Feminism Is Not About Who Pays The Bill


So, I know that I’m really young and spent most of the feminist movement as a mere wish in my mother’s brain (well, hopefully). But I’m really confused about why an entire generation of men seems to have heard the message of feminism not as “Women want the same rights and opportunities as men” or “Women want to be seen as people, not objects” but rather as “DO NOT DARE PAY FOR A WOMAN’S MEAL AT A RESTAURANT IF YOU PAY FOR A WOMAN’S MEAL AT A RESTAURANT YOU ARE A NASTY SEXIST PIG.”

I feel like every other time a guy asks me out, it includes either something like “I’d love to take you out if your Feminist Sensibilities let me buy you dinner hur hur” or “I’d love to take you out and I can even let you pay for your own dinner like a True Feminist hur hur.” And no MRA site is complete without some discussion of some hypocritical feminist who is ALL ABOUT WOMEN’S EQUALITY but still likes it when guys buy her drinks or dinner or whatever.

Some women, too, beat this dead horse enthusiastically. “Guess what,” writes a libertarian on Tumblr. “I love it when boys buy me food. And no, I don’t hate myself because of that.” The post is titled “Hey Feminists” and tagged “deal with it bitches.”

Do feminists who allow men to buy them things hate themselves for that? I was not aware.

Now, I know every discussion of this issue gets derailed by men (or women) sharing personal stories of That One Meanie-Face Feminist Who Got All Bitchy When I Offered To Pick Up The Check, so I want to preface it with this: rude people come in all genders and ideologies. A rude feminist may yell at you for offering to pick up the check. A rude anti-feminist may yell at you for refusing to pick up the check. And I know the latter happens, too.

There are good reasons to talk about who picks up the check in a feminist context, of course, as there are with all gender roles. Feminists care who picks up the check for two main reasons: 1) because they realize that it’s unfair that men be expected to pay for everything; and 2) because of the implications that it has for women, who are often expected by men to pay back the cost of their meal in…other ways.

And, ultimately, nobody has ever been able to give me a good reason why men should be the ones who pay. It’s always like “Yeah but that’s how it’s always been!” “Yeah well they’re MEN, that’s why!” “Because it’s romantic that way!” I suppose one could argue that because men still make more money than women on average, it’s only fair, but that’s on average, and in that case it’d be up to the couple to discuss their individual financial situations and whether or not one person should pay for the other. And whenever a guy gets all indignant because it’s just so important to him that he pay the bill or else he won’t be a Real Man, that’s a red flag to me. So it’s definitely a useful thing to know about someone.

But I also feel like the reason who pays the bill gets talked about so much (both by feminists and by anti-feminists trying to be all like CHECKMATE FEMINISTS) is because it’s such a simple but visible gesture. As manifestations of casual sexism go, it’s easy to address and impossible to rationalize (see the previous paragraph). It’s so much easier to say, “I’d like to pay for my own meal, please,” than to say, “You know, it kind of bothers me when you interrupt me whenever I talk or just kind of shut down and look away. You never do that when talking to other guys.” Any guy who does this sort of thing will just be like, “What are you talking about? Of course I listen to you.  You’re overreacting.” (And he’ll probably earnestly believe what he’s saying, too.) So I’m guessing feminist women are much more likely to be upfront and assertive about paying their half of the bill than about vague and subjective things like being listened to, not being objectified, and so on.

Likewise, it’s much easier for anti-feminists to understand and critique make fun of the bill-paying thing than anything else that comes up with feminist dating. Men can be like “YEAH WELL I WANNA PAY FOR YOUR MEAL BECAUSE I AM A REAL MAN” and women can be like “YEAH WELL I HAPPEN TO LIKE IT WHEN MEN PAY FOR MY MEAL SO WHAT NOW.”

And so, feminism becomes all about who pays the damn bill, and not about treating each other with dignity and respect, making decisions cooperatively as a couple, resisting the temptation to play those stupid dating mind-games, refusing to assume that your partner wants What Men Want or What Women Want, questioning your impulses to commercialize your love through stuff like Valentine’s Day and diamond rings and big fancy white weddings, flouting heteronormativity and (perhaps) monogamy, and generally challenging each other’s preexisting notions of what love and dating should be.

All of that stuff–not who pays the bill–is what matters to me, as a feminist, when it comes to dating. So when someone asks me out and acts all self-satisfied because they’re going to graciously allow me to buy my own meal, I know that this person is missing the point.

Analyzing gender roles like who pays the bill after a meal is a part of feminism, but it’s only a part. The disproportionately large focus that many people have on this one small action misrepresents what feminists are looking for from partners in their personal lives, and it also misrepresents what they’re fighting for in society at large.

