November 15, 2018 | ° F

Modern chivalry: in the fight for gender equality, who picks up the tab?


Pat Benatar once illuminated the minds of young people in the 80s, and she sewed them together in solidarity — love is a battlefield. And in countless ways, a battlefield it remains. Today, a “new” kind of conflict is surfacing: “new-school values” are waging war against time-honored “old-school values.” These days, men are sending women itemized invoices for past first dates à la Amanda Burnett, a young woman from Indiana. Your stomachs are full of penne vodka and gelato, the check is fresh on the table. Everyone’s wondering, who should paw for the bill and pay?

It is important to mention right away that in this battlefield — that is, the complex world of dating — not all women date men, not all men date women and people can be gender fluid. Therefore the question itself, whether or not a man should pay for his female date’s meal at dinner in addition to his own, is heteronormative. 

But plenty of factors play into making this little conundrum as troubling as possible: the gender roles that have confined men and women for ages, expectations men may have if they pay, the allure of impressing your partner (or potential partner) and who can afford the $60 dip in their checking account more.

In accordance to what is part of a long-established custom, Shelby Kennedy, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is a young woman who does not mind when her date snatches the bill after dinner. Kennedy identifies as a feminist, and for this reason she said she doesn’t expect it. 

“But I definitely accept it because I’m skint broke,” she said. “And on a first date especially, it’s nice to see if they offer. I went on a date with a guy and he didn’t even offer.”

After navigating a successful first date thus far, when you and your date both don’t know who should reach for their wallet, a first dinner can submerge from a sweet night into a sea of sourness. If only the answer was clear to everyone.

For some women, like Claudia Kosicky, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, old-fashioned is just a cocktail when it comes to paying for a date. It is the 21st century and she always likes to split the check.

“I think it’s important for both of you to pay, and to not depend on your man,” Kosicky said. “If we don’t split, I’ll pay for one dinner and my boyfriend will do the other, and we’ll just take turns.”

Gender roles have long dominated the dating game, and there are heterosexual couples dipping into a modern sense of what is seen as chivalry, while some people keep up with them for comfort. For everyone, of course, navigating this is different. So even in modern times, the dating game remains the same: a battlefield.


Abigail Lyon

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