Who pays…? Remember It’s 2014 after all…

Dinner date - Day 122, Year 2

Rob pointed me at a piece by David Mitchell in the Guardian about who pays on the first date. He called it my favorite subject, although to be clear its not, I just find it fascinating the social, society and gender pressures at force. I’m not the only one to notice this…

Why do we cling to prehistoric dating rituals in a technological age?

The majority of us still believe that men should pay when men and women go on a first date. Is this a sexist throwback, or a necessary means of communication between the sexes?

. A survey published this month found that 77% of us think that, between a male and a female, the male should foot the bill. Of the 1,000 respondents, 73% of the women and 82% of the men said that it was for the bloke to get his card out.

What do you think about that then? Terrible? OK? Presumably about 77% of you agree that the man should pay, but then you may still think it’s terrible that you think that. Is it a harmless remnant of a more sexist age, an adorable antiquated tradition that benefits women and has survived the passing of many of those that disadvantaged them? Or is it a horrible sign of the patriarchy’s continued power? Money, the great capitalist symbol of strength, remains the territory of the penis-bearers (by which I mean possessors, not endurers).

Ok so I looked at the survey in question, what I found was slightly disappointing.

77.4% of 1,004 people surveyed across the country who are in a relationship – believe men should pay the bill on a first date. About 19% felt the bill should be split in some way. Only 3.7% said men should not pay the bill.

…study asked more than 1,000 people across the United States

Survey of 1004 people? Thats it? And its American…. In the random survey I did myself, it showed Americans tend to go with the man paying plus 1004 isn’t a lot. Moneysavingexpert did a poll a little while back and they had 13,000+ people vote.

Ok ok…! Enough… David later makes some good modern points.

Another aspect of society’s sexism is that we generally assume the man will always want to have sex with the woman. By convention, he will have asked her on the first date, and the purpose of the event is for her to see if she likes him – his approval is assumed. That’s not altogether PC. What if she turned out to be racist or talk with an interrogative inflection or constantly say “in any way, shape or form”? Is the man supposed to pay and then make himself sexually available to this harridan, purely out of gallantry?

Absolutely… Just because we’re on a date and I’m a man doesn’t instantly mean its a foregone conclusion. Trust me I’ve been on dates where the woman has wound me up so bad, I’ve just wanted to get up and leave. Certainly sleeping with them is the very last thing I’m thinking.

…we try and communicate using money. We fall back on our knowledge of ancient patriarchal conventions of what it means to pay, or be paid for, as a way of trying to send and receive signals through the fog of mutual ignorance. It’s not a good system, but it’s all we’ve got. Until we get back to our computers and can just click “like”.

I’ve heard this quite a few times in the past. The only way to tell if somebody likes you is if he (or she) pulls out his/her credit card and pays the bill. Its a clear sign of interest. In 2014, it shouldn’t be this way and I’m hoping with projects like the flirty weekend, the ability to express yourself and understand other peoples body language won’t be the complex puzzle it currently seems.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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