is that that is not a viable strategy…

      Yeah, on the other hand if only the rules were in the right places, heterosexual dating would be AWESOME. At least for me. I guess I am just kind of a rules-liking person, I’ve never really understood how people end up in relationships without it.

  58. Ron O says:

    I followed your guidelines as well. On a couple occasions I was asked out, but expected to pay. There was an awkward time where the bill just sat at the table while we waited for the other to pick it up. That set me back financially when I had very little money. But at least I knew that person and I had different values and the sooner you learn that the better.

    Most of the time I did the asking and was prepared to pay, but I liked the offer to share. I liked the offer to reciprocate treating even better.

    • zuzu says:

      I always expect to pay my own way and order accordingly, but once or twice I’ve been in the situation where the guy asks me out, chooses the venue, orders wine but doesn’t let me see the price, orders a full meal while I get an appetizer, then wants me to split the check 50-50. No second dates there.

      • Ron O says:

        Agreed. I have a former friend who would do a similar thing and want to split the bill equally. Some people either can’t pick up on people’s behavior or do not care.

      • im says:

        Yeah, either that or hidden tests are kind of unpleasant things to do.

  59. I think “asker pays” is handy to reduce heteronormativity, but for m/f dates it just slides the locus of the gender norming farther back to the asking. Since there is also a strong social bias in who asks who out on m/f dates, doesn’t it just effectively replicate the norm that guys pay, with a facially neutral explanation?

    I think there may have been real movement in who initiates flirting and who initiates sex, but my sense of it is that the construct of the “date” has remained relatively conservative and the “asking out” moment is still very skewed, perhaps as much as the marriage proposal — where the norm of who does the asking is so strong that we’ve essentially created the convention of “asking to be asked.” But that’s anecdotal. I don’t have a lot of confidence in that.

    I’m not saying “asker pays” isn’t a good rule. I’m just saying that who pays can’t be treated as an issue independent of who asks, or we’re just shoving the same problem around the gameboard without resolving it.

    • zuzu says:

      Yeah, I think it doesn’t necessarily help. And I find that even if I’m the one who asks, the guy will still reach for the check or otherwise pay. So to keep down the awkwardness/obligation, I will usually suggest a cheap or free date for the first one: coffee, drinks, a walk in the park, a free event, etc. Which also has the benefit of being flexible in terms of time investment: if things are going well, it’s easy to get another drink or cup of coffee or walk longer. If things are going south, it’s easy to get up, thank the guy for a lovely time, and make an exit. If you’re at a movie or dinner or ball game or play on the first date, it’s a little harder to get out if you need to.

      That said, I think it’s helpful to have at least one date where the other person’s tipping/treatment of service workers can be observed. I recently had a date where I realized that the guy I was with didn’t tip the bartender. I knew he was fairly broke, but he suggested the venue. Yet when we went out to a movie, he bought the tickets before I even got there (I bought snacks to smuggle in).

      • That said, I think it’s helpful to have at least one date where the other person’s tipping/treatment of service workers can be observed.

        My experience has been that you can get an amazingly good read on someone’s character by how they treat service workers.

      • LC says:

        Forgot to agree vociferously with this, as well. It tells you a LOT. (I’d say treatment says more than just tipping, though, since culturally accepted tipping behaviour varies quite a bit if you travel.)

      • Fat Steve says:

        That said, I think it’s helpful to have at least one date where the other person’s tipping/treatment of service workers can be observed.

        I will third that.

        Curious though as to how people view others’ generosity in terms of the tips jar (or the “tip’s jar”, as it’s usually called,) that has become so prevalent at fast-ish food places. I never know what to put in that stupid jar, especially if I pay by credit card.

      • LC says:

        I like the “somewhere cheap first” thing as well, for similar reasons.

        My overall rules are similar to Jill’s. I go with “asker pays” but am too aware that it can just bump things further along.

        In the end, I find past the first couple of dates, things tend to even out into something fair if the two of you get along. There’s communication, and something is worked out.

        Mind you, I think I was lucky in some ways, because I had a lesson about the power differential early in my dating life because I was a poor student and both my first girlfriends worked jobs where they had decent salaries. The first did what many mentioned in the thread above – she sometimes offered to treat because she could, she let me choose things that I could afford or arrange dates that were time investment (I love to cook) but not so much cash investment, etc. With the second, it quickly turned into a power trip, with her controlling where we went and what we did, and fights being resolved with ever-more-expensive gifts. It was very off-putting, and made me vow to never do that to someone else.

      • Miss S says:

        Agreed on the observing the way someone interacts with service workers- it says A LOT about them. Usually people are aware on a first date that they’re being observed in some way, so they may act differently, but they usually don’t when interacting with servers, because it’s more subconscious I think.

        I don’t know if I’m explaining it well, but it does say a lot about someone’s character. As a waitress, it’s very easy for me to observe.

    • im says:

      My view is that ‘Asker is always prepared to pay, and does so by default’ is sufficiently general that contradicting it is not a good idea at all. It applies often to nongendered stuff as well.

  60. T. Smythe says:

    One hundred and ninety comments! Always a tiny pleasure to hear that something is actually more fraught/complicated for straight people.

    Not that same-sex dates aren’t subject to the same awkwardness, but at least there’s less pseudo-Victorian mating ritual bullshit to circumnavigate.

    • Diana says:

      No kidding. This sort of catch-22 is one of the many reasons why, even if my girlfriend and I don’t work out, I am very unlikely to date men again.

      Not the “who’s paying?” dilemma specifically – it’s more that the yes-I’m-a-feminist-and-I-mean-it filter excludes the vast majority of men, because they’re condescending about it when they think it’s cute, and when they stop thinking it’s cute, they just turn into assholes.

    • im says:

      Hey! You got bullshit and Victorian social attitudes in my ritual! Those rituals were BRAND NEW!

  61. im says:

    This is… spectacularly ridiculous. For the record, I think that your rules are pretty good and would add ‘probably only worth arguing about if over multiple dates an uncomfortable (in any direction) trend appears’ though I am not sure.

  62. AK says:

    I also think your rules are really good. I am straight and let my boyfriend pay for almost everything, but that’s because he makes 6 figures and I…well, let’s just say I make decidedly less! When I’ve dated people with more evenly matched incomes, though, I felt really uncomfortable when they insisted on paying all the time (and my boyfriend doesn’t insist, which I think is another big thing–I’ve never felt that icky obligation that I’ve felt with other men). Plus, I reciprocate in other ways–my income is low because I do things I love but don’t pay well, but my boyfriend wants to learn these things so I am able to teach him and show him things that he wouldn’t experience otherwise (rock climbing, backpacking, horseback riding, etc.). I think that’s how a relationship should be.

    I’ve also never been one to argue or get upset when a man insists on being “chivalrous,” but it is a warning sign if they’re over-the-top with it. A guy that gets to the door first and holds it for me is sweet. A guy who gets weird if I get to the door first and hold it for him is probably not going to get another date.

  63. Jovan1984 says:

    I’ll never get angry at a woman who offers to pay for dates. Especially in the small area where I am in, the nearest cities are 20 (Aiken, S.C.), 33 (North Augusta, S.C.), 35 (Augusta, Ga.) and 40 (Orangeburg) miles apart, respectively.

    BTW, I would offer to be a stay-at-home husband, too.

  64. Sam says:

    Jill,

    just when I thought there’s finally be a piece with which I wholeheartedly agree, along comes this –

    Men still have most of the power in heterosexual dating — they’re the ones doing the picking, and women are more often accepting or refusing.

