Friday, September 28, 2007

Who Pays?

So reading this article on Gawker got me thinking.

The article, for those who don't want to or don't have time to click and read it, is about "going Dutch" on dates. Specifically the first few dates. And whether it's okay for a man to expect a woman to pay for her own dinner on a first date. And whether women should expect to have their meals paid for. And if it's about men being cheap or women being empowered. Or whatever.

I haven't dated in some time, and when I did...well, frankly, I pretty much never did. Not your typical dinner date, anyway. I'd usually hung around with a guy for some time before we really went out together. Or we'd already kissed, or whatever, and so were dating. Usually we were both so poor that whoever had money would pay. But we were also barely in our twenties and spent most of our available cash on beer.

But even then, if it was a date-type evening, I never considered paying. When my boyfriend would say he wanted us to go out to eat, we both took it for granted he would pay. When we just decided to go out on the spur of the moment we'd go dutch, but a "date"--he paid. (Unless I took him out for his birthday or something.)

All of my heroes in my books pay. For everything. This has a lot to do with them being richer than Croesus, but I admit, it's also because I think the man should pay, at least in the beginning. He's the one doing the inviting*, he's the one doing the seducing, so he pays.

And the way he asks always indicates he's paying, too. Not "Why don't we go out to eat?" but "Let me take you out to dinner" or "Come on, I'll buy you dinner." And my heroines don't argue with that. Sometimes they may think about not turning down a free dinner, but, oddly, power struggles in the relationships of my characters are never financial (I say "oddly" because it's only just occured to me). Not one of my heroines feels she's less independent and strong if she lets the man pay. They make it very clear that he's buying dinner, not her body, (not stridently; the topic is never discussed, it's just clear) and that they expect to be treated and spoken to a certain way and that's that.

Perhaps it's because my heroes, however criminal their other activities may be or no matter how coldly they may order the deaths of their enemies, are gentlemen.

Or perhaps I'm a totally clueless dinosaur and should be shot for betraying womankind.

What do you think?

(*the person who does the inviting should pay. This is the only exception to the "men should pay" rule. But then, I don't believe women should ask men out, either, and the reason is because if a man's not man enough to take a chance and ask you for a date, maybe he's not man enough period. I've asked a few guys out over the course of my life, and it's never worked out. It sets a precedent, I think, where you're the pursuer and he gets to sit back and let you do it. It makes them overconfident.)


I'm over at The Book Bitches guest bitching about Jackie Collins, come on by and say hi! The Bitches are awesome fun, and they did a little interview with me as well (below the first post).

I did an interview at Rachel Carrington's blog about my Publishing series, so check that one out too!


Bernita said...

Here's to Gentlemen.
I so agree.

Anonymous said...

I would never expect a woman to pay for any date, but not for the reason stated in the article that women are "cosseted pets" but mostly for the reasons you stated. -V95

BernardL said...

When I asked a woman on a date, I expected to pay. As to who should ask first, my wife stopped me at a store and introduced herself. I didn't even know who she was, so asking her out first would have been impossible. It worked out eventually. :)

Anonymous said...

Male pursuit and female choice is an ecological phenomena that only humans attempt to reverse. It's why we are the only species with decorated females.

The Man and I never really "dated" either, but when we did go out he paid for the movie or dinner.

Angie said...

It's funny, I hung around with guys and had a few relationships (defined by having sex, LOL!) before getting married, but I didn't go out on many actual dates. Usually a guy and I would be hanging out and we'd hit a movie or grab something to eat or whatever, but I can count the number of times I had a set-up-in-advance date, where we got dressed up and stuff, on my fingers.

With that fairly huge caveat, the guy usually paid but sometimes we'd split it, depending on finances. If I was with a guy who made significantly more money than I did, he'd buy dinner and I'd get the tip, or he'd buy the movie tickets and I'd get the popcorn, something like that. If we had an actual date date, then whoever issued the invitation would pay.

In a book, I think it depends what you're trying to show. If you want the characters to be uncomfortable about money and floundering a bit, then it's easy to do that. :) If you want the guy to pay all the time then that can work too. And if you want them to go back and forth, or split the bills, without fussing either way, then that's just as realistic.

Which is what it comes down to, I think -- just about any mode is realistic, and just about any attitude toward whichever mode you're using is also realistic. So you can work it out however you like, or however your story requires, without having to stretch reality.

And of course, having all your heroes be rich as Croesus helps. ;)


December/Stacia said...

Absolutely, Bernita. If he's not a gentleman, he's not worth my time. Or my heroine's.

