I was recently out with a friend who moved here last year from the East Coast and his roommate, who was born and bred in the Bay Area. My friend is the epitome of what I think it means to be a man. (Well, almost...Marlboro Man of Pioneer Woman is the true epitome, but I'm so never gonna meet that type out here.) He pays - even for friends when he can. He makes decisions, he open doors, he carries heavy things, he takes risks, he displays confidence, he walks girls home or hails their cab...as I'd say it back home, his mama done him good. So, knowing my friend's answer already, I asked the roommate if he always paid on the first date. Without hesitation he said no. We delved a little further and he emphasized that he behaves out of a belief in equality, not out of being a cheapskate. He said that he does usually offer to pay, but that the girls frequently argue with him and he's not going to let that go on all night. It seems like maybe the women are the cause of confusion rather than the guys not manning up. Unfortunately, I'm starting to think neither the men nor the women of SF were properly taught the rules (or they let go of their training in the confusion of SF liberalness). To do my part for my humanity, I decided to clarify the rules of paying for dates, as learned in southern Missouri and followed thus far by every man I've ever dated except SF boys.
Bill comes, I take out my card in an offer to pay for my half.
He argues and says he has it.
I say thank you and put my card away.
If he actually lets me pay my half, there will be no second date.
I don't care how poor/broke you are. I don't need much. But if I'm not worth you making that gesture the first time we meet, it's not a date, and you therefore won't be getting a second one.
Now, this one is slightly more tricky.
If the first date was fairly expensive, I'm likely to ask if I can take him out this time and insist that I pay, but it will be for a less expensive thing than he did. I will also let him pitch in for drinks or pay half the bill for the date if he insists (and this would earn points and increase likelihood of 3rd date).
If the first date was normal, I'll again offer to pay my half, but I won't be offended if he accepts my offer.
I would expect him to then do something extra, though, like pay for a cab or purchase an after dinner drink. It wouldn't be points against him if he didn't, but it sets it up for a weird dynamic in which we're already discussing who pays for what a little soon in the dating scheme.
If he pays for the second date in full, I will be sure to pay for after dinner drinks or a cab or something small. I will also insist that I get to treat him next time, but again, he'll earn bonus points if on that next time he picks up some small thing like a drink or cab.
And so it goes until it evens out with him paying about 3:2 or so.
I like this plan. I have no problem feeling like he is taking care of me financially in regard to those dates, because it will even out. I'll keep my fridge stocked with his favorite beer or keep his whiskey at my bar. I'll buy the groceries when I make him dinner. I'll spend money on pretty underwear for his benefit. It just works.
The problem with the SF man not paying for the dates in the same way means the other stuff no longer evens out. So I spend money on make-up and hair and cute shoes and facials and yoga classes and sexy underwear - all so he gets what he wants. And now I ALSO have to share the burden of half the dates? As if men spend nearly as much as we do on these things. And honestly, if I trust him to pick up the alcohol, it's gonna be all beer all the time, and sometimes I need to go pick out that fancy bottle of wine. Am I supposed to ask him to repay me for half? Or groceries - I will always go for the local organic cut of beef, so if I expect that I have to buy it...which means I'm paying for it then, too.
These men who are trying to be more equal are forgetting about the natural dynamic that has worked for decades.
YES, I make money. I may even make as much as you. But women still don't make as much as men, even in the exact same positions at the same company. And men sure as hell don't shell out $150 to keep their skin clear and soft, their hair shiny and touchable, their hairy regions waxed, and everything else perfect just for us.
Boys, if you want to date a girl who doesn't wear make-up, shows up in the same clothes you wear, never wears sexy lingerie, has hairy legs and armpits, has wrinkles and/or major zits, and smells like discount soap - fine. Then you can let her pay. And yeah, you may think that beautiful chick across the bar is just that girl, but that's only because you don't know what goes into creating that "natural" look. You know how long we fuss just to make sure that one tousled lock of hair falls just so? And yes, we do it for us. But we also do it for you. So when you go around deciding to treat us equally by choosing not to pay for that first date, you throw off the balance. All of a sudden we're paying equally, but we're putting far more effort into our appearance. Then we start to think maybe we're better than you. Then we start looking for the guy who will pay. OR, we stop giving a shit, stop shaving, and start wearing ratty old grandma undies with holes and frayed waistbands. Up to you boys, make your choice.
ANYWAY, this all came up again because I was reading Why There Are No Girls in SF and Sam posted a guy's perspective of the city's unaggressive men. Sam points out that men are unaggressive here, in this case in approaching women, because the women are too damn scary.
SF women seem to have this hybrid sensibility of hill-billy southern gallantry, where prescribed gender roles dictate who should aggressively pursue whom, and a regionally specific 70s-style extremist feminism, where there is hyper sensitivity to being hit on. According to San Francisco magazine, “Bay Area women have been known to react to innocent flirting as if they'd been groped ...
And you know what? I think maybe he's right. We are an independent sort here in SF, and it is frequently the case when we are out that we don't want to be bothered. Sometimes a guy interupting girl time is intrusive, and perhaps SF girls are a little more vocal about that. Maybe that leads to exactly what Sam posits about men just keeping their heads down and waiting for the girls to come to them.That’s the paradox. SF women get sort of annoyed when guys attempt to seduce them. Not bemused or bored, annoyed. The fact that the average SF guy has the charm of a yard rake doesn't matter. SF women want men to make advances on them but without them knowing that the advance is being made, which requires not just Code speak but pretending to be gay.
This creates what anthropologists call a double bind dilemma. A successful response to one message implicates a failed response to the other, so that the person will be automatically wrong regardless of response. It's pretty much the kind of thing that broke the Union in 1861 and makes the Middle East a total mess. So if you’re a guy in San Francisco and there's a pretty girl sitting next to you, what’s the right move? You keep quiet, keep your head down and hope no one starts yelling.
Now, I was taught that if you aren't interested you always say thank you with a big smile and simply decline the opportunity for an introduction or a free drink. This encourages men to keep trying with other woman. Having seen other women out here react harshly to come-ons, I have to wonder if this isn't all our fault. Have too many of us women rejected vocally and meanly to the point where all the SF balls are now shriveled and tucked up inside never to be seen again? Honestly? It almost makes me feel more sorry for the guys here than disgusted with them. Good thing I'm way past my pity sex days.
Ladies, we need to understand our job. The men need to understand theirs.
We get pretty, we smell nice, we buy nice underwear and bat our eyelashes. Men pay (at least at first and usually slightly more overall), open doors, carry heavy things. Not because we can't do those things, but because they want to do them for us.
We can be equals, we can share power, but come on...there's a nice balance to how things work (one I find particularly sexy), and we're seeing the evidence of f*cking with that as plain as day.