    To be fair, picking/asking out *can* be a matter of power, but to *most* heterosexual men, it is really not. Approaching women, “picking”, is, to most men, still the thing they’re most afraid of in their lives. I’m not saying accepting or refusing is always easier than that, it has its obvious downsides, too, but it’s not fair to *most men* to say that picking/asking out is a matter of having power in heterosexual dating. Most of the time it’s a lot of mental work about overcoming approach anxiety. Again, for *some men* it is power, but not for most, not by far.

    • jrockford says:

      Yeah, but as long as dating is popularly considered a binary of “choosers” and “chosen” – the chooser is always going to have the agency, where the chosen can only can only reject what is offered to her.

      It recalls Mary Astell’s anti-marriage essay from the 1700s, and its critique of chivalric courtship, and the argument that women have power in being allowed to accept or reject. While in that model, there is (in theory) the right to reject – that power only comes into existence when a man chooses to initiate. In the traditional binary model, at least men have the expectation that they get to choose who they want to ask (though I sympathize, it can be nerve wracking to execute); while women get the ability to only accept or reject what is offered to them.

      The power is in agency. In such a social climate, men have it, women don’t.

      • Sam says:

        jrockford,

        “(though I sympathize, it can be nerve wracking to execute); while women get the ability to only accept or reject what is offered to them.”

        yes and no. I guess this would be true in a world where “cold approaches” are the rule. In reality women do have considerable power to display both approachability (to some men they choose, glances, body language etc, in which case the difference to male approaches is mainly the deniability the retain) and use social mechanisms to communicate their willingness to be approached. So it’s not as binary for woman. It’s likely not as binary for men either, as at least some social mechasnisms to convey interest will be available to them as well, although I think it will be more difficult to use them for men, as they don’t have the cloak of (plausible) deniability. An approach is an approach, a rejection is a rejection, there’s no “but, really, he probably didn’t see you” to soothe one’s ego when you actually say “hi”. So, mostly, I believe this comes down to “the grass is greener on the other side”. There’s not as much agency in approaching as women may believe there is, but, of course, most men also don’t know what it would be like to work more along the line of “wait and see”.

      • Kristen J. says:

        So, mostly, I believe this comes down to “the grass is greener on the other side”.

        Yeah, no. One of the glaring problems with your analysis is that it ignores how women are socialized to acquiese and men are socialized to misread “approachability.” Fairly often existing in a public space and being conventionally attractive = approachable regardless of whether the women in question gave *signals* of approachability. And once approached women are socialized to be polite and aquiescent. Brushing some dude off will at least result in him or others calling you a “bitch” and in many cases leads to even less pleasant behavior.

        So no…its not simply the grasses is greener on the other side. Men have more power in these situations. Power to approach without social stigma. Power to enter public spaces without being harrassed. Power to punish women who do not respond politely to their advances. Women have the power to *ask* to be left alone. That’s it. We can ask. And if we do so politely enough, the dude in question might actually leave us alone.

      • Sam says:

        Kristen J.,

        of course, even the thing most men are scared off is about the power they hold over women… look, I’m not saying men would win in the oppression olympics, I’m saying having to approach is not about having power for *most* men. Because it is *not*, and most women would understand that better if they approached more often (which they don’t, and there’s reasons for that, which are problematic in their own right, like slut shaming, but that’s another topic).

        Fairly often existing in a public space and being conventionally attractive = approachable regardless of whether the women in question gave *signals* of approachability.

        I’m thinking you’re talking about street harrassment, which I don’t count as as an attempt to approach, because it’s not an attempt to approach. I haven’t quite figured out what it is, but I doubt any guy whistling on the street will believe he’s gonna get some because of that. As for actual approaches, it’s not that easy even for conventionally attractive women – I know a lot who complain about not being approached.

        Btw, I’m not doubting (some) women have a tendency to be polite about rejecting men, others often aren’t. That’s probably not their personality, but a consequence of the male-initiator/female-recipient paradigm. At some point being polite isn’t going to cut it anymore.

        Brushing some dude off will at least result in him or others calling you a “bitch” and in many cases leads to even less pleasant behavior.

        That said, I believe we’re living in different worlds. I have hardly ever heard a guy say anything like that after an unsuccessful attempt to approach.

        Power to enter public spaces without being harrassed.

        Again, you’re apparently talking about harrassment, I’m not.

      • EG says:

        Because it is *not*, and most women would understand that better if they approached more often

        Speaking as a woman who’s been asking guys out since junior high, it is far easier and more powerful than hanging around hoping that the dude in question asks you. Thus speaketh the woman who approaches relatively often, and hath survived rejection because it’s really not a big deal.

        You’re welcome.

      • TomSims says:

        @EG

        “Speaking as a woman who’s been asking guys out since junior high, it is far easier and more powerful than hanging around hoping that the dude in question asks you. Thus speaketh the woman who approaches relatively often, and hath survived rejection because it’s really not a big deal.”

        Congrats. I’m from a much older generation and that kind of thing just never happened, and it’s my guess it is very rare even today. But I do agree with you logic. It makes perfect sense to me.

      • EG says:

        I have been approached in public numerous times, by the way, simply by being female on the bus or in the park, and despite clearly signalling that I was not interested, the men in question did not stop trying to talk to me until I got up and left. Kristen J. is correct, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Donna L says:

        I believe we’re living in different worlds. I have hardly ever heard a guy say anything like that after an unsuccessful attempt to approach.

        I suppose it never crossed your mind that men generally don’t say those things when other people are close enough to hear them? Just because you haven’t heard it, you’re skeptical that it happens more than infrequently? Are you kidding me?

      • Sam says:

        EG,

        I’m glad it’s more powerful for you, and glad you don’t find rejection to be a big deal. Most women I have talked to about this, admittedly not a huge sample, but consisting of several female relatives and friends, were even less able to deal with rejection than most guys I know. Seriously, I mean, it sounds stereotypical, but I consoled female relatives and friends after a guy didn’t send a facebook friend request. Maybe it is similar shaking for guys, but they don’t usually talk about it as emotionally affected as the women I talked to about this.

        As I said, approaching is also power for *some* men. I would, based on *my* experience, which may or may not be statistically correct, say that it’s probably about 1/3 of men, for whom this is a powerful thing. It is not for the other 2/3s who spend evening after evening standing in bars, trying to bring themselves to say hello to a woman.

        It is, of course, very likely that the samples we’re basing our experiences on are not exactly similar, so it’s unsurprising our experiences don’t match. And btw, there’s hardly another subject on which I am able to speak with as much authority as on *my experience*. Maybe Kristen J. is correct, but so is my experience, if our accounts appear to be incompatible, then there’s a different explanation for that than my inability to speak about my experience.

      • Sam says:

        Donna L.,

        I suppose it never crossed your mind that men generally don’t say those things when other people are close enough to hear them? Just because you haven’t heard it, you’re skeptical that it happens more than infrequently? Are you kidding me?

        that’s fair. That’s a possibility, of course. Although, again, most approaches I witnessed happened in situations, in which people were standing close to each other, say, at a bar in a club, or among people sitting in a cafe. In those situations, I cannot remember guys insulting women for rejecting them. I’m sure it happens, it just never happened when I was around.

      • EG says:

        It is not for the other 2/3s who spend evening after evening standing in bars, trying to bring themselves to say hello to a woman.

        And that is still a position of more power than standing around hoping someone says hello to you. The first one is surmountable by your own action, no matter how hard it may feel to take. The second is completely dependent upon somebody else.

        Your experience, as a man, of whether or not women are deemed “approachable” simply by being female in public is simply not as valid as Kristen’s or mine.

      • tomek says:

        i think is situation in which genders is used to being in situation they cannot see benefit of own situation. woman used to not being active so dont take enjoyment in. man jealous that woman can choose not take active role and still get date, while men not can do this. but man also not consider his own role have benefit too.

      • Sam says:

        EG,

        And that is still a position of more power than standing around hoping someone says hello to you.

