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Traditional dating norm perpetuates guilt

Benevolent sexism limits dating process for both men and women.   |   Brooks Ginnan/THE CHIMES 


There are certain standards that have always been expected of men when taking a woman on a first date. The conventional notions of chivalry are to open the door, pull out the chair and, ultimately, pay the bill. There is also the egalitarian point of view, which suggests gender should not determine who pays. A new term has emerged alongside the egalitarian view called benevolent sexism. It is defined as acting in a chivalrous attitude toward women that feels favorable but is actually sexist because it casts women as weak creatures in need of men's protection. This term has risen with the fight for equal rights and pay for women.

Benevolent sexism

Research by professors from California State University, Los Angeles and Chapman University surveying over 17,000 unmarried heterosexual individuals discovered 76 percent of men still feel guilty accepting women’s money. In their research, they hypothesized when either gender does not live up to social norms, they feel a sense of shame. An example for a woman would be remaining slender. The same applies for a man that if he does not pay for the first date then he will feel a sense of guilt and shame. Even among men who said women should pay help pay for expenses, 72 percent reported feeling guilty when a woman pays. The research also found that most men and women, 74 percent and 83 percent respectively, report both couples contribute to the dating expenses when dating for six months or more.

A happy solution

Though some have moved to dating through apps or online, being chivalrous and paying for the meal on the first date can show genuine interest. Nearly half of men said they would stop dating a woman who never pays. The same sentiment can be felt by women in the modern age. A majority of women, 56 percent, said they are not bothered by men’s expectations for them to pay. The more women offer to contribute and the more men allow or expect them to pay, the quicker these old assumptions will be broken down.

A happy solution for first dates can include low, cost activities such as hiking, grabbing some coffee or going to a museum. Yet, there is nothing wrong with splitting the check after the first date or taking turns paying for things. Gender should not determine who pays for everything in a relationship. The gender norms for dating are shifting, allowing for more equality within relationships. Couples in the modern age are finding better strategies to tackle the awkwardness that comes with who pays for what.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. George

    I think the issue here is more symbolic than anything else. If the point of dating is to eventually find a spouse, then how the man is going to spend his personal resource of money with the woman is indicative of how valuable he views her.

    If a guy refuses to spend extra $$$ on you now, then that may be indicative of how he will view the relationship. You, the woman, are not worth a little extra pain and suffering, you aren't worth sacrificing over, you aren't worth his time and money.

    Dear women, please don't marry/date a man who won't show you any form of sacrificial commitments. March 23, 2017

  2. Joe

    Guilt is for letting you know that what you have done goes against what you believe to be right, and so discouraging you from doing wrong. (And that is good!) So the solution is not to simply change what you believe to be right, but reason out if it is right. This article does not offer any reason to believe that it is wrong for men to pay for date outings, so there is no reason for a reader to accept his conclusion. Just because the culture is deciding something new is correct does not mean you should follow. March 27, 2017

  3. lue

    Hey Joe, you're an uptight Biola kid who missed the point of the entire article. April 12, 2017

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