I’m a guy, and I won’t be paying for your dinner this Valentine’s Day

Seriously, how have we not moved on from this?

It’s February already and Valentine’s day is just around the corner. You have a hot date lined up.

He takes you out to a decent restaurant and wines and dines you with a fancy three-course meal, all whilst you gaze longingly into each others eyes. You couldn’t have possibly imagined things going anymore perfectly. As the night lingers on with you in a state of trance, the waiter wanders over and hands you the bill. Your prince charming takes a quick glance and says “Do you want to pay your half by cash or card?”

To many women this might be a deal breaker. Men should pay on a date, that’s how it’s always been right? No. It’s 2017. The notion that men should feel obligated to pay for women on a date out of a sense of chivalry, is backwards, misguided and ultimately unfair on both the man and the woman. It’s an outdated relic of the ages where women stayed at home, cleaned, cooked dinner, raised the family and served thy husband and thus it should hold no sway in modern-day society.

This practice, supports the idea that the man is the provider, or the ‘breadwinner’ in a relationship and therefore it reinforces traditional gender roles. Inherently, it suggests women are somehow more vulnerable and reliant than men. It can also imply that a date is almost a form of cat and mouse pursuit. If a woman insists on splitting the bill, this may in fact, communicate her lack of interest in the man. On the other hand, if the woman allows the man to pay, it might suggest that he has the chance for a second date. He has been allowed to ‘pursue’ her again, but that permission comes at a price.  This is degrading towards both parties.

In many cases this tradition, also suggests that after a man has paid for a date, the woman ‘owes’ him something in return.  It’s the fault of men and society in general that a woman should be placed in a position where she feels like this.

Honestly, on a more superficial level, the tradition is also ridiculously unfair. At the end of a date, it can leave the man in a very awkward position too. Especially when you’re a student. We’re all a bit tight on cash, and therefore there’s no reason why the the man should have to bend to tradition and foot the bill. Women should not presume men will pay for them just as men should not patronise women by presuming they cannot pay.

I understand that everyone likes to feel treated and cherished, but in truth, this an open-ended concept. Maybe if some women were occasionally to loosen their purse-strings at the end of a date, it may go some way to breaking-down the long established taboo, that a woman can not provide for herself.

Perhaps with long-term couples, where there is a reciprocal relationship, offering to pay for a date can be a gesture of kindness. But for a first date, there shouldn’t be any expectations for the man to pay for both parties involved. If you want to treat someone by paying for them, you should be able to do it because it’s something you genuinely want to do, not because tradition dictates it’s something that you should do.

Over the past couple of decades, society has made great strides in advancing gender equality. Admittedly however, there is still some way to go. Though it may sound extreme, until we eradicate more nuanced forms of sexism, such as the presumption that men should pay for women at the end of the date, there will always be a barrier hindering total gender equality. This is just a little something to think about when your waiter comes up to the table with the bill this Valentine’s day.