 

Comments

  1. atheist says

    Long story short, this sort of overblown confusion is due to all the negative marketing that sexists do constantly against feminism. If you can keep people emotional, they don’t consider their self interest. If you can keep them feeling resentful, they don’t interrogate their own beliefs. Misrepresentation is the point.

    • Seeing/analyzing says

      Misrepresentation is indeed the point. It became obvious to me when I first started working, in a job that required dressing up in a suit and heels. Often the heels meant I’d be a step or three behind my male co-workers who got to wear comfortable shoes and walk like humans were meant to walk. That’s when I noticed men actually slamming doors in my face and smirking, “I once held a door for A FEMINIST, but she SCREAMED AT ME”. In my whole life, I’ve never once seen a woman have a meltdown and scream about someone holding a door for her, but there’s a subset of humanity who like to pretend this happens several times a day.

      • Amyc says

        “Often the heels meant I’d be a step or three behind my male co-workers who got to wear comfortable shoes and walk like humans were meant to walk.”

        This reminds me of the “Left Behind” series. Let me explain: A couple years ago Slacktivist wrote a page-by-page critique of the series (I think he got to the third book). At one point the “hero” has to deal with…wait for it…a woman boss who wears “sensible shoes.” Your comment about the dress code including heels just reminded of that. The woman in the book was portrayed as mean and stupid (because she’s a woman, and she wears sensible shoes), but to the reader she came off as more of the victim who had to deal with an annoying, disrespectful employee. Slacktivist did a great job dismantling the sexism that was so apparent in those scenes. If I can find the post about it, I’ll link to it.

  2. says

    Feminism is about who pays the bill, the same way atheism is about removing “In God we trust” from money.

    Or, to elaborate: it is too often that I find myself arguing that someone’s straw version of atheism (something about the hypocrisy of not working on religious holidays while nonreligious, using a calendar that’s based on Jesus’ birth, and other such trivialities) isn’t really what atheism is about, and then getting frustrated when they insist on derailing the whole thing.

    I’m guessing this is the case too with feminism. Sometimes, when someone brings out the topic of gender equality, people get in the mood of arguing that women should do heavy manual labor, pay the bill (nevermind splitting), etc., if “gender equality” is to have any meaning. I often let myself pursue such red herrings, but I will try to avoid this now, given that it’s about as productive for the feminism issue as discussing holidays is for the atheism issue.

    • says

      Wait, people tell you that it’s hypocritical for an atheist not to work on religious holidays? What are we supposed to do, break into our locked office buildings? Ahahaha how trivial.

      Anyway, I feel like even if we had true separation of church and state (I’m of course talking about the U.S., which I know you’re not from since I looked at your blog :P), we would still have to have days off for religious holidays because otherwise, people would simply take sick/vacation days and not show up to work en masse, anyway, so nothing would get done. That’s one of many reasons I don’t particularly care about that issue.

      • says

        Yep, that’s what the Constitutional Court told the guy over here who wanted to have religious holidays removed (including Sundays). To summarize: it’s a good idea to have holidays; it’s a good idea to have everyone share the same holidays; and it’s a good idea to keep the same dates from back when the country was officially Catholic. And that doesn’t make atheists hypocrites.

        So, more to the point: how should one handle those “if feminism is true then women should pay the bill too” arguments? Particularly when they become so byzantine that they stop being about feminism at all.

        • says

          Well, for me the argument typically goes the same way every time: someone goes “Oh so you’re a feminist, huh? I bet you still want men to buy you dinner, don’t you?” and I politely explain that I’ve been splitting almost every restaurant bill ever since I started dating as a teenager. However, for about 5% of the time, my partner and I trade off paying for each other as a courtesy.

          And, ultimately, it’s really very simple. If one of the things that you want in a partner is that they pay for their own share of things and you go on a date with someone who doesn’t do that, then this isn’t someone you should pursue, feminist or not. There’s no reason to go around screeching about those mythical feminists who don’t pay for their own food. Don’t want to date them? Don’t.

    • says

      ‘I’m guessing’

      Well that settles it then.

      You know what? I’m a 30+ white dude (amongst many other things) and I was brought up by my parents to have manners and respect people, regardless of their gender, sexuality, colour of skin or fucking whatever. Its that simple: I open doors for women all the time, I also open doors for men. Common. Fucking. Courtesy.

      ‘The golden rule’ people; like Ted said: ‘be excellent to each other’ This upsets me so much, we are all human beings so we have a shit load of things incommon. Manners, courtesy, is it that hard? Does someones’ genetals, gender or sexual preference really mean that they are not party to the rights, responsibility and recognition that we (speaking for the ‘totally awsome’ white dudes) are certain that we deserve?

