Establishing Equality: Why The First Date Bill Should Be Split

By: Kira Paley  |  November 14, 2018

By Kira Paley, Editor in Chief

When I took Introduction to Women’s Studies last semester, a recurring theme in the class was something I’ll call “pick-and-choose feminism.” Like how some Modern Orthodox Jews are criticized for picking and choosing some rules to follow and some to ignore, some women who identify as feminists are picky about the ways in which they want independence. For example, many a time in Women’s Studies, students would praise the idea of female CEOs but protest the notion of women being drafted into the military. Or they’d scorn the existence of Victoria’s Secret advertisements but defend the existence of shows like The Bachelor. And finally, they’d demand to open doors for themselves but expect to be paid for on a first date.

Pick-and-choose feminism is ineffective; you can’t demand equal treatment while holding on to the inequalities from which you benefit. Full equality will never be achieved unless we are willing to go “all-in” – that is, unless we are willing to participate equally in everything. In relationships, the same applies. Of course, every relationship is distinct, but on the first date, the tone of a potential relationship is already being set. If you don’t expect your relationship to be founded on the basis of equality, then by all means, allow the man to pay for you, or if you’re the man, reach for your wallet right away. But if you want to be in a relationship in which both you and the other person share responsibilities and roles, then start it off on equal footing. In paying separately, you are establishing parity that will set the tone for the rest of the date and the rest of your relationship, should there be more than one date.

As relationships evolve, things become less black-and-white; paying on a date can become less of a nod to the patriarchal systems which established inequality and more of a simple nice gesture for someone about whom you care. But on the first date, don’t allow rules that were founded on fundamentally sexist notions to slant the foundation of your relationship.

This notion can also be applied in terms of feminist ideology. Many women I’ve met are pick-and-choose feminists in that they have progressive views about the various ways in which men and women should be equal, yet as aforementioned, expect men to pay on the first date. These women, whom I respect in that they stand for gender equality, slow the rate of achieving gender equality because they are, to their own detriment, advocating for the retention of inequalities from which they derive benefit. In order to achieve full equality, we women need to demand equality in every aspect of life by proving ourselves equal, whether or not it’s convenient. Despite the supposed hassle of shelling out six dollars for your own frozen yogurt, in the long run, forgoing this luxury for the greater cause of gender equality is worthwhile. Change, of course, will not happen because one woman decides to pay for herself; if splitting the bill became a norm, though, that would be a small yet important step in establishing the equality of men and women, at least in the realm of romantic relationships.