        Again, I think that depends very much upon who the *you* is in this game. I would agree that, for some women, those who have to constantly fend off male attention and those who never seem to be able to attract any, this means (particularly, for the latter group, a lot) less power. For the majority in the middle, when there’s a steady, yet not unpleasantly numerous, supply of potential suitors to pick from, how is that not power? Particularly since, you know, friends introduce with qualifications, etc, and since it’s still possible to approach yourself *if* that hot guy you’d really like to meet isn’t doing it because he’s too scared. Of course, theoretically, men can be passive as well. But that’s not a particularly useful strategy, since women still rarely initiate. I don’t know, it seems to me, that women have a larger set of options available in this game. Purely passive, partly passive (signalling with deniability), socially mediated passivity, and approaching themselves. Theoretically, all those options are available to men, too, of course, yet only the last one is usually a realistic option. And it’s a hard one for, as I believe, 2/3. Again, I don’t think men will win the opression olympics, but to say that they are more powerful in heterosexual dating *because* “men do the picking” simply strikes me as some sort of denial of the reality I can see around me.

      • Donna L says:

        All I’ll say is that I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and I think they both suck immensely; arguments concerning where the power resides are largely beside the point in terms of what it actually feels like for a lot of people. But that’s just for me as the individual I am; as a general matter I agree with EG and Kristen.

      • Sam says:

        Donna L.,

        All I’ll say is that I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and I think they both suck immensely; arguments concerning where the power resides are largely beside the point in terms of what it actually feels like for a lot of people.

        agreed. That’s precisely what annoyed me about the “men are more powerful quote because they get to initiate more often” in the OP.

      • EG says:

        For the majority in the middle, when there’s a steady, yet not unpleasantly numerous, supply of potential suitors to pick from, how is that not power?

        Which women are these? What majority in the middle? Whom are you talking about? If they’re the majority, how come I’ve never met one, despite a lifetime of being a woman and spending most of my time with women?

      • igglanova says:

        Sam, you seem to be defining ‘power’ as a subjective emotional experience. This must be where the fundamental disagreement comes in. For example, this snippet:

        As I said, approaching is also power for *some* men. I would, based on *my* experience, which may or may not be statistically correct, say that it’s probably about 1/3 of men, for whom this is a powerful thing. It is not for the other 2/3s who spend evening after evening standing in bars, trying to bring themselves to say hello to a woman.

        Nervousness is not powerlessness. Even when a man misses out on a dating opportunity due to nerves, the decision to hold back was still his own. The decision to approach, or not approach, was always in his control. The same cannot be said of our archetypal passive woman. The only decision in her control is that of veto, which both sexes may exercise.

      • Sam says:

        EG,

        Which women are these? What majority in the middle?

        well, those who do get some attention (and are somewhat ok with that, but would probably like a little more), but not too much male attention. And that is, easily, most women – those in the middle of the male attention continuum, not too little, not too much.

        Btw, of course, if you’re going to include harrassment in this discussion of dating as an expression of “male attention” then, of course, more women are going to be in the “too much attention” group. But then, again, I wouldn’t say that scaring or annoying women constitutes *power* in dating for men. It possibly constitues power in other relevant aspects of gender relations, like, say, rape culture, but I don’t think it constitutes power with respect to dating, and I don’t think that’s what the OP was referring to with “picking”.

      • Sam says:

        Igglanova,

        The decision to approach, or not approach, was always in his control. The same cannot be said of our archetypal passive woman. The only decision in her control is that of veto, which both sexes may exercise.

        Well, yes and no, women also choose a script in a dating paradigm. They aren’t forced to be passive, they often choose to as an expression of gender performance. Sure, some choices are easier and less culturally embedded than the choice of a dating paradigm to operate in, but if approach anxiety is considered a choice, then such a level of awareness certainly also constitutes a choice. And thus there is the ability to choose a different script, as I explained above: women appear to have more choices – from entirely passive, to entirely active. And while the active part is still unusual, it’s probably going to be more effective than a shy guy’s attempt to stand in the corner hoping to attract a woman to come over and say hello, don’t you think? So, I’d say that women do have more options (in the current paradigm) than most men, and can even choose which one to use in which circumstances. So, really, I don’t think men (in general) hold *more power* because they have to approach. Some do, most don’t.

      • igglanova says:

        You’ve moved the goalposts. The original argument was in regard to the relative power of the chooser / chosen in a dating scenario, and you argued that the role of chooser does not entail greater social power. Now, you seem to be saying that women have greater power than men in dating scenarios because…feminist gains have enabled them to undertake the role of chooser. Does this not significantly undermine your original point?

      • drunkandhorny says:

        sigh…

        Neither has more power than the other because anybody can choose to be the approacher. Yes, women are socialized not to approach, but they can, and do, just like men are socialized to say yes no matter what, but they can and do say no. Bottom line, ye who chooses to approach what they like and refuse what they don’t when it’s offered to them attains the maximum available power. The limiting factor is the individual’s choices, not their sex or gender.

      • EG says:

        well, those who do get some attention (and are somewhat ok with that, but would probably like a little more), but not too much male attention. And that is, easily, most women – those in the middle of the male attention continuum, not too little, not too much.

        You’re missing my point. This fantasy you have of a steady stream of suitors who are not so much as to annoy but are enough so as to provide a good and reliable variety of opportunities–this does not correspond with life as experienced by actual women. Again, you say that is, “easily, most women,” but I have never met one. I have never met a woman who would characterize her experience with male attention like that. Why are you assuming that this is most women’s experience?

        And again, you are subsuming “unwanted male attention” under “harassment.” Unwanted male attention is not necessarily harassment; it is the presumption that whether or not I signal otherwise, a man has the implicit right to occupy my attention. Let me give you an example: Once I was sitting in a park going through and editing a draft of a chapter of my diss. A guy came over to me and asked if he could sit on the other half of the bench. I glanced up and said “Sure.” (What? Am I the bench police? This is a public park.) He then said to me “So, what are you doing?” Without glancing up, I said in my most severe tones, “Working. I am working.”

        He then proceeded to try to hit on me and make conversation with me, ignoring all signals that I was not interested (I did not once look up or stop reading or give any reply that was longer than two words) to the point that I had to pack up my shit and go home, which pissed me off, because it was a beautiful day, and I had wanted to be outside, but I did have to get that work done that day.

        He wasn’t wolf-whistling or calling out anything intimidating. He just refused to be rebuffed. I’m sure he would characterize what he was doing as hitting on me.

        This kind of thing goes on all the time. It has nothing to do with “too much male attention.” In that situation, “too much” was “one dude who doesn’t recognize when he’s being shot down and won’t leave me alone.” It was not a regular occurrence, particularly now that I’m older. But it is what it means to be female in public: men think they have a right to intrude no matter your signals to the contrary. And you’re socialized not to tell them to fuck right off, in part because if you do, you have no way of knowing how they’ll react.

        Nervousness is not powerlessness. Even when a man misses out on a dating opportunity due to nerves, the decision to hold back was still his own. The decision to approach, or not approach, was always in his control.

        Yes. You really need to wrap your mind around this. Women get nervous, but their script allows them no control over whether or not they are approached. Men get nervous, and can still decide whether or not to initiate contact. That’s why I approach: what’s the alternative, hang around and hope the person I find attractive says hello? That’s your definition of power?

      • Donna L says:

        Sam, I think that when you agreed with what I said, you missed the fact that I was actually agreeing with EG, Kristen, Igglanova, etc. about who has the greater power. The fact that it can suck equally on both sides of the dynamic in terms of subjective personal experience doesn’t change that. And I always knew it, too; I never bought into the complaint that a lot of guys had that “women have it easy.” Because it was obvious that they were always comparing their own situation to that of the most conventionally attractive women, not to that of women who were their own equivalent on that scale.