      Sometimes I pay for things, sometimes my fiance does. Agree 100% with the post, I think these arseholes need to realise that every social interaction is not a Machievelian power play by one gender or another and being just a decent, respectful human being is not an admission of ‘defeat’.

      Arrgh I can’t express myself elegantly enough.

      Sorry for the semi-rant. Have been drinking.

    • atheist says

      @Tabby Lavalamp – January 27, 2013 at 11:02 am (UTC -6)

      I would have thought a libertarian wouldn’t want to “leech” off of someone else’s hard-earned money.

      Weirdly, it is a more common situation than you might imagine. Multiple libertarians I have met are either on some form of government assistance, or, live off of family. I suspect that at least half of their anger against the supposed “moochers” of society, is really projection!

  3. rdmcpeek43 says

    “If you don’t let me pay for this dinner, then I won’t feel like
    a real man. But then, now that I think about it, I don’t feel
    like a real man most of the time, so go ahead, you can pay.”

  4. says

    This one is so weird to me, since the last time I heard this antifeminist trope in real life was…thirty years ago. I honestly thought it was old nonsense, a holdover from the ignorant 70s, the occupation of the more cantankerous variety of rural boiler mechanics. To see it still around is like seeing a cave man wandering the streets of Chicago wondering why there are no deer to hunt and why the trees have red lights on them instead of leaves.

    In the social world I somehow ended up moving in (and this even long before I became an urban academic type), on the first date the one who asked the other out, pays. Unless they are unemployed, then you figure it out together. After that, you negotiate what to usually do, based on relative income and preferences of pride. Gender never even comes up. Indeed any conversation had about it could be gender reversed and you wouldn’t even notice.

    It seems strange to me that anyone would want it any other way. Even stranger that anti-feminists don’t even notice this is the way they should be arguing it should be. I suspect they don’t because as soon as they did, they’d get told that the actual feminists had already been arguing for it for decades. And that just wouldn’t fit their narrative. So they have to avoid hitting that note, since it would expose their real motives (hatred of men and women actually being equals), which would trigger a painful bout of cognitive dissonance.

    So they invent a fantasy world to live in instead, and rant about that. A world I thought had died out in the 1980s.

  5. asonge says

    Personally, my problems surrounding the topic of sexism come about when the inevitable “but I’m not a feminist” card comes out. It even comes out of some of the most intelligent women I’ve known who read and appreciate feminist literature. Then I’m stuck in the problematic position of saying “well, I’m a feminist”. If we have to go there on the tired old dinner checks, then I’ll have to just say that when 10% of the women I’ve dated earn more than me (straight cis-gender male), I’m just going to pay for dinner because I usually enjoy the company and the conversation. I think the problem might just be related of gifts in general…you can use gifts to manipulate societal expectations and try to compel “reciprocal” behavior…but that’s not the only reason people give gifts. When I pay for someone’s meal, or someone pays for my meal (whether friend or romantic interest), I usually assume that this person just values the relationship.

  6. says

    @ Richard Carrier

    ‘then you figure it out together. After that, you negotiate what to usually do, based on relative income and preferences of pride. Gender never even comes up.’

    Sums the whole thing up entirely. People should have the sense to manage this. To try and backflip this idea into an anti-feminist screed is, imho bullshit.

    You just put it much more eloquently than I could. And I than you for that.

  7. leftwingfox says

    We should be replacing “chivalry” with politeness. We do things because they are nice, not because the people we help are inferior beings that should be treated with respect, or because there is the implied chance of sexual favours in return.

    Of course, when the chivalry is stripped away, some people might realize that they otherwise aren’t terribly kind or polite without those reasons. I think that’s what causes these “Without chivalry, women will be treated like dirt” screeds from anti-feminists; they treat other people like dirt.

  8. says

    . I think that’s what causes these “Without chivalry, women will be treated like dirt” screeds from anti-feminists; they treat other people like dirt.

    Women, anyway. For an anti-feminist women are either on a pedestal or in the gutter, and chivalry forces you to put all women on pedestals. That is, unless they fail to be ladylike, in which case chivalry no longer applies and into the gutter they go.

    • swaggering masculinist meanie says

      Strawman. All the anti-feminists I know treat women as well as they deserve. In the case of feminists and other rude, entitled, arrogant mediocrities, that’s not always very well. I’ve known a few feminists who just say that stuff as a “shit test”, and chill out and act normal if you laugh at them (real feminist line: “my physics is more inclusive than yours!”). No problem there. But then you get the ones who dump a lot of emotional female crap on you and demand to be treated as some kind of infallible oracle because they memorized a lot of silly jargon like “intersectionality”.

