By HELEN BARCHAM
A few weeks ago I went on a date with a charming man I met on Tinder. The date went splendidly—he chewed with his mouth shut, was kind enough to share his duck breast, and conversation was as organic as the quail egg we had for starters.
Then came the most-dreaded part of the night. No, I’m not referring to the goodbyes where one person awkwardly goes in for a kiss and the other a hug. Rather, a few months on the dating circuit would have me cement the arrival of the bill as perennially the most-dreaded part of dating.
The waiter, as they almost always seem to do, handed the bill directly to my date, assuming that because he was male (and, presumably, white, sitting across the table from a woman of colour) that he would pay.
The assumptions on the part of the waiter are symptomatic of a society still shackled by gender roles that assign men as active subjects and women as passive objects.
Refusing my money and offer to pay, my date took care of the bill. Three dates in and having not spent a single dollar of my own money, I came to realise that what I initially thought were acts of generosity and altruism by my date, were, in fact, displays of benevolent sexism.
This was a man who did not treat me as his equal, who sternly shut down any contribution that I tried to make, who underestimated my independence and financial capability, and who in taking up the position of lead benefactor reduced me to powerless beneficiary.
Any woman who’s ever had her meal paid for by a man would know these “gifts” are never free. Rather, they form the basis of an implied reciprocal contract which leads some men into thinking that gift-giving grants them ownership entitlements over women.