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!

Do the Creep

You know the guy.  He didn’t come to the party with anyone.  He might be wearing a fedora, 3 wolf moon t-shirt, and a neckbeard.  He will come up and approach you to talk about things he finds interesting.  You may not be in to Magic: the Gathering or Neal Stephenson as much as he is, but he’s going to discuss it with you.  He’s probably not malicious, but he certainly isn’t stimulating.  And what he lacks in social ability, he makes up for in persistence.

Virtually every gal and a fair selection of gentleman have been approached by the creeper.

Urban Dictionary defines the creeper as:

A weird man one may know or not know and he gives off a strong rapist/molester vibe. His presence just makes a person extremely uncomfortable.

While most guys will have bouts of being the creeper for whatever reason (E.G. Off game, post-breakup, going stag, laundry day, etc…).  There are some who creep for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  But how do we, as guys, know whether we are afflicted with creepery or if we are dyed-in-the-wool-creepers?

If you ever find yourself wondering about your creepiness, know this:

You are one.

The most common sentiment in the people I’ve surveyed is that all guys are creepers.  What is perceived as being creepy is really just the raw, unprocessed form of a human male.  The only disparity between creepers and non-creepers is the amount of creep displayed:

“probably about 60% of guys i meet are creepers to some degree” -Female, 27

“The same guy in the same situation acting in identical ways can be a creeper to one woman, but not to another” -Male, 26

“Depending on the receiving end’s perspective, anyone’s actions could be taken as creeping.” -Female, 24

“All men are creepers, it’s just what extent do they show it” -Female, 25

Creeping, much like flatulence, is something all men can suffer from.  But much like flatulence, you need to keep your creeping to a minimum around ladies you want to feel comfortable.

That means winding certain things back.  Firstly, your style.

“Creepers don’t dress well.  If they did, they wouldn’t be creeping.” -Female, 23

We can’t all look like Hugh Jackman.  But most guys can pull a Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Some simple clothes that show you’ve put effort into looking good is all it usually takes.  It’s the first car on the “I understand girls” train.  Most girls will be a little creeped if you try and impress her with your trenchcoat, or video game memorabilia.

You might have an expansive collection of knowledge about video games.  You might know the Konami Code by heart.  But unless a gal seems interested in what you’re saying, you are conversationally creeping.

Whenever you try and spark up a conversation, you risk conversationally creeping.  Fishing and cutting bait is the golden, beholden decision to make when courting a partner.  If they’re not interested in what you’re saying, try what always works.  Things that don’t make you sound too wild, but make you sound wild enough.  Talk about popular movies you liked, talk about popular kids movies you took your nephews to.

If they are giving you obvious signs of disinterest, cut bait before you start talking at someone instead of with someone.

Which ties in to the last rule of creep mitigation: creeping past the point of no return.

You might have done everything right, but you complimented her too much. She may have caught you staring at her bust, even though she bought a low cut top that shows off her personality.  Or you may have just said the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time, and now you’re a creeper.  Unfortunately, it’s outside of common decency to just lay it on the line, like 

“You are really creeping me out and I want to end this conversation.”

Some women have been blessed with the ability to do this, and men thank you for your courage and dedication.  There are many who are too courteous/polte/shy/scared to deliver this message, though.  Unfortunately, we do live in a world where ladies are cultured to not say no.  This means that guys have to pay special attention to a woman who is disinterested.

Ladies, please understand, this is tough.  It’s hard to tell when you’re playing hard to get, when you’re shy and intimidated, when you’re disinterested, or when you’re plain-old not in the mood.

Guys, you need to recognize the very subtle differences between these.  Ask yourself:

  • Does she seem enthusiastic about what you’re trying to do?
  • Does she seem happy in response to whatever your behavior was?

This all reminds me of what my mom told me on the day I graduated high school.  She said:

“If a girl isn’t sure if I guy wants her to, he wants her to.  If a guy isn’t she if a girl wants him to, she doesn’t.”

Girls, there are a few ways to subvert a creeper:

  1. Be straight up with him.
    Tell him he is creeping you out and he needs to leave you alone.  It may not always need this, but it’s better to say it and not need to than need to and not said it.
  2. Evacuate.
    You need to go.  Call your boyfriend, have a smoke, change your tampon.  Go somewhere he isn’t going to follow you if you have that luxury.  If you’re at work or somewhere, tell him you need to check in with your boss about something.
  3. Interception.
    Have friends come help you.  He might be a lot more enjoyable if you’ve got the safety blanket of friends.  If you’ve already got a boyfriend, he could certainly be a very persuasive agent.
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