      Look, if you need grants and special privileges and affirmative action, and you can’t carry on a rational discussion without losing your shit and getting emotional, you’re not an adult. You’re dependent on men, all your life. If feminists didn’t have a special safe academic playpen where everybody’s nurturing and supportive, they’d be under the bed sobbing all day. That’s why so few women even try to make it in STEM fields: you can’t make a reaction exothermic by bursting into tears and saying it’s not fair. If you can’t handle criticism and open debate, you can’t handle reality. You aren’t an adult. “Safe spaces” are for children.

      Feminism is what childless women have instead of contributing to society. Pathetic.

      All men know this. No exceptions. Feminist men want to help you compensate for your shortcomings so you can pretend to be as good as them, but the motivation is pity — that, and the dim hope you’ll toss ‘em a mercy fuck. Nice guys, every one. They want to HELP you poor little dears. Male respect, for an equal, means letting you sink or swim. Nobody ever told you that? Every man on earth feels contempt for you. Always will. We may love women and die for them, but it’s just not realistic to expect more than a tiny minority to be responsible adults. Nobody, including women, seriously disagrees with that. You want to play dress-up, but you don’t really mean it.

      At least I’m honest, I don’t pity you or “want what’s best for you”, and I value the virtues you do have. Feminist men just want you to be weak boys with tits.

      Btw my girlfriend does all the IT in our house, and does it well. She’s an outlier. Outliers exist, like that chick at Yahoo. But they are rare. Spare me the snowflake shit.

      Cheers, snowflakes. Have fun playing with Barbie’s Dream Faculty Lounge.

        • says

          Yes, that.

          Also, if that post isn’t a shining example of someone “losing their shit and getting emotional,” it’s hard to think of what is…unless of course it’s a troll, which given the name is certainly possible.

      • smrnda says

        Had to respond, as a feminist woman and a lesbian in a STEM field. Amazing you seemed so eager to generalize from personal experience; if I did the same I’d be saying that every Chinese person must be getting their PhD from some American university. The ‘outliers are rare’ – check out the average man, who is sure no genius and the ‘average man’ doesn’t even have a college degree. What trivial percentage of men are in STEM fields given the whole population?

        On ‘safe spaces’ a question you might want to ask is, safe for who and safe from who? Obviously you aren’t going to get women into STEM fields if Mr Manly Man thinks that, as a rite of passage, all new female hires or students need to learn to ‘suck it up’ in terms of sexual innuendo, and if Mr Manly Man feels this is important, exactly who is the person with childish irrational preferences? And do men really make it on their own, or is it just that in the world of ‘sink or swim’ that *certain* men throw *certain* other men life preservers? I mean, people are selectively harsh or supportive all the time.

        And aren’t you a bit emotional and overblown Dear Sir.

      • atheist says

        Feminism is what childless women have instead of contributing to society.

        What does this mean? You are apparently suggesting that bearing children is the only way women may contribute to society. You also are suggesting that feminism does not contribute.

        Yet, our civilization already has far more people than the environment can support. There is no shortage of people when I look out the window. When I try to drive on the expressway, I begin to actively wish for fewer people.

        And when I am involved in conversation, I am struck by the banality of many people’s thoughts. The men believe they are superior by dint of their sex, yet are frightened that they may be thought homosexual and therefore womanly. The women are afraid to express their thoughts, and yet constantly tear other women down. What is needed here is more freedom to express ones gender, and a complete deconstruction of patriarchy.

        In short, your view that creating more people is a categorical good, and feminism an evil, is an utterly blinkered and delusional view of civilization. Traditional social constructs, if we continue to follow them with the slavish attitude you demand, will create catastrophe. The only hope for a livable world, on a personal, emotional, and global level, demands that your childish viewpoint be jettisoned.

  9. says

    It’s been over a decade since dating was a thing for me, but paying for stuff is relevant to feminism, just not in the comically simplistic way these individuals are describing it. I don’t want chivalry, I want to be around someone who is kind to all people, regardless of gender or race or sexual identity or gender identity. One of the reasons I fell for my husband is because he didn’t just hold doors open for me, he’d hold them open for anyone who was nearby and one of the reasons he fell for me, is that I would hold doors open for him and for other people as well. Why? Because we both value being decent humans.

    I have always gone on dates with enough money to cover the entire meal, should it be necessary and I’ve declined to go on dates if I didn’t think I had the funds to do so. When the check comes, I’ve always offered, happily and sincerely to cover the check or at least my half of the meal. I’m also happy to be treated but I will make it a point, if we go out again, to pick up the tab the next time. Often, with longer term relationships, the person with more income will generally cover more meals. I’ve been that person sometimes, he’s been that person other times, but what it comes down to is that the decision shouldn’t revolve around gender. To me, that’s what the core of feminism is. I don’t want you to hold a door open for me or treat me to dinner because I’m a woman. I want us to do nice things for each other and for other people, because we’d rather be good people than selfish people.