      • Sam says:

        Igglanova,

        You’ve moved the goalposts. The original argument was in regard to the relative power of the chooser / chosen in a dating scenario, and you argued that the role of chooser does not entail greater social power. Now, you seem to be saying that women have greater power than men in dating scenarios because…feminist gains have enabled them to undertake the role of chooser. Does this not significantly undermine your original point?

        Why? My main point was (and is) that the strictly logically correct point “he who chooses gets to choose who rejects him” while the chosen can only work with the set of people who already chose them is, in real life, not as powerful for most men as it sounds in the OP. But, of course, if you *add* approaching ot other options, it will necessarily increase the script flexibility, so, no, I don’t really see a contradiction here.

        Donna L.,

        Sam, I think that when you agreed with what I said, you missed the fact that I was actually agreeing with EG, Kristen, Igglanova, etc. about who has the greater power. The fact that it can suck equally on both sides of the dynamic in terms of subjective personal experience doesn’t change that.

        sorry, but subjective personal experience really is the only one that counts in this respect, in my opinion. Collectives don’t approach, and they don’t date ;)

        And I always knew it, too; I never bought into the complaint that a lot of guys had that “women have it easy.” Because it was obvious that they were always comparing their own situation to that of the most conventionally attractive women, not to that of women who were their own equivalent on that scale.

        Yes, and no, again. You’re right about that tendency to up-compare for guys, but even so, almost all women do tend have it easier if they’re looking for casual sex, which, for a number of reasons, they don’t do as often as men. However, when they do, the advantage is pretty apparent to men. Case in point, I went out with a couple of female friends who have finished their last exams in med school, and one of their friends, who tagged along, was all focused on getting laid after the exams. She knew going into the club she could and would find a guy to have sex with, and she did. There’s certainly also *some* guys who could walk into a club with that confidence and pull it off, and certainly also some women for whom this would be difficult if they wanted to do it, but the numbers are probably very different. Of course, the difference is that *women usually don’t want to do that*, so being able to do it doesn’t help them, but since it is something a lot of men would like to be able to do, and they can see not just a few women do it whenever they choose to (and, sure, whenever they’re ready to pay the often still attached social price), so, clearly, there’s a perception that “women have it easier”. And they do, in that respect, except not all women, and except they don’t usually want it.

      • Christina says:

        “And it’s a hard one for, as I believe, 2/3.”

        “For the majority in the middle, when there’s a steady, yet not unpleasantly numerous, supply of potential suitors to pick from, how is that not power?”

        “say that it’s probably about 1/3 of men, for whom this is a powerful thing. It is not for the other 2/3s who spend evening after evening standing in bars, trying to bring themselves to say hello to a woman.”

        “There’s certainly also *some* guys who could walk into a club with that confidence and pull it off, and certainly also some women for whom this would be difficult if they wanted to do it, but the numbers are probably very different.”

        Uh-huh. Your thesis sure seems to be dependent on a whole lot of made-up statistics Sam.

      • Sam says:

        Christina,

        “Your thesis sure seems to be dependent on a whole lot of made-up statistics Sam.”

        Well, there’s sufficient research on the differences between men and women with respect to the casual sex thing, try this as a feminist starting point – http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/gender-differences-and-casual-sex-the-new-research

        As for the 1/3, 2/3, it’s an estimate based on experience. So, no hard science, for sure. But there’s also some research on approach anxiety, and how general stress levels in dating tend to make people choose more traditional scripts of gender performance. So it’s not like the things I mentioned are pulled out of the clear blue sky.

      • Christina says:

        Well, there’s sufficient research on the differences between men and women with respect to the casual sex thing, try this as a feminist starting point

        I wasn’t arguing that there aren’t gendered patterns in receptiveness to casual sex between heterosexual men and women – I think everybody in this thread is pretty much in agreement on that. But the numbers you made up weren’t about that. They were about the high percentage of shy powerless men cruelly locked out of the dating scene versus the majority of women who can sleep with whomever they want whenever they want – and that is a made up version of reality.

        But there’s also some research on approach anxiety

        As has already been pointed out to you, you’re conflating the subjective and emotional with the objective and measurable: wielding power is often stress-inducing, but that doesn’t make the power (in this case the power to actively choose, as opposed to the “power” to passively reject) any less powerful. I think what you’re trying to say is “the patriarchy hurts men too”, but what you’re instead actually saying is “what about teh menz” and that’s inevitably going to get people’s back up.

        As for the 1/3, 2/3, it’s an estimate based on experience.

        And accordingly worthless. Also, you’ll forgive me if I’m rather suspicious of the made-up statistics you draw from your experience based on the examples you’ve given here… You seem, for instance, to be under the impression that sitting around waiting for a guy to send you a facebook friend request is an expression of active participation in date selection – it isn’t and fwiw from my personal experience wishing and hoping to catch a guy’s attention is tremendously more aggravating than simply sending the damn friend request yourself and seeing what happens. Likewise, re: your anecdote about your med school friends’ friend who you arbitrarily decided represents the Average Woman (and about whose life and the details of why she felt so confident that evening and that particular club you seem btw to know very little).

        So it’s not like the things I mentioned are pulled out of the clear blue sky.

        Actually, they very much were.

      • EG says:

        Well, there’s sufficient research on the differences between men and women with respect to the casual sex thing

        The specifis of casual sex just aren’t equivalent to the general situation of dating/relationships.

      • Sam says:

        Christina,

        They were about the high percentage of shy powerless men cruelly locked out of the dating scene versus the majority of women who can sleep with whomever they want whenever they want – and that is a made up version of reality.

        no, what I objected to was Jill’s claim that men have most of the power in heterosexual dating because they get to pick whom to approach, because approaching itself is not easy, and, however abstractly logical it may be that having a specific choice is more powerful than not having a specific choice, this power is often rendered useless by the difficulty of the exercise itself. Also, I remarked how women have (now) a larger range of dating scripts at their disposal, which, according to the same logic, gives them more power. Accordingly, I still don’t think that it’s fair to say men hold most power in heterosexual dating because they have to ask women out. I can’t say it more clearly than that, I suppose.

      • Christina says:

        no, what I objected to was Jill’s claim that men have most of the power in heterosexual dating because they get to pick whom to approach, because approaching itself is not easy, and, however abstractly logical it may be that having a specific choice is more powerful than not having a specific choice, this power is often rendered useless by the difficulty of the exercise itself.

        And it has already been explained to your why this is a bad argument. Unwillingness to exercise power does not negate the existence of that power. My boss might find telling me off for coming into work late very awkward and embarrassing, but that doesn’t mean that I’m really the one to hold the power in the relationship.

        Also, I remarked how women have (now) a larger range of dating scripts at their disposal, which, according to the same logic, gives them more power.

        And again, you’re claiming that women now have more power than they used to because they… have fought long and hard to claim that power?

        In any case I really don’t get what you’re saying here. If women have more dating scripts available to them (and I’m going to go ahead and assume that this whole set up you’ve got going on here applies in a strictly heterosexist context), then surely … the men these women are now asking out have more dating scripts available to them too? In actual fact however I agree with something you tried to say earlier but then seems to recant on: very rarely nowadays does a guy or is he expected to approach a woman out of the blue to ask for a date – what happens much more often is that things just develop with momentum provided by both sides – she might be the one to first strike up conversation after class, he might be the one to first suggest they grab a cup of coffee, she might then ask if he’d like to catch a film sometime, etc. Nobody expects men to take control and commandeer the entire process – so maybe the reason those guys bemoaning harsh gender roles can’t get a date is that either a) they lack the confidence to put themselves out there at all, in which case I can assure you they are in the exact same boat as shy women or b) they expect to have the kind of control and decision making power in the dating process that most women nowadays are unwilling to allow them.

