Monday, March 31, 2008

On Chivalry

Yes, this is two blogs in a day, a record for me. Not to worry, they're related a bit. What I'm about to say may come as a shock to some of my readers, but here it goes: I have difficulty with the concept of chivalry. I had to check to make sure I hadn't previously written on this topic, but seeing as I haven't, I'm good to go.

Let me start by saying that I've come a long way since high school, where I fought with my boyfriend for trying to carry my school books. If chivalrous behavior can be grouped in the category of doing nice things for others, that's something I can accept and even appreciate. If, on the other hand, it's seen as an obligation or as compensation for my inability to open my own door, that's another story. By the way, if you want to open my door, you have to get to it first, right Kpark? :P

Yet, even in my newfound acceptance of said behaviors, I have difficulty learning how to react to them. Take, for instance, the question of who gets the check at the restaurant. Well, old-fashioned chivalry would say the guy always does. As a poor grad student myself, some part of me wants to accept this whenever presented with the opportunity. However, the rest of me feels very uncomfortable with the idea of riding a relationship on someone else's dime (not to mention that it makes me feel good to treat people I care about now and then). If both male and female contribute equally emotionally to a relationship, why should there be an uneven distribution financially?

I guess what I'm asking is this: in dating, who should pick up the check? Does this change based on the finances of those involved? And if there is an uneven distribution, what levels the playing field?


Bela Naomi said...

I have a two sided answer to this:
1) if guys still get paid more in the workplace, it's because they should be spending the difference on taking us out.

2) in reality, I think whoever does the asking on a date should pay. Beyond the first few dates and special occasions, just take turns.

**NOTE** Paying for the meal is not worth it when you lay the check out on the table, let us see it, calculate it, etc. Just glance at it and pay. If you fool around, it means you want us to pay, and then it just gets uncomfortable.

Johanna said...

I agree - whoever does the inviting should pay.

And what's this about being so adament in not accepting support from other people - like opening a door? Sometimes doors are really freagin' heavy - especially in South Florida with the storm protection.

I always try to return the favor when I see an older person approaching, or a mother with a baby carriage. It's really no different - you're just showing you care by going out of your way to help someone.

Let your gaurds down and just let people help you. Gosh!

Matthew said...

not that i pretend to speak for all of us, but i'm more than happy if the girl wants to chip in or buy. if you're a girl with reasonable income or expectation of income, there's no reason you can't contribute. "whoever asked" is a joke because girls rarely if ever will ask a guy out. paying is just a small component of the antiquated ritual of courtship- we have to ask; we have to pay; we have to make romantic, often irrational and/or commercialized, gestures; and to finalize it if everything has gone well, we have to buy some absurdly expensive piece of mineral. it's all part of the charade. girls enjoy it and we're supposed to enjoy them enjoying it. in exchange, we historically received a lifetime of laundry, cooking, and cleaning. you've freed yourselves of that (rightfully so) but mostly managed to keep the favorable aspects of the arrangement for no good reason.

Johanna said...


I'd like to appologize for your poor luck in women. I speak for myself when I say that I invite my boyfriend out at least a 1/4 of the time we go out, and will often pay for a portion of what we're doing (he pays for movie tickets, I pay for the popcorn and drinks).

As for the mineral you get to purchase... we still get stuck with the bill of the wedding which, by the way, usually costs much more than that one piece of jewlery.

As for the housework... My advice to you is find yourself a working Hispanic woman. Chances are she brings home big bucks, and enjoys cooking and cleaning. (Did I mention passionate?) Sounds like a full package to me!

Matt said...

To be fair, I think the stereotypical relationship rules of decades past are, and have been, changing a great deal. But as is the case with a lot of things, some people do not change or do not want to change from the "old fashioned" ways.

I don't think thats always a bad thing, but it has to be done with the right intentions. There is nothing wrong with a guy being courteous and polite to a woman, in my opinion, so long as he doesn't do it in a condescending way that implies that he thinks the girl couldn't do something herself.

As for paying, I somewhat agree with Matthew. In the beginning of a relationship, the guy is expected to be the one who asks the girl out and pays for the dates, etc. As a relationship progresses, that may change for a lot of couples. But, I don't think that he meant inviting your current boyfriend out for a "date night". In the courtship stage, a lot of it is generally expected to be on the guys' shoulders.

Amanda Z said...

I think the point Matthew was trying to make is that there is still a dichotomy in gender roles in dating, at least initially. Now, as someone recently pointed out, perhaps the rationale behind this is that by giving dating a set of rules, it can clear up a lot of confusion on each party. Granted, currently the roles are largely defined by gender, but losing them sends mixed signals. Take, for instance, what would happen if the guy didn't pick up the check (or at least attempt to) on the first date. The female would probably question whether he actually saw it as a date, was interested in her, etc.

And he's right, women as a gender largely do get to pick and choose what aspects of the defined roles they'd like in their life. However, we do not have say in the dichotomy of pay, upward professional mobility, and other aspects. Perhaps you are both right to some degree.

Matthew said...

thank you for clearing that up. you've also created a tangent.

i do wonder if the alleged dichotomy of pay, limited upward mobility, etc. are elements of a cycle partly perpetuated by women as a gender choosing to keep aspects of the defined roles. by taking some elements of that system of inequity, women may also be implicitly accepting negative aspects as well. while many employers think progressively, the traditional roles likely influence their choices. for example, because women are still more likely than men to leave a career for a family, you can be sure there are employers who consider it risky to hire and/or advance younger women. while this is naturally unfair to the woman who would not accept the traditional role of staying home to raise her children, choosing women over equally qualified men does create additional risk in a society where women reserve the right of the traditional lifestyle. beyond such direct consequences, i suspect women's social acceptance of traditional roles preserves subconscious feelings of a weaker gender that ultimately influence the professional world.

Evelyn said...

I think the rule is that there isn't a rule. Some guys freak out if they don't pay. Some guys freak out if they feel they always have to pay. Same with the ladies.

Part of dating is figuring out if you can be a couple. If you can't work out who pays the check, how are you going to work out real problems? Girls should offer to pay. Guys shouldn't always accept. And eventually the two of you should be able to have an adult conversation about how you want to split the dating finances.