Splitting Headaches

I don’t know how to act when the waiter brings us a check and I’m out on a date with a feminist.

Is it misogynist for me to pay the bill because I’m adhering to archaic ideas of controlling women economically?

Is it misogynist for me to expect her to pay in because that’s not acknowledging the financial privilege I have over her?

I mean, the line is really blurry!

The modern feminist man treads on eggshells for a lot of obvious reasons, we can usually cherry-pick what archaic practice we should keep and which we need to move past.  I’ll hold the door open for a lady, but I don’t think that somehow justifies the wage gap between men and women.  Drawing that line is sometimes difficult, though.

How do we resolve the conflicts that exist between being the egalitarian bachelors of the new age and being the chivalrous gentlemen of old?  How do we advance from being the men we’ve been told since childhood that women want into becoming the modern men that women deserve?  Can we be both?

The clearest example of this is dealing with the bill at the end of a date.  As the existing narrative plays out, the man pounces on the check as soon as it arrives, settling the debt with no mention of recompense.  This standard has certainly met with a widespread level of acceptance; I’ve even had die-hard, Chesler-reading feminists suddenly pull out their phone and pretend they don’t see the bill when it gets brought to the table.  At the same time, some respond negatively and view this as a throwback to a time when men would financially support women in exchange for treating them as second class citizens.  I have zero ability to tell which response my reaching for the bill with elicit, though!

I’ve heard a few coping techniques for this transitional period we’re in on our way towards equality, but I have issues with many of these.

The first sentiment is that whoever requested the date pays for the date.  On paper, this seems like a valid new policy for an age of equality.  This is, of course, wholly inaccurate.  Realistically, because the modern dating world is populated with women who have been groomed to not take the initiative, lest they be accused of wanting male advances, the majority of dates are requested by men and will therefore also be purchased by men.

There is also the practice of Going Dutch, which generally means “pay separately”.  I prefer not to do this for a number of reasons.  You don’t want to go around painting the Dutch as cheap and selfish, regardless of how you may feel about them.  The other issue is that splitting a bill any way but down the middle can be a chore for the waitstaff, which turns this into an issue about gender and labor.  I don’t want to subject the service staff to the messy pen-marks we’ve scribbled on the receipt to indicate who ordered the Old Fashioned and who ordered the Fuzzy Navel.  Also, I would prefer to not have to acknowledge that I ordered the Fuzzy Navel.

As a man of both feminism and frugality, I’ve found some alternatives to these resolutions:

  1. You Travel.  I Treat.
    This is my favorite.  If my date is saving me a trip somewhere, that’s time in my pocket and I’ll be glad to cover them for that courtesy.  Couple that with the fact that I get to pick a place that I know is within my price range, and close to my place if things go well, and this is plan is (sometimes literally) right up my alley.
  2. Gratuitous Cash
    If one of you insists on picking up the bill, let the other party pay just the tip.  Servers certainly appreciate cash tips.  Just make sure that if you’re paying with a card you write the word “cash” in the tip box on the receipt!  If you don’t, they might think you stiffed them…
  3. Halvesies
    Straight and to the point.  Let’s each put a card down and tell the waiter to split the bill in twain.  We don’t even need to tell the waiter, we could just karate chop the air in front of us and they’ll know what to do.  When I’m on a date with another man, we’re going halvesies.  And many feminists would be glad to hear they are being treated with the same respect and responsibility that I give to a man I’m dating.

No matter which of these you do – or don’t do, I find that discussing the matter before you even decide where to meet goes a long way to prevent getting jammed up when the bill arrives.  And that’s one less hurdle we’ll need jump over on a first date.

Navigating the world of feminism as a man can be tough, though!  Did I miss anything in my efforts to find a solution to the bill at the end of a date?  Anybody else do how I do?  Is my opinion on the matter irrelevant because I am passably cishet male?

Leave your tips in the comments, please!

One response to “Splitting Headaches

  1. Errr… treat her like a person? Use your words. “I never know quite how to handle this situation egalitarianally. I usually prefer to cover the check, since you drove, but I’m happy to do whatever. What would you prefer?”

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