        Accordingly, I still don’t think that it’s fair to say men hold most power in heterosexual dating because they have to ask women out. I can’t say it more clearly than that, I suppose.

        Yes, your opinion is very clear, but I (and a lot of other commenters here) disagree with you.

      • tomek says:

        a) they lack the confidence to put themselves out there at all, in which case I can assure you they are in the exact same boat as shy women

        not exact. i say not woman have easy or some such. but shy woman have much easier than shy man. higher percentage of shy woman have boyfriend than shy man have girlfriend.

      • Sam says:

        Christina,

        And it has already been explained to your why this is a bad argument. Unwillingness to exercise power does not negate the existence of that power. My boss might find telling me off for coming into work late very awkward and embarrassing, but that doesn’t mean that I’m really the one to hold the power in the relationship.

        well, again, yes and no. I’m a little surprised to encounter such a concentration on “formal” power by (assumed) constructivists. So, maybe it’s important to differentiate different aspects of “power”. You’re right that mere “unwillingness” to exercise power doesn’t negate that ‘formal’ power. However, formal power is different from actual power, which very much depends on the ability to at least potentially execute it. As such, approach anxiety doesn’t really strike me as “unwillingness”, it’s more of an inability to exercise. To put this in the organisational context you used as an example: if your boss is not only unwilling, but unable, because of his gentle nature, for example, to tell you off for coming late to work, his power to do so may be formally instituted, but not *real*. I don’t think there is a single organisation in which formal hierarchies correspond to *actual* power structures. Same for dating.

        And again, you’re claiming that women now have more power than they used to because they… have fought long and hard to claim that power?

        yes, where’s the contradiction there?

        If women have more dating scripts available to them (and I’m going to go ahead and assume that this whole set up you’ve got going on here applies in a strictly heterosexist context), then surely … the men these women are now asking out have more dating scripts available to them too?

        Yes, theoretically (and, to a degree, practically), that is true (as I also said above). However, gender roles and attraction patterns are – again, in my experience, and, of course this may change, and will probably change to a degree with a changing female role in society – not as favorable to a cute shy guy sitting in a corner, nursing his beer as they would be to the cute shy girl in the same position. I’ve played “pick a guy for you” with a lot of female friends, and the opinion is uniformly that a shy guy, however attractive, is not suitable dating material: the female verdict is simple: if he can’t even bring himself to approach me, he’s just not confident enough for me. In my experience, women are usually much more attracted to outgoing, confident men, even if they aren’t as physically attractive as shy men. For men, an outgoing woman is usually a bonus, but they will not be not attracted to shy women, just because they’re shy. Which means that the theoretical opening of additional scripts for men in reality isn’t as valuable as it may seem.

        what happens much more often is that things just develop with momentum provided by both sides

        yes, I agree, but most women still expect men to make the first *overt* approach (where there’s no deniability about intentions).

        so maybe the reason those guys bemoaning harsh gender roles can’t get a date is that either … b) they expect to have the kind of control and decision making power in the dating process that most women nowadays are unwilling to allow them.

        I think there’s something to b), but it’s not, I believe, that men would like more control and decision making power for the sake of control and decision making power, but because they are faced with a double bind situation. I think this was best explained by former feministing author Clarisse Thorn, who said, on her blog (http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2009/10/18/questions-i-want-to-ask-entitled-cis-het-men-part-1 )

        – A male friend once wrote to me, “I think you personally find expressions of masculinity hot, but you also have no patience with sexism. You’ve caught on that it’s tricky for men to figure out how to deliver both of these things you need, that you don’t have a lot of good direction to give to fellas about it, and that neither does anyone else.”

      • EG says:

        Yes, Thorn’s statement has been trotted out here before, and as I said last time, it is a huge mistake to think that she speaks for most of us.

        Second, your idea that actual power dynamics are based more on male shyness and anxiety than on, well, who holds the actual power is absurd. Feelings of anxiety about power do not make the power go away. I may feel anxious about failing a student’s paper–I often do, actually. It’s a weighty decision. But that does not mean that I don’t have the power to fail that paper, or that the student somehow has more power because zie can sit there and look pathetic. If my anxiety were to keep me from doing my job and failing papers that should be failed, that’s a personal problem that I have to deal with in my shrink’s office, but it doesn’t change the actual, real-life power dynamics of the teacher-student relationship, and pretending it does is the kind of irresponsibility that leads to the abuse of power.

      • Sam says:

        EG,

        Yes, Thorn’s statement has been trotted out here before, and as I said last time, it is a huge mistake to think that she speaks for most of us.

        well, as I suggested above, our experiences seem to differ considerably. Believe it or not, about 95% of the women I talked to about this (and that’s probably about 150 women by now – as opposed to what a lot of guys say, gender dynamics can be a good conversation topic) have confirmed Clarisse’s sentiment about this matter as an expression of their own thinking on this matter. I don’t think they just agreed because they wanted to appear more attractive to me ;)

        Btw, you can always find an example for which formal and actual power aren’t too divergent, but that doesn’t erase either the usefulness of the distinction or the concepts.

      • Christina says:

        @tomek

        higher percentage of shy woman have boyfriend than shy man have girlfriend.

        Again with the made-up percentages!

        @Sam

        if your boss is not only unwilling, but unable, because of his gentle nature, for example, to tell you off for coming late to work, his power to do so may be formally instituted, but not *real*.

        Huh? There is no such thing as unable in this context. My boss has the legal right to fire me – I, on the other hand, cannot deprive him of his job. His internal emotional conflicts cannot be compared to my material lack of power over him and the fact that you seem to be conflating the two frankly speaks volumes about the heights of your privilege.

        I don’t think there is a single organisation in which formal hierarchies correspond to *actual* power structures.

        Really? Where do you work and are they hiring?

        yes, where’s the contradiction there?

        The contradiction, as has already been pointed out to you, is that women increased their power by becoming less, not more passive. Because passivity is actually not all that powerful.

        the female verdict is simple: if he can’t even bring himself to approach me, he’s just not confident enough for me.

        Right. I forgot about Formal Feminine Guideline No 12 on Male Attractiveness as issued by the 2011 Lady Summit. I do wish the hivemind would do a better job of keeping me up-to-date on our collective preferences and opinions…

        Believe it or not, about 95% of the women I talked to about this (and that’s probably about 150 women by now – as opposed to what a lot of guys say, gender dynamics can be a good conversation topic) have confirmed Clarisse’s sentiment about this matter as an expression of their own thinking on this matter.

        Why are you so sure that these 150 women – or for that matter Clarisse Thorne – are a good sample? Maybe you’re just talking to the wrong women? Do the opinion of the women here in this conversation who are contradicting your assertions count or are they rejected for not confirming your bias enough?

      • tomek says:

        Again with the made-up percentages!

        seem true intuitive to me. can you deprove?

      • Sam says:

        Christina,

        His internal emotional conflicts cannot be compared to my material lack of power over him and the fact that you seem to be conflating the two frankly speaks volumes about the heights of your privilege.

        of course they’re different aspects of power, I just think you’re overemphasizing formal power, which often isn’t real power (recent discussion with a superior I overheard: “is this an order? No, you know I’d never do that!”). If you’re interested in a discusion about organization theory, I’m happy to have one.

        The contradiction, as has already been pointed out to you, is that women increased their power by becoming less, not more passive. Because passivity is actually not all that powerful.

        Yes and no, yes, it’s more proactive, but no, they added additional scripts, which allow flexibility according to the situation, which, mostly gives them a larger choice (which is great, again, don’t get me wrong. More power to them!)