  10. says

    If feminists didn’t have a special safe academic playpen where everybody’s nurturing and supportive, they’d be under the bed sobbing all day. That’s why so few women even try to make it in STEM fields: you can’t make a reaction exothermic by bursting into tears and saying it’s not fair.

    Contrast with:

    Every man on earth feels contempt for you. Always will. We may love women and die for them, but it’s just not realistic to expect more than a tiny minority to be responsible adults. Nobody, including women, seriously disagrees with that. You want to play dress-up, but you don’t really mean it.

    Now, it’s obvious that the only women you ever talk to are the ones in your head, or the ones on the internet you like to harass, but did you ever think the idiotic attitude contained in that second block might have something to do with why few women go into STEM fields? Not many want to wade into such toxic waters (and I say that as one going into the “E” in STEM).

    Also, the “you don’t disagree with us, you just want to play dress up” assertion reminds me of a common Christian attack on atheists; “You KNOW God exists Atheist! You just deny it because you like to sin!” But then, making such connections is probably far beyond the intellectual capacity of someone who makes statements like “all men feel contempt for women”.

  11. maudell says

    One interesting thing: a common trope on MRA (usually MGTOW) blogs is that feminists require men to pay for everything in order to take advantage of men by falsely luring them with the evil sexiness (leading to the ultimate feminist goal: false rape accusation, sperm jacking followed by a lucrative alimony: the trinity of feminazism).
    Clearly feminists split/pick up the check and demand that the men pay at the same time (while operating under their own field of feminist physics according to “swaggering”, as he touchingly lays his emotions bare publicly).
    Vade retro satana!

  12. says

    Buying a dinner is like buying a present for someone. It’s nice, and either can and should do it once in a while.

    If a guy asks me “can I take you to this really great restaurant I’ve discovered, I’m sure you’d like it” and proceeds to suggest things on the menu I will most likely offer to pay for half the check but not be put off if he wants to pay for the whole thing, because of the way the invite was framed. I invite people that way too (fun fact, I’ve managed to convince a coworker to eat Chinese food for the first time in her life), and I try to pay the check at the end of the night because it was my invitation, my idea, so my treat. If it’s “let’s try that place neither of us have been to”, it’s a split. If I was to propose a restaurant etc and then the guy freaks for my wanting to pay for the meal, that’s the last time I’m going anywhere with that person.

    I understand that on first dates you don’t know the other person and their expectations well enough so that it can be awkward. When you’re in a long-term relationship I don’t see how it can be any easier (in mine it’s: you got your wallet with you? excellent, you pay then. Wait, you didn’t get paid this month, I’m paying for this)

    Well this comment has gotten long and ranty (I’m out of practice) but I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: just because I’m a feminist, don’t assume I think that you offering me a gift is insulting, you’re basically calling me an ungrateful bitch before we’ve even gone anywhere. Just because I’m female, don’t assume I expect you to shower me with presents while I give you zip in return, you’re basically calling me selfish. Just because I’m a female, don’t act like my money is worth less than yours when I do offer you a present, you’re basically calling yourself a misogynist.

  13. says

    I often see posts on my Facebook of men making fun of feminism with things such as “Oh you’re a feminist but when the groceries are too heavy you need a man” and I’m like… NO. This is NOT what feminism is about. If the groceries are f-ing heavy and you’re stronger than me, yeah, It would be damn nice if you helped, but if you NEED to prove a non-existingpoint with that kind of trivial stuff, you’re not someone I want to have a relationship with. Like many people before me already commented, being nice doesn’t hurt. We offer our seats to elderly and pregnant people on the bus, it’s the same thing. Courtesy. Everyone should read this article, I’m going to post it to everyone that shares that kind of stupidity from now on ._.

  14. AlanCampbell says

    So, this is not complicated. If I were to go out with a feminist, she would pay for what she ordered and I would pay for what I ordered. I don’t treat her in any special “lady-like” way. I treat her as an equal no different than I would treat a man. That’s basic, simple, non-complex equality.

      • AlanCampbell says

        I treat non-feminists as they wish to be treated. Most non-feminists don’t want to be treated equal to men. Many prefer to have their doors opened, to have the car brought up for them in wet, nasty weather, and similar things men wouldn’t do for other men. I’m happy to do such things. It’s not equal but they don’t claim to want/expect it. So, it’s fine.