You know, V95, that attitude makes me so mad, the idea that letting someone buy her meal makes a woman a pet or something ridiculous like that. Aside from anything else, I think it denotes an obsession with money and finances that's distasteful at best.

Did she introduce herself, or ask you out, Bernard? I'd love to hear the story.

Right, Seeley. Everyone competes, men and women, but I still think a woman is a better prize than a man. Which is why he should pay for stuff. Because he should be treating her well if he wants to win her.

Yep, Angie, that's pretty much how it went for me, too. No real "date" dates, just doing stuff together. And a lot of the time, the money we had quickly became "our" money, pooled together for whatever reason.

Kind of sad that the whole dating process has disappeared. It's funny, that's one of the things I'm enjoying most about writing a relationship where the characters are unsure of each other. They're still dating. It gives us all a chance to get to know them, I think.

BernardL said...

It's not much of a story, D. In 1968, when a young woman stopped a young man in the middle of a store, introduced herself, and gave him her phone number, she didn't have to ask for a date too. As it turned out, she only lived around the block from me, and was two years behind me in school. She knew I was going into the service shortly, and that I really didn't know she existed. She took care of that. :)

Sam said...

I guess I agree with the person who invites should be expected to pay.
And I don't think women should be shy about asking a guy out - there is a stereotype about men always having to pay that grates on my nerves. I get aggravated when I see my son's credit card debit, and the meals he pays for his girlfriends. I mean, they can pay too sometimes. Jeez. I'm teaching my daughter to pull her own weight and be independant. Too bad if some guys can't handle that.

Kerry Allen said...

I had a (brief) relationship where I footed the bill more than once and was left thinking, "What the hell is wrong with this loser?" No matter how enlightened and independent and 21st Century I am, no matter how well I support myself, I'm hardwired that men are Providers, and one that mooches off a woman is weak and flawed.

Then again, I'm a cheap date. Burger King is my idea of a restaurant. Wendy's is my idea of a fancy restaurant. I'm not exactly putting a hurt on anyone's wallet.

If a guy really wants to impress, he can put the wallet away and make dinner for me...

Camille Alexa said...

Perhaps it's because my heroes [...] are gentlemen.

Or perhaps I'm a totally clueless dinosaur and should be shot for betraying womankind.

What do you think?

I think you're writing fantasy. It doesn't matter what real world sociopolitics dictate or demand; it just matters what kind of universe your readers (and you) want to inhabit for a little quality time away from reality.

If I want reality (however skewed) I watch news.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'll check out the interview as soon as I get a spare moment. As for who pays. I say the one who does the asking pays, and that is usually the man. If it's friends going out from work then splitting it is the way to go.

Gabriele C. said...

I'm hopelessly old fashioned. The man pays.

He should also open the door for me and help me into my jacket, and kill other men who leer at me. :)

Scary Monster said...

Me got too much vanity and pride to let a woman pay. After all, the money is next to nothing compared to the conversation and beauty that she provides.

When me goes out with the Vixen, she has the "family wallet" in her possesion so eventhough me asks fer the check, she forks over the cash.

There are exceptions foer special events though.


December/Stacia said...

See, Bernard! Introducing oneself is great--and must have made you feel great--but she still let you be the one to do the asking. That's a sweet story!

Now, see, Sam, I think the rules change considerably once a couple is boyfriend/girlfriend and not just dating. Once the relationship is exclusive it becomes a non-issue, and they can trade off or pool their funds or whatever they do. It shouldn't be always one person. :-)

Hi Kerry, thanks for the comment! Yes, it does feel make one wonder when one has to always treat the man, doesn't it? I guess because we tend to think men should feel the way our friend Scary Monster does, where he would be ashamed to have a woman always paying. Again, it's a bit different when it's a relationship that's gone on for some time, but in a brief relationship? I would have gotten out of there too!

December/Stacia said...

And yes, Kerry, having a man cook is lovely. I've not known many who do, sadly. :-)

Very true, Camille. It is fantasy, in both the literal genre sense and the literal escapism sense. :-) I guess I just hate the thought of someone getting disgusted by the men always paying. I don't know. I guess if that would bother them they probably wouldn't like my books anyway. :-)

Oh, absolutely, Charles! Friends are a totally different situation. And yes, ultimately, the one who asks should pay. I prefer it when the man does the asking. But if the woman asks she should ante up.

Lol I agree Gabriele, 100%! Opening doors, holding coats, pulling out chairs, putting their hand in the small of your back to guide you through crowds...all necessary. I don't know that killing is necessary just for leering, but touching? Yes.

SM, you're such a lovely man. Really and truly.