        Right. I forgot about Formal Feminine Guideline No 12 on Male Attractiveness as issued by the 2011 Lady Summit. I do wish the hivemind would do a better job of keeping me up-to-date on our collective preferences and opinions…

        Really? If you’re interested, I have some links to press releases in my RSS reader ;)

        Why are you so sure that these 150 women – or for that matter Clarisse Thorne – are a good sample? Maybe you’re just talking to the wrong women? Do the opinion of the women here in this conversation who are contradicting your assertions count or are they rejected for not confirming your bias enough?

        Of course, they matter. A lot, why else would I be interested in their, your, opinion. They’re a part of the about 5% disagreeing. And, btw, I wish there were more of them, I wish there was more flexibility, and women would let us (guys) out of having to perform masculinity as a Robert Pattinson reenactment (yes, that’s an exaggeration) without loosing interest in having sex with us. I’d say that there are more women like that among feminists, but even among the actively self-identifying feminists I know (in real life) they’re not nearly in the majority (again, according to my personal estimates, and thus including my personal biases). So, to answer your question, I don’t think my sample is that bad. It’s not representative, though.

      • Christina says:

        Yes and no, yes, it’s more proactive, but no, they added additional scripts, which allow flexibility according to the situation

        What additional scripts did women add that did not involve claiming a more proactive involvement for themselves? Did they claim any scripts that make them even more passive than they were forced to be in the past? You’re not making sense.

        For the rest, no, Sam, I’m not interested in a lecture on organisation theory. What I would be interested in would be logical, coherent argumentation, but that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. I think there are really interesting discussions that could be had on gender roles in dating but this is not it. Because here some suggestions for how to conduct that conversation with that elusive 5% (seriously?) of open-minded women: a) don’t make up percentages. Numbers, like words, mean something. Making up numbers doesn’t make you sound more authoritative, it makes you sound like Barney Stinson, i.e. somewhat pathetic; b) stay well away of phrases like “the female verdict”. It’s obnoxious and when somebody objects to it, rss feeds can’t fix that; c) don’t try to give your opinion more weight by dressing it up in some sort of pseudo-scientific cloak of objectivity: because no, your experience is not universal and what the 150 women you happened to talk to said is really irrelevant. Researchers put a great deal of thought and effort into collecting representative samples and their methodology is not “ask people I happen to run into”. And having a conversation where instead of talking about the actual subject at hand you’re forced to constantly push back against fake evidence and home-made, superficial interpretations that your interlocutor insists on presenting as scientific fact is really, really boring.

        Which is why I will now bow out of this discussion.

      • Sam says:

        Hey Christina,

        Researchers put a great deal of thought and effort into collecting representative samples and their methodology is not “ask people I happen to run into”.

        actually, it is, more often than not, and it’s usually one of the first (and correct) objections to studies about dating behaviour citing n=150 college students at UC Berkeley (m=85, f=65). That aside, I presented my numbers as what they are: my experience, not scientific fact. Actually, I understand that my experience is not universal, as it is *my* experience. I am, however, confused as to your assumption that *your* individual sample, say the feministe commentariat, is any more relevant than mine. So either, we accept our different individual experiences and try to explain why such differences occcur, or we tell the other that their experience is irrelevant because of our own. I don’t think your experience is irrelevant because it’s different than mine, but you, apparently, do think mine is. Too bad.

      • Christina says:

        Actually, I understand that my experience is not universal, as it is *my* experience

        Then I’m confused: why do you think it’s in any way relevant to this conversation? Also, in that case your wording is misleading, since you are constantly extrapolation from your experience to “95% of women say so!”

        I am, however, confused as to your assumption that *your* individual sample, say the feministe commentariat, is any more relevant than mine.

        It’s not except to the extent that it proves how irrelevant yours is.

        So either, we accept our different individual experiences and try to explain why such differences occcur.

        Because we are different people who move in different circles?

        I don’t think your experience is irrelevant because it’s different than mine, but you, apparently, do think mine is.

        Well, isn’t that big of you. Except, you know, for the part where you arbitrarily assigned my side of the story 5% relevance, while your opinion apparently accounts for 95% of the “female verdict”.

        Look, what I think is that both of our personal experiences are irrelevant. What I think *is* relevant are the cultural narratives around dating that people are encouraged to accept as universal truths – such as the idea that women like (need!) a strong confident man who can take charge. The truth is that individuals have individual preferences (after all, most shy guys, like most people, will eventually end up in relationships), but only some of those preferences get air-time. If you ask the question the right way you’ll find that the “cute shy guys”, “mysterious and silent stranger”, the “brooding and awkward Mr Darcy types” remain favourite conceptualisations of male attractiveness. Instead I’m interested in why in certain contexts (in this case, dating) we only like to hear certain messages (“the man asks”) – and my money’s on the old favourite: fear that feminism means that women aren’t women anymore and men aren’t men and society will therefore collapse. This means (and this is of course my own personal experience talking) that not only are proactive women who would rather take the initiative in their own dating lives encouraged to hold back and let the man take the initiative, but shy men who under other circumstances might be relieved to see a women take charge, in practice have a tendency to get rather weird about it.

      • Sam says:

        Hey Christina,

        Then I’m confused: why do you think it’s in any way relevant to this conversation? Also, in that case your wording is misleading, since you are constantly extrapolation from your experience to “95% of women say so!”

        well, since no experience is universal, or representative, no one would be allowed to talk about these things if the threshold of acceptability would be that high. And yes, I do extrapolate from my experience, because it would be odd to say: this is what I see around me, it’s probably not what happens, unless we’re in a seminar about Kant or Luhmann. But, of course, my experience is individual and means it *is* biased and it *is* probably off to a degree, just like everyone else’s. But, again, if that realization means that we have nothing to talk about, because our understanding of the world is, that would mean that no understanding, no mutual enlargement of our individual experiences is possible. I don’t think so, and that implies that we *can* learn something from different individual experiences and that, in turn, implies that they’re *not meaningless*. And in my experience, those percentages are approximations of what I see in the world around me. But they’re not hard, or soft, science in any way, of course.

        Because we are different people who move in different circles?

        Very likely a big part thereof.

        Well, isn’t that big of you. Except, you know, for the part where you arbitrarily assigned my side of the story 5% relevance, while your opinion apparently accounts for 95% of the “female verdict”.

        [sarcasm]I know, that’s how I am ;)[/sarcasm] Actually, I think there’s a difference between relevance and prevalence in this respect. Your opinion is 100% relevant, but in my experience, the behavioral patterns and preferences you appear to describe only account for said 5%. By the way, *my* personal preferences are also more likely similar to those of said 5%.

        What I think *is* relevant are the cultural narratives around dating that people are encouraged to accept as universal truths – such as the idea that women like (need!) a strong confident man who can take charge

        Yes and no, again – here’s a link to a paper about people’s behaviour, and expectations with respect to sexual/romantic scripts (from 1996, so, older, but not really outdated, I’d say) called “Differences in Men’s and Women’s Global, Sexual, and Ideal-Sexual Expressiveness and Instrumentality”

        http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01547806

        Expressiveness is the multi-factor female construct,
        instrumentality the multi-factor male construct. For all the behavioural convergence noted in the ideal conceptions, we apparently won’t get around the sequencing problem –

        “That is, men and women rated the ideal man as equally expressive in sexual situations as the ideal woman. However, consistent with the traditional sexual script (Byers, 1996), men and women rated the ideal man as more instrumental than the ideal woman. Despite the fact that women ideally think women should be more instrumental in sexual situations than they themselves are, they think that men should be even more instrumental. ***Thus, men are likely to remain the more active, initiating partner within heterosexual sexual encounters, at least among young couples.***”

        The truth is that individuals have individual preferences (after all, most shy guys, like most people, will eventually end up in relationships), but only some of those preferences get air-time.

        There certainly is a confirmation bias. But that said, “ending up in relationships” is hardly a statement about their partner’s actual preferences. And while some preferences will get more airtime than others, that does, by no means indicate that the preferences who do get most airtime aren’t actually the most common ones.