          • AlanCampbell says

            It’s called equality. We don’t expect another man to be a doorman, chauffeur, porter, or valet for us, as if they are a servant.

            For example, which one of us is going to be the one to trudge through the slush and sleet to pull the car up while the other gent waits warm, safe, and dry? The taller one? The older one? The shorter one? The poorer one? The answer is that we both do or neither of us does. It’s called equality.

          • AlanCampbell says

            “Why do women deserve more kindness and courtesy from men than other men do?”

            I never said that women “deserve” more kindness and courtesy than men do. However, they like it (non-feminists, at least), and I have no problem with that.

        • says

          Most non-feminists don’t want to be treated equal to men. Many prefer to have their doors opened, to have the car brought up for them in wet, nasty weather

          Wait, what? You only hold doors open for people you consider inferior? You don’t hold a door open for a man because you feel he is your equal? That’s some interesting thinking on your part. If I am the driver for something, I will go get the car if the weather is nasty and drive it around. It doesn’t matter what anyone else’s gender is. Why should everyone be miserable? How will that make my walk to the car any better? If I’m the fist person through a door, I hold it for others. I don’t see that as treating them as an unequal person. I see that as a decent thing to do as a human being.

          As a feminist, I don’t shun kindness, I just feel it should be applied equally not based on gender. Equality doesn’t mean that everyone is selfish and doesn’t nothing for anyone else and views any recipient of kindness as inferior. That sounds more like certain libertarian ideals.

          • BarryMayor says

            “You only hold doors open for people you consider inferior?”

            Not only did I not use the word “inferior”; I explicitly implied the opposite (e.g. doormen, porters, chauffeurs). They are acting in a servant capacity.

            If anyone is conducting themselves as inferior, it’s those who are doing the serving (in this case, males), not those being served (in this case, females).

            “You don’t hold a door open for a man because you feel the he is your equal?”

            No. He doesn’t expect or want me to go way out if my way. He doesn’t expect a door slammed in his face but that’s about it.

            “As a feminist, I don’t shun kindness, I just feel it should be applied equally not based on gender.”

            It’s not matter of shunning kindness; it’s simple equality. Men treat each other with common courtesy. No one expects another man to go way out his way to open doors, fetch cars, or carry stuff for them. What you’re describing is not equality; it’s how men treat women, which is with more courtesy and kindness than they treat men.

          • says

            No. He doesn’t expect or want me to go way out if my way. He doesn’t expect a door slammed in his face but that’s about it.

            I don’t consider it going out of my way to do something nice for someone. If I’m going to have to walk to my car and the person or people I’m with are my passengers, I am no better or worse off if they wait for me and I pick them up, but I have done something nice for them. I do it because I like to be a nice person. If someone has their hands full and I can carry some of their items, I’m happy to offer to do so. I don’t have to be a man, they don’t have to be a woman and we don’t have to be dating for me to offer to help. Whatever you think about how two men relate to each other is not universal. I’ve seen many men who are far more gracious with each other than what you’ve represented here.

            Men treat each other with common courtesy. No one expects another man to go way out his way to open doors, fetch cars, or carry stuff for them.

            And my feeling is that whether or not you do a kindness shouldn’t be based on gender. There’s nothing about feminism that rejects the idea of doing something nice. I’ll open the door for someone this time because I get to the door first, or the other person has his/her hands full. She or he will open the door for me another time. That’s fine. No one is expecting anyone to go out of their way, it’s just about being a good person.

            Feminist often reject the notion of chivalry because it’s an antiquated idea that men and women should have strict gender roles and behave in certain ways simply because of their chromosomes. But that isn’t a rejections of doing nice things, it’s a rejection of the justifications of doing nice things. Saying that feminists don’t want doors held open for them because chivalry calls for holding doors open is like saying that atheists don’t believe in charity because christianity calls for being charitable, it’s not the action but the dogma that is being rejected.

          • AlanCampbell says

            What you’re missing is that men treat each other with common courtesy, which is not rude or boorish but is by no means the way that most non-feminist women prefer to be treated by men.

            “Whatever you think about how two men relate to each other is not universal. I’ve seen many men who are far more gracious with each other than what you’ve represented here.”

            Perhaps but, in general, men (heterosexual) don’t offer other men anything that resembles the “chivalry” that most non-feminist women prefer, nor do men want that from other men. In general, they (we) are content with basic, common courtesy. You’re not going to find many men who want to have their food paid for, helped on with their coat, heavy stuff carried for them when they can carry it themselves, etc.

            “And my feeling is that whether or not you do a kindness shouldn’t be based on gender. “

            That’s fine; however, most non-feminist women prefer to be offered gendered chivalry, and I have no problem with that.

