Traditional dating norm perpetuates guilt

Benevolent sexism limits dating process for both men and women.


Brooks Ginnan/THE CHIMES

Lucas Weaver, Writer

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.

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