        If you ask the question the right way you’ll find that the “cute shy guys”, “mysterious and silent stranger”, the “brooding and awkward Mr Darcy types” remain favourite conceptualisations of male attractiveness.

        There are a couple of male archetypes that work better than others, in my opinion. “Cute shy guys” in my opinion work well in Hollywood comedies, precisely because they both break the prevalent stereotypes and offer a chance to overcome their weaknesses and “grow” into being a “real” man. “Brooding” types work much better with a “strong” before the “brooding”, awkward, assuming you mean “socially awkward”, in my opinion is the thing that will almost instantly kill off female attraction. “Playfully dominant confident entertainer” (just made that up) seems to be another archetype that works quite well.

        fear that feminism means that women aren’t women anymore and men aren’t men and society will therefore collapse.

        There’s probably a little of that in the fear, too. But in general, I suppose it’s really that people are scared of losing behavioural certainty, a common symbolic language, which increases the complexity of their gendered performance to a significant degree, and human brains *hate* complexity. We strive to reduce it whereever we can. So, to there’s a natural tendency to stick to the known and comfortable, particularly in situations in which we’re at least predisposed to a significant degree by our limbic system, which will usually prevail over our cerebrum in matters of sexual attraction.

        This means (and this is of course my own personal experience talking) that not only are proactive women who would rather take the initiative in their own dating lives encouraged to hold back and let the man take the initiative, but shy men who under other circumstances might be relieved to see a women take charge, in practice have a tendency to get rather weird about it.

        Certainly true to a degree. But hopefully slowly changing…

    • im says:

      Two additional complications:

      1. Many men, such as myself, have fully absorbed some feminist guidelines, and are unwilling to break them; thus our power is constrained.

      2. I think that you may need to divide up both men and women into two groups based on shyness/assertiveness and relative (to most people) attractiveness. Most of the men who complain about women having the power are at least moderately shy and not particualarly attractive, and the women who have more power than them are not super-shy and at least a little bit attractive.

      • drunkandhorny says:

        Many men, such as myself, have fully absorbed some feminist guidelines, and are unwilling to break them; thus our power is constrained.

        What part of feminism stops you from approaching women? You run the risk of offending the approached party no matter who you approach for any reason, you either accept that risk and approach anyway or decide you are uncomfortable with that amount of risk and don’t.

        2. I think that you may need to divide up both men and women into two groups based on shyness/assertiveness and relative (to most people) attractiveness. Most of the men who complain about women having the power are at least moderately shy and not particualarly attractive, and the women who have more power than them are not super-shy and at least a little bit attractive.

        Attractiveness is 100% relative, it also has almost nothing to do with your date / fuck ability. Most people are willing to at least try a few dates or engage in casual sex with people who rank anywhere above a 3 on their personal 1 – 10 scale, it’s not about being the top, it’s about not being the bottom, most of the time all that takes is a bath, a hair cut, some deodorant and 30 bucks at a thrift store, no matter what sex and or gender you are.

        at some point, to be a functional feminist you also have to have some backbone if you intend on having a life. If you approach some woman for conversation at a bar and her reaction to “hi, you wanna finish that drink over some conversation with me or am I encroaching on your sit and drink time?” is rolling her eyes and shouting “jeez can’t a woman go ANYWHERE without being harassed by a MAN!”, she’s not being “feminist” she’s being rude. And you should respect her response by backing away as fast as fucking possible with the knowledge that you were as respectful as you knew how to be and rather than give you a polite no thank you she chose to be a rude asshole about it.

        feminist thinking == golden rule treatment, not pedestal treatment.

      • EG says:

        1) Decisions about how to use power do not take that power away from you. You still have it. Deciding not to use it is, again, a decision that is under your control. This is not the case for women, who don’t have that power to begin with.

        2) The bar for “attractiveness” is set so much lower for men than for women that it’s practically on the ground. Men are expected to spend so little time on personal maintenance and beauty that we have an entire thread about some old white man taking it as a personal affront that Daniel Craig works out.

        3) Institutional power is not about personal qualities. Assertive or not, the asker is the one who chooses his companion. If he decides not to exercise this power, because he is shy or something, the power does not go away. He’s just opting not to use it.

      • TomSims says:

        @EG

        “1) Decisions about how to use power do not take that power away from you. You still have it. Deciding not to use it is, again, a decision that is under your control. This is not the case for women, who don’t have that power to begin with.

        2) The bar for “attractiveness” is set so much lower for men than for women that it’s practically on the ground. Men are expected to spend so little time on personal maintenance and beauty that we have an entire thread about some old white man taking it as a personal affront that Daniel Craig works out.

        3) Institutional power is not about personal qualities. Assertive or not, the asker is the one who chooses his companion. If he decides not to exercise this power, because he is shy or something, the power does not go away. He’s just opting not to use it.”

        I agree 110%. An attractive woman has to put up with being harassed by creepy old white men and a few creepy young white men all of the time.

      • mxe354 says:

        “I agree 110%. An attractive woman has to put up with being harassed by creepy old white men and a few creepy young white men all of the time.

        That’s not what she’s saying and you know it.

      • Sam says:

        im,

        1. Many men, such as myself, have fully absorbed some feminist guidelines, and are unwilling to break them; thus our power is constrained.

        try this – as opposed to most feminist dating threads, it’s actually quite good and potentially practically useful for you since you seem to require feminist approval for approaching women.

        http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/feminism-friday-how-can-men-express-sexual-interest-in-a-feminist-way

      • drunkandhorny says:

        heh, I remember that thread, basically nobody answers the question posed at the start.

        The comments boil down to “a good feminist man will make himself available to a woman he is attracted to by engaging in casual conversation and waiting for her to sense his attraction towards her and subsequently make a decision weather or not to engage with him further”

        If your looking for the answer to the question “wtf do I say to let her know that I’m interested in being more than friends while respecting her as a person” It’s not in there.

        Also that theory that “women will just KNOW if your interested” I’m pretty convinced is total crap. I can’t even begin to tell you how many married women friends of mine have told me “OMG you were in to me?! I had no idea you liked me like that, I wish you would have said something!” These are also almost all women who identify as feminist and claim to loathe “men who take things to sexual to quickly”

        Getting it right every time is impossible, just draw a line where you think respectful and direct overlap and go with it. If you manage to get more than one polite no then your probably doing it right, if your getting a slap in the face response 60% of the time then it’s probably time to tone back the overt sexuality about 10 notches.

        Bottom line, until you are willing to risk failure, you won’t learn how to succeed.

      • Sam says:

        drunkandhorny,

        Getting it right every time is impossible…

        good point, which also indicates a problem with a lot of feminist discussions on dating with men – in my experience, feminists aren’t usually too concerned with honest mistakes made by well meaning guys – misunderstandings are possible, happen, and usually can be dealt with in good faith; but they worry that “honest mistakes” could be exploited as an excuse by predators. Which is certainly true. Hence, they are often more negative and avoiding in abstract (and often online) discussions about approaching and dating (than they would be in a personal discussion offline), which is, in return, difficult to parse by some men, who think they are talking about them and their self-assumed toxic sexuality, and tend to take the (usually online) feminist avoidance/violence rethoric literally and apply it to themselves, which can make them socio-sexually dysfunctional (and lead to nice guy(tm) discussions). I believe this should be something more explicitly addressed by feminists, at least occasionally, but (even though I believe it’s more important), I also understand that it’s not exactly at the top of social justice agenda for most feminists.