            My initial comment centered on equality. I treat feminists equal to men. I am not rude or boorish to men; as such, I am not rude or boorish to feminists. It would not be equality to offer a feminist the level of courtesy and deference that qualifies as chivalry, since men don’t want or get that. So, I WOULD open a door for her or perform another courteous act IF I would do it for another man in the same situation. However, if I wouldn’t do it for a man, it wouldn’t be treating her equal to a man if I did it for her.

          • says

            non-feminists as they wish to be treated

            If anyone is conducting themselves as inferior, it’s those who are doing the serving (in this case, males)

            So from what you’ve said you treat someone else the way they want to be treated even if you feel it somewhat debases you. You repeatedly refer to it as putting yourself out to do so. If I were on a date with someone who wanted me to treat him as his superior and do things I found a little degrading, I wouldn’t blithely play along and I certainly wouldn’t want someone to be doing something for me that put them out or made them feel inferior to me.

            So maybe you can explain why you aren’t bothered by this either way. You seem to keep highlighting how inconvenient it is for you and how you don’t feel it makes you an equal with the other person. Why is that a situation you are happy to participate in? Why wouldn’t you prefer to spend time with someone who treats you as an equal and who doesn’t expect you to put yourself out?

          • AlanCampbell says

            Debased? Degraded? Inconvenient? Feel inferior?

            That’s some gigantic strawman you’ve constructed there. I never used or implied being debased, degraded, or feeling / made to feel inferior, or doing anything I don’t choose to do. In fact, I made these two statements, which you seem to have overlooked:

            “Many [non-feminists] prefer to have their doors opened, to have the car brought up for them in wet, nasty weather, and similar things men wouldn’t do for other men. I’m HAPPY to do such things.”

            “most non-feminist women prefer to be offered gendered chivalry, and I have NO PROBLEM with that.”

            Where is the implication of being debased, degraded, or feeling inferior? Answer: non-existent. Being kind, courteous, and/or deferential to non-feminists does none of such things to me.

            “So maybe you can explain why you aren’t bothered by this either way.”

            No reason to be.

            “You seem to keep highlighting how inconvenient it is. . .”

            Again, never used that word. And, even if/when that’s the case, I like ladies. So, I’m happily chivalrous to them.

            “Why wouldn’t you prefer to spend time with someone who treats you as an equal and who doesn’t expect you to put yourself out?”

            I personally much prefer spending time non-feminists, specifically because of the interesting gender dynamics and contrasts. I’m happy to spend more and do more for the pleasure of their company. And, neither looks down on the other as inferior in any way.

          • says

            No strawmen at all. I quoted you in my previous point, when you used the word “inferior” and you explicitly said that it was an unequal treatment where the man treats the woman as somehow better so you are the one who has said that your chivalrous behavior is somehow degrading to men.

            You also repeatedly referred to behavior as putting someone out which is why you don’t do it for men. So you are the one who has made the case that chivalry is both inconvenient and debasing. I’m just wondering why you are for it.

          • AlanCampbell says

            “No strawmen at all. I quoted you in my previous point, when you used the word “inferior” . . .”

            It is a strawman. You said: “made them FEEL inferior to me.” I never said or implied any such FEELING.
            Secondly, where did I use the terms “debased” or “degraded?” Answer: I didn’t, YOU did. That’s part of your strawman. My comments prove just the opposite.

            People with no or weak arguments stoop to using terms the other person never did (e.g., debased and degraded) and then argue against statements and/or points their opponent never made.

            In fact, my comments prove just the opposite of your strawman:
            1. “I like ladies [i.e., non-feminists]. So, I’m HAPPILY chivalrous to them.”
            2. “Where is the implication of being debased, degraded, or feeling inferior? Answer: non-existent. Being kind, courteous, and/or deferential to non-feminists does none of such things to me.”
            3. “I’m HAPPY to spend more [e.g., pay for their meals] and do more [i.e., chivalry] for the pleasure of their company. And, NEITHER looks down on the other as INFERIOR in any way.”

            This discussion illustrates why I much prefer spending time with non-feminists, and am happy to offer them chivalry if they prefer, to enjoy their pleasant company.

          • says

            Paraphrasing is not the same as creating a strawman.
            You have said:

            Most non-feminists don’t want to be treated equal to men

            It’s called equality. We don’t expect another man to be a doorman, chauffeur, porter, or valet for us, as if they are a servant.

            If anyone is conducting themselves as inferior, it’s those who are doing the serving (in this case, males)

            not equality

            You might not consider that debasing but that’s the core of your argument. You are not equal with the woman, when pressed, it is the woman, you claim, who is the superior. You’ve also made it clear that you consider doormen, chauffeurs, porters and valets unequal, as opposed to people providing a service in exchange for cash, so clearly you and I view the world pretty differently.

