Sunday, September 9, 2018

How Feminism Killed Dating

It’s a lot easier to break down a custom than to create a shiny new one. With an old, tried and true custom, people who what their gestures mean. When no one respects the old meanings, gestures can mean just about anything.

In the distant past, a man who took a woman out on a date was expected to pay. A woman was expected to accept the gift graciously. There was no quid pro quo. There was no expectation that the woman would reciprocate by providing sexual favors.

Now, some women want to split the check. Some women say they want to split the check but really don’t. Some women insist on splitting the check and reject any man who offers to pay for them. Some women want to have the right to ask a man out of a date and then to pay for it all.

The situation is confusing and confused. The result, fewer and fewer young people go out on dates anymore. Why date when you can hookup? Having random, anonymous sex with someone you barely know is so much easier than trying to navigate the confusing dating scene.

If neither party to a date knows his or her role, and if neither party knows the rule… why risk giving offense or being embarrassed. Why not just cut to the chase?

Take the case of Elliot Katz. Elizabeth Bernstein recounts it in her Wall Street Journal column. She describes what happened to Katz and a date:

Elliott Katz believes a man should treat on a date. But when he pulled out his wallet at the ticket counter of a movie theater awhile back, the woman he was with pulled hers out, too.

Mr. Katz hurried and paid. His date offered him money. He declined, explaining that it was his pleasure to take her out. She offered again. Mr. Katz declined again.

Then his date asked the ticket seller for exact change and thrust the cash at him. Mr. Katz says he was surprised. “I believe a man should pay for the first and subsequent dates to make the woman feel special,” says the 53-year-old writer, who lives in Toronto. “But she insisted I take the money.”

A rather chaotic dance, don’t you think? How did it work out? Not very well:

Mr. Katz continued to see the woman who had insisted he take her money at the movie theater—at least for a while. After that first outing, he always let her pay for herself.
Then one day she told Mr. Katz that she was hurt he never treated her. Stunned, he reminded her how she’d insisted on paying for herself on the first date and said he thought he’d been respecting her wishes.

Her response? “She said I should have tried again,” he says.

Do you have to be a mind reader? When customary and routinized social exchanges are undermined in favor of something that is supposed to be more meaningful, everyone suffers. Especially when the new behaviors seem driven more by ideology than by reality.

Bernstein explains the disparate meanings that have now been attached to the dating ritual:

Traditionally, men have paid for courtship because men had the money. They thought of themselves as chivalrous, respectful and protective when they paid. Then women entered the workforce, the feminist movement attempted to level the playing field, and women began offering to pay. They want to signal their independence, show that they aren’t looking for a free ride, and prevent the perception that they owe their date anything.

Researcher Helen Fisher explains that dating customs evolved as they have because, for millions of years, women have sought partners would would protect them and provide for them. Even in our liberated times, women do care about having the option of spending more time with infants and even young children. If husbands are not good providers, they might feel compelled to abandon their infants to daycare before they want to do so.

Today’s liberated women believe that they are equals. Thus, if a man pays for a date they feel diminished and demeaned, as though they are not independent and autonomous humanoid creatures. They also believe that when a man pays they are somehow obligated to reciprocate by offering sex… even though, in the old days, such an expectation was never part of the equation.

In truth, a modern liberated woman is far more likely to hook up, regardless of whether she paid. Perhaps, in some cases, she will be more likely to put out when she doesn’t pay… because then she does not feel that she is being bought.

Strangely enough, even though the old customs have been undermined, both men and women still seem to believe that men should pay:

Although no one wants to admit it, both men and women are often still uncomfortable when a women offers to pay on a date. Men sometimes feel emasculated. They also wonder if a woman’s insistence on paying is a signal that she isn’t interested in them romantically. And many women—even the most independently minded—feel that when a man lets them pay, he’s not a gentleman and he’s not that serious.

Evidently, it is extremely difficult to solve the problem. When dating was governed by rules of customary behavior, everyone knew what it meant to pay or not to pay. When the custom has been discarded, no one really knows what means what. In the end, this puts women at a serious disadvantage. The problem now is: how to you create a new set of customs when no one agrees on what the customs mean?

It feels like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

8 comments:

Deana said...

That poor man.

Because I am friends with women who are by today’s standards old-fashioned, I sometimes feel like objecting to these ridiculous descriptions of women and their behavior.

But in my heart, I know they are accurate. There are some delightful women out there who are blessings to their husbands, who are not confused about their role, who do not bring drama into the relationship, but there sure seem to be way more women who are utterly destructive to the men in their lives and, quite frankly, societal cohesion.

Unknown said...

So much easier to just rent women, and take all guess work out
Then let women date other women allowing thew to deal withtbis BS drama.
Guys don't need it, as we have a rental opion.

whitney said...

He shouldn't have gone out with that woman again based on her lack of graciousness alone. My dating days are over but I always offered to pay my share and then gave up soon as they insisted. I would not have continued to date any man that took me up on me paying my share.

Perpetual Student said...

If I invite you for dinner why would either of us expect you to pay?

Walt said...

Hey, Whitney, that's a tease: offering something you don't want to give and being angry when it's taken. I think you prove Stuart's point.

whitney said...

I was agreeing with Stuart so yeah proving his point was the point

Sam L. said...

Feminism hates women who are not feminists. On the other hand, they hate women by making them feminists.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Sam L. @September 9, 2018 at 8:04 PM:

Or... they just hate women. That’s the conclusion I’ve arrived at.

They hate the qua woman.

They assume there are no downsides to being a man.

They deny the male-female dynamic evident throughout nature, save outliers of species.

Contradictions are based on faulty premises, no?

Hating women resolves the “contradiction.” It’s all a lie.

They’re destroyers. Equal opportunity for women created... opportunity. Feminism created hostility, anger, rage, self-absorption.

Which would you rather have? Tough choice, I know.