      • EG says:

        Look, both of you: feminism isn’t a dating service. Helping you figure out how to approach women is not only not on the top of the agenda; it’s not our problem. If you want to let a woman know you like her as more than a friend, try going out to coffee and saying “Lisa (or whatever her name is), I would like to spend time with you as more than a friend; I’d like to go out with you,” and seeing what she says. Or at the end of an evening of just the two of you going out for drinks, walk her home and ask if you can kiss her. Trust me, if it’s just the two of you of an evening having drinks, it’s crossed her mind that it might be a date. Problem solved. Can we talk about feminist issues now?

      • TomSims says:

        “Look, both of you: feminism isn’t a dating service. Helping you figure out how to approach women is not only not on the top of the agenda; it’s not our problem. ”

        I agree completely

      • Sam says:

        EG,

        yeah, if only everything in life were as simple as kissing Lisa good-night, right? ;) I honestly hope your love life was always as relaxed as that. For me, getting to that point was a bit more complicated, and part of my “journey” was reading tons of feminist papers. So, well, you may disagree, but I very much believe that dating/mating is also a feminst issue – as it is still probably the most important arena of gender interactions in our lives. This is where gender roles and expectations are constructed and reconstructed. This is, to a large degree, where feminine and masculine are mutually (re)defining the other. And the personal, well, it is (partly) political. So, yes, I believe dating is a feminist issue, even an important one, but I’ve come to realize that my opinion is not shared by a lot of feminists.

      • EG says:

        Sam, it is that simple. That’s what it comes down to: “I like you That Way. Do you like me That Way?” If she rebuffs your advances…well…so what? It happens, and you want the earth to open up and swallow you, and maybe you pine for a while, but then you wake up one morning and go about your life and after a couple hours you realize you haven’t thought about her once.

        All the techniques and questions in the world come down to asking that question and living with the answer. And this is coming from someone whose love life has basically been one traumatic misery after another.

      • Sam says:

        EG,

        All the techniques and questions in the world come down to asking that question and living with the answer. And this is coming from someone whose love life has basically been one traumatic misery after another.

        honestly sorry to hear that.

        You’re right about *the substance* of the question, of course. But really, humans, and that includes women, aren’t only concerned with that substance, which is why we’ve established a whole bunch of hoops and rituals to reduce mostly emotional, but also physical, risk that is inevitably involved in this. And most humans like to play a little, because a little playing is fun (to most) people. And so is implicity – think of The Big Bang Theory. It’s funny precisely because Sheldon Cooper doesn’t understand non-literal meaning while everyone else does. And that’s relevant, because language is not only about communicating, but also about preserving plausible deniabilty, or ambiguity.

      • drunkandhorney says:

        If she rebuffs your advances…well…so what?

        Depends, some times nothing, and you move on with life, other times she walks outside the book store and set’s your card on fire while screaming “I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS AND NOW I FIND OUT YOU WERE WAITING TO HIT ON ME THESE PAST 2 WEEKS!”. Other times she announces to the bar that “hay, this looser just mistook me for somebody in his league”. Or every once in a while ya get the “I can’t believe you looked over at me all night and never ONCE came over and said anything” then tells the bar tender her drinks are on you and leaves.

        ya know, depends, some times ya get lucky and just says no, or ya get REAL lucky and she says no but still want’s to hang out.

  65. jrockford says:

    As a broke hetero dude in the dating scene I wholeheartedly support it when anyone, dates included, wants to buy me a meal! Believe me, it doesn’t at all indicate to me that you’re not interested. How does that even work? “I’m not interested in you, so I’m going to demonstrate this to you by buying you dinner.”

    That said, if I’m the initiator of a first date, I always plan as though I’m going to be paying for the whole thing, then allow myself to be pleasantly surprised when she offers to pay. My first dates usually consist of dinner, followed by drinks at a second location. What I find is that if I buy dinner, [the date] usually insists on paying for the second location drinks, and it works out pretty awesome.

    I think Jill’s point about the “hidden” cost women bear in dating (as far as makeup, clothes etc.) is interesting, and not something I’d thought all that much about in evaluating my dates’ attitudes toward who pays. Something to keep in mind in the future.

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  67. Junaid says:

    I think the best strategy is having neither pay.

  68. K says:

    Wow. When I watched the video, Jill’s comments didn’t sound that different from the first guy’s and what the last guy said sounded more offputting. Loved the waiter’s comments though! And I loved Jill’s comments about the “hidden” costs of dating ($100 dress that falls apart after 3 wears for example) in the article.

    And some of the HuffPo comments Jill posted had so many logic fails my brain hurts! How does going dutch equal “trust issues”? And the rigid masculine ideal? Bleh. Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s right. And the thing about

    she will “let you know” with their feminine wiles

    epically scares me! What does that even mean? I can totally imagine a guy saying a woman “let him know” just because he misinterpreted a woman’s polite smile (probably because it’s happened to me 80 bazillion times- but when I stop smiling I get told to smile). Plus I hate this idea that marriage is the ultimate prize (the guy trying to disparage past girlfriends by saying he’s married and they are not). Maybe for some people (which is totally okay if that is their choice!) but it really isn’t objectively or universally.

    Ok, I am trying too hard to understand this. I should really stop trying to find logic in the inherently illogical. And I should never read comments on HuffPo.

  69. Miki says:

    Just a quick suggestion unrelated to the content–when you begin quoting people’s comments it seems like the article has ended and people might exit the article without reading the end, which in my opinion was the most interesting part. So I would suggest reformatting it slightly to make it more obvious that that is the middle of the article.
    Great piece!

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  71. ashley says:

    Yikes! Those comments readers left are scary! It’s unfortunate that women themselves play out sexist stereotypes, and demean and defeat other women.

    Anyways, I always offer to pay on a first date (and even with my current boyfriend now). For a long time my boyfriend was unemployed and I was picking up most of the tabs when we went out because I wanted to treat him. Now he has a well paying job (and I however am still searching) and he offers to pay all of the time (but I still offer to split it with him). I don’t think of him as any less “manly” for letting me pay the bill, or splitting it with me. We take care of each other mutually, and when one is more in need the other offers more assistance. Also- I am a feminist, I work at a domestic violence shelter, and I am passionate about women’s issues- and my boyfriend doesn’t seem at all to be running for the hills because of that. :)

  72. ERose says:

    I always pull out my own debit card and let the man tell me he’s got this one if he wants to pay. Frankly, I think it’s a much nicer gesture when the man knows he had the option not to pay and chose to do it anyway. Generally, I consider a lot of the more traditional heterosexual dating norms just a way for a man to take on the role of being a good guy whether or not he is.
    If you’re actually a nice guy, it should come out in your overall behavior, not through forcing specific rituals. Making a big production out of being polite to me makes me horribly self-conscious. It actually almost feels manipulative because you’re deliberately making a statement that you’re a “gentleman” and I’m clearly expected to consider that in my assessment of you and give you credit for it.

  73. sheriji says:

    I’ll quote Ani DiFranco:

    “Coolest F- word ever deserves a fuckin’ shout. Why is it all decent men and women don’t call themselves feminists? Out of respect?”

    Men who need to “pay” for a date to feel masculine want a whore — however you paint it up and whatever you call it. Sometimes my husband pays (my birthday), sometimes I pay (his birthday), most of the times we pay. Sometimes men hold the door for me. I say thank you. Sometimes women hold the door for me. I say thank you. Sometimes I hold the door, for men or women; I assume they all think I’m being polite, not that I’m trying to pick any of them up or am challenging their masculinity or their ability to open their own goddamn door.

    Aren’t there more important things to talk/think/worry about, like why women still make 70% what men make? Why we are celebrating the inroads women have made in congress while we are still nowhere near proportional representation? Why some Neanderthals out there think “feminist” is a dirty word?

    Sheesh.

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  75. BarryMayor says:

    If she’s a feminist, she will want to go dutch. If she’s not willing to happily pay for herself at least, she’s not a feminist. No matter what she claims.

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