            This discussion illustrates why I much prefer spending time with non-feminists

            For what it’s worth this conversation makes me happy to be with someone who doesn’t have a preconception of what my role and his role would be and is instead happy to create a relationship where we both enjoy making the other happy while respecting the other person as an equal.

          • AlanCampbell says

            “Paraphrasing is not the same as creating a strawman.”

            You didn’t “paraphrase”; you used words that I never used, and points I never made, and then argued against the strawman you built. Nowhere did I suggest or say anything about being “debased” or “degraded.” You added in those terms and then argued against them.

            I have no idea what your problem is here. I give feminists what they want, equality. You should be thankful.

            “For what it’s worth this conversation makes me happy to be with someone who doesn’t have a preconception of what my role and his role would be and is instead happy to create a relationship where we both enjoy making the other happy while respecting the other person as an equal.”

            I don’t preconceive anything. I react to what people say they want. Feminists claim to want equality and they get that from me, no more, no less. What I am hearing from feminists here is that they actually don’t want to be treated equal to how men are treated. This illustrated why people don’t take feminists seriously / believe them when they claim to only want equality. They really don’t.

          • says

            What I am hearing from feminists here is that they actually don’t want to be treated equal to how men are treated.

            For someone who doesn’t like strawmen you certainly have constructed a lovely one

          • says

            I give feminists what they want, equality. You should be thankful.

            We should be thankful that you deign to give feminist women equality? I hope you realize how sketchy that sounds. Equality is for all women, not just those who call themselves feminists.

            What I am hearing from feminists here is that they actually don’t want to be treated equal to how men are treated. This illustrated why people don’t take feminists seriously / believe them when they claim to only want equality. They really don’t.

            Actually, what we’re saying is that all women should be treated the way men are treated, not just the ones who subscribe to a particular ideological label. We started out by questioning why you reserve certain courtesies for women rather than applying them to all genders; you gave no answer. What is it about women that makes you open the car door for them but not for men?

          • AlanCampbell says

            “Equality is for all women, not just those who call themselves feminists.”

            As I have explained, and as we all know, many non-feminist women don’t want to be treated like (equal to) a man.

            “Actually, what we’re saying is that all women should be treated the way men are treated, not just the ones who subscribe to a particular ideological label.”

            Against their will? Sorry, not doing that. If they prefer chivalry, I’m happy to oblige.

            “We started out by questioning why you reserve certain courtesies for women rather than applying them to all genders; you gave no answer. “

            It’s what they want.

            “What is it about women that makes you open the car door for them but not for men?”

            It’s what they both want.

          • AlanCampbell says

            I’ve made it clear that I extend at least common courtesy to everyone, and chivalry to non-feminists who prefer it, which is the majority, in my experience.

          • AlanCampbell says

            Common courtesy is how men treat men they don’t know. There is no presumption that either one of them will be the one to exit the elevator first, protectively fetch the car in bad weather, give the other his jacket if the other is cold.

            By contrast, chivalry is, for example, when men will always volunteer to be the one to go fetch the car so the lady(ies) don’t have to get wet. Chivalry is when a man and woman who happen to be walking together get to a door at the same time, and he will almost always be the the one to open it for her, not vice-versa. Chivalry is when a man will give a woman his jacket if she’s cold, even though he will now be cold.

  15. says

    The rule suggested by my boyfriend is that the person who asks the other one out is the one who should pay. After all, they’re the one making more of an imposition, and they’re also choosing the price level of the restaurant. Works well for same-sex dating. But with straight dating, the men are expected

  16. katykay2010 says

    Brilliant piece, as usual, always look forward…..As an older feminist, your analysis, writing, humor, critiques, as a younger feminist, really gives me great hope for the future.

  17. chotu says

    In my community, (Brahmin Maithili) the groom has to go to the bride’s house and work as a servant for 21 days before marriage? Is not this non nonsensical. (Need Feminist view on traditional matrilocal society like bant community etc). Also in our village men are not allowed to enter homes other than in special occasion, they have to live outside in baramdah.. :P :P :P also though i live in cities now, I see that men are aspect ed to earn and provide more financially to the family and failing to do so they are labeled impotent (nitthalla) earlier that view was dominant in upper class but even in lower class (where traditional role of house husbands was accepted) today this anti-men view is spreading. I do not know how you define patriarchy, matriarchy etc google search just confuses me. Our has been a petrilineal matriarch (I think so, but men are always sushed in internal home matters and Saas (mother in laws) always oppress their bahu. ) :P

Trackbacks